Commissioner Spotlights: Get to Know The Commissioners

The Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) is privileged to have twelve community leaders serving in the role of Commissioners. The Commission will be featuring three Commissioners monthly presenting their perspectives, goals, and activities.

In this piece, we are featuring our Executive Committee, Chair Tufono, 1st Vice Chair Dickinson, and 2nd Vice Chair Dinh, on why they joined CAPAA, what are their goals as a Commissioner, and what they’re most proud of in their community.

Why did you join the Commission?

Chair Tufono:

“I was formerly a Flight Attendant Union President and involved in International Affairs.  When a 2009 Tsunami hit the rural Pacific Islands of Samoa, American Samoa & Tonga, my connections with the other Airline Union Presidents allowed me to gather Airline passage to take Medical Personnel & Supplies directly to the most impacted villages in those Islands. This is when I founded the International Samoa Help Mission Alliance, partnering with other charity Medical Personnel groups in New Zealand, Australia & China. As I solicited for Medical Nurses & Supplies here in Washington to join my charity & travel to the impacted Islands, Governor Gregiore’s office reached out to me to inquire of my efforts and ask if they can use me as a contact reference for WA State.  I held Community events to inform our concerned local PI residents of ISHMA’s mission, and at that time CAPAA ED Kendee Yamaguchi attended one of the meetings and I became acquainted with CAPAA’s mission.  When Kendee informed me there was a Commissioner vacancy, I decided it was my time to start assisting and supporting my local PI Community.”

1st Vice Chair Dickinson:

“I wanted to join a Commission to expand my public service and service to the community.  The prior Spokane CAPAA Commissioner told me about CAPAA and thought I would be a good fit for the position.  The Executive Director also sought me out and told me to apply.  I did not know much about CAPAA at that time, so it was just fortuitous that they contacted me to apply for the position.  I knew that CAPAA did great things as an advocate for our communities and was the “voice” for API communities in Washington government.”

2nd Vice Chair Dinh:

“I was asked to do a API mental health presentation at one of the commission public meeting.  After that, a position opened and Amy, a former program assistant, asked if I would be interested in applying for it.  I researched more about the mission and activities of CAPAA and because there were no Vietnamese commissioner at the time, I applied to make sure there were Vietnamese representation on the commission.”

What are you goals as a Commissioner?

Chair Tufono:

“To be a Positive Role Model for our PI Youth on being motivated to choose a future of being Leaders that are educated, progressive, independent, self-sufficient and financially secure. Also to encourage our PI Youth to initiate being resourceful and offer respect and care for our elderly and always offer to assist and support those in need. I will always want to assist and support our PI community in knowing how to seek local and State resources and how to navigate through State Agencies to address their needs for living a quality life in Washington. Most specifically, I want to continue to encourage the PI Community to utilize their Civic duty to Voice their concerns and issues in the State of Washington both with their Local City Government and State Legislature, ensuring that the Pacific Islander Community has and KEEPS their seat at the discussion table of Any Local & State Agency that makes the decisions which impacts our lives.”

1st Vice Chair Dickinson:

“To expand the work of the Commission. As I focus on economic development, I hope to see API businesses taking full advantage of programs offered as well as other opportunities.  As part of this, I believe in mentoring and fostering educational goals for API youth so that they have every opportunity to enter their chosen career, or potentially start their own minority-owned business.  I also see CAPAA as supporting API communities’ needs and as a voice/liaison to our Government and State agencies.  To serve as a role model for API persons seeking professional business goals.  To educate others about API culture and to work toward more acceptance of all API groups statewide.  Specifically, there are more rural areas in our State that view minorities with suspicion or hesitation.  I want to meet people in those communities that will get to know an API person (where they may not actually know any), and learn about us.  This is the one-on-one outreach that goes un-noticed by most, but in my view, gets people more comfortable with API persons and cultures.  To continue to advocate for civil rights of API and other minority persons in the courts and legal system.  I am proud to be an attorney to be able to speak out for civil rights in my spare time on boards, commissions, and in the legal community.

2nd Vice Chair Dinh:

“My overarching goal is to bring to light the issues and concerns of APIs, especially the Vietnamese, to our elected officials. In particular, I want to use my knowledge and expertise in cross-cultural mental health to educate about the mental health concerns and needs of API communities.”

What are you most proud of in your community?

Chair Tufono:

“That in the State Of Washington, we have an Annual Samoa Cultural Day in Tacoma, a Pacific Islander Festival in Bremerton, A Pacific Islander Health Board in Seattle, an API LGBTQ group called UTOPIA, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, growing Tongan, Fijian & Marshallese Communities uniting for each other, and CAPAA is a supporting force that encapsulates it ALL!”

1st Vice Chair Dickinson:

“For overcoming much of the horrors in internment in 1-2 generations. My father was old enough to be interned during the war.  It is still largely forgotten and not discussed in history books.  I meet many people who do not know of internment or what Korematsu stood for.  The Japanese-American community is a great example of a community that has come back from adversity.  We are now standing with other communities who are fighting discrimination.  We are reminding others of the horrors of internment and what happens when you segregate a group just based on their heritage or country.  This is a lesson that all should be aware of, so that history does not repeat itself with another ethnic group.”

2nd Vice Chair Dinh:

“I am most proud of the diversity, resiliency and tradition-rich nature of the API community.”

 

To learn more about what our Commissioners are active in, view our November Commissioner Report.