DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht
November 21, 2018
I came to this country 41 years ago as a first-generation immigrant. I was surprised and humbled by how this country welcomed me, accepted me as its own, and helped me grow and develop into the person I am today. During every Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the opportunities and kindness shared with me since I came to the United States. It is part of what makes this country, and Oregon, the best place to live.
That sense of genuine acceptance and support I felt when I arrived here is what I want all our colleagues and the people who receive our services to feel. There is strength in diversity and it makes us a vibrant organization.
During the past few weeks, I’ve been in different parts of the state talking with our colleagues. We’ve had important conversations about acceptance against a backdrop of the negative, divisive rhetoric during the mid-term elections; federal proposals that pull back our progress on equity and inclusion, and devastating human and natural disasters affecting people we care about.
Many staff I’ve talked with shared that it is a time of unease for immigrants; that our transgender and other members of the LGBTQ community are fearing erasure of federal resources and protections; and that our communities of color are experiencing setbacks in progress toward true equity and inclusion.
Any one of these issues alone are disheartening but despite what happens around us, DHS can be a place of help and hope for all who work here and receive our services. Providing help and hope is our constant work. We embrace the isolated. We rebuild what’s broken. We take action on behalf of those who can’t do so for themselves. We demonstrate and teach resiliency.
One of our strengths across the organization is that we know how to identify the value of every person we touch. We want each person who works beside us to reach their full potential, just as we do every client. Part of that involves honoring the history and celebrating the accomplishments and talents of the many cultures and communities among us. When we stay focused on that, we can build unity and grow together through even the most trying times. And, because we are the largest agency in the state, our impact can extend beyond DHS. We can cause a ripple of acceptance that flows out from our staff to our clients, partners, and communities across Oregon, and change things for the better.
Thanksgiving and other holidays of this season mean different things among the diverse communities that make up Oregon. It’s important for us to be sensitive to those differences and celebrate them because it makes us a vibrant organization and state.
For me, this season is a time to be grateful and I am truly thankful for every member of the DHS team working hard to help Oregonians achieve safety, health, and independence. For me, this season also is an opportunity to bring us closer together and appreciate the responsibility and power we have to make our agency a place where all find acceptance and support; and help and hope.
I wish you a peaceful, joyful start to the holiday season and invite you to join me in celebrating the spirit of the season by reaffirming our commitment to equity and non-discrimination in DHS.