Mission: OCCJ inspires and equips Oklahomans to overcome bias, bigotry, and oppression.
Vision: In our generation, Oklahoma is a more inclusive, just, and hospitable state, for all.
When I think of our new mission and vision statements, I cannot help but think about the impact OCCJ has had in my life.
20 years ago, as a young high school student, new to the country and struggling with the language, I found myself not quite fitting in with many of my peers. I had begun to internalize the anti-immigrant rhetoric—that I was not wanted and that everything would be better if I went back to where I came from. I count myself fortunate to have had strong mentors who helped me combat the struggles I was facing.
I am especially grateful for the invitation and opportunity to participate in OCCJ’s Anytown Leadership Institute, a week-long program for Oklahoma high school students that develops leadership skills in an environment steeped in respect and understanding for diversity. Anytown presented practical examples and road maps for the efforts I could lead to advance inclusion and encouraged me to do my part.
After that eye-opening and impactful week, I had another catalytic experience that would redirect the trajectory of my life. I was invited to serve as a student representative on the OCCJ Board of Directors. I am grateful for the leaders then, who by example helped me realize that I mattered and that my community would be better if I was an active part of it. Their service to the organization motivated me to consider living a life of service and to give back to my community who had given so much to me.
All those years ago, OCCJ inspired and empowered me in ways I did not know were possible. Now, as CEO, I am proud to advance the mission and work of OCCJ today. I continue to be encouraged by the many volunteers and community leaders who support our work, and I am excited about their voices helping us refine our mission and vision as an organization.
We find ourselves at a critical point in time where awareness for the need to improve inclusion and equity are high. We are also experiencing more organized opposition to efforts that elevate diverse voices and promote inclusion—our work could not be more important today as these efforts are being attacked on many fronts.
We are committed to inspire and equip a new generation of leaders we need to face these challenges and invite you to support us.