“We all want our friends, families and the next generation to have a secure future.” – Sumitra Chhetri
Northwest Health Foundation knows when elected officials look like their constituents, the policies they create work better for all of us. So, when a community leader connected to one of our funded partners is running, we want to spotlight them. This does not constitute an endorsement.
In the last decade, Centennial School District in east Portland went from 16% students of color to 54%. That’s a huge demographic shift in a short amount of time. It’s a safe bet the schools, particularly the students of color, are feeling those growing pains.
Sumitra Chhetri, a leader in our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Cohort, is running for Centennial School Board, Position 3, because she believes these students deserve representation. As a Bhutanese refugee who moved to Portland with her family in 2008, graduated from David Douglas High School as an ESL student, and now works for Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, she hopes to bring first-hand experience to the position.
Sumitra’s brother, a current Centennial High School student, is enthusiastic about his sister’s campaign. He and his friends have been eager to share their input. At Sumitra’s Campaign Kickoff, her brother and two other students stated their support for Sumitra, because she will represent their voices as students of color.
Sumitra graduated from Portland State University with a degree in political science, and she’s actively participated in the political process since high school. As a college student, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for tuition equity. She also interned with a group lobbying in Washington, D.C. for paper bags instead of plastic in stores. She’s since spent lots of time in Salem advocating with the immigrant and refugee community, is currently vice president of the Oregon Bhutanese Community Organization and a community engagement liaison with the City of Portland, and was recently appointed to the Metro Citizenship Review Committee.
“I understand what students of families of color face,” wrote Sumitra on her campaign website. “Over the years, I have worked with immigrant and refugees families and communities advocating for issues such as access to education, health care, transportation, language, and affordable housing. Lack of health care, transportation, and affordable housing all impacts the learning ability of students in school.”
We wish you luck, Sumitra!