As we write to you, APANO is in a season of change.
We talk a lot about change at APANO, as we seek social and political shifts that reflect the solutions our communities need and demand. From our experiences in that work, we know that change can be both hard and necessary. Change can mean uncertainty and upheaval, but it can also bring possibility and hope. It’s in that spirit that we are both moving on as staff—in early April (Kara) and end of May (Kathy) respectively—as we lean into what this season of change means for APANO.
Both of us have been part of APANO’s growth over the years, and we have seen ourselves grow alongside APANO. Kathy first attended an APANO event in 2008 when the organization was run solely by community volunteers, which turned into service on the Board of Directors, and later joining staff in 2014 to focus on civic engagement and policy advocacy. Kathy knew she was in the right place when she attended the first ever API Legislative Day in our state’s capital, bringing young people and members from her own Burmese community to share their stories and advocate for change. From organizing multilingual phonebanks, to registering first-time voters and meeting new members as they shared their hopes and dreams for our community, this work was dynamic, challenging, and deeply rewarding.
Kara first learned about APANO as a fellow in the API Community Leadership Institute (API-CLI). Attending a culturally specific gender justice workshop in October 2013 then led to increasing member leadership roles before being hired as staff in 2015. Whether leading workshops on immigration history, reproductive justice or the model minority myth; watching API-CLI fellows grow and graduate; or staffing leaders retreats, listening sessions and lobbying visits, Kara has loved supporting so many members in finding a political home and leadership opportunities at APANO, just as she did.
The past four months at APANO have been an invitation to reflect on who we are and how we react in crisis. They have exposed challenges in how all of us engage with one another when we experience hurt and highlighted the skills we need to build across the organization. The two of us have done our best to embrace those opportunities and hold space for our many staff, members and partners to share their reflections and suggestions for APANO. We take this responsibility incredibly seriously and do our best to live up to expectations. We also will not lie to you: it has been hard.
We recognize how the announcement of our departures could be received in the community, so we want to be clear: this is a personal decision that we are making for ourselves, to seek out opportunities that best match our strengths and skills, based on what is best for us and on the evolving needs of the organization. We see this as a positive opportunity for APANO to gain new leadership with the levels of organizational development experience needed to guide the organization through its next chapter. It is also a moment where our skilled and visionary staff and members can grow in their own leadership to shape the future of this organization. We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had, the many lessons we’ve learned, and the grace afforded to us to grow as leaders in this organization, none of which would have been possible without the support and trust of our staff, fellow directors and Board members. We have loved the work we have gotten to do here and the people we’ve worked alongside, and we are hopeful about APANO’s next chapter.
While we are departing as staff, we believe more than ever in APANO’s capacity to adapt and grow through change and emerge stronger, guided by our vision and values. We will continue to support this crucial work as community members and we hope you will join us. If you are a new member, will you come to an event, learn about our programs and see where your interests align? If you are a long-time member, what new roles do you want to take on, and how do you want to grow with APANO in the next year? Are you or do you know a strong candidate for a staff or Board position at APANO? How can you be a part of APANO’s future?
More now than ever before, the movement needs more of us, not less. In this season of change, we ask you to dream with us and with the incredible team of staff and members that make up APANO. If we deeply invest in our relationships and communities, come together around shared values, and act in just and compassionate ways to build power together, we know we can create and live up to the world we want.
Kara and Kathy