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Dembowski awards Frank Irigon MLK Medal of Distinguished Service


Recognized for decades of community activism and human rights leadership


Francisco “Frank” Irigon, whose leadership in the Asian Pacific Islander community spans close to six decades, was recognized today by Metropolitan King County Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski who presented Irigon with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.

“There are few more deserving of this honor than Frank, known to many as Uncle Frank,” said Dembowski. “He is a tireless advocate, a humble agitator, who is quick to raise his voice to call out injustice. While Frank is well known in the Asian Pacific Islander American community for his work, many King County residents have been positively impacted by his constant diligence in protecting our civil rights. I am honored to recognize him today with the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service.”

Born in the Phillipines, Irigon came to Washington State when his father was stationed with the U.S. Military at Ft. Lewis near Tacoma. Irigon also served in the military and used the GI Bill to attend the University of Washington where he received his Bachelor’s degree and Master of Social Work. Throughout his career he has lifted the voice of the Asian Pacific Islander community. At the UW, Irigon was active in the anti-war and human rights movements. He was the first Asian American to serve on the UW student government (ASUW), and served as Vice-Chair of the UW Asian Student Coalition.

Irigon was a leader in the effort to preserve the Chinatown/ International District. As a student he protested the building of the Kingdome and became involved with several issues threatening the vitality of the International District. He was also a co-founder of the Asian Family Affair newspaper, which focused on issues in Seattle’s Asian Pacific Islander Community.

Irigon developed and supervised a number of human service programs in the region and served as Executive Director of both International Community Health Services and Washington Asian Pacific Islander Families Against Substance Abuse. He has actively served his community since retirement, as an advocate for social justice, equality in the legal justice system, public education opportunities, and equity for King County’s retired and elderly residents.

Irigon is one of nine citizens living across King County whose contributions to their community echo the incredible selfless leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK Medal of Distinguished Service recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in communities across King County.
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