A Message from the President & CEO

  • I am the granddaughter of a sole survivor of a ship wreck in the late 1870s.  He was found on the shores of Northern California by Christians and became a Baptist minister who worked and preached among the poor in the state of Washington. From my grandfather, I learned courage to stand by one’s convictions and to have compassion for others

    Margaret Iwanaga-Penrose, President & CEO

    Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, President & CEO I am the daughter of an architect who worked his way through school in the Washington berry farms and Alaskan salmon canneries. From my father, I learned determination and commitment to learning.

  • I am the niece of a newspaper editor, and a cousin of American citizens who spent their childhood in internment camps. From my relatives, I learned resilience, forgiveness, and infinite hope in the face of violence.
  • As Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, we are often lumped together. Never mind that we represent over 30 distinct cultures and hundreds of languages and dialects. There exists a tremendous variation in income, education and employment status, literacy and English proficiency. The most vulnerable in our communities face overwhelming challenges in health status. Unable to overcome cultural, linguistic and financial barriers, these Americans suffer in silence, until forced to use emergency rooms or face early deaths.
  • As an Asian American, I live in a bi-cultural world, rooted in centuries-old Asian heritage and the American dream of freedom, justice and happiness for all. Today, the Asian Americans continue to face great challenges:

Prejudice:

  • We remain strangers in our own land. For over 150 years, we built, defended and gave our lives for this country. Yet, to fifth generation Asian Americans, the question is still asked, “Where did you learn to speak English so well?” Persistence in hate crimes and violence toward all peoples of color indicate that Dr. King’s dream is yet to be realized.

Fears:

  • Keep silent, don’t confront, remain quiet and hardworking, our traditional cultures tell us.  We pay dearly as these practices keep many of us voiceless, invisible and victims.                                                                                                                                                      

Compassion:

  • We must rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.  Our well-being is inextricably bound to the well-being of others.  Society must be measured by its capacity to assist those who are most vulnerable and in need.

Courage:

  • Violence defeats itself, thrives on hatred rather than love, and diminishes community and the possibility of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Vision:

  • For humanity to progress, the teachings of Ghandi are inescapable – we must live, think and act inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony.   Individually, I must confront my own fears and prejudices.  Together, we must confront ignorance, denial of rights, dignity and respect, and economic injustice – through education, legislation, mobilization and action.