AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Debra Suh

January 18th, 2010 | 1 comment | Posted by Diana

As you know, we’ve had the pleasure of joining hundreds of AAPI community members in a campaign to raise money for the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, an organization that provides very necessary resources for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. One of the benefits of getting involved with CPAF was meeting its extraordinary Executive Director, Debra Suh, a lawyer who has been working with the organization for over a decade.

Debra Suh, Executive Director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family

Name: Debra Suh

Hails from: Los Angeles

Occupation: Executive Director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, a non-profit organization recognized nationally for its pioneering work in domestic violence and sexual assault in the Los Angeles Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community.

Known for: Fighting violence with action and reprzentasian. In addition to her work with CPAF, Suh serves as the Board VP of the statewide coalition, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, and as a Speaker of the Assembly appointee to the California Emergency Management Agency’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council. She has won the Durfee Sabbatical Award and KCET/Union Bank Local Hero Award. Before joining CPAF in 1999, Debra worked as an attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles where she established the API Unit. She was a past president of the Korean American Bar Association and Women’s Organization Reaching Koreans.

The lovely Ms. Suh took some time out her busy sked to do a little email Q & A with us–divulging a bit about herself, CPAF, and dreams for the future. Check it:

When did you get involved with CPAF? Why?

In December 1999; it was a natural progression of my interest in women’s issues; in 1985, I volunteered for the Immigrant Battered Women’s project where I first learned about domestic violence in API community, and how disproportionately it affects Korean Americans. While working as an attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, I represented many women who were staying at CPAF’s shelter. While my contained involvement in only their legal case was nice and manageable at first. But I just could tolerate any more how everyone I helped was ashamed to share their stories. I wanted to work to change our culture to embrace survivors and squarely place the shame on the perpetrators.

Please share your most memorable experience at CPAF.

So many… will need to get back to you on which one to choose.

How have budget cuts affected CPAF this year?

California’s budget crisis resulted in funding cuts for domestic violence shelters while requests for services were going up. A recent survey of 600 domestic violence shelters conducted by Mary Kay Inc., showed a 71% increase in women seeking help as a result of domestic violence since the economic downturn in September 2008. CPAF has also experienced increase in demand for crisis intervention services. It’s heartbreaking to tell a fearful caller that we just don’t have resources to help her.

What could a million dollar grant mean for CPAF?

This is what we proposed on Chase Community Giving Contest website…

Currently, each of the 20 domestic violence shelters and 6 rape crisis centers in Los Angeles County run their own 24 hour hotlines. One joint hotline would benefit all of us, but we do not have the resources to plan for and develop a sustainable joint hotline. If we win one million dollars, CPAF will invest in developing the technological and programmatic infrastructure to handle crisis calls for all partnering agencies, in over 30 languages, at CPAF’s Multi-Lingual Call Center. This will also result in local shelters having the capacity to shelter API survivors CPAF is unable to shelter.

CPAF will extend the hotline services to include online chat to make services more accessible to survivors. CPAF will also establish video conferencing capacity at partnering agencies, which will allow bilingual staff based in CPAF’s Call Center to provide multi-lingual services throughout Los Angeles County. Materials, including multi-media productions in various languages, will be collected and developed to be shared with partnering agencies and larger community through an online library.

In your wildest dreams, CPAF would…

No longer provide intervention services. Our API community embraces survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault so that no one is ashamed of coming forward. And when they do, members of our community will support the survivors and hold the perpetrators accountable. API women will no longer be targets of serial rapists because of underreporting. And new immigrants will also have the same values because resources CPAF developed and shared had influenced their countries of origin.

[Vote for CPAF in the Chase Community Giving Contest]
[Center for the Pacific Asian Family - Official Site]

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One Response to “AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Debra Suh”

  1. keoni says:

    Sounds like a perfect opportunity for some of the Corporations to donate equipment or sponsor this effort(central call center). It would be a different “consumer base” and would help those who actually need it. Not to mention how to help those of us here at home. At some point our society will become more domestic- because there will always be disasters around the world, unfortunately.

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