March 16, 2018

Reflections from APANO's Executive Director

Life is not what you alone make it. Life is the input of everyone who touched your life and every experience that entered it. We are all part of one another. - Yuri Kochiyama

March 2018

Dear Members, Friends and Colleagues

This summer I will be moving on from APANO and APANO Communities United Fund as Executive Director. I have been so honored to have had the opportunity to work with so many of you across Oregon’s vibrant and growing Asian and Pacific Islander communities and in solidarity with communities of color, immigrants and refugees. As a newly ordained minister with a young family, my “APANO moment” came in 2007-08 through our successful fight against the anti-immigrant anti-ESL ballot measure 58. I directed my anger into organizing with my family and friends, and groups like Portland Taiko, Jobs with Justice and Asian activist collectives that I was involved in. As an all-volunteer organization at that time, I was persuaded by peers and elders to dream big together. As we imagined a better world, I became passionately committed to our vision, a vision that has created space for thousands of new leaders and taken a leading role in advancing civil and human rights for all Oregonians.

These last 10 years have been some of the most meaningful experiences of my career. I have grown each step of the way, drawing on my ministerial training and lifelong commitment to community organizing to sustain an intentional practice of courage and humility in the face of challenges and failures. I want to lift up our values and high standards that have driven our work. I also want to reflect on how my actions and missteps have caused harm as I have struggled to always live up to them. These experiences require personal responsibility and deeper examination. I recognize our practices shape our culture, and I will continue to learn, listen to concerns, repair harm and act with integrity. It is also my hope that as the organization moves forward, there is a continued commitment to engage in honest and compassionate dialogue that leads to healing. These are lessons I will carry with me as I transition into my next chapter of work.

Our work depends on relationships and trust. We understand that organizations, including APANO, become stronger and more powerful the more we are defined not by individuals, but by our values - something I am grateful our Boards and Staff have prioritized with me throughout my tenure. I believe firmly our mission to bravely unite our communities for social justice, is more important than ever in order to resist this current era of cynicism, vindictiveness and supremacy. Together, we have built a resilient, adaptive and powerful organization that has demonstrated time and time again the ability to take action in the face of fear. This is the definition of brave.

Our communities in Oregon are going through a cultural and political awakening. Since 2008, our Asian and Pacific Islander communities have grown by 75,000 to a population of over 250,000 in the state. We have developed resonant programs that each year bring thousands of people together across generations, cultures and language, grounded in self-determination, solidarity and building towards a world where each of us have the rights, recognition and resources we need to thrive.

APANO and APANO Communities United Fund are in good hands for the future. We are on track to complete our historic capital campaign and open a new cultural center in 2019, and have laid the groundwork for our new political program. As Oregon’s oldest and largest Asian and Pacific Islander social change organization, we have incredibly talented organizers and leaders who inspire me everyday with their ability to bring our communities together, and to empower and achieve the world we dream of. I am confident in and passionate about the next chapter of APANO, and look forward to returning to being a contributing member and donor.

This July I will be moving to the Philippines to reunite with my wife Aimee and our children who have been there since 2015. I’m excited to finalize our three year transition plan and begin the next phase of my journey and career. I am particularly grateful to the Boards and Staff for their support and grace as I’ve balanced our long-distance relationship. In the coming months, I look forward to connecting with many of you, and sharing additional reflections and lessons. We will always consider Oregon and APANO home.

With faith,