Application for Linda Akutagawa
Below is the initial application for the Citizens Redistricting Commission. In this section of the application you will be asked to provide personal information that will assist the Applicant Review Panel in processing your application.
You do not have to complete the entire application at one time. At any point, you can save your application using the "Save Application" button. After the application has been saved, you can return to this site to complete the application using your email and password if you choose to set one. Be sure to submit your initial application on or before August 19, 2019.
All fields with * are required to submit the application.
Letters of Recommendation
Letter of Recommendation #1, submitted by George C. Wu
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Board Chair
Letter of Recommendation:
Dear Selection Committee Members:
It is my pleasure to provide this letter of recommendation for Linda Akutagawa as she seeks selection to the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. My professional partnership with Linda spans a decade, from our peer-to-peer relationship as executives of national non-profits to my current role as board chair of her organization, LEAP.
Along the way, I've benefited from Linda's expertise in two formal leadership development programs she served as lead trainer; collaborated on numerous projects, initiatives and meetings; and, most importantly to me, enjoyed her friendship and our shared love of all things Disney. Through it all, and now more than ever, Linda has been the consummate professional and true change agent within the communities we both serve.
Since joining the LEAP Board of Directors in 2014, I have further witnessed firsthand Linda's mastery of stakeholder engagement on issues of leadership development, diversity and inclusion, civic participation, and public policy across the business, government, higher education, media, and philanthropic sectors. All the while, Linda also maintained an intense nationwide training schedule as LEAP's lead (and most sought after) trainer. Furthermore, Linda and her small, yet dynamic team in LEAP's Little Tokyo-based headquarters managed to complete a wholesale transformation of the organization from the hanging-on-by-a-thread days of the Great Recession to the modernized, connected, and well-funded player LEAP is today.
On top of all this, Linda lends her time, energy and leadership to a wide range of civic, professional, non-profit, community causes and organizations. In short, Linda has made board members like myself and the organizations she serves look as good as the legions of LEAP training alumni now making their way up the proverbial ladder throughout the United States and abroad. I count my and LEAP's blessings every day that Linda is so committed to our mission and vision. I'm also always very excited when she tells me of new ways she believes she can have an impact on our society. Service on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission will be no different. Simply put, Linda will make the Commission stronger by bringing with her a wide range of experiences and connections critical to the task at hand.
I'm particularly excited for Linda about this opportunity, because I know redistricting and civic participation is near and dear to her heart. I am also excited, because these types of applications force Linda to do the one thing she is always reluctant to do - promote herself. If she is selected, I'm excited for the entire Commission and our home state of California, because I know the entire process will greatly benefit from Linda's breadth of experiences and commitment to bridge building and equity.
As a Japanese American, Linda is keenly aware the dangerous consequences of society losing track of values such as equality, fairness, and equity. I believe her and her family's journey only adds to her commitment to these very values in everything she does and puts her name to. As she has done for decades building LEAP into a national force with a strong connection to the local Los Angeles community, Linda will be able to articulate a strong, equitable vision for Californians through service on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission.
In closing, I'd like to restate my strong and unwavering support for Linda's application to the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. I'm confident that she will surpass your expectations and enrich the experiences of all stakeholders. Linda is driven, self-confident, proactively helpful, and smart, and I know she will be a long-term asset to redistricting in California. As LEAP's board chair, I take these requests very seriously as it means Linda has to share her time and talents with other causes, but I can't think of anything more important than the work of the Commission and how well suited Linda will be as a member. Please feel free to contact me at [Redacted] if I can be of any further service to the selection committee. Thank you for your time.
George C. Wu
Chairman of the Board of Directors, LEAP
Partner, VENG Group
Letter of Recommendation #2, submitted by Tammy Tran
How Submitter Knows Applicant: I know Linda Akutagawa as an Executive Director of a nonprofit; a subject matter expert on diversity, inclusion, and representation.
Letter of Recommendation:
Dear 2020 Citizen Redistricting Commission Selection Committee:
It is with great confidence that I submit this letter of recommendation to strongly support Linda Akutagawa's application to serve on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. I have known Linda Akutagawa for close to ten years as a strong leader, subject-matter expert, and voice for the Asian Pacific Islanders communities. Alongside her role as the Executive Director of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), I know Linda to be highly sought-after as an expert speaker, facilitator, and trainer on leadership, diversity, and inclusion. She has a steadfast and foundational commitment to achieving full participation and equality for Asian and Pacific Islanders through leadership, empowerment, and policy. She is among the most thoughtful, accomplished, and innovative nonprofits leaders that I have met and worked with in the past fifteen years.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to work with directly with Linda in my role as a public affairs professional at Southern California Edison (SCE). Linda had been selected to serve on SCE's Consumer Advisory Panel that I project-managed for SCE. In this role, Linda represented the Asia Pacific Islander communities and provided direct, candid, and insightful guidance to SCE's senior leadership including the Chief Executive Officer and Vice President of Local Public Affairs. Linda helped broaden and sharpen the company's understanding of consumer issues, challenges, and barriers to service. Linda provided specific suggestions on how SCE can better serve the diverse API populations through in-language outreach, trusted partnerships, and community engagement.
Throughout her three years of service on the panel, Linda facilitated key introductions to nonprofits and community leaders that resulted in SCE's stronger engagement with a cross section of API communities throughout Southern California. Linda would routinely share information and research on demographic trends across diverse communities and best practices in diversity and inclusion. Her contributions during meetings were always insightful and would spur additional follow-up discussions. Her questions were always sharp and analytical. Linda presented herself to be very knowledgeable of not just the API communities but of all diverse communities. In addition, she was very attentive, self-aware, and thoughtful of the difference perspectives of other members on the advisory panel. This ability to balance and weigh different experiences and backgrounds will serve Linda well as a member of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Linda is a strategic community leader with a strong ability to make connections. She values data-driven programming and targeted leadership development. Under her leadership, LEAP has expanded programs for individuals to realize their full potential at different life stages from students to retirees. These programs have resulted in increased leadership participation of APIs at all levels in this increasingly globalized world. I personally know many people who have participated and benefited from these programs. I can confidently say Linda is directly responsible for producing community leaders who could advocate and speak on their behalf.
Linda will be a valuable addition to the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. She is an articulate, fair-minded, and highly effective nonprofit professional. Linda approaches her work with integrity, professionalism and an understanding of the importance of equality and participation. I have full confidence that she will be an impartial member of the Commission and use the experience to continue to do meaningful work. I hope that you strongly consider her application.
Tammy T. Tran
Senior Manager, Local Public Affairs
Southern California Edison
Letter of Recommendation #3, submitted by Yvette Chappell-Ingram
How Submitter Knows Applicant: We are professional colleagues
Letter of Recommendation:
October 3, 2019
California State Auditors Commission
C/O Applicant Review Panel
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA. 95813
RE: Applicant ID number is 22971
Dear Review Panel:
I am delighted to be called upon as a reference for Ms. Linda Akutagawa. I was introduced to Ms. Akutagawa in early 2012 when I, along with our co-founder Virgil Roberts, was forming the African American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI). We were seeking advice and guidance on best practices of organizations similar to AABLI's. Linda realized the impact AABLI could have on communities throughout California, and despite her hectic schedule, she unselfishly provided many hours of her time in helping us to develop our business model and programming. As President and CEO of AABLI and State Commissioner, we have been calling on each other's support ever since.
In the time that I have known Linda, I have been very impressed with her intellect, poise and ability to take on difficult challenges. I have witnessed, first-hand, the competence she has brought to her role as President and CEO of LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.) Since assuming this role, she was instrumental in changing the business model of the organization, establishing new client relations and strengthening relations with staff, donors and volunteers. Her many successes can be directly attributed to her professionalism and consummate people skills. Most importantly, she is a person of impeccable integrity and character who has earned the respect of her peers and constituents. Her approach to problem-solving is collaborative, mature and fun.
Without reservation, I give Linda Akutagawa my highest recommendation. She is a dynamic leader who can make an excellent commissioner. If there are any questions or further comments required, I would be pleased to respond.
President and CEO
African American Board Leadership Institute
Comment 686, submitted by Cid Wilson
How Submitter Knows Applicant: See Attached Letter
Submitted On: 10/29/2019
Comment 3484, submitted by Rachelle Arizmendi
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Fellow Board of Director Member
Submitted On: 05/05/2020
Linda Akutagawa is a colleague and fellow member on a Board of Directors for a non-profit organization- I, as the Board President and Ms. Akutagawa as an active Board Member. The organization is an association of 40+ Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations throughout Los Angeles County that advocate for the rights and needs for the AAPI underrepresented communities. Ms. Akutagawa is thoughtful and analytical in her contributions on the board. She encourages differing opinions to ensure that we are making the best decisions for the organization that are based on facts, expertise, knowledge, and the professional opinions of her colleagues. She is cognizant of the fact that the direction we take as a Board should be representative, as best as possible, for all the member organizations. She brings a sense of balance of reflection and foresight when planning and evaluating our strategic plan. Ms. Akutagawa challenges differing opinions with respect and professionalism- she can stand firm without intimidating others. She embraces wisdom of the experienced and values the insight of newer voices. I am confident that Ms. Akutagawa will be an extremely valuable asset to the Commission. She has always proved herself to be fair, reasonable, and in general- a nice person.
Comment 3485, submitted by Manjusha P. Kulkarni
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Linda is Board Member of A3PCON, the organization where I work.
Submitted On: 05/05/2020
Dear Applicant Review Panel:
I am writing to submit a recommendation on behalf of Linda Akutagawa. I have known Linda for a number of years as she has been a longtime leader in the Asian American Pacific Islander community in Los Angeles as executive director of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP). More recently, since 2018, Linda has also served as a Member-at-Large of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), the organization where I serve as an executive director.
In the time I have known Linda, she has demonstrated tremendous thoughtfulness and integrity in her leadership of .LEAP. In her role as A3PCON board member, Linda has always shown impartiality in her decisionmaking. In consequential discussions about A3PCON matters, she weighs all of the information presented and considers the various points of view of other board members before she shares her thoughts and weighs in to the conversation. In each case, I have been impressed by her deliberative process and contemplative approach.
For these reasons, I strongly support Linda's application to serve on the CA Redistricting Commission. I know she will serve all communities of California as she determines the best way with her colleagues to determine the voting districts throughout the state. Without a doubt, Linda will be objective and impartial in her decisionmaking and will consider all of the information shared with the commission along with the arguments made by her fellow commissioners.
Thank you for your consideration of my recommendation. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Manjusha P. Kulkarni
Comment 3487, submitted by Tami Bui
How Submitter Knows Applicant: LEAP Intern and Board Member
Submitted On: 05/06/2020
Dear 2020 Citizen Redistricting Commission Selection Committee:
First, I hope you are all safe and well!
I am very happy to submit this letter of recommendation to support Linda Akutugawa's application to serve on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. There has been so much that has changed in the past weeks and months, but there are some things that have not - and that includes importance of the work of this Commission as well the need for strong, ethical leadership.
I have known Linda now for nearly 20 years, and while each of our roles have changed over time, Linda has been a consistently steady hand in supporting and building the leadership pipeline as well as being a voice for Asian Pacific Islander communities, women, underrepresented groups and her community at-large. Developing and building leaders in all sectors so that all our communities stronger is part of her identity, and fortunately for us, I see it as gift to all of us that she does that every day in her work as the Executive Director for Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP).
I first met Linda as a college student who was getting ready to graduate in Political Science. I had the opportunity to be in LEAP's Leadership in Action program which was an internship that exposed young leaders to careers in non-profit while also training them with leadership skills wherever they may go. Linda was the VP of External Affairs at the time and I quickly learned that leadership is not so much a title as it is about what you do and how you are. I watched how Linda would speak passionately (this includes the expressive use of her hands, by the way) about our community, our issues, and our opportunities - and unequivocally believed in it. Whether was to corporate leaders, community partners, or students, she has an unwavering commitment to honesty, transparency, and fairness. And I truly believe that it is because of how Linda is that makes her someone that people want to hear from, follow, work with, and trust.
After my internship, it was Linda who encouraged me to join the board for LEAP. I remember thinking how she could even propose such a thing at my age, but looking back, this goes back to her leadership style. Linda can be the one in front speaking to a large group or facilitating a panel - and she can also be the one in the back, not seen but you feel her cheering you on and feel her supporting you with the blow horns, reminding you of your potential. She is inclusive, she is compassionate, she is kind. These are things that make her someone you want to work with. And as the Commission will have to think about the diversity of this State, the many voices and issues, she will be someone to think critically and thoughtfully about the impact of the choices and decisions made on this Commission.
Finally, I would say that Linda is someone with integrity and a strong ethical core. With that as a compass, she is not an ideologue nor is she someone who is quickly swayed without meaningful dialogue and data. She will ask questions, she will take the time to fully understand issues, and she will always come from of, "what is the right thing to do?" The answer is not always easy, but she is someone who will take the time to be thorough, thoughtful and intentional.
So there you have it. I am sure you will read more about the various roles Linda has played - her many accomplishments and accolades. I wanted to give you a picture of the person the Linda would be if she were to be a part of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. She would bring her leadership skills to bear as someone who walks the talk, she is agile and flexible as someone who will and does speak up, but also knows that leadership is about making sure to listen and hear the many sides to issues and be considerate of colleagues and diverse perspectives. She will keep you on your toes with questions, but she will also be critically taking in information to guide thoughtful decision-making. And, as a foundation to it all, she will always conduct herself with professionalism, respect and the highest of ethical standards.
As you make the important decision on the makeup of this Commission, I truly hope you consider Linda. My appreciation to each of you for your work on this.
Associate Vice President, Government & Community Relations
California State University, Fullerton
Comment 3488, submitted by Chris Thompson
How Submitter Knows Applicant: LInda Akutagawa served as member of an adivsory committee I oversaw.
Submitted On: 05/08/2020
I understand Linda Akutagawa is a finalist for California's 2020 Citizen's Redistricting Commission. I am confident Linda will bring a diverse and valuable perspective to support and meet the goals of the Commission.
As Vice President of Local Public Affairs at Southern California Edison, I have known and worked with Linda Akutagawa since 2015 while she served a three-year term as a member of our Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP). Linda was very engaged, inquisitive, and thoughtful throughout her service. She provided important insights and feedback that has helped increase our company's understanding and outreach into diverse communities. Linda has consistently been a reliable source of information as well as a voice for the Asian Pacific Islander communities.
I know Linda Akutagawa will bring a balanced perspective to the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. She is articulate, direct, and highly effective. Linda approaches her role as a community leader with integrity, professionalism, and inclusiveness. I believe that Linda will be an invaluable and impartial member of the Commission.
Comment 3512, submitted by Susan Lew
How Submitter Knows Applicant: By community reputation
Submitted On: 07/22/2020
Linda Akutagawa has a strong history of community leadership in Orange County, and a deep knowledge of our communities and the issues that affect the people of Orange County. She is imminently qualified to make decisions from a place of knowledge and fairness for the electorate. As an executive of two Asian American advocacy organizations in Orange County, I highly recommend Linda Akutagawa for the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. Orange County has the 3rd largest Asian American population in the country and while all the finalists are well-qualified, it is of utmost importance that the Citizens Redistricting Commission represent our demographics. My understanding is that there are currently no members of the commission of East Asian descent. Linda Akutagawa is of East Asian descent, and we need her voice, her experience, and her skills on the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Thank you.
Comment 3513, submitted by Mary Anne Foo
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Colleague from nonprofit organization
Submitted On: 07/22/2020
I would like to highly recommend Linda Akutagawa for the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. I have known Linda for over 20 years as colleagues in the nonprofit world. I have always been impressed with Linda's professionalism, intelligence, and especially her leadership to be fair to all. Linda is excellent in coalition building, ensuring inclusion and voices from all. She has worked with multiple sectors, always striving to understand others points of views and creating beneficial opportunities for all. Linda will make an excellent member of the Commission, bringing her knowledge of underserved and diverse communities as well as listening and incorporate the interests of all neighbors, leaders, and businesses. Linda will use data, information, and be balanced and impartial in her decision-making. She will work very well with the entire Commission and ensure that all Californians are listened to and their ideas and opinions incorporated into the mapping. I urge you to give her application your highest consideration, I truly feel she will bring so much to the Commission and be fair to all.
Mary Anne Foo, Executive Director
Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA)
Comment 3515, submitted by Linda Trinh Vo
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Have served with her on community boards and worked on projects together
Submitted On: 08/05/2020
I strongly endorse Linda Akutagawa for California's 2020 Citizen's Redistricting Commission. I have known her for 18 years and given her vast expertise, she is well-suited for this position. Her decades of experience working in Southern California provides her with an in-depth understanding of the economic, cultural, and ethnic/racial diversity of the region. Working in downtown Los Angeles and residing in Orange County provides her with an intimate understanding of the urban/suburban challenges we face as well as the demographic transformations impacting our communities. These are complex matters and she understands how to analyze the data, ask pertinent questions, and make fair decisions that will benefit all our local communities. She has impressive networks that stretch across the non-profit, business, and academic sectors and has worked with key leaders throughout the region, state, and nation. She is trusted, well-respected, and skilled at building bridges and forging coalitions. She would make an excellent choice for the commission so I give her my highest recommendation.
Linda Trinh Vo, Professor, Dept of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine
Comment 3516, submitted by Kathy Ko Chin
How Submitter Knows Applicant: AAPI national and state leaders
Submitted On: 08/05/2020
I would like to highly recommend Linda Akutagawa for the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. I have known Linda for over 10 years as colleagues in national AAPI leadership roles and in particular in my role as a former U.S. Commissioner on President Obama's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2014-2016). I have always been impressed with Linda's fairness and leadership in areas of equity and diversity. Linda is excellent in coalition building and ensuring inclusion and voices from all. In order to assure that redistricting works for all Californians, especially for those who have historically not had representation or voice, Linda will be able to work with multiple stakeholders and constituents, striving to understand their points of views and how to create beneficial opportunities for all Californians. Linda will make a superior member of the Commission, bringing her knowledge of underserved and diverse communities. Linda will use data and information to inform her decisions. Linda will be balanced and impartial in her decision-making. She will work well with the Commission and ensure that all Californians are listened to and considered into the re-districting process and outcome. I urge you to give her your highest consideration. I truly feel she will bring so much to the Commission and represent the best that California has.
Comment 3518, submitted by Jack Toan
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Professional affiliation
Submitted On: 08/05/2020
Dear Commission Selection Committee,
It is my pleasure to provide this personal statement of support for Linda Akutagawa and her application to serve of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. I met Linda nine years ago when she became the CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP). LEAP was contracted by my company, Wells Fargo, to provide leadership training for high potential Asian American and Pacific Islander team members. Since then, I have worked with Linda on a couple of projects and have supported each other in advancing AAPI leaders. Linda has always been a consummate professional who is a strategic thinker. She is well known nationally, in the AAPI community and corporate circles for her knowledge and expertise in leadership development and empowerment. As the CEO of LEAP, she is also tasked with the responsibility to advocate and represent AAPI interests when necessary, especially around issues of leadership and equitable representation.
I highly recommend that Linda Akutagawa be appointed as a member of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission as she will be a key asset for the commission. She can help bring a voice for the AAPI community as it has not been well represented. Her cultural competency and understanding of the needs of the community can surely inform the work of the commission. She has proven leadership skills as she also serve as the Chair of he Alliance for Board Diversity, an appointed member of the California Department of Insurance Diversity Taskforce and Board member of the Japanese American Community Services among others.
As a resident of Orange County, Linda will be able to add value to the conversation as the county has large AAPI population which Linda will be able to represent. Although inaccurately seen as a suburb of Los Angeles by those not familiar with the region, Orange County is very distinct from the neighboring counties. Linda will be able to address the unique needs of the county to better inform the Commission in its work.
I fully endorse Linda Akutagawa's application to the Commission. Should you have additional questions, feel free to contact me.
VP Community Relations
Comment 3519, submitted by MAELEY tom
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Through decades of leadership training for Asian Americans
Submitted On: 08/05/2020
I have had the honor and pleasure working with Linda through her leadership of the premiere APIA leadership training organization in California LEAP. Her stature and accomplishments as an APIA community leader within the state is second to none. Her understanding of the importance of APIA being involved civic engagement is exemplified by her own efforts in making sure Asian Americans have a voice in mainstream society. Her sense of objectivity and fairness makes her an ideal candidate to serve on this commission
Maeley Tom National Director of government relations for the national Asian Pacific American Public Affairs organization know as APAPA.
Comment 3521, submitted by Myron Dean Quon, Esq.
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Colleague
Submitted On: 08/06/2020
Honorable California Redistricting Commissioners:
I recommend Linda Akutagawa to join the 2020 Redistricting Commission without any reservations.
I have known Linda since 2006, when she worked with me in Chicago to develop a leadership program for our young leaders program. Since then I have worked with Linda professional concerning Asian Pacific American concerns at the national and local levels.
Linda displays the qualities of impartiality and judgment that would benefit the Commission as well as all of California. Whether discussing barriers to inclusion at the corporate level to reducing bias for all community members, Linda always has shown the qualities that are needed for a fair and wise process with regard to ensuring a fair outcome.
Finally, Linda has deep knowledge of Southern California, including Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including the needs and assets of Asian Pacific Americans as well as other residents of this region.
Please strongly consider adding Linda to your honorable group.
Myron Dean Quon, Esq.
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
Comment 3522, submitted by Tracy Zhao
How Submitter Knows Applicant: Colleague on the same nonprofit board
Submitted On: 08/06/2020
I have served with Linda as part of the board at the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON). Linda's leadership with her organization and on the board we serve together on has benefited Asian American communities in our region and nationally. The commission will benefit from Linda's expertise, strategic thinking, and ability to make data-driven decisions on behalf of the public good. Her voice as an advocate from Orange County, which has a vastly different social and political landscape from Los Angeles, will ensure that all regions of California will be represented. I highly recommend Linda Akutagawa for the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission.