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Compassion & Choices Launches National People of Color Initiative

Diverse Staff Members to Lead Nationwide Multicultural Outreach

Compassion & Choices today announced the launch of its People of Color Initiative to expand end-of-life options for African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and other cultural communities nationwide.

As part of its ongoing efforts to engage communities of color, Compassion & Choices has promoted three internal leaders to expand its community outreach. They include Political Director Charmaine Manansala (Filipina American), National Constituency Manager Brandi Alexander (African American) and National Latino Communications Manager Patricia A. González-Portillo (Latina).

“Communities of color often have the highest rates of illness, yet are least likely to complete advance directives or discuss medical intervention with loved ones,” said Brandi Alexander. “The disparities that exist are the motivating factor for Compassion & Choices’ increased and targeted outreach to communities of color. We are committed to raising awareness to ensure that all Americans are prepared for the inevitable end of life.”

In her new role as Compassion & Choices national constituency manager, Alexander’s job is to increase support from people from various backgrounds through community outreach. She was a regional campaign and outreach manager for the past three of her 11 years working for Compassion & Choices.

In her new role as Compassion & Choices political director, Charmaine Manansala will lead all legislative efforts to introduce and pass laws that authorize medical aid in dying throughout the country. She will do so with an emphasis on continued engagement with communities of color. Manansala was previously the California political director at Compassion & Choices, helping enact the historic End of Life Option Act last fall that authorized medical aid in dying for Californians.

“Our victory in California can be attributed to the support of legislators of color and our diverse volunteer base. Their voices and partnership were critical to our legislative victory,” said Manansala, a seasoned political expert who has worked in the Obama and Clinton administrations. “Nationally, we will continue to move forward with a similar strategy.”

As the newly appointed national Latino communications manager, González-Portillo will lead Compassion & Choices’ outreach to Latino and Spanish language media outlets nationwide. González-Portillo was previously the communications director for Compassion & Choices’ California campaign.Indeed, support for the California End of Life Option Act among whites, Latinos and Asian Americans was at least 75 percent, and 52.3 percent among African Americans, according to a poll released last August by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

“I am very excited to expand our Latino efforts nationwide and to provide culturally appropriate material for Spanish speakers,” said González-Portillo, a former journalist and longtime public relations strategist. “I am committed to helping empower terminally ill Latinos living with a terminal illness with the tools they need to engage in conversations with their doctors so they can connect with the end-of-life options they need and deserve.”

More information about Compassion & Choices’ People of Color Initiative can be found at: www.compassionandchoices.org/communities/people-of-color-for-choices.