It took me 8 years to write this 😱
At one of my first supervisions as a Summer Intern in 2013, Monna turned to me and asked, “why does it feel so difficult for you to ask for help?” I stared at her blankly, the grey partitions of the cubicle closing in on me.
Why does it feel difficult?! How could asking for help NOT feel difficult?!
No one had ever asked me that question. I never thought there was another way. Growing up in a working-class, immigrant household, I learned that the world was unjust and you had to suffer through. This idea brought me into organizing work – I wanted to fight and build something better.
In the summer of 2013, I thought I was joining APIENC to learn organizing skills—how to recruit a team, how to research for a campaign, or even how to get your demands met! What actually happened was so much more. Through our trainings, group conversations, and authentic relationships I didn’t just learn how to invite people into building power, I learned to believe in abundance and interdependence.
In 2016, as I transitioned into the Directorship, I had clear goals: build up our membership development, center trans justice in our organization, clarify our place in the movement ecosystem, and strengthen practices of assessment, accountability, and strategizing.
Five years later, APIENC has transformed in ways I could have only dreamed. We’ve graduated over 100 warm-hearted and fierce leaders in our Summer Organizer Program and Leadership Exchange, mobilized hundreds of trans, non-binary, and allied Asian and Pacific Islander folks at Trans March, built a culture of reflection and accountablity as a Core Committee, and launched the Up to Us Needs Assessment and our brand new Theory of Change.
It’s been the honor of a lifetime to participate in, lead, and witness this work. And it’s time for me to announce that in December, I’ll be transitioning out of my role as Director of APIENC.
I’m so grateful that we’re in a place to make this possible. I’m also thrilled to tell you that Yuan Wang will transition into the role of Director starting in September!
If you’ve been around APIENC in the past three years, you’ve no doubt been impacted by Yuan’s warmth, sharp intuition, and deep care for our people. Joining us first as a Summer Organizer in 2018, Yuan became a full time Community Organizer in 2019. Yuan has been instrumental in growing our trans justice committee, publishing the Up to Us Needs Assessment, and leading the Transform California Coalition with our friends from Gender Justice – LA.
There’s so much more to say about this transition, so Yuan and I joined our friend and former Summer Organizer, Paige, for a vodcast (video podcast!) to talk about big lessons in organizing, our feelings about this moment, and our dreams for the future. Check it out!
During my time with APIENC, I’ve been nurtured by so many members of our community. I’ve been transformed through your care. I’ve thought about the nights you’ve let me sleep in your homes, the late night meals and debriefs, the affirmations that came alongside the challenges. Now, I get to take those lessons and shape this transition alongside Yuan, grounded in the abundance of our people.
APIENC is in an incredibly strong place, and our members are prepared to move this work forward with compassion, rigor, and care. Thank you to everyone who has made this happen – our organizers, accomplices, elders, and friends. This next phase calls on each of us to get grounded in our role – so here I am, calling on you. (Eight years later, and I can really ask for help!) Throughout this next year, and for the many years ahead, will you continue to support APIENC, Yuan, and all of our amazing staff and Core Leaders? This is a moment of deep opportunity, and our future is up to us.
With love and in solidarity,
Sammie Ablaza Wills