May 25, 2018

Thank you and farewell to our Executive Director Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons

After ten years of organizing, Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, our first Executive Director, will be stepping down from his role this summer 2018. Throughout his tenure, APANO has become a leading community-based advocacy organization, lifting up the incredible strengths of Oregon’s 250,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders. Joseph will be departing Oregon for the Philippines to reunite with his family, continuing his Unitarian Universalist ministry, and seeking new opportunities in Southeast Asia.

On behalf of the APANO and APANO Communities United Fund Boards of Directors, we extend our gratitude to Joseph for his inspiring vision, hard work, and integrity that has cultivated a new generation of principled leaders and won landmark public policy and community partnerships. With an incredible staff, Joseph has led the way as we’ve grown our multilingual organizing with youth, immigrants and voters, cultivated community development and cultural work programs, and established APANO as a critical voice for social justice.

Our recent accomplishments include:

  • Building alliances with Pacific Islanders to win drivers licenses, access to health care, and lead on climate justice. Working with COFA Micronesian, Palauan and Marshallese communities, students and cultural groups, we’ve built relationships and organized side-by-side to pass legislation restoring and expanding access for essential services, and laying the groundwork to act locally on the global climate crisis. Over 1,000 working class Pacific Islander adults received health insurance, Multnomah County established a new Pacific Islander senior health policy analyst, and APANO is leading with communities of color to establish the Portland Clean Energy Fund to invest in a just transition to a green economy.
  • Organizing with youth who led the way to establish Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools. APANO’s Missing Pages of Our History campaign led by ALLY organized hundreds of youth voices to win ethnic studies standards at Portland Public Schools and the State Legislature.
  • Our $2.5 million dollar Roots to Rise Capital Campaign to build a new permanent cultural center and home for racial justice and immigrant rights. APANO’s new home is on the rise on the site of the old Jade/APANO Multicultural Space on 82nd Ave, including 48 units of affordable housing in partnership with ROSE CDC, and will serve tens of thousands each year starting in 2019.
  • Landmark public policy and culturally-specific investments in education, health and civil rights. APANO’s immigrant organizers fought for more transparent and accountable English Language Learner programs, securing $12.5 million in reforms, and joined with progressive forces to increase education funding overall. Our health equity advocates led the way on cultural competency for health professionals, disaggregated data collection, and comprehensive reproductive justice health care access. Finally our year-round civic engagement and Oregon’s New Motor Voter are transforming voting rights, registering an estimated 30,000 Asian and Pacific Islander voters over the last 10 years.
  • Solidarity and long-term partnerships with communities of color and progressive allies. APANO has played a key role establishing the Coalition of Communities of Color, Oregon Health Equity Alliance, Fair Shot for All Coalition, and One Oregon Coalition to leverage our collective power for lasting change. Together we have won statewide campaigns and contributed and produced impactful research advocacy in areas of health, democracy, economy and racial equity accountability for elected officials.

“We are grateful for Joseph’s steadfast leadership to advance justice for Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Oregon. Today, with its network of over 8,000 members and supporters APANO is an impactful leader on issues that matter to communities of color and a trusted ally in creating a more progressive Oregon.” - Raahi Reddy, former APANO Board Chair

“I've gotten to see APANO grow from a small, two person operation to the organization it is today with the leadership of Joseph Santos-Lyons. He is passionate, strategic, and has always been someone I personally have looked to for support and guidance on the organizational, individual, and personal level. APANO and Portland won't be the same without you JSL. I look forward to seeing where you go next. I also am looking forward to seeing the next phase of APANO. “ - Reyna Lopez, Executive Director, PCUN and Accion Politica PCUNista

“I have known Joseph pretty much since I moved back to Portland in 2000, but I started working with him in 2007. JSL was the first community-based activist leader of color to engage in health care reform policy work at the state level. Under his leadership, APANO grew from being a great local organization to a statewide equity policy champion. Joseph will be missed, but like any great leader, his indelible positive community impact will be timeless. APANO's culture of excellence, action, and community self-determination will continue to be a testimony to his vision and leadership.” - Tricia Tillman, former Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion at the Oregon Health Authority, and Multnomah County Public Health Director

“I'm grateful for Joseph's unparalleled leadership and stewardship of APANO. Like most folks, I was introduced to the organization because of his tireless efforts in advocating for Asian Pacific Islander communities. Over the past decade, I watched the organization grow from a dream of providing that voice to a social justice powerhouse that has modeled inclusive practices for social justice organizations across the state. Joseph has led with a compassion-first mentality that has helped me grow as an activist, organizer, and artist. I will always be filled with appreciation for his work in bringing so many incredible victories for the API community here in Oregon and beyond.” - Simon Tam, APANO Communities United Fund Board Chair

APANO and APANO Communities United Fund’s Boards of Directors will be conducting a nationwide search to find a successor by end of year who will build on our legacy of community organizing and advocacy. During this search, we will have an Interim Executive Director onboard who will work with our members, staff and partners to imagine and guide our organization into the next phase.

With appreciations and hope,

APANO & APANO Communities United Fund Boards of Directors
Hong Dao
Mary Li
Wei-Wei Lou
Bennie Moses-Mesubed
Thach Nguyen
Huy Ong
Jessie Domingo Salu
Bandana Shrestha
Toni Tabora-Roberts
Simon Tam
Sandy Tsuneyoshi
Jean Yamamoto

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