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Staff & Organizational Changes at PAALF

November 5, 2014

The following is a statement from PAALF Leadership:

We bring you bitter-sweet news that Cyreena Boston Ashby is stepping down from her position as Director of PAALF. While the news of this transition is accompanied by a profound sense of loss, we are simultaneously filled with excitement and optimism for Cyreenaand the future of PAALF. Her integrity, tenacity, energy and leadership have established PAALF as an influential force in policy and civic advocacy within Portland and the Region.  Internally, she has challenged Steering Executive committee members to engage in critical conversations that will provide a path of growth and evolution for the organization and the African American community. 

Cyreena is a shining star in our community and we have been fortunate and privileged to have her serve in this position for nearly three years. It is an understatement to say we will miss her, but we look forward to following her future endeavors and the positive impact she will continue to have on our community and others.

Allow us to share just a few PAALF accomplishments during her tenure:

  • Re-established and broadened membership of the PAALFS Steering Committee and reconvened the policy committees for Health, Housing and Economic Development,, Education and Civic Engagement and Leadership Development.
  •  Launched a brand new website in conjunction with Seattle’s AALF, http://aalfnw.org/. PAALF’s mailing list has nearly 1,000 African Americans.
  • Designed and launched the African American Leadership Academy, which is focused on transformative leadership, self-determination and ethics as a source of leadership values. Hired PAALF’s second FTE, Rachel Gilmer, who expanded the program’s endeavors and curriculum and established PAALF’s partnership with Lewis & Clark Colelge.  The program has graduated over sixty leaders whose work continues through an alumni network and multiple community building projects.
  • Expanded PAALF’s budget, and raised over $250,000 in two years.
  • Published a 72 page African American Report, to be a part of the Unsettling Profile Series, which underscores the disparity data and state of living for African Americans in Multnomah County.
  • PAALF introduced an initiative to address the gentrification of Portland’s Black community, bringing forth a conversation on displacement that would not have occurred otherwise. Through this initiative, PAALF has received several requests for partnership from institutions locally and nationally. Thus far, this initiative has resulted in the allocation of 20 M additional dollars in city funding towards affordable housing as a tool to mitigate the displacement of existing residents.
  • Involvement in multiple state and local initiatives including the State’s Minority Teacher Act and the City of Portland Black Male Achievement Initiative.
  • Established partnerships with organizations and individuals that represent African Americans and African Immigrants to move forward policy and organizing.
  • Coalition building with community based organizations advancing the needs of people of color including the Coalition of Communities of Color, APANO, Verde, Western States Center, and many many others.
  • Created space for expanding initiatives within the African American community with a particular focus on LGBTQ equity and solidarity with other communities in their advancement for social justice.

We thank Cyreena for her efforts that assisted in these accomplishments and so many others. 

Her last day as Director is November 18. It is with our sincerest appreciation and gratitude that we say farewell to Cyreena as our Director, and as a forum of African American leaders, with open arms we will continue to support her continued leadership path where ever that may take her.

PAALF has appointed an Interim Director, Marcus Mundy.  Mr. Mundy is a Principal at the Portland based equity, compliance and strategy consulting firm, Mundy Consulting LLC.  His practice assists clients in various disciplines including but not limited to: achieving equity in personnel, contract, development and administrative areas. In his time at Mundy Consulting, Mr. Mundy has performed engagements for a wide range of clients, including but not limited to government agencies, private developers, and healthcare entities.

Mr. Mundy will manage the search for the next PAALF Director, and support the launch of the new PAALF model.  He will conduct the hiring of the Leadership Academy Director, as Rachel Gilmer is also departing from PAALF to work for the African American Public Policy Forum at Columbia University.   Rachel’s contributions to PAALF have created the space necessary for PAALF to be literal and intentional about leadership development and intergenerational collaboration. We thank Rachel for her hard work in PAALF.  At this time PAALF’s standing Co-Chairs are Tony Hopson, Sr. and Desiree Williams Rajee who will guide PAALF’s new model and staff into the winter. 

We also have some other news to share.

For the first time ever PAALF will open up membership to a General Body comprised of folks from the local Black community who want membership into PAALF, and who will vote upon and guide its priorities. The General Body will be guided by the new Mission and Vision, Values, Code of Conduct, and official PAALF bylaws; and will be also empowered to create PAALF initiatives and bolster its efforts.   This will be the body where our elected officials, policy makers, and partners will bring their matters before our community for consideration. 

The new PAALF Model will keep the original Health, Education, Housing/Economic Development, and Civic Engagement & Leadership Development Committees, which will be re-called and elect new Chairs. These Committee Chairs will comprise the PAALF Executive Committee.  

The first PAALF General Body meeting and Committee elections will happen in early 2015 and more information regarding PAALF ‘s new model will be forthcoming.  In the meantime you may still be in touch with staff@aalfnw.org for any information.

Thank you on behalf of PAALF Leadership,

 Tony Hopson, Sr.
PAALF Co-Chair