SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown earlier this year appointed Toc Soneoulay-Gillespie, a former director of refugee resettlement for Catholic Charities, as director of the newly established Governor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement.

In June 2021, the Legislature passed SB 778, which approved the creation of the new office to advocate for and connect people to statewide immigrant and refugee programs and organizations helping to reduce social, economic, and health disparities. Soneoulay-Gillespie’s appointment was effective March 7.

Soneoulay-Gillespie brings over 20 years of social justice advocacy to her new role. She came to the United States with her parents as a refugee from Laos. Soneoulay-Gillespie’s past positions include serving as the director of community health for Health Share of Oregon; as a member of the Governor’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council from 2019-2021;on the Oregon Commission on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs; as a social services manager for CareOregon and, from 2013 to 2017, as director of refugee resettlement for Catholic Charities.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/sociology from Eastern Oregon University and a master of social work from the University of Alaska Anchorage.