Creating systemic change means attacking the problem at its source. That often means working with our City, County, and State representatives to identify the issues and create the solutions that will have long-term effects.

That’s precisely why United Way of Greater Los Angeles brought a diverse delegation to Capitol Day 2018 and joined advocates from across California. The annual event is hosted by United Ways of California and Women United in California’s capitol of Sacramento.

“It was fascinating to experience part of the legislative process. In-person advocacy with our legislative representatives and staffers is clearly an important part in a very big machine,” Judy Lai-Norling, Project Manager at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory expressed. Judy attended as a representative of Women United and United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Community Impact Cabinet.

The day started out with an intimate conversation with Assemblymember Monique Limon (D) 37th District, Santa Barbara where she shared insights into her journey to office and working on the hill. Participants were then fired up as they lobbied on the hill to their local representatives to garner support for bills that would provide more funding towards:

  • School-based supportive services for children and families
  • Affordable housing and supportive services
  • State earned income tax credit extension

image4.jpg Advocates like Deborah Lee, Tax Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Women United Cabinet Member, were able to draw on their personal experiences. “I attended the 2018 Capital Day not knowing what to expect. I was happy that California Earned Income Tax Credit (“CalEITC”) was one of the policy priorities because it allowed me to share my experience working with a few family centers promoting the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program with United Way of Greater Los Angeles since ten years ago,” she shared. "My hands-on experience with VITA made it easy for the legislators to understand the importance and urgency of the legislations related to CalEITC. As an immigrant, I am always impressed with American cultures embracing diversity, inclusion, and philanthropy. What I did not know is that I could give back to the community to influence the legislative process by sharing my experience. It is truly a rewarding experience to me for my first Capital Day.”

Karen Calderon who is a millennial, promising future leader and LA USD alumnae shone throughout Capitol Day as she met with local representatives and could speak directly from her student experience. A current sophomore at UCLA and alumnae of United Way’s Young Civic Leaders program this was her first time at the Capitol and it was all made possible through the Carol Jackson Legacy Fund and the Martha Anne Roberts Family Trust.

Karen went on to be a featured speaker at the closing session as she spoke to the Capitol Day crowd about leadership and how she activates her local community to exercise their civic duty. She also spoke of her experience in the Young Civic Leaders program, where she honed her leadership skills. Through her continued involvement with United Way, Karen continues to advocate for a better way of life for Los Angeles’ most vulnerable residents.

“Capitol Day was so inspiring! I was happy to be surrounded by other people representing United Way and pushing for the policy we need to see passed. The legislators seemed pleased with all of our presentations and stories, so it was nice knowing we were being heard,” Karen said. “I was nervous in the beginning, but I began feeling comfortable talking about policy when I started directly linking it to my experiences. I left Capitol Day feeling empowered to continue advocating for the people in my community.”

Capitol Day isn’t your only chance to get involved. Join Women United on January 19th for the second annual Women’s March Breakfast before we stand with the nation in the third installment of the Women’s March.



The delegation from United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Judy Lai-Norling, Community Impact and Women United Cabinet Member, Project Manager at NASA JPL
Katherine Trejo, Young Civic Leaders Program Coordinator
Karen Calderon, YCLP alumnae
Amanda Chin Yee, Affinity Groups Manager
Tommy Newman, Director of Public Affairs
Deborah Lee, Women United Cabinet Member, Tax Partner at PwC