By Chip Larouche, VP of Planning and Development
Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is off to a good start for all of you.
As I look back on 2014, I think it was a wonderful year for JACL. We provided thousands of dollars to our future leaders to go to college with our national and local scholarship programs; we co-sponsored the Kakehashi Project with Fulbright Japan, the Japan Foundation and the Laurasian Institution and lead youth to Japan for a cultural experience of a lifetime. We had a lovely convention in San Jose, which included an awesome Obon Festival, certainly the largest I’ve ever seen. We had “The Art of Gaman” open in Sacramento, Bellevue and Houston to very appreciative crowds, and the Annual Gala was held in Washington, D.C. This is in addition to all the normal advocacy and watchdog work that the staff does every day that often doesn’t make any headlines, and the production of the Pacific Citizen(ITAL) and the JACL Digest (ITAL) that keep us all up-to-date on what is happening in JACL.
Some of you may know that I retired from the United States Army. One of the monthly social events we had when I was on active duty was called a “Hail & Farewell,” where we welcomed all the new members of the unit that had come in since the last event and took time to pause and thank those who had done so much for the unit who was now being reassigned to a different installation or often a different country overseas.
So in that tradition, I’d like to welcome a couple of key members of the staff who have decided to take up the challenge of the great work that JACL does and join the team that Priscilla so ably leads.
The first is Matthew Walters, who works out of the San Francisco office and who was a member of the 2014 class of the JACL/OCA Leadership Summit. He has done a terrific job taking over the membership duties of Annie Noguchi. Matt has started at full speed to modernize the membership reporting that goes back to the chapters, and as a recipient of these reports for the Portland Chapter, they make tracking membership so much easier and efficient. He has also done great analysis of our membership demographics and trends that I’m sure will help us with future goals. Matt has also been instrumental in getting the organization to FINALLY decide on who will get JACL a new website. You should be seeing it real soon! Welcome aboard Matthew!
The second major newcomer to the staff is Toshiko Hasegawa, who has been selected to be our new fund development manager, and as her title suggests, she will be concentrating on revenue for JACL, and her major programs will be Fund Development and the annual Gala and Convention. Interestingly enough, Toshiko is also a member of the 2014 class of the 2014 JACL/OCA Leadership Summit. Toshiko will work out of Seattle, and she and I will be working together. Welcome aboard Toshiko!
Alas, for all the good news, we’ve had to say goodbye to some key staff members as well. I’ve mentioned Annie Noguchi earlier. She did an awesome job of taking over membership duties for Tim Koide, and earlier this year, she decided that she wanted to move to Korea to take on some cultural growth opportunities at this stage of her life. We certainly wish Annie the best.
One of the more stunning departures, especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest District, was the announcement by Karen Yoshitomi that she was resigning her position as the PNW Regional Director to take on the duties of Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington. Karen has been a key civil rights and cultural preservation champion in the Pacific Northwest for over four decades, with 25 of those years spent as a point person for JACL. I have spent many hours on joint programs with Karen over the last 10 of those years, and she was an awesome program manager, and the leadership she provided to JACL will be sorely missed. Good Luck Karen in your new leadership role.
And finally, although he is not gone yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Clyde Izumi, the business manager for JACL for as long as I’ve been in the organization and for many decades before that, will be leaving us soon after you read this article to head off into a well-deserved retirement. Clyde’s responsibilities include EVERYTHING that involves finances in JACL. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how important Clyde’s contributions have been to JACL, not to mention the institutional knowledge that he has accumulated over these many years as the keystone staffer in San Francisco. Good Luck Clyde, and enjoy your retirement with your family. You certainly deserve it!
I know that 2015 will be another wonderful year for JACL.
Akemashite Omedetō Gozaimasu!