Introducing the API Community Leadership Institute Fellows for 2013-2014:
Kara Carmosino works as the Community Engagement Coordinator for All Hands Raised, a non-profit managing a community-wide effort to champion education, equity and excellence for all kids in Portland and Multnomah County from cradle to career. She sits on the Advocacy Board of Portland YouthBuilders, an alternative high school serving low-income youth, and has been involved in the formation of a group for queer people of color in Portland. She holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University. Her interests in social justice work particularly lie in education, youth empowerment and social movement history.
Durga Dhungel came to the US in 2009 and has been volunteering to help his community adapt to new conditions, access training and education to prepare them for jobs, and overcome language and other socioeconomic barriers. Durga is active in the newly formed Association of Bhutanese Community in Oregon (ABCO). One of their priorities is providing citizenship classes to newly eligible community members.
Misipa Fononga is an immigrant from Tonga. She came to the US in 1999. Though her community has been in the United States for more than 30 years, she has not seen them participate in the mainstream political arena. She wants to link community to local government and be the bridge not only for the Tongan community, but also be the voice from a Tongan female view. She is starting a Tongan women support group.
Kathleen Jonathan works with Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ Instructional Services Department as a Community School Outreach Coordinator (CSOC) for Marshallese Students where she acts as the cultural bridge between her community and the district and as an advocate for students & parents. As part of her advocacy work, she uses cultural presentations with district staff to clear misconceptions that they may have about the students and/or parents. At the same time, she shares with students & parents information about the school culture, expectations, and policies
Surya Joshi is from Nepal, a country sandwiched between India and China. After completing his master’s degree in Nepal, he designed and implemented a rural entrepreneurship project and worked in a research funding program for two years. He came to the US to study conflict resolution because conflict has been such an influential part of social and political life in Nepal. He is now doing a final project for his degree in conflict resolution from Portland State University in intergroup dialogue. Here in Oregon, he currently works with refugees and immigrants through various organizations. Predominantly, he works with recently arrived Bhutanese refugees from Nepal and Burmese refugees. The most rewarding moment in his work is the happiness he brings to families who are looking for support to stand in their own feet. There is no better moment than when a refugee family can independently resolve their problems like a normal family. He believes this should be the aim of community organizations who are working with refugees and that this is where practical community work, leadership and activism on social justice converge. Surya is a humorous person and loves hiking and photography. He is a news addict and loves to hover around newspapers and other media to keep updated on current affairs. Occasionally he writes poems, inspired by his surroundings.
Maki Karakida was born in Japan. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology (2008) and the Graduate Certificate in Gerontology (2010) from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon. Currently, she is a Master of Public Health candidate at Portland State University, and a Community Outreach Intern at the PreSERVE Coalition and the OHSU Layton Aging & Alzheimer’s Center, and a Subcommittee Member of Diversity Task Force at the City of Beaverton. She previously worked at the Institute for Asian Studies (Portland State University) and the Multicultural Center (Portland State University). Additionally, she was a Bilingual Assistant at the Intensive Professional Training for Japanese Municipal Government Managers, which was a joint program of the Tokyo Foundation (Tokyo, Japan) and the Portland State, Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. Her interests include social and health disparities, community organizing, and the health issues of minority older adults.
Patricia Lim-Pardo is a 24-year- old Filipina American, currently residing in Portland, Oregon. Patricia is a graduate of Oregon State University’s class of 2012, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health, focusing on health promotion and health behavior. During her time at OSU, Patricia developed a passion for social justice and supporting students. In her spare time Patricia enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Peter Liu is Chinese American, born and raised here in Portland, OR. He is multilingual in Cantonese, Vietnamese and English. He graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelors in Exercise Sport Science last spring and is in the midst of applying for nursing programs. He currently works as an acute care nursing assistant at a clinic specifically for the profoundly developmentally disabled and it has been an amazing experience. His family, friends and health are the most important parts of his life. Among other things, he loves to cook/bake, hike, travel, work out and connect with other people.
Bennie Moses is the Multicultural Center Director at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics in 1999 and Masters in Business Administration degree in 2012 both from the university and has worked there in several positions. She first worked in the Learning Center& Disability Services Program helping students with disabilities. She then moved to University Advancement where she served as the coordinator for Alumni Programs. In 2007, she became the Multicultural Center Coordinator where she coordinates services and events for the Multicultural Center as well as the development, operation and management of minority student retention and recruitment activities for the University. In addition, Bennie provides leadership for Eastern Oregon University in the promotion of understanding and acceptance of a diverse campus environment through coordinated efforts with various campus groups/departments including the Diversity Committee, Student Affairs, Student Involvement, International Programs, Student Leadership Program, various student organizations, faculty, and community members.
Mariko Newton received her B.S. in biology from Pacific University of Oregon and currently works at Oregon Health & Science University in the Molecular and Medical Genetics Research Department. Born in Hawaii and raised in Japan, Mariko is a second generation Japanese American and has been a member of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Portland chapter for the past 6 years. In addition to her current role on the JACL National Board of Directors, she serves as the Chair for the National Youth/Student Council (NY/SC), a body of students and young professionals committed to empowering the next generation of AAPI leaders, activists, and community organizers. Some of her work include: Managing youth-oriented events and programs at the national and regional level; creating fundraising and marketing strategies in support of youth programs; devising an annual operation plan that guides all aspects of the NY/SC; and bringing the voice of students and young professionals to JACL’s decision-making table. Moreover, through her cancer epidemiology internship with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, she had the privilege to work with marginalized communities in identifying and raising awareness of environmental risks and their adverse health impacts. Mariko hopes to integrate her newly founded passion in public health with her long-term career goals in medicine and clinical research.
Crispin (Cris) Ogo founded the Micronesian Islander Community (MIC) in 2011. Members from each of the 8 communities of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Island, Marshall Island, Chuuk, Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae and Palau sit on the Board of Directors. Since 1996, Cris has been working with low income and homeless individuals and families as a case manager and later as a program manager in the social service field. He’s collaborated with various organizations for resource assistance, presented budget proposals to the Oregon State Legislature and has lobbied at the Oregon State Legislature to change policy affecting his community. He was part of the successful campaign to restore driver licenses for Pacific Islanders who are Compact of Free Association citizens residing in the State of Oregon through HB 2517.
Dessa Salavedra was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Portland, OR in 2005. She is a third year student at Portland State University majoring in Community Health. Dessa recently finished her internship as an Outreach and Events intern for the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, a non-profit network of 14 safety clinics that provides high quality and culturally appropriate care to patients who are uninsured or undeserved in the Portland-Metro area. She currently works for the Native American Student and Community Center at PSU as a Student Office Assistant. She is also part of the Programming Team at the Multicultural center. Dessa has been involved in the API community since high school where worked with the Asian Youth Society to fund-raise money to buy winter clothes for the homeless in the Portland area. In college, she has been the Communications Coordinator for PSU Kaibigan, a non-profit Filipino American Student Association and Treasurer for the Cambodian Student Association. Her long term goals are to reduce health disparities and improve social disparities especially in third world countries. She also likes cooking, trying new recipes, and spending time with her family and friends.
Elizabeth Takahashi was born in Kitakyushu, Japan to a Japanese father and American mother. She has lived in Portland ever since moving from Japan, and considers this wonderful place her hometown. She works as the Healthy Worksites/Healthy Communities Coordinator for Multnomah County Health Department’s Community Wellness and Prevention Program. In her work, she helps organizations make sustainable policy and systems changes that lead to healthier workplaces, clinics, and service sites. She graduated in 2008 with a Master’s of Public Health degree, and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Sociology. Prior to her current role ith Multnomah County, Elizabeth worked as the Project Coordinator of the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program at IRCO’s Asian Family Center. She is concerned with ways to improve health equity and social justice, and seeks to find ways that improved wellness can be achieved through changes to the systems and environments that we all live in.
Jillian Toda is a recent graduate from Willamette University, where she studied rhetoric and media studies and earned an MBA. She has an interest in API history and community that was fostered by growing up in The Dalles, where her family had settled three generations ago. She enjoyed taking courses in American Ethnic studies in college, which built a foundation for social justice values that were applied to work in immigrant and racial justice. Her commitment to social justice and community-building drives her to pursue more opportunities in the Portland area, where she hopes to find work in marketing communications.
Emily Li-wen Wang, MPH, is a second generation Asian American who works as the Health Equity Policy Analyst at the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Equity and Inclusion (formerly known as the Office of Multicultural Health and Services). In this role, she helps evaluate administrative and/or legislative policies for health equity impact and makes recommendations for changes in health care and public health policy and procedures (i.e. health systems transformation, cultural competency continuing education, community health workers, doulas, etc.) She has over 17 years of experience working collaboratively with communities experiencing inequities and a broad range of professionals/providers to strengthen community health and well-being through policy and systems change initiatives. Some highlights include: development of a Multicultural Storytelling community engagement process as a certified promising practice by the National Association of County and City Health Officials; providing leadership at the Minnesota Department of Health for improving the quality and accuracy of racial/ethnic health data; pioneering health care access and welfare reform education efforts at the Minnesota Department of Human Services; and overseeing innovative school and county-based health care coverage programs through Covering Kids and Families-Minnesota. Ms. Wang received her Masters in Public Health in Community Health Education from the University of Minnesota and has effectively served as a bridge between communities and government to achieve optimal health and well-being at neighborhood, city and state levels.
API-CLI is a joint project of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), and funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust.