After a national search, the APANO Board of Directors has named Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons as its first Executive Director, effective January 2, 2013.

“Our board, staff and community members are excited about APANO’s growth over the past three years that led to the appointment of its very first executive director. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead.  Many hours of  planning, organizational development, and fundraising by volunteers and staff have gone into this effort,” says June Arima Schumann and Emily S. Ryan, Co-Chairs of the Board.

Says Midge Purcell, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Urban League of Portland, “Joseph is widely respected as an articulate, knowledgeable and effective leader who represents communities of color extremely well.  He encourages people to bring their skills to the work of racial equity, and I value the opportunity to work with him to advance health equity in Oregon.”

Adds Helena Huang, Executive Director of Oregon Voice,  “Joseph understands the power and potential of collaborative civic engagement work as both a means to empowering the API community and impacting policy.  He’s a leader with vision; someone who can grasps complex ideas and tools and makes them meaningful at a community level.”

“We are grateful for Joseph and his ability to bring diverse partners together.  He is a strong voice for immigrants and refugees, and has deep respect among community leaders.  Joseph is a strong partner with Latino communities, and we look forward to working closely with him in his new position,” says Alberto Moreno, Executive Director of the Oregon Latino Health Coalition.

Joseph Santos-Lyons says, “I am humbled to accept this position. In my years of service, I have been consistently transformed by APANO members’ courage, civic engagement and sense of community. Our API communities continue to inspire me, and move me to support our diverse leadership and strengthen our collective political voice. Together with our partners, guided by APANO’s new strategic plan, we seek to win important policy and social changes that will improve the lives of all Oregonians, including Asian and Pacific Islanders, immigrants and refugees.”

Rev. Santos-Lyons is currently Interim Associate Director of APANO managing strategic planning, policy advocacy, civic engagement and fundraising.  During his tenure, APANO established itself as a leading organization working for racial equity and social justice in Oregon, energizing a new generation of leadership grounded in grassroots organizing, research and analysis and powerful coalition building.  He was recently appointed by Governor Kitzhaber and confirmed by the Oregon Senate to the Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

Previously Rev. Santos-Lyons worked for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, and the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods in the City of Portland.  He also served for 10 years as Director of Campus Ministry and Field Organizing with the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Rev. Santos-Lyons will work with board and staff at APANO to ensure that Asian and Pacific Islanders are fully engaged in the social, economic and political issues that affect them, grounded in community building, strong partnerships, leadership development and social justice.  APANO is a founding member of the Coalition of Communities of Color, Oregon Health Equity Alliance, HOPE Coalition, Racial Equity Report Card, and Oregon Association for Educational Equity.

Rev. Santos-Lyons is a Chinese-American hapa, cultural organizer, minister and musician.  Born in Portland, adopted and raised in Clackamas County, Joseph attended the University of Oregon as an undergraduate and received his masters degree from Harvard University.  Rev. Santos-Lyons is affiliate community minister with the First Unitarian Church of Portland.  Joseph and his partner Aimee are raising three kids and a small urban garden in North Portland.


Founded in 1996 to unite the diverse Asian and Pacific Islanders for advocacy in public policy, APANO became a 501c3 organization in 2010 and is active in advancing health, education and economic opportunities for all Oregonians. APANO is a statewide non-profit organization that envisions a just and equitable world where Asians and Pacific Islanders are fully engaged in social, educational, economic and political issues.

Media Contact:
June Arima Schumann, Board Co-Chair
Emily S. Ryan, Board Co-Chair