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National Crime Victim Law Institute

2013 Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award: Chanpone Sinlapasai

June 02, 2013


Chanpone Sinlapasai

2013 Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award


A member of our Board of Directors from 2002 until her untimely death in 2009, Gail Burns-Smith was a tireless leader in the victim services community.  This award honors her legacy by recognizing outstanding efforts to advance the rights of crime victims.


Chanpone Sinlapasai-Okamura is a partner at Marandas & McClellan.  Chanpone focuses on immigration law and specializes in assisting survivors of crime.  Her immigration practice also assists clients before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and U.S. Court of Appeals.

Chanpone is originally a refugee from Laos.  After living in a refugee camp in Thailand for over a year her family resettled in California.  She was raised in northern California and was the first in her family to attend college; she graduated from Santa Clara University with a double major in English and philosophy.  Chanpone eventually made her way to Portland, Oregon to attend law school at Lewis & Clark Law School.   Seeing the cultural, linguistic, and social barriers that her family faced in resettling in the United States, Chanpone knew early on that her passion was advocating for vulnerable populations.  In law school, she was most attracted to courses relating to civil rights, international law, victim’s rights, and racism in the law.  Chanpone graduated from law school in 2002 as a member of the Cornelius Honor Society.

Chanpone started her career by working and volunteering to assist survivors of crimes at Immigrant Refugee Community Organization and Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services.  For over six years she dedicated her life to helping refugees resettle, at risk youth, survivors of domestic violence and violent crimes, and human trafficking survivors.  Additionally, she traveled around Oregon teaching pro-bono attorneys and social service providers on how to handles such cases. While working at Catholic Charities she and her co-worker assisted in creating the state’s first anti-trafficking program.  


In 2007, Chanpone joined Attorney John Marandas in private practice.  Her focus did not change and her advocacy continued with both state and federal agencies to advocate and represent victims in our judicial system.  Chanpone serves on the Attorney General’s Task Force for Crime Victim’s Rights Enforcement and is chair-woman of the DOJ’s Immigrant Crime Victim’s Enforcement Subcommittee.  She also serves on the Victims of Crime Act advisory committee.  On the federal level she volunteers her time as a member of the Oregon FBI multi-cultural advisory committee and is the Oregon Chapter Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) liaison.  Chanpone is an active member of the Oregon State Bar House of Delegates representing Clackamas County, the Clackamas County Oregon Women’s Lawyer Association, the Oregon Minority Lawyer’s Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  She also serves as chair-woman of the Asian Family Center and is a board member for Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO).  Chanpone is passionate about giving a voice to the most vulnerable populations in Oregon and the United States. 


Past Recipients (formerly the Victim Advocacy Award):

o    Gail Burns-Smith (2004)

o    Kathy Skaggs (2005)

o    Diane Moyer (2006)

o    John Stein (2007)

o    Roberta Roper (2008)

o    Steve Derene (2009)

o    Steve Doell (2010)

o    Anne Seymour (2011)

o    Jennifer Storm (2012)