Amelita wearing a suit and sunglasses, standing outside in front of a small hill of dirt, with blue shovels lined up

The Sister Lillian Murphy Housing Justice Award Goes To…

On February 15, Mercy Housing California’s (MHC’s) board of directors awarded the annual Sister Lillian Murphy Housing Justice Award to Amelita “Ami” Pascual, MHC Regional Director of Philanthropy in Southern California.

MHC’s board created the award to honor Mercy Housing’s late and beloved President and CEO, Lillian Murphy, after her retirement in 2014. Sister Lillian was a lifelong advocate for affordable housing, and the award in her honor acknowledges the special contributions of one California employee each year who goes beyond their job responsibility in their advocacy for housing justice. On March 31st, 2022, MHC further celebrated Sister Lillian’s legacy with the dedication of the Sister Lillian Murphy Community, a 152-home family residence in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

No one could better exemplify the values Sister Lillian held close to her heart than Ami, a passionate champion for racial equity, immigrant rights, and affordable housing. Anyone who knows Ami is immediately struck by her wide-ranging interest in social justice issues and curiosity about culture and politics. A conversation with Ami on any topic will inevitably lead to an intriguing discovery about her editing a literary journal, facilitating a conference, co-producing a documentary, or organizing a benefit in aid of a worthy cause.

While her current role finds her cultivating philanthropic resources to fuel MHC’s real estate development and resident services, Ami’s background in community economic development has been equally vital to the organization. In 2019, she identified and recruited a family-owned veterinary services clinic, CuroPet, to fill the ground-floor commercial space at MHC community 1180 4th Street in San Francisco. While most applicants were restaurateurs, Ami identified CuroPet as the commercial tenant best equipped to serve the needs of the surrounding community, and their business continues to thrive.

Ami is the consummate connector and her network of friends and work colleagues is boundless. She represents Mercy Housing on the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH), and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern CA (NPH). Just this past year, Ami’s relationships were instrumental in securing Dream Corps Founder and CNN host, Van Jones, as the keynote speaker for Mercy Housing California’s May 2021 Bridging the Divide virtual gala. She serves on numerous nonprofit boards including Inclusive Action for the City, Grassroots International, and Communities for a Better Environment.

Lastly, Ami has been a champion of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion inside and outside of Mercy Housing. Ami has demonstrated this commitment by facilitating and serving on Mercy Housing’s California and National Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committees as well as the NPH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. In addition, Ami has been an informal mentor to many of her colleagues.

When asked what keeps her motivated in the face of injustice, Ami reflected, “I remember being asked, when I was a young community organizer doing economic development work in San Francisco why I spent so much time going door to door, organizing residents and small businesses in the South of Market neighborhood. I was driven by the truth that a lot of work had to be done to make sure Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities were heard, seen, and taken seriously.”

She continued by saying, “Today, I’m equally motivated to make the world a socially just place for my biracial son, Quinn. He turned 18 one month after the March 2020 COVID-19 stay-at-home order in California. Like many Class of 2020 students, he missed out on his in-person high school graduation and spent his first year at the University of Oregon taking classes in a dorm room on Zoom. Yet he tries to stay upbeat, organizes cooking and music events, and leads sports statistics, political history, and human rights discussions with his crew. He is the most emotionally intelligent young man I know. I found this quote recently that perfectly encapsulates how I feel about my son: ‘No matter how much I tell him I love him; I love him more than that.’”

Please join us in congratulating Ami Pascual for this well-deserved recognition!