June 8, 2010
PERSONAL REFLECTION ON DOROTHY O’BRIEN by Jennifer Nagrath
Dorothy is one of 4 founding members of the Asian Community Alliance, Inc., Cincinnati, and has been instrumental in getting the organization registered as a nonprofit in the State. She tirelessly works to ensure the smooth operation of the organization setting in motion a bold strategic plan to make the organization more effective and successful. ACA’s growth in the last 4 years is a testament to her skill at keeping the organization flexible to respond quickly to each opportunity and at the same time ensuring established goals are met with no loss of income, which puts the organization on the edge of funding safety.
Dorothy was instrumental in ensuring the Needs Assessment project in Cincinnati was set in motion. She persevered through the years to make this project a reality. It is this commitment to follow through despite the odds, that the community can now use the data collected in discussions with funding sources such as the government or other granting agencies.
Dorothy has always been the “go-to” person when writing grants. Her approach has always been simple – tell an effortless story without too much hype. She has spent countless hours with the Board of ACA teaching and mentoring us on the use of creative language writing for grants.
Dorothy has also clearly wanted for ACA to operate as a bridge between local service agencies and the Asian populations to assure those seeking help can be served. She strongly believes that expanding the role of collaboration is the most effective way to build strong and lasting relationships. She maintains that getting the mainstream community involved helps build a better community for all. This approach clearly has worked well for Cincinnati as it has resulted in a better comprehension of Asian American concerns. She knows too well that in order for us to achieve greater advocacy we must hear the voices of the diverse Asian groups.
It is this kind of advocacy that has led ACA to have an Asian Summit every other year. Dorothy has been instrumental in ensuring that the topics chosen address the very needs and concerns of the Asian voices. For example, addressing Racism at our last Summit has provided a voice for many in the community to share their stories but more importantly provided them with a neutral avenue in which to do so.
Dorothy is keenly aware that engaging ALL the Asian communities and providing them an avenue for communicating is key to enabling their voices being heard. This mantra of hers is one of the reasons that she readily agreed to become a member of the Coalition. Her strength in engaging Asians (being an outsider) is often a welcome respite from the diversity of opinions Asians get lost in so often. Her priority often is to find a collective voice that is effective and viable when advocating for issues of concern. She has used this approach to find and develop leadership styles that reflect the cultural norms of Asian populations.
From working closely with Dorothy, I believe that she is and will always be passionate about the Asian American needs and concerns. For this we are all humbled by her dedication. Her prowess to push the agenda of Asians beyond the ‘model minority myth’ is a reflection of her character to give willingly and selflessly to those in need.
Presented at the Annual Meeting of the OAAHC on June 8, 2010 by Jennifer Nagrath
Award ceremony photo will follow