Scot Nakagawa

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Scot Nakagawa

Scot Nakagawa got his first job as a community organizer in 1980, and since then has worked in organizational management, social research, public policy analysis and advocacy, and philanthropy. He also has a background as a teacher and a service provider working with low-income communities to create accountable organizations that are responsive to community needs. Before forming ChangeLab, Scot served as the Field Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Associate Director of the Western Prison Project (now the Partnership for Safety and Justice), Interim Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest, Executive Director of the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation, and as Education Co-Coordinator of the Highlander Research and Education Center.

Scot’s primary work in progressive social change has been as a social movement analyst with a particular emphasis on analyzing and creating strategies to counter rightwing movements. Scot is a blogger at Race Files, which addresses race and racism in U.S. politics and culture.[1]

Scot is busy at work on a number of projects, including writing a playbook for anti-fascists, and a primer on race and power.[2]

McMichael connection

According to Pam McMichael;

"There was actually one conversation I had before Creating Change that connected to what became SONG. Labor Day weekend of 1993, I had gone to a Fight the Right summit that the NGLTF was doing, where Suzanne Pharr was on a panel with Barbara Smith, Suzanne Goldberg, and Scot Nakagawa. They were talking about the lesbigaytrans movement having a broader agenda beyond single identity focus around queerness. They also talked about the attacks on queer people and what we needed to do to stop that. Now we weren't talking about forming a regional organization then, but we were talking about the issues that led to it, and these conversations were happening among other people as well. Then Suzanne and I had a particular conversation at Creating Change that led us to thinking about what we could do regionally, as Black and white women who are connected to different movements."[3]

Rural Organizing Project

Because of the national attention that Oregon attracted around the Oregon Citizens Alliance’s "anti-gay campaigns" in the early 1990s, Marcy Westerling was able to make connections that were critical to the emerging vision for a rural progressive organization. In 1992 Suzanne Pharr came to Oregon from the Women’s Project in Arkansas, in order to help create resistance to the right-wing mobilization. Her presence in the state was sponsored by the [Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence]. Working with Westerling, they combined conscious-raising from the women’s movement, and the multi-issue, anti-racist approach of the Women’s Project’s anti-poverty work and put it on the road in rural Oregon.

Setting up meetings in the rural communities that had fought battles around OCA’s local anti-gay campaigns, Westerling brought people together to share experiences and discuss strategy. Scot Nakagawa of the Coalition for Human Dignity helped them with an analysis of the national and international structure of the right-wing movement, and the links between the Christian social conservatives and the racist right.

We discovered that groups which experienced this type of conscious-raising process were far more able to engage in long term organizing than groups that rose up around a particular crisis or outrage, without the benefit of seeing the big picture.

This was the genesis of the Rural Organizing Project.[4]


CHANGELAB leaders are;

  • Soya Jung - Senior Partner
  • Scot Nakagawa - Senior Partner[5]

Ear to the Ground Project

Ear to the Ground Project;

We would like to express our deep respect and appreciation for everyone who took the time to talk with us, and the organizations that generously hosted us during our travels. Interviews were confidential, but the following people have agreed to have their names listed for this publication:

Most of those listed were connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Scot Nakagawa was among those on the list. [6]

Kopkind Colony

The Kopkind Colony Program Advisory Committee, as of 2015;[7] The Kopkind Colony Honorary Board, as of 2015;[8] Angela Ards, Fred Azcarate, Jennifer Berkshire, Pamela Bridgewater, Francis Calpotura, Margaret Cerullo, Tim Costello, Kim Diehl, Heidi Dorow, Scott Douglas, Theo Emery, Laura Flanders, Ku‘umeaaloha Gomes, Joe Grabarz, Jennifer Gordon, Pronita Gupta, Muna Hamzeh, Amber Hollibaugh, Mary Howell, Janine Jackson, Si Kahn, Robin D. G. Kelley, KipuKai Kuali‘i, Brad Lander, Eric Mann, Nikki Morse, Scot Nakagawa, Debbie Nathan, Amy Newell, Rev. James Orange, Robert Pollin, Verandah Porche, Luis Rodriguez, Deb Schwartz, Barbara Smith, Makani Themba-Nixon, Jerry Tucker