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Each month, we shine a spotlight on one of our chapter members with a series of questions. We hope you enjoy learning more about our spotlight nominee this month.

Paul Ocampo OCTOBER 2020

Paul Ocampo
Director of Development, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

How long have you been involved in the nonprofit sector?
It was a couple of years after graduating from U.C. Berkeley that I became involved in the nonprofit sector. After a brief stint teaching English in South Korea, I joined the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit open access publisher that empowers the scientific community with free, peer-reviewed research articles online. At the time, I was interested in literary publishing and considering a career in medicine. I was also volunteering for author Maxine Hong Kingston’s veterans writing workshop as my way of protesting the Iraq War. After pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Arizona State University, I joined Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, the nation’s first Asian American legal and civil rights organization, as their Development Coordinator and later became the Development Director. I came to Asian Law Caucus inspired by the immigrant rights movement in Arizona where I participated in protests against the state’s controversial law SB1070 that brought fear and harm to immigrant families.

Tell us about your current position. What are your responsibilities?
My current position is the Development Director at Asian Law Caucus. I work very closely with our Executive Director on securing and forecasting revenue with careful attention to sustainable growth for the organization. I help facilitate meetings with our funders and major donors. I direct a team of four to help ensure our revenue streams such as special events, individual giving, and foundations are robust. In the past two years, I’ve been engaging our Board on our Major Gifts Program.

What has your career progression been like so far?
It feels like driving without a GPS but with only a strong sense of your destination. Along the way, you find yourself lost in the exploration and discovering not only interesting sites but something about yourself. In the nonprofit sector, and in fund development specifically, I’ve been able to learn and immerse myself in communities, in today’s hot topics and critical issues, economic trends, business and marketing strategies, all for the purpose of the common good. Along the way, you sharpen your relationship-building skills, meet interesting and inspiring people, and create lasting friendships from many different communities and sectors.

What are you most proud of in your career to this point?
I’m proud of the impact of the organizations I’ve been involved in, especially Asian Law Caucus, and my role in marshalling and shepherding resources in service of our communities, especially in these surreal times of the COVID-19 pandemic, deep inequality, and continued marginalization of people of color. While the world could seem gloom and doom, there have been really exciting moments from my recent experience. In 2017, I secured a place for Asian Law Caucus to be part of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Immigrants We Get the Job Done campaign that raised millions of dollars for immigrant rights organizations. I also got to meet the creator of Hamilton when we were invited to attend a gala honoring him for this work.

What advice would you give to other AFP members who are considering becoming a chapter Board member?
To succeed, it really takes a village. There is no manual on how to do this job. It takes creativity, determination, innovation, courage, and a big heart. But you can’t do it alone. Becoming a chapter member has reinforced this lesson. In addition, I’ve become really inspired by the great leadership in fundraising and commitment to social justice that I’m seeing from the AFP Golden Gate Chapter Board.

Any secrets or just tried-and-true pieces of wisdom you want to share about what has worked for you?
In this field, working closely with your Executive Director or leadership team on strategies and execution is key. In addition, assembling an amazing team comprised of passionate, committed, and creative fundraising professionals is also critical to success. Success also comes from persistence, which to me means finding the balance between an urgency to act and patience that builds endurance.

What is the biggest challenge facing the profession right now?
Nobody predicted the pandemic and its repercussions. It has disrupted everyone’s way of life. The biggest challenge for everyone is to weather this storm and recognizing that this moment calls for transformational change. The biggest challenge for us is to examine how the way we work as resource leaders perpetuates the systems that have created today’s issues, including racial injustice and income inequality.

How do you manage to balance your personal and professional life? What do you like to do to relax?
I set boundaries or otherwise, I could be working 24/7. Many of the issues we work on can’t be solved in one day or with one solution. Many of the issues we work on seep into our personal lives and realities. So you really have to turn it off. What I like to do to relax is to travel (pre-COVID-19) and curl up with a good book. Early in the mornings, before reality sets in, I sit down in front of my computer to work on my novel-in-progress.

Last book you read (or show you’re watching or binge-watching).
The last book I (re)read is Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. It hit a little too close to home considering our current conditions.

What do you want to do in life that you haven’t yet?
Publish my first novel.