November 15, 2017

APANO response to community about sexism and homophobia

From the Boards:

Dear Members,

Since 2009, APANO has been on an intentional and transformative journey towards justice through our community organizing as well as within our organization. Our updated values and strategic plan are our North Star, and APANO’s programs are growing and adapting to the needs of our communities. Our plan includes improving and optimizing our policies and procedures to support our dynamic and diverse staff and community.

In response to our Nov 5 Update to Our Community, we have heard questions and concerns from several Asian and Pacific Islander community members regarding gender and LGBTQ issues internal to APANO. We want to assure our communities that APANO has, and will continue to thoroughly investigate allegations of misconduct, including gender and LGBTQ discrimination, and respond appropriately. To date, we have no evidence to suggest that there has been any unlawful discrimination or actions by current or former staff within the organizational practices of APANO. We will keep transparency as one of our guiding principles.

We care deeply about the experience of our members, staff and Board both past and present, and strive to live our values everyday. The Board of Directors of APANO and Communities United Fund and our staff are committed to creating space to further listen and learn, and to creating an organization where all people are respected, valued, and treated fairly. We believe that our Asian and Pacific Islander communities are reflective of the larger world. Further, through our justice lens and framework we understand that APANO, like every other organization, faces challenges under the same systems of power and privilege reflected in our broader society, including those of patriarchy, heterosexism and transphobia, that impact all of us.

We do seek out concrete opportunities to improve, and move forward in the work that strengthens our efforts toward building justice within and outside APANO. We recognize that we are in an important moment of transformation and accountability in the wider society. We invite members to engage with us as we explore transformative justice as a pathway to building the movement and world we want to see, at our November 16th Member Monthly Meeting. If you can’t make it, and would like to participate in future dialogue and learning, or have other ideas for this work, we hope you will reach out to one of us.

With peace,

Simon Tam
APANO Communities United Fund 501c3 Board Chair

Raahi Reddy
APANO 501c4 Board Chair

From all staff:

Dear members,

We, the APANO staff, are reaching out to all of you who lead, shape, and invest in the work we do and all those who we fight with and for. You are our community—we recognize the trust you put in us, and you deserve transparency and accountability from us.

On the weekend of November 4th, APANO received a letter from a group of former staff, Board, and volunteers, calling for the resignation of our current Boards, Executive Director and Associate Director within three days. In the letter, former staff, Board, and volunteers make serious allegations of gender and LGBTQ discrimination during their time at APANO —these are issues we do not take lightly.

While we understand that hearing about this may create uncertainty for our members, we feel that living our APANO values means we need to be transparent with our community and make space for a staff-led process, which takes time. Staff have been developing next steps, and here is where we currently stand: We met without senior leadership to discuss the letter, and APANO is dedicating staff and resources to conduct an HR audit of internal policies and documents and convene non-director staff to discuss and lay out next steps for community healing. Staff have also retooled the upcoming November 16 Monthly Member Meeting to focus on transformative justice -- recognizing the need for open conversation and ongoing learning about what transformative justice means for our communities.

We care deeply about the culture and experiences of the organization’s staff and members, both past and present. The signatories of the letter are a part of the APANO and larger API community we serve, and we know the role we hold in the community comes with responsibility. We always take seriously any issues brought to our attention and respond thoroughly and with compassion. We are committed to creating a workplace where all people are respected, valued, and treated fairly.

We understand our members may also have questions or concerns. We welcome and encourage you to contact any of us with any thoughts or questions you may have, as you are part of this community. We also invite your input and participation at our the upcoming November 16 member meeting around transformative justice.

Thank you for your patience as we work to figure things out -- our decision to engage in a collective process may feel unsettling, but we ultimately feel it is more just and moves us closer to the world we want to see. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us if you have any questions or concerns.


Staff at APANO