Champions of Change
From Northern Laos, Lipo Chanthanasak has proudly served as a leader with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) for over a decade, working to reduce carbon pollution and ensure environmental justice. At sixteen years old, Lipo left school to support his family by farming, hunting, and fishing. The Vietnam War led him to join a Guerilla Unit of American forces. After fighting alongside Americans, Lipo and his family immigrated to Richmond, California. Fleeing persecution, Lipo came here as a refugee and was greeted with opportunity but also faced some challenges. His community was exposed to high levels of pollution and many suffer respiratory illnesses. Lipo led advocacy efforts to curb this pollution. He joined APEN to champion local renewable energy and good paying clean energy jobs. Today, at 70 years old, Lipo is as fearless a community leader as he was a soldier fighting for the US and Laos. He strives, as he says, “to fight for our rights, equal opportunity and to develop a better community for children and many generations to come.”