As community organizer and now director of policy and civic engagement with the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICA) since May 2020, Kiana McKenna has been serving Spokane area Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who were hit hard by COVID.
Early on, the Pacific Islander population accounted for 67 percent of the COVID positive tests, so she and PICA-WA director Joseph Seia sought to reach out to community leaders and organizations to remove barriers and later to set up vaccination clinics.
"The Marshallese are the largest Pacific Islander population in Spokane, and the second largest Marshallese community in the U.S.," she said. "Many are essential workers, limited in English speaking and live in multi-generational housing, making them more vulnerable to COVID. . . . . . .