The Legends Campaign, a partnership between OL Reign and Starbucks, honors women for their extraordinary contributions to our community in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to the October 1st match against the Orlando Pride, OL Reign recognized Queena Tupou, Marketing Manager for Give InKind.
Her recent accomplishments include being featured in South Sound Business Magazines 40 under 40, UW School of Business ‘Lesson’s in Leadership’ and by the Tacoma Rainiers in ‘R Cities R Stories’. Tupou also serves on the Executive Committee for the Leaders in Women’s Health which focuses on addressing health disparities in the African American community and is a proud Senior Fellow of American Leadership Forum’s Tacoma/ Pierce County chapter. Tupou is a strong advocate for underserved communities and believes health equity is crucial in improving health outcomes for all.
Tupou was born and raised in the Tacoma area, after her parents moved from Samoa to the United States when they were in middle school. Her family and culture are a key part of her identity and very much shaped her into the leader she is today. She’s the oldest of her siblings and growing up, her experiences were that of a first-generation student and Samoan growing up in America.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of this culture that raises our families like a village. A lot of my family members played a role in raising me, including my aunts, uncles, cousins that were basically like my siblings. This village that surrounded me, as well as meeting my supportive husband when I was a teenager, all played a role in shaping who I am today. I always acknowledge that I come from this beautiful culture. It has helped to guide me in what I continue to do in my service work,” said Tupou.
In everything that Tupou does, she aims to honor her culture and her loved ones, who to this day, continue to shape and inspire her work, creating a legacy of resilience and purpose. That very mission brought her to begin her work in Tacoma.
After attending Eastern Washington University and getting her start in healthcare in Spokane, Washington, she moved back to Tacoma in 2016 and began to work at the Carol Milgard Breast Center as their Marketing and Outreach Specialist. However, her Executive Director at the time, now her mentor, was excited that she was from the community and invited her to a group meeting with volunteers from the community.
That group of volunteers was Leaders in Women’s Health, a group focused on addressing health disparities in Tacoma and Pierce County.
“When I joined that group, they were focused on addressing the high mortality rate of breast cancer in African American women in Tacoma. I was really inspired by these women who were committed to making a change in Tacoma and I wanted to stay involved. Although, my work was focused on marketing, my executive director encouraged me to continue learning about their outreach.”
From there, Tupou built, designed and implemented the FaithHealth in Action Program (FHIA) to partner with churches with a goal of reducing breast and prostate cancer mortality rates in the Tacoma-Pierce County region. The FHIA Program started in 2016 serving three African American churches but grew to serve over 30 churches, expanding into the Pacific Islander and Hispanic churches. In the first year, the FHIA Program was able to increase breast screening rates amongst the FHIA churches by 33%, which was amazing.
While building the FHIA Program, the church members were identifying their barriers to care, whether it was needing translated materials, not having insurance or not trusting the medical system. From there, Queena was able to work with the hospital systems, community partners and cultural navigators to get resources to the health ministry teams. At the forefront of the program was thoughtfulness. Everyone involved knew that a “one size fits all” program would not work.
In April, Tupou left the Carol Milgard Breast Center. The decision was difficult, but she had another opportunity to help individuals help themselves. She now works for Give InKind, a social impact platform, that helps people to give and receive support, however and wherever they need it.
“That concept really drew me in because for underrepresented communities this was an opportunity to remove the barriers to care when someone was diagnosed with cancer by working with their community to gather and organize support. With Give InKind, the individual identifies what they need whether it is transportation, meals, financial support, childcare or help around the home and shares it with their loved ones. It’s been such a blessing to move over into the technology space to find innovative ways to give back to individuals in need,” shared Tupou.
She continued, “With Give InKind, I actually get to work more on a national platform, although I still have a deep passion for working in Tacoma and Pierce County outreach, I now get to expand all of those tools and resources that I built here in Tacoma, on a national level.”
When asked about the advice that she would give to young women, Tupou said, “Build your pack. I am very thankful to this network of women that feed into me. I would encourage any young women to do the same. Identify leaders that can support you and help you to accomplish your mission and goals. The other piece is to remember to maintain balance. As women, we are able to do it all. As a mom, wife, with any background, remember the resilience and power within you. You can lead in the boardroom and at home.”
She added, “Also remember, that no matter what stage of your leadership you’re in, there is always someone watching and someone you can inspire.”
“I am truly humbled by this honor and recognition. I was shocked because I can think of so many women who are also deserving of this honor. My favorite Samoan proverb is ‘Ole tele o lima e mama ai se avega’ which translates to ‘Many hands make the burdens lighter.’ This means so much to me because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my village – my family, husband, Leaders in Women’s Health and my teammates at Carol Milgard Breast Center and Give InKind. These are the hands that helped to make the burdens lighter not only for me but for everyone in need of support. As an OL Reign Legend, I am reminded of the responsibility that I have to honor them and my commitment to advocating for the communities I serve.”
She added, “I am also very proud of being a mom to a little girl. I know that as she watches me in community, that she is going to be a force to be reckoned with and I hope her commitment to service and helping others is just as strong as mine.”
“I encourage all individuals to advocate for your own health and be sure to monitor your breast health. Encourage your loved ones to get screened because you have no idea whose life you could be saving.”
Check out these resources below to learn more about breast health and support the community:
Home – Carol Milgard Breast Center
Leaders in Women’s Health | Facebook
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