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Everyday Heros: Passing on the Passion for Activism by Wesleigh Ogle

January 23, 2024

PORTLAND, OR  — Our president, Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, was named one of Portland’s Everyday Heros! Watch her story with KATU about the powerful of legacy and why it’s important to empower the next generation.

“I was raised by parents who instilled in me a dedication and responsibility to always fight for justice and equity and to believe that young people are powerful forces for change. I was honored to be recognized as one of Portland’s Everyday Heros and to speak with KATU News Wesleigh Ogle KATU about how my family’s history fuels my work in social justice and how we can inspire the next generation to create the future they need and deserve. Today, I can confidently say that a large part of Justice + Joy National Collaborative secret sauce is our commitment to true intergenerational activism.” – Jeannette Pai-Espinosa

Read the original story by Wesleigh Ogle here: Everyday Heroes: Pai family creates legacy of activism

Pai-Espinosa worked at Willamette University and then did human rights work for the City of Salem. After that, she was the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission for the City of Portland. She was then sworn in as Senior Policy Advisor for Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts.

Pai-Espinosa moved to the private sector for a time before landing at Justice + Joy.

“All my work has always been guided by a core set of values that are around access, justice, compassion, humanity, responsibility,” says Pai-Espinosa. “In the course of a lifetime to experience not having rights, then to experience gaining the rights and now losing them… I am certainly no less committed today than I was then – because now I feel some responsibility in my own way about how did we end up here, and how did we lose these things. How did we lose them in my lifetime?”

Pai-Espinosa wants us all to know how important it is to pass down a legacy of activism through each generation.

“I think the risk is the people who will be most impacted by the future are not part of shaping it,” Pai-Espinosa states.

“You hear people say a lot of times, ‘The young people are our future, children are our future.’ Well, it’s a nice saying, but what do we really mean by it and what do we really do? So all our work here is led by young people,” Pai-Espinosa continues.

She’s put that into practice in her own family.

Pai-Espinosa’s daughter, Vanessa, was a public defender and now works for Planned Parenthood like her grandmother.

“I think all our kids have always been one for the underdog. I think they remember even just walking around Portland and giving money to folks on the street and that sort of internal wiring,” Pai-Espinosa says.

Her advice for you: don’t leave your kids in the dark.

“What I would say to parents is they’re never too young. If we gave someone money on the street, why were we doing that, what did that mean, did we care what they did with the money? Those were conversations that would come up at the dinner table. We would have the kids invite their friends over and we would walk through the different issues on the ballot and have conversations and pizza and talk through them,” Pai-Espinosa explains.

Join Justice + Joy at our In Solidarity We Rise summit on May 2-4, 2024. You will strategize, share solutions, imagine new futures, and make connections that advance healing, opportunity, and justice for all girls and young people. To register, click here.

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