Asian American Career Ceilings: Voting and Representation

About the webinar


The thirtieth Committee of 100 Asian American Career Ceilings Initiative event featuring a fireside chat on the topic of “Voting and Representation” was September 20, 2023, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm ET. This discussion spotlighted three leading Asian American experts: Christine Chen, Executive Director and Co-founder of Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and Committee of 100 member; Madalene Mielke, President & CEO, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS); and Gregg Orton, National Director, The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans. Peter Young, Chair of the Committee of 100 Asian American Career Ceilings Initiative and a Committee of 100 Member, was the moderator. The webinar included a panel discussion, Q&A, and a thirty-minute virtual networking session to conclude. There was no fee to attend.

A noticeable weakness on the part of Asian Americans historically has been a lack of Asian American government representatives in many parts of the country relative to our percentage of the population. In addition, our inability to exert voting influence relative to other minority groups poses issues. This clearly influences a wide variety of rights and protections of Asian Americans, including how laws affecting career ceilings have been enacted. Our three panelists highlighted what they perceive as key issues along these lines, where they believe problems do not exist, potential causes of these issues, what Asian Americans can do to help, and how the panelists’ organizations are making a difference.


Christine Chen

Executive Director and Co-founder

Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Christine Chen is a co-Founder and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), the nation’s leading national, nonpartisan organization to engage, educate, and empower Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to strengthen their voices and create impact. APIAVote’s mission is to work with local and state community-based organizations (CBOs) to mobilize AAPI communities in electoral and civic engagement. Since 2007, APIAVote has been building power in AAPI communities by investing in their capacity and infrastructure to mobilize voters. This investment, as well as proactively training and resourcing community leaders across the country, paid off in the 2020 election cycle and Census.

Under Chen’s leadership, APIAVote strengthened and expanded APIAVote’s partners into 29 states and made two historical milestones: attracted then candidate Joe Biden to speak directly to the AAPI electorate—a first in history for a Presidential nominee—and second, contributed to the groundwork that led to the highest AAPI voter turnout in history.

Chen has been a champion for the empowerment of AAPI communities from the start of her career. Moving to Washington, D.C., from Ohio, she took on organizing and leadership roles at the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and started a consulting firm, Strategic Alliances USA, which was built on her broad and deep pool of relationships and skills in the AAPI community and in government. Chen’s firm included clients, such as the Linsanity documentary, Comcast, and USDA, to coordinate their outreach to Hmong farmers in Arkansas.

While serving as Executive Director of OCA National from 2001 to 2006, Chen served as a member of the executive committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, founding member of APIA Scholars, and served on numerous boards, including the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and Demos Board of Trustees. She was a Resident Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics during the 2022 spring semester. She currently serves on the Kennedy Center Community Advisory Board and the Center for Asian American Media. She is also a member of the Election Assistance and Policy (EAP) Standing Committee at the American Political Science Association.


Madalene Mielke

President & CEO

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)

Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke is a nationally recognized civil rights leader and a member of USA Today’s Inaugural Leaders of Change. As President & CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and Founder and Principal of Arum Group, LLC, she brings nearly 25 years of experience working in political campaigns and specializes in political/non-profit fundraising and political training.

After returning from the ’96 campaign, Ms. Mielke worked for the Co-Executive Director at the Presidential Inaugural Committee and later to Vice President Gore’s team. Ms. Mielke started fundraising while working at the New Democrat Network PAC and she returned to her roots as the Training Director for the Ron Brown-Paul Tully Institute (BTI), the training arm of the DNC. In 2002 Ms. Mielke started her political consulting firm, specializing in fundraising and political training. Madalene has collaborated with the NAACP National Voter Fund, John Kerry for President, Democratic National Committee Asian American Leadership Council, Mike Honda for Congress, Friends of Hillary, CHC BOLD PAC, Akaka for US Senate, Xavier Becerra for Congress, Mazie Hirono for Congress, Honda for Congress, America’s Opportunity Fund, Asian American Action (AAA) Fund and Young Democrats of America to raise millions of dollars to empower communities of color.​

Throughout her career, Madalene has been a featured speaker or trainer at many conferences and trainings, including the American Medical Association (AMA), the Center for Asian Pacific American Women, Virginia Leadership Institute, Netroots Nation, Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL), and numerous other organizations and non-profits.​

She has spent her entire professional political career working to bring diversity to the political process and nurturing candidates and staff as they move forward in bringing political change. The Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce awarded Ms. Mielke with its National Community Service award for her work in mentoring and promoting Vietnamese American civic participation.​

Madalene is a proud graduate of Tulane University, Newcomb College. She serves as a mentor through a variety of collegiate mentoring programs including the Newcomb College Institute Women to Women Mentoring Program and Georgetown University’s Politics Mentorship Program.


Gregg Orton

National Director

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

Gregg is the National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans where he leads the coalition in developing policy and communications strategy and advancing a joint agenda to address the needs of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.

Gregg joins NCAPA after spending nine years working on Capitol Hill for Rep. Al Green (D-TX). He has served as a dedicated advocate for the AAPI community, as well as a mentor for many AAPI staffers in Congress.

Gregg hails from Arcadia, CA and attended Vassar College where he earned his B.A. in Political Science. Following graduation, he came to D.C. as an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Housing Fellow and joined Rep. Green’s office. He most recently served as the Congressman’s Chief of Staff.


Peter Young

CEO and President, Young & Partners 

Committee of 100 Member

Peter Young is CEO and President of Young & Partners, a boutique corporate strategy and investment banking firm focused on the life science and chemical industries. He manages the firm and is actively involved in client projects, transactions and financings. Under his leadership, Young & Partners has established and maintained its position as a highly regarded firm serving the corporate strategy, M&A, restructuring and financing needs of clients worldwide. He was previously head of industry groups at Salomon Brothers, Schroders and Lehman Brothers, a senior private equity executive with J.H. Whitney & Co. and a senior member of Bain & Co., the corporate strategy firm.

Mr. Young received a BA in Economics from Yale, an MS in Accounting from NYU, and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. He is a CPA and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. He serves on a number of boards of directors, both corporate and non-profit, and is a board member of Société de Chimie Industrielle, a leading life science and chemical industry non-profit organization, and the Editorial Advisory Board of Pharmaceutical Executive.


September 20,2023 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET



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