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JACL Announces National Board Candidates for Next Biennium

By July 17, 2020July 23rd, 2020No Comments

As a result of COVID-19, the organization will hold its first-ever online voting election.

For the first time in JACL’s 91-year history, national officers for the 2020-22 biennium will be elected via online ballot due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s Nominations Committee has created a series of procedures to ensure that anyone who wants to run for office is given the opportunity and JACL members will be able to hear from the candidates.

JACL chapters must designate a delegate to vote in the election.

The ballot will be open from 2 a.m. PDT-2 p.m. PDT/5 a.m. EDT-5 p.m. EDT on Aug. 23, so that delegates in all time zones can vote.

Candidates can still file to run in this year’s election. Interested individuals must email as soon as possible in order to declare his/her intent to apply. Late filers must have the endorsement of his/her chapter president (or delegate) and four other credentialed chapter presidents (or delegates).

Due to the pandemic, the Nominations Committee will accept these endorsements via email sent by chapter presidents (or delegates) to Applications must be submitted as soon as possible.

The Nominations Committee will host three election webinars:

  • Introduction and Nomination of Candidates — Aug. 15
  • Candidates’ Forum — Aug. 16
  • Announcement of Election Results — Aug. 23 at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT.

On behalf of the Nominations Committee, I hope that you can join us for these important election webinars. Information on joining the webinars will be forthcoming.

I hope that you and your families are in the best of health during this difficult time.


Eric Langowski, Chair of the JACL Nominations Committee


Name: Jeffrey Moy
JACL Chapter: San Francisco
District Council: NCWNP
Candidate: National President (re-election)


Jeffrey Moy

“My name is Jeffrey Moy, and I am running for my second term as national president. I am the deputy director for Culture of Health Leaders, a leadership development program focused on improving the health of communities around the country. I have served JACL at the local, district and national level, and I have experience serving other community and civil rights organizations as well.

“I am completing my first term as national president, after serving two terms as VP for Public Affairs. I was also NY/SC Chairperson from 2012-2013, before stepping away for personal reasons. I was also EDC Youth Representative from 2010-2012, which included service on the Strategic Planning Committee (then called the Program for Action Committee) and Constitution and Bylaws Committee. I was the Washington, D.C., Chapter Youth Chair from 2010-2013.

“My professional experience largely comes from managing nonprofit programs, such as my work on the Fulbright Scholars Program or the leadership development programs for OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates. I received a master’s of public administration from Baruch College and a bachelor of arts in philosophy and psychology from the University of Southern California.

“The critical issue that JACL must continue to address is sustainability. Our strength as an organization is our amazing members. But we know that retaining these members and bringing in new members is a constant challenge. Fundraising also often feels like a struggle, even for programs that have successful track records. After over 90 years of existence, it is natural for people to question our relevancy.

“But those of us who have taken the time to really engage know how special JACL is. Even when things get frustrating, the legacy of civil rights work, the community we are a part of at the local, regional and national levels, and the advocacy work we continue to do today are uniquely ours.

“These shared values, particularly the deep-seated desire to fight back against injustice, is the fire that will help JACL continue to be a beacon of hope for years to come. We must continue to share that passion, so that people who are looking for a community to be a part of or an outlet to fight for justice, know that JACL will be there.”

Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board:

“Leadership is finding a path forward for the people you represent, through a process of listening, engaging and working collectively. Leadership requires reflecting on your own experiences, making difficult decisions and taking action to create change. The JACL National Board’s role is executing the organization’s mission and vision in a way that respects our members’ viewpoints, while also ensuring the sustainability of the organization. We respect the duties our members have entrusted us with by serving to the best of our ability.”

How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office?

“As National President, I would work closely with other National Board members to determine the best ways we can work together and with other members to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan. This may include learning about best practices from chapters around the country, asking committees for recommendations or having National Board members work closely with staff to assess program areas. Throughout all this, the National President needs to keep the bigger picture in mind and articulate to members how their skills and passions can help JACL move forward.”

Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.

“I don’t believe that the ideological differences we see between generations in JACL are all that different than those we see everywhere in our society. To generalize, younger people want to be included and heard, while older people may be concerned that younger members have not had the appropriate training or the commitment to take on leadership roles.

“What we must remember is that our shared values are what has brought us together, and that we must stay committed to listening to each other and learning from each other. We are members of JACL because we hope for a more just society. If we take the time to connect and learn about each other at a personal level, we can get past the stereotypes and artificial boundaries that prevent us from reaching our goals.”

What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

“JACL is uniquely positioned as the oldest Asian American civil rights organization in the country. As a membership organization, we should be able to quickly mobilize around social justice issues and be present for our community and others facing injustice. A second term would allow me to continue building upon structural changes that should make it easier for our staff and members to have the resources they need, so that JACL can continue to be a force for years to come.”

How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL?

“Working with the executive director, I would continue working to determine how else I can assist with the overall fundraising plan, whether through relationships with corporate sponsors or asking for individual donations.

“I also look forward to assisting the new VP for Planning and Development in continuing efforts to raise funds for our educational programming and with whatever ideas [he/she] bring to the role. Underlying all of this is an understanding that as we work generally to raise JACL’s profile and strengthen our organization, more fundraising opportunities will come along.”

How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors and NCAPA organizations?

“Being strategic about how these relationships are approached by staff and other National Board members is important, but personally, I am always open to conversations with any of the groups listed. I have experience with serving the NY/SC and more recently with Kakehashi, and I make myself available to youth groups when asked. I have developed relationships with sponsors over the years and check in with them as requested. Similarly, my experience in D.C. has led to strong relationships with staff and board members for many NCAPA organizations.”


Name: Sarah E. Baker
JACL Chapter: Seattle
District Council: PNW
Candidate: National VP for Public Affairs (re-election)


Sarah Baker

“My name is Sarah Baker, and I am reapplying for the position of National VP for Public Affairs. I work as a program manager for Communities Rise, a nonprofit based out of Seattle that provides legal trainings and pro bono services to NPOs within the State of Washington. I graduated from North Seattle College with a bachelor of arts in international business and am presently working toward my master’s degree in public administration at Seattle University.

“One challenging issue I feel the JACL must address is how we can be better allies and advocates for Black lives. As the rallying cry of ‘Black Lives Matter!’ has been taken up around the world, we must ask ourselves as a national organization what we can do to continue dismantling systems of oppression.

“Asian communities have a long-standing history of anti-Blackness. It is time for us to take a hard look at why that is and take the necessary steps to correct this deeply internalized racism. We must constantly remind ourselves that we can have anti-racist intentions while still committing racist acts.

“By supporting Black lives, we are supporting not just one group of people, but also all disenfranchised peoples. We are currently seeing one of the largest civil rights movements in history. As the organization largely responsible for gaining reparations for Japanese Americans, there is absolutely a precedence for us to work with the Black community to help them obtain reparations for their history of enslavement within the United States.

“But this singular action will not be enough if we do not also address our own proximity to whiteness and the privileges that we have historically reaped through tropes like the model-minority myth. We have a lot to learn, a lot to unlearn and a lot of work to do. The time is now.”

Describe relevant experiences including any personal and professional qualifications that qualify you for the National JACL office you seek:

“Throughout my career, the majority of my work and volunteer experiences has been centered on nonprofits, with a specific focus on the areas of social justice and advocacy. I have a wide breadth of experience within leadership roles, and I am passionate about serving my community. I am currently attending Seattle University for my master’s in public administration, which also lends itself to the work I wish to pursue in the JACL.”

Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board.

“To be a leader is neither to dictate nor is it to reach a place of complacency within one’s position; it necessitates active participation and listening to the needs of the group that is being represented. In order to effectively take on a leadership role, it is imperative to account for the voices that create the whole and find a way to guide the decision-making processes involved in facilitating those needs. The National Board of the JACL serves as the acting arm of the membership base. Those that serve within these leadership roles are tasked with representing members of the JACL to the best of their ability by being aware of the current issues and having an understanding of the needs of the organization as a whole.”

How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office?

“If re-elected to the position of VP for Public Affairs, I would ensure that the voice of the organization be representative of the Strategic Plan by working with other officers on the National Board, specifically the Executive Director and National President. Having an awareness of the organization’s past and current positions on national issues pertaining to civil rights and social justice will be key in carrying out the roles and duties of this position, in addition to clearly and concisely communicating with other community leaders and advocates on behalf of the organization.”

Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.

“The main differences that I see between the younger and older generations within the JACL surround implementation of succession planning and new goals in terms of outreach and advocacy with other communities.

“As we bring in new youth that do not necessarily have the same history with the JACL as some of our more-seasoned members, it is hard to convey the experiences and legacy that come with time. Creating a clear support structure and pipeline for incoming leaders is key to the continued success of the organization. This will require participation by all members to make sure that we continue to be leaders within the National AAPI network in relationship to current events while maintaining the integrity and knowledge of our past.”

What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

“As the United States’ oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, I see the JACL as a leader amongst AAPI civil rights and advocacy groups. As such, my vision for the JACL is to strengthen our ties with other organizations, both within and outside of the AAPI communities, as well as continue to be at the forefront of current social justice issues.

“In the next few years, I see our organization serving our membership by continuing to be strong leaders in the areas of diversity and inclusion. To do this, we must continue to build relationships with similarly aligned organizations while simultaneously working to increase our own capacity as a membership-based group. Work must be done both internally and externally to achieve these goals.”

How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL?

“I would help to build up existing relationships and create new ones with potential funding sources. Being a member of the National Board means being a voice for the larger organization. By being a strong leader and advocate, I plan to help bring the JACL forward to highlight our group with new funders. This can be done through my ties with local groups as well as outside of my immediate network.”

How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors and NCAPA organizations?

“As mentioned previously, it is important within leadership roles to listen to the voices of the people you represent. As such, it is critical to build relationships with other groups based on what our members find to be important. This can be done through a variety of ways, including but not limited to, being visible as a representative of the JACL to build relationships on behalf of the organization, actively working to engage with groups that we are already affiliated with and reaching out to new groups and organizations to build relationships that will be mutually beneficial to both parties.

“To me, visibility and intention are key factors in how we can develop and improve upon our ties to other groups. Going beyond this, we must actively listen to and take the lead of organizations that differ from ours to better learn about their issues and how we can be supportive of those causes.”


Name: Marissa Kitazawa
JACL Chapter: South Bay
District Council: PSW
Candidate: National VP for General Operations (re-election)


Marissa Kitazawa

“My name is Marissa Kitazawa, and I am running for a second term as VP of General Operations. As the granddaughter of Japanese American incarcerees during World War II and a Hiroshima bomb survivor, I have always been inspired by the resiliency of my own family. JACL’s immediate support for the American Muslim community during 9/11 inspired me to begin my career in community organizing. Once I graduated undergrad from Pitzer College, JACL provided me my first job as a program associate, and I built leadership and educational programs that empower youth through community storytelling, intergenerational dialogue and coalition building for the Pacific Southwest District.

“Currently, I am the director of content creation at Dailey & Associates, where I spearhead creative video production for our Fortune 500 clients. I received my M.A. in social documentation from UC Santa Cruz and my B.A. in media studies and economics from Pitzer College.

“My professional career path is an unconventional one. I’ve had the privilege to work across multiple sectors from nonprofit and academia to for-profit. I have always been grounded in social justice, and this has influenced my professional trajectory. At my current industry, I have successfully built up the in-house content creation infrastructure and personnel teams for multiple advertising agencies. This allowed me to understand, operationally, what structural support is needed.

“As a 90-plus-year-old organization, we must look at how we can be relevant and sustainable for future generations. This past term, I began to lay out the framework by updating our organizational structure, reactivating our Personnel Committee and updating our internal policies. I spearheaded the programming for the (2019) SLC Convention, proved it could be a profitable program and explored its untapped potential. My experiences as former staff, former PSW Governor and my first term as VP of General Operations uniquely qualifies me for this role. I am proud of the work we have accomplished so far, but I am also just getting started.

“My hope is that JACL can continue to play a vital role in civil rights and uplift other communities. I’d be honored to continue to play a part in our organization’s legacy as your VP of General Operations.

Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board.

“My leadership inspiration comes from a quote by Nelson Henderson: ‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees; under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’ As an organization with 90 years of history, we struggle with staying relevant with the changing needs of the community today. My role as VP of General Operations is to strengthen the organization so that we can be sustainable and continue to make meaningful change for the community. In addition, I believe it would be my job to evaluate our infrastructure, build capacity, collaborate with the rest of the board and staff to determine how we can pivot and continue to grow as an organization.”

How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office?

“All of the strategic plan initiatives are ongoing and embed themselves deeply within the general operations of the organization. In my elected office, I believe we can use the off-year National Convention as a venue in which we can showcase and strengthen these initiatives.

“For the past convention in Salt Lake City, I took on the role of programming because I wanted to demonstrate how we could utilize the potential of our convention. I believe this can be a model to continue to refine moving forward.”

Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.

“When I first joined JACL in 2010, the ideological differences between the youth and older members were very apparent, and the divide felt very clear. The youth represented a very progressive political view, and the older generation clung to their cultural conservative values. This question is extremely complex, and the ideological differences can be explored further by examining the intergenerational trauma brought on by experiences of the Japanese American Incarceration to our community.

“I’ve witnessed JACL slowly change through the years. I’ve been inspired by the organization’s ability to have intergenerational dialogue about our experiences during World War II and what’s currently happening at our borders in the immigration detention centers.

“At the Salt Lake City Convention, it was really important for me to create a space where our membership could have a dialogue about the experience of the resistors and JACL’s position. We witnessed those meaningful and emotional testimonials happen on our debate floor, but regardless of our ideological differences, there was respect.

“As VP of General Operations, I plan to continue to create spaces likes this so that we can continue to have those tough conversations with each other. We need spaces where we can talk about Black Lives Matter and how we can be better advocates for our community. These conversations are necessary to have so we can grow both personally and as an organization.”

What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

“As the largest and oldest AAPI civil rights organization with a rich history, JACL is uniquely positioned with its membership network of fierce advocates and activists, progressive educators, young upcoming leaders and talented artists. My vision for JACL is that we can continue to play a vital role within the civil rights world, and we continue to educate and uplift other communities.

“In my second term, I would like to continue my initiatives to strengthen our structural capacity so we can support our staff, expand our services, advocate for what we believe and continue to grow our chapters. I’m inspired by the movement, dedication of our current board, and I believe we have the momentum to keep it going.”

How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL?

“As a board member, I believe it is our fiduciary duty to give AND get. In addition to making a personal donation, I’ve secured over $20,000 through corporate sponsorships and in-kind service for the chapter, district and national level over the years.

“In my professional career, I’ve worked serving both the general and multicultural markets. While working at IW Group, I connected our Fortune 500 directly with the Asian American community. This experience has provided me a stronger understanding of how to build meaningful relationships with our corporate sponsors. In addition, I’ve been building relationships with many of our JACL sponsors since I was on the staff side. These personal relationships have allowed me to engage in honest dialogue with sponsors like AT&T and Union Bank on what they are looking for in the future, how we can improve and how to best collaborate with them moving forward.”

How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors and NCAPA organizations?

“My strength is my ability to collaborate and work with others. I believe in allowing others to have a seat at the table. I have a strong relationship with AAPI nonprofits and our JACL sponsors that I plan to continue to cultivate for JACL, whether that is garnering support on a particular issue or collaborating at convention. It really is about starting that initial dialogue in order to build a meaningful and authentic relationship. I truly believe that we can uplift others as we uplift ourselves.”


Note: The following application was received by the Nominations Committee after the deadline. Late filed applications cannot be accepted or rejected until the National Council convenes. In order to provide as much information about candidates or potential candidates during this difficult period, we are including this individual’s responses in this P.C. issue.

Name: Mieko Kuramoto
JACL Chapter: Wisconsin
District Council: MDC
Candidate: National Youth/Student Council Representative (re-election)


Mieko Kuramoto

“For me as a young Japanese American from the Upper Midwest, the National Youth/Student Council was the first place I found a real sense of community, a sphere where I could articulate my identity as an Asian American and connect it to political and social issues that were important to me. When studying Asian American history at Smith College, I would occasionally find myself learning about the JACL in the classroom, and I was inspired and proud to read about the organization that stood up to the United States government in court to demand reparations for the egregious civil rights violations committed against our community; the first non-LGBT national organization to support marriage equality; and above all, I never forgot the moments in my first convention that compelled to me to join the JACL in the first place: watching young people fight to push through a resolution that would support HR 40, the House Bill granting reparations for slavery. It was that kind of cross-community solidarity that compelled me to embrace this organization that I have come to love; the organization that has shaped me, my worldview, my college life and my career goals so profoundly.

“In many ways, I remain in awe of the JACL legacy. It is often mentioned that we are the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the country, which is a standard we bear proudly. However, I want this organization to be as pioneering as that legacy implies. With the high level of institutional structure and organization that we possess, including our national reach, this organization has the potential to be a major force in the AAPI community and the advocacy nonprofit sphere. We struggle, however, to push past the symbolic action and contribute to our fullest potential, particularly as a civil rights organization with as many resources, as much structure and the volume of membership that we have.

“In my second term as National Youth Representative, I will connect youth and young organizers to the resources and platform that the JACL offers. I, myself, have been a beneficiary of the leadership development opportunities supported by the JACL, and I know that we have the resources to be supporting youth in activist endeavors; be that immigration justice, anti-migrant detention work, protesting police brutality or working in solidarity with other frontline communities. We are a unique organization in the high-level and institutionalized roles there are available for young people at chapter, district and national levels, but connecting the young people who have the passion and the purpose to those resources is key. Getting youth to take full advantage of Youth Leadership Summit funding, engaging scholarship recipients and Kakehashi participants and working across youth and Nikkei organizations to publicize opportunities for political and activist work is my goal for the coming term, and I look forward to turning our community’s strength into action.”

Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board.

“Being a leader as an organization means strengthening our commitment to social justice activism, and leadership within the organization means strengthening and supporting our community in order to do so. As a civil rights organization, our commitment to social justice activism should be our highest priority, and by providing the JACL community with resources, building a pipeline of leadership among young AAPI leaders and fostering intergenerational bonds, we can become stronger leaders and better advocates.

“I see the role of the National Board as a unifying body for the organization. One of the strengths of the JACL is its regional character — different chapters have different cultures, respond to different needs in their regions and communities, etc. The National Board, however, represents the organization in all its diversity and should act as a unified face for national advocacy efforts. With that goal in mind, the National Board must actively seek out new sources of revenue and partnerships that can help support our organization, as well as keep updated with civil rights and social issues that will allow us to expand our advocacy work.”

How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office?

“The National Youth Representative is a unique office in its focus on the younger generations of JACL leadership, and I believe this is one of the most critical demographics to reach with the Strategic Plan. I will work to increase the engagement with youth members through an active approach to social justice issues, including expanded political advocacy, more efficient public relations and stronger leadership amongst community partners. I also plan to market the organization to young AAPI leaders by establishing a pipeline of leadership — I see it as important that we recruit a diversity of young people into the JACL to facilitate multiple perspectives in the leadership for years to come. Our leadership development strategies at the NY/SC level continue to be grounded in the JACL mission, vision and history, but I will continue to seek out new and innovative programs to increase engagement.”

Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.

“Realistically speaking, our priorities between the generations are similar: We seek to fortify our community and approach issues of civil rights and social justice from our own identities/ histories as Japanese and Asian Americans. However, in the past, there has been generational split over the approach to activism, what issues should concern the JACL and what fall outside of our purview, and disagreements over the interpretation of the JACL’s mission as a civil rights organization.

“In addressing these intergenerational issues, I would point to the movement Tsuru for Solidarity as an example. Their structure is thoroughly intergenerational and integrates both the perspectives, wisdom and experience of the older generation with the ideology and worldview of the younger to foster a cohesive movement with a clear goal. Mutual respect is the foundation of this cohesion, and in my role as the National Youth Representative, I would like to offer more opportunities for the generations to collaborate, cooperate and have open dialogue with one another. Creating opportunities to foster that mutual respect and understanding is a key element to my approach to intergenerational issues, and as part of this effort, I aim to create more platforms for idea exchange, such as workshops and mentorship programs.”

What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

“The JACL enjoys a depth of history and a longevity that is relatively rare. … In the coming years, I would like to see the JACL be as pioneering as that legacy implies. There have been many moments in JACL history when we have taken risks to be on the cutting edge of issues that we now proudly count as part of our history. . . . I want to see the JACL revive this legacy. We need to step up to this platform that has already been built for us and take bolder strokes as advocates.”

How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL?

“I believe that the highly structured youth component of the JACL, specifically the NY/SC and our representation on the National Board, is an underutilized component in soliciting funds from donors. The degree to which there are high-level and institutionalized roles for youth demonstrates a commitment to youth leadership development and community service that the JACL could make a more marketed characteristic.”

How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors and NCAPA organizations?

“As the National Youth Representative, I will actively encourage NY/SC members and other JACL youth to incorporate solidarity work as one of their primary focuses.

In this past year, in particular, we have taken inspiration for our work from the movement Tsuru for Solidarity, which focuses its activism in developing relationships with other communities and social justice organizations.

In the past, the NY/SC has built strong relationships with organizations that serve Black, LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities in developing programs and Youth Leadership summits. I will continue to seek to develop deeper, long-term relationships with other organizations such that the NY/SC can delve deeper into and learn more about issues around which the JACL can be stronger allies.”