NAPAWF’s Annual Leadership Gathering PowerUP!


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On March 15th-17th, NAPAWF San Diego Leaders, Trinh Le, Korinna Li and Gracelynne West joined nearly 48 Chapter Leaders from across the country to participate in NAPAWF’s annual PowerUP Conference in Washington D.C. This weekend was filled with trainings around civic engagement, storytelling, advocacy and learning from other chapters on how to strengthen our base locally as well as nationally.

This was my first-time ever on the East Coast and my first time interacting with NAPAWF on a national level, so this was a very empowering and enriching experience for me, personally. As the Political Action and Awareness Chair, I was really interested in connecting with other chapters on how to build and strengthen our grassroots organizing efforts locally. One of the most memorable workshops that I remember from the conference was the Storytelling workshop. It really helped us understand how our personal experiences set the foreground for the work we do in NAPAWF and other progressive spaces. I always appreciate workshops like this because sometimes we get so caught up in the menial tasks and manual to-do’s but forget the reasons why we do this work in the first place.

We were also able to attend a series of awesome workshops throughout the weekend. Some notable workshops included “Campaign Strategizing” hosted by the Director of the Midwest Academy, Heather Booth, on how to effectively organize grassroots campaigns. Also, political activist and writer, Suey Park (founder of #notyourasiansidekick hashtag) hosted a workshop on how to use social media as a tool for political activism.

Towards the end of Sunday, we were able to learn more about the new NAPAWF sponsored bill, Health Equity and Access Under the Law or the HEAL Act for Immigrant Women and families. In general, this bill would lift the 5-year waiting ban for eligible documented immigrants, which includes DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)-sponsored individuals to be able to access health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (which includes Medi-Cal/Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program/CHIP). Throughout the day, we practiced the different components of a lobby visit to prepare for Lobby Day on Monday.

Unfortunately, when Monday came, so did the snow, which pre-empted a Capitol closure, so we weren’t able to lobby our local SD representatives. However, we were able to take part in a mock sit-in activity to put pressure on three key Republican Congressmen in the House. It was my first time ever holding a direct action in a legislator’s office so it helped me learn a lot about team dynamics, maintaining clear messaging and what specific tactics can be used to apply pressure on the staff and/or legislator to reach our goal.

Overall, the PowerUp conference was an amazing experience for me. I am still in awe about being surrounded by so many awesome, amazing and fierce AAPI leaders. My hope is to bring back all the skills and tools that I learned from the conference to help build our movement in San Diego because we are bound to build momentum this year and I’m excited to see us grow! I would like say a special thank you to NAPAWF-SD and NAPAWF National for allowing me to take part in this incredible opportunity.

Gracelynne West

Political Action & Awareness Chair, NAPAWF-SD