FBI Portland Presents Director’s Community Leadership Award to Chanpone Sinlapasai-Okamura
The FBI’s Portland Division has named Chanpone Sinlapasai-Okamura as the recipient of the 2014 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for Oregon. Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing presented the award locally to Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura on Friday, October 31, 2014, during an event at the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura serves as a member of the board of directors for IRCO and as the co-chair for the Asian Family Center at IRCO.
Over a period of many years, Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura has helped to create powerful partnerships between the FBI and various diverse populations in Oregon. For five years, she has led a group of multi-cultural community leaders who have helped to promote and support the FBI’s Youth Leadership Academy in Portland. This program brings together high school students from throughout the region to learn about the FBI’s role in the community; to develop leadership skills; to explore various career options; and to match at-risk teens with mentors.
“My elders have taught me that I may not have a choice about the hardships in my past but that I have the choice to make life better for myself and others in the future. They have taught me over and over again the importance of treating every human being with kindness, compassion, and love. One act that you do to improve the world for that one person may not seem like much at the moment, but if you can change the life of one person for the better with your kindness, you have changed the course of history,” said Ms. Chanpone Sinlapasai-Okamura.
In addition to her other volunteer work, Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura serves on the board of directors for the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association; serves on the Oregon Attorney General’s Task Force for Crime Victims’ Rights Enforcement; and is the chairperson for the Oregon Department of Justice’s Immigrant Crime Victim’s Enforcement subcommittee.
“The energy and passion that Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura brings to each and every day is beyond compare,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “What she does goes beyond ‘work.’ She has a calling to serve the most vulnerable people in our community—those affected by sex trafficking, violence, and the like. She exemplifies what it means to be a humble—yet effective—leader and is, without a doubt, worthy of recognition.”
Originally from Laos, Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura resettled with her family as refugees in northern California in 1980 and became the first among her relatives to pursue higher education. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a double major in English and Philosophy before earning her law degree from Lewis & Clark College in Portland. Over time, Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura has focused her work in the areas of civil rights, international law, victims’ rights, and racism in law. For many years, she has worked with at-risk children, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking.
Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura is an attorney with the law firm of Marandas & McClellan, where she specializes in helping immigrants and victims of violence.
About the Award
Every year, each of the FBI’s 56 field divisions chooses one person or organization to receive the Director’s Community Leadership Award. Each recipient must have shown a commitment to crime prevention or community service. In the spring of 2015, Ms. Sinlapasai-Okamura will travel to Washington, D.C. to receive national recognition for her service from FBI Director James B. Comey.