This week, we speak with Christine Wanifuchi, chief executive officer of the Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC). We are big fans of APDC’s work and the incredible leadership Christine has provided to the organization. After a 30-year career as a #changemaker in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, Christine recently retired June 30, 2017. We join the community in a grateful, inspired salute to Christine for her service, and we are honored to present some of her fabulous wisdom, shared to us in her final week at APDC.

1. Tell us about you and your organization and the social change you are trying to achieve.

“The mission of the Asian Pacific Development Center is to advance the wellbeing of the Asian American Pacific Islander communities of Colorado by providing culturally appropriate and integrated medical, behavioral and related services. The social change we are trying to achieve is to strive toward health equity for our communities in Colorado. We do this in three ways: 1) working to improve access to quality healthcare; 2) promoting advocacy work to all stakeholders through education, inspiration and by bridging the gaps between our communities and policy makers, and lastly; 3) promoting services through culturally and linguistically appropriate lens.”

2. What keeps you inspired and going when things get tough?

“Sometimes it seems that the things that really count will never change. But then I think that if people give up and ignore the challenges in front us, nothing will change. I tell myself that real impactful change takes a long time to see, possibly 10 years or more.

But we should never give up ‘doing and being that change agent’ because incremental changes are happening in small bursts all the time and eventually they will make a collective difference toward the end goal.

“Yes, there will be setbacks, but we must embrace them and learn from them and know that if one perseveres long enough, one will see change. As I have heard many people say: Sometimes it is not always about achieving the goal but experiencing the journey.”

3. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break new ground in a traditional field?

“Do not be afraid to take risks! Don’t be afraid to be bold in voicing your ideas and thoughts. Don’t be afraid to make decisions, but be smart in making informed decisions. Blind hope is just that: blind. So when you ‘hope’ that things will go well and ‘hope’ that you are going down the right path—examine your ‘hope.’ Keep an open mind, listen intently to others, respect the past and trust your gut—and then make the decision.

“Also, be kind to yourself: it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to celebrate when you have successes. After all, you are only human. Most importantly, keep centered and balanced in your work and your personal life.”

4. What book do you recommend to everyone you meet and why? OR What book is on your to-read list and why?

“Recently I was given a very interesting book to read, Thank You For Being Late, An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. To summarize simply, what I got out of this book was a reminder that in today’s world, things are changing at an unprecedented pace. Friedman explains the tectonic movements that are reshaping our world now and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. After reading this book, you will have a completely different view of understanding the news, how you work, the kind of education our youth will need in the future, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate. The author argues that pausing and ‘being late’ will allow us to reflect on some of these possibilities and dangers.”

5. How have you worked with Joining Vision and Action (JVA), and how has that helped your organization?

“APDC has worked with JVA for several years. They have helped our organization to strengthen and enhance our fund development through grantwriting—helping us develop our important grants calendar and then working together with our staff to put together and write the grants. It has been a wonderful working relationship and we have experienced a very good success rate of grant awards.

“We realized some years ago that we could not afford, in-house, the resources that JVA brings to the table to address these efforts. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise are indeed assets we value and appreciate. Their support not only includes grantwriting but extends to research, proofing, critique and review of work before it is submitted. It works!”

6. What else would you want to share with us that we haven’t asked?

“Janine and her staff sincerely care about working hard in order to achieve success for us in grantwriting. They understand how nonprofits work and the importance of obtaining grant funding. But they also understand the world of grantors—whether they are private, national or government entities. They know how to vet opportunities and ensure we are a good ‘fit’ with the particular focus areas of a grant, and then to provide a candid opinion in regard to a probability of being awarded. This is vitally important as we have long believed that in order to achieve sustainability for our organization, we do not chase the money. We want to sustain our programs and the work we do to fulfill our mission. So finding the right fit is essential and allows us to support our work continuously.”

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