Ky. lawmaker one of six in nation going to conference in Japan

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- A Kentucky lawmaker is one of six Asian-American state legislators from across the nation who are headed to Japan on Friday for the 2019 Asian American Leadership Delegation Program.

Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni, D-Louisville, whose family moved from India to Kentucky when she was a child, is the only Kentuckian in the group on the trip, which runs through Dec. 14.

While in Japan, the delegates will travel to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaki and Tottori, where they will meet with Japanese political and government leaders, business executives, nonprofit leaders and educators, to exchange ideas and create networks that can mutually benefit relationships between the U. S. and Japan.

The events include a panel discussion entitled “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian American State Legislators in 2019, where Kulkarni and the other delegates will talk about their respective political and personal journeys in the United States.

Many of the delegates this year have followed non-traditional paths, choosing to become a politician after pursuing different careers. The audience will have the opportunity to learn about their personal choices, as well as the important role Asian American politicians play in their political arenas, especially relating to current events. The speakers will also reflect upon their experience in Japan.

After taking part in the Asian American Leadership Delegation program, participants will have opportunities to continue pursuing an active role in U.S.-Japan relations by connecting with USJC’s extensive international, national and regional networks.

According to Kulkarni’s biography, she and her family moved from India to Kentucky when she was six years old. Watching her parents live the American dream, she learned firsthand that you can achieve anything through hard work and belief in yourself. She also learned the importance of community and giving back.

In law school, she focused on helping the most vulnerable among us, completing hundreds of hours of community-focused clinical legal work, which underscored the power of the law to shape policies that promote accountability and empower our citizens.

She practiced immigration law for over a decade and became keenly aware of the enormous impact that laws have. Her desire to further policies that help Kentucky families led her to run for State Representative, and in 2018, she became the first Indian immigrant elected to the Kentucky General Assembly.

The program is co-organized by the U.S.-Japan Council and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators. Organizers are paying the expenses for the trip and no taxpayer dollars are involved.

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