Congratulations to the Leadership In Action 2017 Interns!

The 2017 Leadership In Action (LIA) program kicked off on June 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. LIA is an eight-week paid summer internship program for college student leaders. The program provides participants with practical leadership skills, professional work experience, and the opportunity to work hands-on in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in Southern California. Throughout the summer, selected interns work at a partnering Southern California community-based organization for four days out of the week (Monday through Thursday) and spend one day (Friday) at LEAP to continue receiving leadership development. Additionally, the first week of LIA begins with five days of foundational leadership training and team building activities.



Seven LIA interns were selected this year for the program.



Susana Abdurahman, University of California – Santa Barbara
Placed at: Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement

Alison Choi, Pomona College
Placed at: East West Players

Kevin Hang, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Placed at: LEAP

Joshua Jiang, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Placed at: Visual Communications

Lena Pham, Hendrix College
Placed at: Thai Community Center

Louisa Sasi, Santa Ana College
Placed at: Little Tokyo Services Center

Angela Yip, University of California – Los Angeles
Placed at: Empowering Pacific Islander Communities


Left to Right: Joshua Jiang, Susana Abdurahman, Angela Yip, Lena Pham, Alison Choi, Kevin Hang, and Louisa Sasi

Additionally, 2017 was the 20th anniversary of the program and the first year that LEAP had expanded the LIA Welcome Week (June 19-23, 2017) to provide training for additional college student leaders. By partnering with three LEAP nonprofit staff alumni, seven additional students attended this week of training (total of 14 students). These students were all alumni of youth programs at the following community-based organizations: 

Welcome Week, also known as Leadership Week, was a five-day overnight retreat that included a series of workshops on leadership, team building exercises, resume writing/building, interviewing, storytelling, and action planning. In addition, participants had an opportunity to build strong connections with peers nationwide who were dedicated to the API community. For the students from St. Paul, MN and the LIA interns from out of state, it was their first time visiting Los Angeles and learning about the API community in Southern California. It was also the first time for the St. Paul, MN students to have the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time reflecting about their leadership style, the type of change they want to create in the community, and how to create an action plan to achieve their leadership goals. The week ended with an intimate completion ceremony where participants received a certificate from LEAP.


With long-time LEAP trainer, Vanna Novak, on public speaking.

Left to Right: Lena Pham, Susana Abdurahman, Angela Yip, Joshua Jiang, Vanna Novak, Alison Choi, Louisa Sasi, and Kevin Hang

For the 7 LIA interns, following seven weeks included work at their assigned community-based organizations and continued leadership development. Topics included: giving and receiving feedback, public speaking, and networking. Interns also had an opportunity to attend LEAP’s 35th Annual Leadership Celebration, where they met LEAP’s board members, sponsors, alumni, and friends.

The LIA program concluded on August 11, 2017 with a graduation dinner. Over 60 community-based organization staff, friends, and family attended the graduation at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles, CA. Each intern had an opportunity to share their summer internship experience with graduation guests and present their team community impact project. This year’s cohort created a mixed media art website, sharing art pieces about their multifaceted their Asian or Pacific Islander identities and the work of their CBOs. The project can be viewed at:


Congratulations to the 2017 Leadership in Action Interns!


Thank you to our sponsors who helped made LIA possible

Southwest Airlines is The Official Airlines of Leadership In Action