Announcing 2020 Forward Leadership Program Winners!


The 2020 Forward Leadership Program partnered with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) on a project opportunity focused on the 2020 U.S. Census. Nine scholars were selected and assigned into three teams to collaborate with one another along with the guidance of a mentor. This year’s project aimed to understand the importance of the Census and support accurate count of API communities and community of color


Each team was assigned four counties, where they were to conduct outreach and engage local non-profit agencies primarily serving API communities and people of color over the course of three and a half months. Their assignment was to encourage these agencies to actively promote and encourage their members or constituents to answer the Census survey.

Despite the tremendous challenges brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic, each team persevered and pursued innovative and unique outreach strategies. The project culminated in a final virtual presentation where each team reported their teamwork and outreach efforts to a panel of judges from the community and API board members. Each team presentation was evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to navigate power relationships
  • Ability to lead across cultures
  • Potential to become a strong and compassionate leader
  • Ability to lead through an equity lens

API Forward recognizes the following teams of scholars for their dedication and hard work. Congratulations!

Alina Wei, Ania Ty, Tammy Tran (Left to Right)

$9,000 Scholarship for Team Meadowlark

A homage to the state bird, Team Meadowlark represented students from Oregon’s top state universities, Portland State University, Oregon State University and University of Oregon.

In their winning presentation, Alina Wei, Ania Ty and Tammy Tran showcased a strong team mission statement, meticulously conducted research, clear and intentional communication strategies, effective team dynamics and thoughtful analysis and learnings to take on this year’s project.

One of the judges praised the team and said, “Team Meadowlark showed great command and understanding of the project…The API community is going to benefit from their contribution but I would hope that they do not wait until their graduation. It would be awesome to see them engage and become young leaders now.” 

Dawa Gyalpo, Chivon Ou  (Left to Right)

$4,000 Scholarship for Team Census Koalas

Team Census Koalas faced unprecedented changes when working on their outreach to API Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).

On top of there being a few minority CBOs in their assigned counties, COVID-19 instantly altered the landscape of communication. Many of the target communities were unprepared to engage online and dealing with the new reality of a pandemic. The team found people were preoccupied and difficult to reach in such a turbulent time.

In spite of this, Team Census Koalas was able to identify key takeaways and opportunities to increase the connection between Oregon’s API CBOs. They suggested that the API community will need to find ways to catch up on online platforms and technology to operate competently in 2020 and beyond.

Danica Gascon, Sean Wei (Left to Right)

$2,000 Scholarship for Team Healthcare Professionals

Team Healthcare Professionals represent students from Portland State University pursuing a career in the healthcare industry.

Sean and Danica were presented with real-life challenges during their project, but the team pivoted and shared their strategies on outreach using social media as an efficient platform to share resources and info. The team worked through the pandemic by using COVID-19 as a way to relate to community members and develop dialogue.

One of the panel judges shared their support for the team: “Great learning experience and I hope it will prove dividends as they encounter other projects in their young adult lives.” API Forward commends Sean and Danica for their commitment and perseverance throughout their teamwork.