I have seen many amazing community leaders in Pierce County over the years.  However, one stood out earlier this month when she was honored with the naming of a new 77-unit affordable housing project in the Lincoln District.

I first met Patsy Surh O’Connell about 20 years ago when we were both in the local American Leadership Forum’s (ALF) Class IX.  The purpose of ALF is to bring local leaders together in a one-year curriculum to both develop their leadership skills and establish a strong network of community leaders.  The class curriculum included “buddying up” classmates, so you could get to know others and be known.  Patsy was my “buddy” for the class – and remains so to this day.

As I got to know Patsy, I learned of her powerful personal story, coming from war-torn Korea to Washington.  But I was even more impressed with her vision and leadership.  She was creative and persistent.  Patsy brought people together.  She founded the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) – from the trunk of her car.  I was so impressed with her commitment to our community – and then I saw her amazing artwork!  I was becoming intimidated – but my impressions pivoted to being inspired!  She made me work to become a better community leader.

So, I was thrilled to be at the groundbreaking for APCC’s partnership with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) to build 77 units of desperately needed affordable housing for seniors and veterans. 

Our community has been working to address the housing affordability crisis in our region – and we are building momentum – with a lot of work still ahead. But I am confident that the future residents of Patsy Surh Place, will be inspired by her life, just as I am!

Here’s to an amazing 2024!