This week is bittersweet for Northwest Asian Weekly. Ellen Abellera, executive director of Washington state’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA), recently retired from the organization, whose mission is to improve the well-being of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIs) by insuring their access to participation in the fields of government, business, and education.
We will miss Abellera’s professional presence as a strong advocate for social justice, but we also wish her luck in the next phase of her journey.
Believe it or not, Abellera was once a Miss Philippines finalist and worked as a flight attendant for the Philippine Air Lines — she says this is where she gets her happy attitude from.
Abellera started her long, illustrious career in social advocacy in the Northwest as a leader for the Filipino community. Because of her open and empathetic nature, she decided to help all Asian Pacific Americans. In 1990, she served as president of the Filipino American Political Action Group (FAPAGOW), where, with the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), she created a coalition of 12 Asian American communities for a voter registration and education drive at the July 4 swearing in of new citizens. Abellera has a special and rare talent — the ability to work across ethnic lines for a common goal within the Asian American community in Seattle.
Abellera has been a co-chair of the City of Seattle Women’s Commission, a member of the King County Boundary Review, and involved with the Asian Pacific Islander Women of Seattle Coalition and its domestic awareness program.
She has contributed to both Gov. Locke and Gov. Gregoire’s respective administrations. She campaigned for Gregoire with great spirit.
A Partnership Specialist for the Census Bureau, Abellera coordinated five counties to promote the 2000 census to elected officials, communities, organizations, schools, and businesses. She did everything she could to have every Asian and Pacific Islander counted.
Abellera is a person who works tirelessly but is never without a smile on her face. She will be missed as a fixture in our community, but after attending 1000 community events in her years at CAPAA, we hope she gets the chance to relax!
We also hope that, with Abellera taking a much deserved break from selflessly working for the community, new talent will grow to help fill the space she has carved out for Asian Pacific Americans. We hope she continues to serve as an inspiration and model to young people about how critically important community service is. We hope that the work she started can be preserved and continued for future generations. (end)