A Q&A with our Research Analyst

Jyoni joined OCO in early 2021, joining the team in the new role of Research Analyst. In their capacity, they steward our research and data work, collaborate with partners across Oregon to achieve greater research and data justice, and prepare issue briefs and reports on current issues impacting our state’s children and families. Their varied experiences span four continents, always centering their work in engaging with diverse communities cross-culturally and with a strong equity focus rooted in anti-racism, restorative justice, and decolonization. They are a proud member of the Japanese, LGBTQIA2S+, and neurodivergent communities, and live in Portland with their urban farmer partner and two kitties.

What does your role at OCO include? 

As Research Analyst, I steward OCO’s research & data work, including the collection, analysis, and dissemination of state child well-being data through the Annie E Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT network, collaboration with partners across Oregon to achieve greater research and data justice, and preparation of issue briefs and reports on current issues impacting our state’s children & families. The conclusions drawn from our research & data work help to inform OCO’s policy agenda and advocacy efforts via the Children’s Agenda and other initiatives supporting Oregonian child well-being through a strong racial equity lens.

In this new organizational role, I look forward to expanding the equity and justice lenses of our research work through further decolonizing our approaches to data work and uplifting marginalized voices via qualitative, narrative-centered approaches. It’s complex, often difficult work that requires a great deal of listening, contemplation, and shifting of the status quo in radical ways. Nonetheless, I do my best to center the great potential of intentional data and research work in shifting the tides of systemic, institutional oppression facing countless children.

What brings you to this work? What values drive you? 

I ardently believe that children are fundamentally our future, and we have so much to learn from their imaginative thinking, undying curiosity, and energized optimism. I’ve had the privilege of working in various child development and educational spaces, and in those experiences and others, I’ve consistently derived the greatest satisfaction and joy from work that involves advocacy, equity, healing, and empowerment. Anyone in the field of advocacy holds some degree of hope for what could be (and what ought to be), and I love channeling that in what I do. Even as a trans person of color, I hold an immense amount of privilege that I seek to harness in order to better this world. These values, among others, drive me to the fullest!

What’s a passion of yours you’ve yet to act on?

Creating art, especially painting, dance, and music – I want to get into those more intentionally. Also, getting better at mastering plant-based Japanese cooking!

Standout books or podcasts that speak to you?

Though these aren’t related to child advocacy per se, these are some recent standouts of mine that speak to my values and inform my work:

  • The For The Wild podcast, and specifically this inspiring episode featuring one of my heroes – the gender-expansive poet, artist, and author Alok Menon: https://forthewild.world/listen/alok-on-unruly-beauty-245
  • The Tara Brach podcast. She’s a psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher whose wisdom has been incredibly insightful and healing over this difficult time.
  • Pleasure Activism by adrianne marie brown. I only recently started it, but it’s been a game-changing read on pleasure of myriad forms as the basis for activism.
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. His discourse on “nature deficit disorder” of the modern age and its impacts on children is powerful and thought-provoking.

What superpower did you want as a child? What superpower would you want now?

As a child, my ideal superpower was definitely flying (my first word was “airplane” in Japanese) – and it still is today!