During this past year, our organization has been very fortunate to have Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong – a strong, smart, and tireless leader – as our inaugural Director. It is with great sadness that we now must announce Jonipher’s departure later this month as he sets off to fulfill his lifelong calling to become the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. We can only celebrate his decision to answer this call, as it is in keeping with his professional training and deepest personal aspirations. And we are thankful that he has devoted this past year to providing the stability, direction and focus that have so boosted API Equality-LA’s success and the growth of our staff, volunteer base, internship program, and attendance at both meetings and special events. He also has helped us grow in intangible ways, by developing our mission, clarifying our vision, and enhancing the commitment of our membership beyond campaign work related to a specific ballot initiative. He has played a key role in forging closer, collaborative relationships with our Northern California counterpart and other people of color LGBT organizations in the Greater Los Angeles area. Our finances are solid, with important new revenue streams and solid commitments from individual donors now sustaining our work. Many of these accomplishments are the result of Jonipher’s efforts. His eloquence and passion have inspired many in our organization, and helped guide our priorities and approach after Prop 8. To say we will miss Jonipher’s warmth, generosity, good humor, and committed leadership is an enormous understatement. We so appreciate all that he has given to the organization and cannot thank him enough. Jonipher, we wish you every happiness and success as you begin your new adventure back in your home community of Hawaii!
While we are sad to say farewell to Jonipher, we are excited that he will be passing the reins to another long-time member of the API Equality-LA family. Eileen Ma has served on our Steering Committee and as the co-chair of our Outreach/Recruitment Committee for several years. She comes to us from the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, where she has been the Campaign Director for the past three years. Eileen has over 17 years of experience in fundraising, community organizing, field work, and coalition-building, having worked at a range of community-based agencies, including the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the UCLA Labor Center, SEIU Local 399, the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. As we prepare to welcome our dynamic and dedicated new Director, we appreciate our good fortune at having such a talented and experienced leader to build upon Jonipher’s great achievements and to guide the organization’s next phase of growth and effectiveness.
Marshall Wong & Doreena Wong
Co-Chairs, API Equality-LA