2016 ILF Fellows
The 2016 International Leadership Foundation (ILF) Civic Fellows were welcomed to Washington, D.C. on June 4 with sandwiches and cookies served in the ILF conference room at the Ronald Reagan Building.
In addition to lunch, Orientation Day was comprised of introductions by ILF Executive Team and Board of Directors. Their remarks were followed by those of Hank Chao, the managing director of ILF’s International Student Exchange Programs, and Managing Director Elizabeth Thompson from the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL).
Five ILF alumni, many of whom had only their ILF memories as common ground, formed a panel to dole out advice to the new Fellows. The alumni’s professional backgrounds and experiences cover a wide array of fields. Tonia Bui, a 2006 ILF Fellow, arrived at her current position as a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton from the nonprofit sector and internships on the Hill while she was a student. 2011 Fellow Van-Anh Su, on the other hand, moved from the private sector to being a Corporate Strategy Fellow at the nonprofit FHI 360. Justin Lee is a 2014 Fellow who transitioned to his job at the Bipartisan Policy Center from serving as the ILF Program Coordinator in 2015. Michael Wu, the 2011 John B. Tsu Fellow, never expected to go into public service, yet he is now a Criminal Investigator for the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General. In contrast, Lana Schanz had always known she wanted to delve into public service. In fact, her placement at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a 2011 ILF Fellow led to a full time job offer. She later transferred to the State Department in 2013 as a program analyst in the International Programs Directorate of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
ILF Alumni Panel from left to right: Justin Lee, Michael Wu, Lana Schanz, Van-Anh Su, and Tonia Bui
The speakers’ comments touched on subjects that ranged from the humorous—such as avoiding showing up to work in flip-flops and similar “skin-tern” attire and leaving ample time to accommodate metro delays—to the humbling. One repeatedly emphasized point cautioned Fellows to recognize that no task is beneath them. Lee cited the story of a senior manager who would take out her own trash, even though she certainly could have delegated the menial task to someone else.
“There is always something you don’t know,” added Tong. “Don’t be full of yourself, no matter how high your position is. Never forget where you came from or the people around you.”
This year’s Fellows, most of whom are rising juniors and seniors, hail from all across the United States and from reputable institutions like the Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Duke University, UC Berkeley, and many more. Their internship placements span the range of government agencies, including USAID in the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minority Business Development Agency in the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Treasury.
2016 fellow Victoria Ma was drawn to ILF because she views it as a program for accruing work experience and job prospects, as well as one that sets up the “networks, allies, and friends who are strong supporters of what I’m going for because America is very full of strong forces that try to keep minorities down.”
The Fellows will be balancing a busy first week lined with events, including a tour of Theodore Roosevelt Island, a session with CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, a reception with distinguished ILF speakers, and a dinner at Union Station. The fun activities continue throughout the summer: The White House tour, the evening monument tour, happy hours with ILF alumni, Independence Day fireworks, and the annual Gala remain favorites among each ILF class.
ILF Fellows join their first monument visit to Theodore Roosevelt on June 7.
By the end of the day, the 2016 Fellows remained engaged and undoubtedly invigorated by the presence and weight of ILF’s continuing legacy. This new and promising group of Fellows will surely continue their mission and represent ILF as a premier leadership training program for the APA community.
Written by Jessica Liang, 2015 ILF Alumna