Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee is a first generation Samoan, born and raised in Carson, California. She began her work in 1979 as a Samoan community youth activist through the Office of Samoan Affairs, where she learned the importance of civic engagement in the Samoan community and advocacy for the disaggregation of Asian and Pacific Islander populations on all government documents. She followed in the footsteps of her late parents, Reverend Alatina and Siva Tufono, by serving her community through various grassroots youth and senior programs throughout Carson and San Diego, California. She also participated in many California based organizations such as Omai Fa’atasi (Come Together) and Samoan Athletes in Action, which recognized the contributions of Samoans in the U.S.
Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee studied Communications and Broadcasting at San Diego City College. She was inspired to pursue this field by three of her brothers who are professional Hip Hop DJs. In 1992, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee and her brothers formed Samoan4Life Entertainment and worked with hip hop and reggae artists to promote their concerts throughout San Diego. It was then that she decided to become a radio DJ and hosted a radio show on KSDS 88.3 FM playing contemporary jazz. She continued her studies at the National Labor College in Silver Springs, Maryland, studying Union Leadership and Labor Contract Bargaining and Negotiations as a recipient of the Labor Union Minority Women scholarship. In 1995, she relocated to Seattle, Washington, and continued her work in the Samoan community.
From 2007 to 2010, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee served as the first Samoan Union President of the International Association of Flight Attendants, AFA Local #16. In 2009, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee and her husband Chris Chaussee founded the International Samoa Health Mission Alliance (ISHMA), which provided assistance to victims of the September 2009 earthquake and tsunami in Samoa and American Samoa. Four medical teams and $250,000 of medical supplies were sent to the disaster stricken areas. This work attracted international media attention in Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand, which led to to the formation of ISHMA chapters in Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, and China. Tufono-Chaussee and the medical teams were recognized for their charitable tsunami relief work by Samoa’s Ministry of Health, the Honorable Gatoloaifa’ana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow and Governor Togiola Tulafono of American Samoa.
Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee was appointed to the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in 2010 by former Governor Christine Gregoire and was reappointed for a second and third term in 2013 and 2016 by Governor Jay Inslee. She currently serves as the Commission’s Chair and is the first Samoan Commissioner to hold this position.
Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee’s love for music is credited to her father, who was an accomplished musician and singer. She founded and currently hosts Da Coconut Wireless radio show, which features contemporary Pacific Islander music artists of all genres. Da Coconut Wireless broadcasts every Sunday from 5:00-7:00 PM in Everett, Washington on KSER 90.7 FM and streams live online at www.kser.org.
In 2013, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee was appointed as Commission Position #7 of the Lynnwood Neighborhoods and Demographic Diversity Commission by the City of Lynnwood Mayor and City Council.
Currently, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee enjoys being a flight attendant, serving her Hawaii route, and being a mentor for the CHOICES program, which discusses the positive effects of staying in school with participating 8th grade students in the Seattle, Highline, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, and Everett school districts.
In her spare time, Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee enjoys traveling to countries across the Pacific Islands, most especially Samoa. She also likes to experience the culture and food of Singapore and Malaysia with her husband and love of her life, Chris. Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee has three sons, Tony (Vaelua), Nick (Vicky), and Mose, and three grandchildren, Leila, Jordan, and Kitiona, with grandchild number four due in January 2016.
For radio show information, you can follow Commissioner Tufono-Chaussee on social media: