Pramila Jayapal Leaving OneAmerica

En Español

Pramila Jayapal, OneAmerica Founder and Executive Director, has announced she will step down from leading OneAmerica in the spring of 2012.

Ten years ago, in the wake of 9/11, Pramila gathered some concerned community members to address the backlash against immigrant communities of color. A decade later, OneAmerica has grown into the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Washington State and a leading force for immigrant rights nationally.

OneAmerica board and staff thank Pramila for providing her visionary leadership and unyielding commitment to social justice in helping create a powerful, sustainable, and ever-growing organization that impacts so many residents across the state.

Please see statements below from Pramila and OneAmerica Board President Luis Fraga on her announcement. For more on Pramila's incredible leadership and OneAmerica's transition plan and our search for a new Executive Director, see below.

Letter from Pramila Jayapal

September 19, 2011

Dear Allies, Supporters and Friends of OneAmerica:

I have some important news to share with you.

Last week, we observed the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Even as we remembered the chaos and fear of that day, we celebrated new beginnings, the rebuilding of our community and the struggles for justice that flowered from that moment. OneAmerica is one of those flowers born from that moment of struggle. It has truly been a remarkable privilege to birth, lead and grow OneAmerica into the powerful voice it is today and I am so proud to have taken this journey with you over the past decade. The victories and accomplishments belong to all of us, and even our disappointments and defeats have only made us stronger. It is out of this sense of collective accomplishment that I want to share with you my decision to step down from leading OneAmerica in the spring of 2012.

I have been humbled to work with each of you over the years and I am grateful for your support, advice and commitment. Together, we have built a strong and vibrant statewide movement for immigrant rights; helped shape and influence national policy and debate; dramatically changed the perception of immigrants in our community; and fought for the rights of all people—all the while pushing the limits of the possible and making the impossible happen. The creative energy and the grounded force of our work and of the thousands of real people that are part of our movement today have sustained and shaped me.

One of my greatest joys has been working with our tremendous staff and board of directors. Our Board has guided me and the organization, held fast to our values and convictions and supported all of our work in numerous ways. Our staff—a team of 24 committed and talented individuals, including our five directors who share senior leadership with me—is one of the most remarkable groups I have ever seen. They are tireless, committed leaders in their own spheres of work and an incredible team together that has inspired me to do my best work as a leader. In short, our organization is healthy, committed and dynamic —fertile ground for a strong and smooth transition that I know we will accomplish with skill and grace.

I know that our track record and our organizational health will allow us to find a strong and visionary leader who will continue to grow the organization into the future. This work is never about a single individual, it is about the movement and the collection of people that come together to make a dream a reality. Our OneAmerica “collective”—members, funders, donors, elected officials, community—has allowed the work to flourish. The greatest gift to me as a founder is to know that the organization and the work will continue and build on the foundation we have constructed long after I am gone.

It is exactly this confidence in our collective that makes it possible for me to pass the torch and think about the next phase of my life and how I might bring my passion for organizing and justice to bear in different ways. The last ten years have been so rich and full of lessons. None of you will be surprised to know that I have a lot to say about politics, race, immigrants and America! I plan to take some time to write and reflect about these issues and then begin to see where the next phase of my commitment to justice will lead me.

I will spend my final seven or eight months at OneAmerica charging ahead with full passion and energy, focused on ensuring the rights of immigrants everywhere as well as on ensuring a strong and successful leadership transition. I will be reaching out to you for your advice and working with you hand in hand as we have always done. Although I am choosing to step away and pursue new directions, my final months will be filled with both sadness at leaving and excitement about the future. One thing is certain: I will always be a part of the OneAmerica family, cheering the organization and the new leadership on from the sidelines.

Thank you for a remarkable ten years. I am so grateful to you for all your support in the past, through this transition and into OneAmerica’s future.

Most of all, thank you for your inspiration and for your belief in Justice for All. We created this organization together and I am proud to have had the opportunity to lead such a remarkable effort.

With love and in solidarity,
Pramila Jayapal

Letter from Board President Luis Fraga

September 19, 2011

It is not easy to imagine OneAmerica without the vision, commitment, passion, and charisma of Pramila Jayapal. She has inspired so many of us to look deeply within our souls to find the strength and wisdom to work together to build communities of respect and idealism where all peoples can realize their dreams. We are blessed, moreover, that she has also left us an organization that is financially secure, praised by many at local, state, and national levels, and with an excellent staff devoted to all aspects of its work.

While acknowledging the loss that Pramila’s departure represents for OneAmerica, we are confident that the national reputation, accomplishments, health and vibrancy of the organization will allow us to find a strong and talented Executive Director to lead the organization through its next phase. The OneAmerica Board of Directors has established a Transition Committee to oversee an orderly and thoughtful process over the next eight months to find a replacement for Pramila when she leaves in the spring of 2012. And we are grateful to our many donors and funders who have reiterated their commitment to the organization and to helping to ensure a smooth transition. We will be reaching out to many of you over the next months to help us find the next leader who will build on Pramila’s legacy.

Most of all, we know that OneAmerica will keep moving forward, building hope, vision, inspiration and action to ensure a strong and vibrant movement for immigrant and human rights. We are grateful to you for all of your support and look forward to working with you.

Please feel free to contact me ( with any comments or questions. You can also call John O'Keefe, O’Keefe Search, at 919-303-5903 or email him ( if you're interested in the Executive Director position. If not before, I hope to see you at OneAmerica’s Spring dinner event on May 19, 2012, which will be a celebration of Pramila’s and the organization’s achievements on behalf of all of us who are dedicated to immigrant and human rights.

Luis Ricardo Fraga
Board President, OneAmerica

Pramila's Leadership at OneAmerica

Pramila launched Hate Free Zone in 2001, later changed to OneAmerica in 2008, and used word-of-mouth and flyers to share information; today, OneAmerica uses a sophisticated online and media strategy - including email updates to thousands of people across Washington State and the country - in order to organize tens of thousands of diverse immigrants around immigration reform, immigrant integration and racial profiling.

Under her leadership, OneAmerica has achieved significant policy change in Washington State, leading efforts to win numerous victories for immigrants including: a New Americans Executive Order signed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, a comprehensive plan to address the needs of immigrant communities in Seattle, an ordinance preventing City of Seattle employees from inquiring about immigration status, and numerous resolutions at the city and county level upholding the human rights and dignity of immigrants and affirming the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Also under her leadership, OneAmerica has engaged in the first large-scale immigrant voter registration program in the state, registering and mobilizing over 25,000 New American voters to engage and involve immigrants in democracy.

Nationally, Pramila has helped lead the fight for due process and comprehensive immigration reform, plus leading on immigrant integration, while serving as Co-Chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, Vice Chair of the Rights Working Group national coalition, as well as on the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

She has been recognized both nationally and regionally with many awards, most recently becoming a recipient of the Community Change Champion award for Community Organizing and Leadership. Before that , she was named by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of 20 Women of Influence, whose leadership and work "moves the needle on critical issues in the region" (2007); by Seattle Magazine as a Power 25 Leader (2006); and by Seattle Times Editorial Board as one of 12 Puget Sound Regional Leaders (2005).

Read more about Pramila.

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