Lai-Lani Ovalles

Lai-Lani has 17 years of experience engaging and empowering diverse communities for social change through cross-cultural collective action. She has extensive nonprofit experience, managing programs and staff, and fostering collaboration among agencies. She has addressed racial equity and achievement gaps regionally at Mt. Hood Community College and at the state level at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. She has increased the visibility of and empowered voices from communities all across Portland in her roles with United Way, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Portland’s Native American community. Above all, Lai-Lani believes in the power of education and strong cultural identity to transform and improve systems for all.

What’s one experience from childhood that helped make you who you are today? 

“Growing up in Hawaii gave me a strong foundation in my culture, values and connection to the land. I was raised to respect and honor the elders, listen and learn from caring adults, and as a community member to always show aloha to others.”

Ask Lai-Lani about

Authentic parent engagement, Parent Accountability Council (PAC), equity and inclusion in all we do, adventures of being a new mom, poetry, and surfing.