Knowing Your Rights Workshop

Monday, September 16, 2019

6:00p.m. – 7:30p.m.

APANO Orchards of 82nd

8118 SE Division St

Portland, OR 97206

API Forward and APANO presented “Knowing Your Rights,” a workshop to help individuals understand their general legal rights. Having basic knowledge of what the law says empowers us to ask deeper questions to better protect ourselves, our family and our community. The workshop was led by attorneys Shenoa Payne and Matthew C. Ellis.

It covered general rights in the following areas:




Government and public entities

About the speakers:

Shenoa Payne is a solo practitioner and founder of Shenoa Payne Attorney at Law PC. She practices employment discrimination, disability rights, fair housing, and appellate law. Payne’s litigation practice focuses on representing individuals under state and federal civil rights statutes against large corporations and public entities in state and federal court.

Matthew C. Ellis, who followed his 1998 BFA in acting with a five-year stint in New York, says the progression from acting to litigation was fluid. “Actors are at their best when they’re authentic and believable,” the Seattle-raised Matthew explains. “That’s also what makes a good trial lawyer. … It’s not just being conscious of your voice and trying your best not to bump into the furniture, it’s about telling a story that resonates with people on a gut level.” After a post-September 11th bout of soul searching, he and his modern dancer wife moved to Portland so he could attend law school and she could pursue a career as a high school counselor.

4th Annual Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

Thursday, May 2, 2019

5:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

Ocean City Seafood Restaurant

3016 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR


Together as a community, we raised more than $34,000. Special thanks to keynote speaker Bill Imada, founder of IW Group and former member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific Islander, for his inspiring message of courage and confidence. He also surprised us all by matching each of the student’s scholarship money.

A big congratulations to Erin San Antonio, Taryn Yamauchi, Sara Tajanlangit and Viv Cai for their successful completion of the Forward Leadership Program. Their work over the past 4 months exemplified the kind of excellence and leadership skills needed to create culture-change.

We are also grateful to the following sponsors for their commitment to equity and inclusion in our community:

Gold: Trimet

Silver: OHSU

Jade: Metro, Port of Portland and U.S. Bank

Champion: Portland State University and the City of Portland Procurement Services

Thank you to our program partner, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2); our donors; and our amazing volunteers.

Event Sponsors

GOLD: Trimet


JADE: Metro, Port of Portland, US Bank

CHAMPION: City of Portland Procurement Services, PSU

Student Leadership Conference

Saturday, January 12, 2019

8:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Portland Business Alliance

200 SW Market St., Portland, OR


There’s more to leadership than having a title and there’s more than one type of leader. Join API Forward in a special leadership conference designed specifically for undergraduate college students of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. Explore what it takes to be a leader in the 21st century and how cultural norms play a factor. Discover the possibilities and what you can do to help bring diversity, equity and inclusion to our communities.

Learning topics included:

  • Leadership in the 21st Century – Grant Yoshihara, NW Natural, retired
  • Focus, Grit and Determination – Kilong Ung, Golden Leaf Education Foundation
  • Embracing Culture, Diversity and Equity – Rosella de Leon, Foundation for Philippine Progress
  • The Impact of Unconscious Bias – Octaviano Merecias Cuevas, OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Delivering the Best You – Anna Canzano, That Expert Show, former KOIN TV anchor
  • Seeing the Big Picture – Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland City Commission, NAACP

Supporter Appreciation Night 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

K & L Gates 

One SW Columbia St., #1900, Portland, OR


Join API Forward for an evening of food, friends, and fun. It’s our way of thanking you for being a part of API Forward. We can’t wait to tell you what’s in store for 2019. 

Event Sponsor

K&L Gates 

3rd Annual Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

Thursday, May 10, 2018

5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Ocean City Seafood Restaurant

3016 SE 82nd Ave., Portland, OR 97266 


Join API Forward for a special Asian Heritage Month dinner, celebrating leadership, honoring our diverse community. It also serves to raise much-needed funds to educate local students and young professionals of Asian or Pacific Islander descent to becoming local leaders. In addition to enjoying a delicious 9-course Chinese meal, guests can bid on exciting prizes in a silent auction. 


Proceeds from the evening benefit API Forward, a Portland-based education foundation dedicated to the leadership advancement of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Together, with your help, we can make positive institutional changes, and ensure diverse voices and cultural experiences in decision-making processes.

Keynote Speaker

Swan Sit is currently the Vice President of Global Digital Marketing at Nike and has spent the past decade of her career accelerating digital into legacy companies. She was the Vice President of Global Digital for Revlon. As part of the Revlon portfolio, she developed Elizabeth Arden’s first digital platform, grew retailer sales by double digits, launched augmented reality makeover and skin diagnostic apps, and spearheaded the company’s award-winning “Desk of Liz Arden” social campaign. As the Executive Director of Online Strategy for the Estee Lauder Companies, Swan helped grow their global marketing, ecommerce and mobile sites from 125 to 450, with double digit sales growth across 30 brands and 50 countries.  


Swan was voted a Brand Innovators Top Woman in Marketing to Watch and 40 Under 40, Consumer Goods Technology Visionary and Luxury Daily’s Woman to Watch. Her campaigns won the Glossy Awards’ Best Social Campaign and Best in Show awards. A regular on the conference circuit, this year she has spoken at SXSW, Cannes Lions, Etail East, Women in Retail, Web Summit and the largest digital conferences in Scandinavia, South Korea and Iceland.  


Swan graduated with BA in Economics from Harvard and an MBA from Columbia. Having traveled to 73 countries, her favorites include Antarctica, North Korea, Mongolia, Rwanda, Bhutan, Myanmar and climbing Kilimanjaro. She sits on several boards, including Consumer Goods Technology Executive Council, Women in Retail, the Impact Network and Foundation Rwanda philanthropies. She can often be found smashing a volleyball or chasing restaurant openings around NYC and now in Portland.

General Tickets

$65 per ticket

$650 for a table of 10 people 

Leadership Through Civic Engagement

Thursday, April 12, 2018

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

K&L Gates

1 SW Columbia St, Suite 1900 

Portland, OR 97258​ 


There’s an old adage that says “decisions are made by those who show up.” If you care about what’s happening around you and want to make your community a better place, there are ways to become civically engaged. It’s not about politics. It’s about community.


Join API Forward as we bring issue-focused individuals and organizations together with local leaders to discuss ways to get civically involved and how we can work together to make meaningful changes to our community.In this session, you’ll learn: 


  • The leadership skills needed to impact local issues and policies;
  • How to get your voice heard;
  • How to influence decision makers;
  • A better understanding of “the system” in order to take action.

State Senator Michael Dembrow

Senator Dembrow is the state senator for District 23, covering portions of NE and SE Portland and the city of Maywood Park. First elected by voters in 2008 to the state house, he is serving his first term in the senate after being appointed to the seat in November 2013.  Voters re-elected Michael to the senate in November 2014 and again in November 2016 to a full term. Michael currently serves as Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  He also sits on the Human Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee. In addition to his legislative committee assignments, Michael also serves on the Oregon Workforce Investment Board, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps Advisory Committee and the Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. Michael is a retired English instructor at Portland Community College’s Cascade campus in North Portland. He taught writing and film studies at the college beginning in 1981, and served as the President of the PCC faculty union for 16 years.  He continued to teach one or two classes per term after being elected to the House in 2008, and recently retired fully from teaching.


In 2007, Michael was appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to the State Board of Education. Michael’s passion for film drives his involvement in the Cascade Festival of African Films, which he helped create in 1991. The Festival, which Michael is co-director of, has grown in size each year since its founding.  He was also one of the first members of the Portland chapter of Jobs With Justice. 


Commissioner Nick Fish

Commissioner Fish is a Portland City Commissioner. He leads the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau. He’s an advocate for affordable homes, older adults, small businesses, and the arts. He is deeply committed to making our city more welcoming and inclusive for all. When he’s not in City Hall, you’ll find Nick listening to jazz, riding his bike, or watching his son play soccer. 


Commissioner Lori Stegmann

Commissioner Stegmann grew up in the Rockwood neighborhood in west Gresham after being adopted as an infant from an orphanage in Korea. She has been a small business owner and insurance agent for more than 20 years, specializing in commercial insurance. She chose to live and locate her Farmers Insurance agency in the same neighborhood she grew up in.Lori served six years on the Gresham City Council and served as City Council President in 2014.  Her duties as Gresham City Councilor have included committee assignments on the Public Safety Committee, Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, Gresham Sister City Association, Youth Advisory Committee and the Council Employee Performance Subcommittee. Before being elected to the Gresham City Council in 2010, she served on the Gresham Planning Commission, Rockwood Stakeholders Group and Rockwood Light Rail Station Art Committee, as well as Vice Chair of the Gresham Redevelopment Commission Advisory Committee. She has also served as a board member of the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce.


Helen Ying

Born in Hong Kong, Helen Ying came to the United States at age 11 to join her extended family.  Helen’s grandfather was the first of her family to immigrate to America, leaving China in the late 1800’s. Helen’s professional career encompasses 30 years of experience as a mathematics teacher, high school counselor, and high school vice-principal.  Currently, she serves as a Hearings Officer for a local school district. In addition to her professional work, Helen has also been active in the community – serving in various capacities over the years rallying for the causes of youth, civil rights, and leadership development.  She desires to engage and empower people in improving their communities.  She was elected in May 2017 as a Multnomah Education Service District Board Director representing the entire Multnomah County.   In addition, she is also serving on a myriad of boards and in leadership positions involved in efforts connected to education, health care, civil rights, environment, and social justice issues. Helen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Education and Counseling from Portland State University.  She is fluent in Chinese. Today, she lives in SW Portland with her husband, Stephen.  Her daughter, Melanie lives in NW Portland and her son, Geoffrey, lives in Corvallis.  In her leisure time she enjoys walking, hiking, reading, and traveling.​ 


Christine Chin-Ryan

Christine is a business owner, consultant and community activist. Her company, Synergy Consulting, Inc., provides comprehensive IT software solutions, as well as consulting services in the area of diversity, inclusion and facilitation. Among the many committees and organizations she’s a part of, Christine currently is the executive vice chair of the Democratic National Committee Small Business Council, board member of the Greater Portland Chapter of the National Organization of Women, and a member of the City of Portland Small Business Minority Evaluator Program. She has also served as an ambassador for the Asian Pacific American Chamber of of Commerce of Oregon, testified in front of the Portland City Council in support of the resolution to declare the city as a Sanctuary City, and coordinated AAPI focus groups for Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Healths’ One Key Question advisory council. ​ 

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1125 SE Madison St, #103C 

Portland, OR 97214


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