For the first time, OPAL’s Members have elected a new Steering Committee entirely under age 30! In the past several years we’ve been blessed to have the leadership of Keith Scholz, who led the Action Planning Team as an Elder in our movement, and from Nic Phillips, whose wisdom has guided our work with the Transit Equity Advisory Committee. Our last Research and Advisory Chair, David Bouchard, has also been a great asset to OPAL. But this year, three new representatives of our membership – each of them a graduate of an Organizing Fellowship within OPAL – have been elected, and they represent the young leaders of today and tomorrow!
Shanice Clarke has been elected to the Chair of the Research and Advisory Committee, which digs into the weeds on policy recommendations, creating research like the Low Income Fare Equity report that successfully compelled TriMet to discount fares for low-income riders. With OPAL, she’s travelled across the US learning more about EJ movements in San Francisco and Detroit. Shanice earned a B.S. in Human Services, and M.A. in Higher Education & Student Affairs Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. She is also a scholar-practitioner at Portland State University, managing a retention unit within Diversity and Multicultural Student Services.
Tristan has been elected to the Transit Equity Advisory Chair. A fellow with OPAL for the last year, Tristan calls OPAL’s fellowships, “one of greatest experiences of my life.” They will be utilizing their experience as a local activist and trained de-escalator to continue our advocacy to reduce the presence of transit police and create a safer transit system by restoring the Rider Advocate program to TriMet’s budget. Tristan will represent the riding public to TriMet, informed by his experience organizing on buses. “My empathy has grown tremendously since beginning outreach to impacted people and I feel better equipped than ever before to understand their struggles, be accountable and hold space for them in otherwise exclusionary environments,” Tristan says.
Alex Mijares will return to Chair the Action Planning Team, coordinating the events and direct interventions that advance the campaigns our members define and prioritize. Alex has been an active member at OPAL for the past year, developing through multiple programs and fellowships. “The tools and experience gained,” Alex says, “are exactly what I need to see my visions manifest and build movement with my community, friends and family. All the skill and wisdom in the world are nothing without leadership. OPAL stands by their name when they say they “organize people and activate leaders.” That’s exactly what they’ve been able to do for me.” Through planning actions, that’s exactly what Alex will help OPAL do for the next cohort of members.
These three young, inspiring people of color will join the OPAL Board of Directors, as our organizational bylaws empower our members to hold the organization accountable in this way. Membership at OPAL is offered on a sliding scale, $5 to $25 annually, and nobody is turned away for lack of funds. Membership is open to all, with voting and leadership positions reserved for low income people and people of color. To become a member, contact Orlando Lopez at 503 774 4504, or email email@example.com