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Roadside Chat with Latulitea Aho

Back in May, we highlighted some fabulous SDOT employees who identify as Asian Pacific American (APA) for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). May is long gone, but I got the chance to grab a virtual coffee with Latulitea Aho and learn about her life. Today, we’re highlighting her story.

Latulitea Aho provides administrative support to our crews in the Signs & Markings, Maintenance Operations Division, so they have everything they need when they’re out working. 

With her work shifting online and remote, Latulitea continues to make sure crews have what they need to complete projects.

“Whether it comes to trucks, materials that they need when they go offsite, and whatever maintenance is needed, I make sure that their day is set. Anything you can think of that goes into supporting a crew member on our Signs and Markings team, I’m the go-to person for that.”

Latulitea is also a member of SDOT’s Change Team. 

Change Team is part of the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, which works to eliminate institutional racism as part of the City-wide initiative to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle. Latulitea says that being on the Change Team has benefited her personally in learning how to talk about equity and race issues, finding people she can confide in, and building genuine work relationships.

When Latulitea isn’t working, she’s scrolling through Pinterest for decoration ideas, watching Insecure, listening to Kehlani and Iration, or celebrating her culture.

Her parents migrated from the Kingdom of Tonga and met each other in Seattle in the 1970s. 

A picture of Latulitea and her family.

Latulitea is proud of the four pillars in her culture, which are associated with core values. The first is Ofa, or love, followed by Faka’apa’apa, which means respect, and then Anga Fakato ki lalo/lototo, which means humility.

Latulitea’s favorite pillar is the fourth one, Tauha Va, because it encourages people to nurture the space between themselves and those they love. She explains that space is something that connects people to each other in her Tongan culture, in contrast to the American view of space as separating.

Latulitea is a White Center resident and feels most connected to the Rainier Valley area.

When she was younger, Latulitea and her family would celebrate Tongan Flag Days at Rainier Beach High School. Tongan Flag Days were an opportunity for Tongans living outside of the Kingdom of Tonga to celebrate their identity and culture, joined by the Tongan ambassador, guest speakers, and plenty of food and performances. Her favorite food spots in the Rainier Valley area are Young’s Restaurant and Vegetable Bin, a Polynesian Deli that has been in the area for over 30 years!

Thanks for being on a mission with us, Latulitea. We’re so glad you’re here.

This is the fourth blog in a series celebrating the stories of SDOT staff for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. See our features on Dongho Chang and Jeanné Clark.