By S. Floyd Mori
After 13 years of living in Virginia and working in the nation’s capital, I (and my wife, Irene) have moved back to our roots in Utah, where I was born and raised.
We relocated to Washington, D.C., in 2005 with the intent to join the staff of the National JACL as the director of public policy (formerly the Washington D.C. rep) for two years. I was replacing Kristine Minami, who had earned a law degree and was moving on to other endeavors. John Tateishi was the national executive director/CEO of the JACL.
While I had been on the National Board of the JACL as vp of General Operations some years earlier, we had been instrumental in convincing John to head up the JACL. John had an impressive résumé and had worked previously for the JACL as the redress chair during the time when the JACL and others were seeking redress for those who had been unfairly removed from their West Coast homes and incarcerated in the camps of World War II. John and I were good friends, having worked together closely while I was serving as the national president on the JACL board. We talked about both of us working for the JACL for the next two years and then retiring.
Circumstances caused us to change directions. John had already given his notice of intent to retire after the National JACL Convention in the summer of 2006, but the JACL National Board was reluctant to let him go after his seven years of service. They were slow in finding a replacement. Around Thanksgiving of that year, John became ill at the office and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. His condition was extremely serious, and he was not able to return to work for the JACL. Happily, John has regained his health. He is doing well and now even bicycles around Europe when he gets the opportunity.
I then became the national executive director/CEO for the JACL with the stipulation that I could remain in Washington, D.C. I feel that it is very important for the JACL to have that presence in the nation’s capital along with other civil and human rights organizations. Working for the JACL for seven years and then for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies for another five years in Washington, D.C., provided me with amazing experiences. Visits to the U.S. Capitol and the White House were routine. The people I met there and the things I was able to do with these two nonprofit organizations richly blessed my life.
Now that we have moved back to Utah, we are heavily engaged in local JACL matters, which include planning for the 2019 National JACL Convention, which will be held in Salt Lake City from July 31-Aug. 4. We would like to encourage all JACL members and friends to attend the convention at the Little America Hotel.
Three Utah JACL chapters — Salt Lake City, Mount Olympus and Wasatch Front North — will be hosts for the convention. A Utah committee has been working for several months with the National JACL Staff and National Board on plans for the convention. The convention co-chairs are Lynne Aoyama, Sandra Grant, Sherrie Hayashi and myself.
The JACL National Conventions are always a good opportunity to renew friendships and make new friends as well as experience firsthand the workings of the JACL.
Hope to see you in Salt Lake City this summer.