By Frieda Takamura, PSARA Secretary
Vivian Lee, PSARA Executive Board member, was honored at the Northwest Asian Weekly’s Women of Power: Building Bridges luncheon on January 31. The theme of the very well-attended event, “Reaching out beyond their own community bringing people together,” describes Vivian’s lifetime achievement as an educator, advocate and community activist for social justice.
An article in the Weekly explains, “Vivian Lee is a retired nurse who developed and implemented policies that brought more Asian Americans and other people of color into the nursing profession…Lee is now a consultant in Women’s Health and Clinical Administration, reviewing federal grants and contracts for the DHHS and the Centers for Disease Control…She has also worked with the U.S. Public Health Service, most recently serving as the founding director of the Office of Women’s Health, serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.”
Resplendent in Husky purple and gold, the colors of her beloved alma mater, the University of Washington, Vivian talked at the luncheon about her continuing efforts with the UW Office of Minority Affairs to diversify the student body and faculty, not only to reflect the changing demography of the community but also to capitalize on the many talents of students of color to make for a better, stronger community. Working with other activists in the communities of color in the 1960’s, Vivian helped to bring attention to the lack of racial and ethnic diversity at the University. Their persistence resulted in pioneering changes that even today, makes the UW a welcoming and supportive institution for students of color. In addition to helping to create the UW Office of Minority Affairs, Vivian was a founding member of the University President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and continues to serve in that capacity.
Vivian serves on the PSARA Diversity Committee and has represented PSARA with the Caring Across Generations campaign.
“I can’t put into words how much she has meant to me and the International District Community Health Center when I was its Executive Director,” PSARA Board member Frank Irigon said. “She gave us more than just support, she backed us with grants that made it possible for us to grow and thrive and continue to provide culturally sensitive and language appropriate health services.”