Shemia Fagan Recognizes Outstanding Oregonians with National Association of Secretaries of State Awards (NASS)
Informed by each of their own lived experiences, Piyawee, Carine, and Nina began volunteering with Unite Oregon in 2017 to advocate for immigrant and refugee communities throughout Washington County. Piyawee Ruenjinda’s focuses on her community of immigrants and refugees who lack formal education and have limited English proficiency (LEP). Carina Arendes experience as a low-income mother guides her work on affordable housing and transit equity. Recognizing the underrepresentation of her community, Chung-huey (Nina) Kung has invested in her own leadership so she can bring her community's voice to the commissions, boards, and legislative bodies that need to hear it the most.
Statement from Nina:
"Thank you for selecting me, along with Piyawee and Carine, to receive this important NASS award. I am honored for this recognition. It has been personally meaningful for me to work together toward my community’s fair chances to thrive.
We were able to start this work with the ongoing organizing and support of our community-based nonprofit organizations here in Washington County. These organizations are Unite Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, APANO, Adelante Mujeres, Centro Cultural, Community Alliance of Tenants, Oregon Just Transitions Alliance, Vision Action Network, Washington County Thrives, and all their supporting partners. This award is to all of us. It recognizes the crucial community work we have been doing and will continue to do.
I also want to thank Cristina Palacios, Unite Oregon’s State Housing Director, for nominating us for this award. She is the organizer with whom I started this work.
I also want to highlight the community leadership trainings many of these mentioned organizations have been providing our community. They bridge our access barriers in language, technology, childcare, time, and public health risks. So, community members, including modest-wage working single parents, can give public testimonies in front of our elected government representatives and legislators, in governing decisions centering on us.
Therefore, with this NASS award, I hope it will bring us sustainable resources, tools, and connections we need for actualizing our community vision. It is also my hope that community members everywhere recognize how our lives interconnect with our communities; that community care is part of self-care. When our community thrives, we all thrive.
Thank you, all, for your ongoing support, and for joining us in celebration of our community actions and community care."