Executive Director, Allan Lazo.

A Message from our Executive Director, Allan Lazo

September 28, 2022

Earlier this summer, I flew across the country for a national conference that had its first return to an in-person event in three years; and recently, I’ve started attending in-person local and state committee meetings – it’s starting to feel like old times again. 

Depending on your individual circumstances and personal choices, you may find yourself, like me, slowly returning to elements of “normal” life again, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.  

But, as we make that return, we must not forget that “normal” wasn’t working for many of our neighbors and many of our communities

While many of us are eager to return to a life before quarantines and masks, we must recognize that the life to which we are working so hard to return still is fraught with great inequity and great injustices. 

In many cases, those persistent inequities and injustices have been significantly exacerbated during the crises of the past two years with more looming on the horizon in the years of recovery to come. 

During these times, we need to commit to the ideal that equitable community development must include supporting equitable recovery and building equitable resilience in all communities. 

As our recent Impact Report highlighted, one of the ways we are working towards that in our organization is by continuing to connect directly with underserved and underrepresented communities throughout the state, with support from our invaluable partners and collaboratives. 

Equitable outcomes are best informed by finding and maintaining connections to the most-impacted community members. If you’re a decision-maker, are you committed to making connections with those communities and inviting those connections to influence your decisions? If you’re a community member, are you committed to continuing to push for equitable recovery and community resiliency? 

These difficult few years — having faced a worldwide health pandemic, raging wildfires across our state, deadly reminders of racial injustice, and uncertain economic times — are filled with lessons learned about what our communities need to thrive and what is possible when we come together. 

Our body of work in the Fair Housing movement around creating inclusive communities provides one example of how community development efforts can help create greater opportunity for all. 

Through our work, we are grateful to witness not only the shared values among all Oregon residents but also the unique needs of communities across the state. As we work to reopen, rebuild, and reunite, holding both perspectives can help us find ways to better understand one another and to stand together united as communities. 

I’m hopeful that you are committed to joining us and are looking forward to the days when we not only can be together but come together as a community united.