After an exhaustive and highly-competitive search, we’re excited to announce that Khanh Pham has joined OPAL as our new Organizing Director. After serving as OPAL’s Board Chair for the last three years, and maintaining a deep connection to OPAL through her work at APANO – the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon – Khanh brings years of experience and a deep commitment to Environmental and Climate Justice, plus decades organizing and overseeing campaigns, to our movement space. Welcome Khanh!
Khanh is Vietnamese-American, and that identity shapes a lot of how she sees the world. “It has shaped how I understand US imperialism, and also driven me to want to understand the systemic causes of inequality, both globally and locally. I have beloved family and friends in Vietnam, and so when folks talk about the Global South being the most impacted by climate change, they’re not just an abstraction to me, but people who I love and am willing to fight for.”
“I just turned 40 this past year,” Khanh says, “which means that I’ve been organizing for about two decades. I haven’t always done it as a paid organizer, and for most of my twenties, I worked as a fundraiser for various international / media non-profits, and did my grassroots organizing at night and on weekends.” Although that was hard for her, and led to burnout, Khanh appreciated that it taught her what to organize outside the non-profit industrial complex. “I’m very glad to be paid to organize, but I am committed to building a movement where you don’t have to be a paid staffer to be able to organize in your community and develop as a leader.”
Khanh describes this moment as one “of transformation: economically, socially, ecologically, and politically. There are tremendous ruptures happening, which are dangerous but are also opportunities to unite people around a vision around a different world.” Khanh says she feels called to do everything possible to bring about the real transformations we need in our economy and society. She says this work is necessary, “if we want to preserve a habitable planet for our children and frankly, ourselves.”
Khanh is excited to join OPAL because she wants to be part of an organization that “is not just about building itself up as an organization, but is part of a larger environmental and climate justice movement. OPAL is not just fighting for our members, we’re standing in solidarity with other struggles and communities in the U.S., and around the world. At a time in which the urgency of the climate crisis is leading some people to feel desperate and turn to false solutions, I appreciate that OPAL has a clear analysis and strategic framework to be able to guide our work.”
Khanh hopes to unite and expand OPAL’s membership base, and create more opportunities for people to enter into our work. She also looks forward to supporting the Oregon Just Transition Alliance to develop a collective vision and plan for an Oregon Green New Deal that stops the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, while creating the jobs that build “the next renewable, just, and caring economy,” she says. “I want OPAL to be a political home for people as they seek a place where they can contribute their skills and time, be nourished by food and community, and develop as leaders.”
We’re so excited to have Khanh on board at this pivotal time for OPAL and for the movement. You can welcome Khanh by making a tax-deductible investment at opalpdx.org/give