OCA Executive Director Rita Pin Ahrens is resigning effective Sept. 4, citing her wish to focus on her children’s remote learning experience in the upcoming school year, the group announced.
Ahren’s resignation comes just a few weeks shy of an open letter signed by 200 past and present OCA workers demanding the organization “make significant changes to its policy strategy and work environment,” a recent AsAmNews article reported.
According to OCA, an AAPI-focused civil rights organization, Ahrens’s legacy includes creating the Inclusive K-12 Curriculum Task Force and spearheading anti-Asian hate task force legislation.
“I remain committed to the community and will continue to be a friend of OCA as we collectively work to address the challenges that our community faces from our unique spaces of engagement,” Ahrens said in her resignation letter, according to OCA.
According to the open letter, problems within OCA include prioritizing corporate sponsors and refusing to fight against crucial issues such as anti-blackness and the deportation of ICE detainees.
“OCA was a lot more driven by the corporations that were funding the organization than it was driven by what our communities needed and what our vulnerable community members were needing and asking for,” Maddie Schumacher, former Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate at OCA, told AsAmNews.
OCA’s workplace environment, the open letters notes, was also an issue. Schumacher told AsAmNews about a staff member being punished for sharing educational resources in response to another member’s email, which exhibited anti-Blackness.
Another staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, told AsAmNews about her experience of sexual harassment at the organization and how poorly it was handled due to OCA’s lack of a Human Resources Department. Her concerns were ultimately dismissed as a “lover’s spat.”
“I didn’t really know what to do or who to tell or what they would do if I told them,” the staff member said.
While OCA released a response on its website stating that a task force was investigating the issues, staff members told AsAmNews that they were skeptical of any meaningful change occurring.
“I think it’s up to outside community members to put pressure on OCA. I don’t think OCA can meaningfully transform from the inside out,” said an anonymous staff member.
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