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JACL Reveals 2024 Japanese American of the Biennium Awardees

By June 18, 2024July 3rd, 2024No Comments

The National JACL has announced the recipients of its Japanese American of the Biennium Award.

Receiving the awards at the JACL’s upcoming 2024 national convention are:

  • Satsuki Ina, in the category of education/humanities, for her years of dedication to supporting victims of oppression, her research on intergenerational trauma, and her use of storytelling and psychology in activism to make change.
  • Chief Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw, in the category of politics/public affairs/law, for his years of public service in the court system and his work to ensure the civil and human rights of those in the justice system.
  • David Ono, in the category of arts/literature/communications, for his work in the field of journalism, specifically his storytelling of the World War II history of the Japanese American community, and his dedication to supporting the Japanese American community.

The awards will be presented at Sayonara Gala, the concluding public event on Saturday night at the JACL National Convention, which takes place July 10-14 in Philadelphia at the Sheraton Downtown. The theme for the 2024 JACL National Convention is “Looking Into the Future Together.”

This award is given to select individuals to recognize their contributions to the Japanese American community. The JACL National Board confers these awards in consultation with past JACL leaders and other leaders in the Japanese American community.

Also taking place at the Sayonara Gala will be the presentation of the JACL Ruby Pin, the JACL’s highest service award for long-standing and significant individual contributions over a minimum of 20 years.

The 2024 JACL National Convention includes joint programming with OCA and APIAVote, including the 2024 Presidential Town Hall. To register to attend the convention or for tickets to specific events, including the Sayonara Gala, please visit

More information about the recipients of the Japanese American of the Biennium Award follows.

Dr. Satsuki Ina, 2024 Japanese American of the Biennium (Education/Humanities)

Satsuki Ina

Dr. Satsuki Ina truly embodies the definition of speaking truth to power. Over the course of her 30-plus years of activism, she courageously speaks out, confronting authority, calling out injustices on their watch, and demanding change. Her commitment to constantly addressing ways for a just society inspires many, young and old alike.

When she often commits to speaking out courageously it assumes risk that makes people uncomfortable, but has faith that the process is what makes people think to affect change. Case in point, she participated in protests at Fort Sill and Fort Bliss to defend the rights of undocumented migrant children and families. Her participation showed the powerful impact of multigenerational and grassroots activism and exemplified the moral authority to protest.

Based on her personal family experience of being born in Tule Lake Incarceration Camp, Dr. Ina has made it her lifelong passion to research the long-term impact of incarceration trauma and its intergenerational impact. Her work was credited in an August 2023 published research project for the Fund for Global Human Rights by Devon Kearney on how intergenerational trauma affects the present and future of transitional justice. This shows how her work continues to influence the concepts of other projects.

Storytelling is the most important means of conveying a strong transformative message. With the recent release of her latest book, “The Poet and the Silk Girl,” she continues to share stories to inform and inspire others to challenge our thinking, seek justice, and be the change we want to see.

Chief Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw, 2024 Japanese American of the Biennium (Political/Public Affairs/Law)

Dana M. Sabraw

Dana Makoto Sabraw was elected chief judge of the U.S. Courts for the Southern District of California in 2021 and continues to serve in that capacity. He was confirmed as a U.S. district judge in 2003. Previously, he served as San Diego County Superior Court Judge (1998-03), and as Presiding Judge of San Diego North County Municipal Court (1995-98). After receiving his Bachelor of Science from San Diego State University, he graduated from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

Among his many honors and recognitions, Sabraw received the California State Bar’s 2023 Bernard E. Witkin Award for Excellence, the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2019 Outstanding Jurist Award, and was named Person of the Year in 2018 by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Of probably the greatest relevance to the JACL with its civil and human rights agenda is the fact that Sabraw presided over the case of the U.S. government’s separation of families at the U.S. border. Sabraw ordered the government to stop separating families caught at the border and to reunite the 2,500 children already apart.

The best description of Sabraw came from San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber, who served with him in the Superior Court. She said, “Judge Sabraw is brilliant, has excellent judicial temperament, and lawyers love being in his courtroom. He’s a gentleman to every person who walks into his courtroom. I believe that’s because he’s such a quality human being.”

David Ono – 2024 J.A. of the Biennium (Art/Literature/Communication)

(Following is an excerpt from “More Than an Anchorman: ABC7’s David Ono Celebrates a Milestone” by Ellen Endo, Oct. 9, 2021, Rafu Shimpo)

David Ono

After 25 years at ABC7, the verdict is in on David Ono. He is the Tom Hanks of the nightly news.

Ask leaders of Japanese American organizations about Ono, and his years of devoting his time and talents to community come to mind. Since landing a key position with Los Angeles’ ABC7 Eyewitness News in 1996, Ono has reached beyond his anchor desk to become an award-winning filmmaker, discovering untold stories of people and events around the world.

“He has become a staple of the Nisei Week Coronation and a testament to community service,” commented James Okazaki, past Nisei Week Festival chairman. “As emcees, he and Tamlyn Tomita are a perfect pair.”

Okazaki explains that he was particularly moved by the sensitivity captured in Ono’s documentary “Legacy of Heart Mountain,” which chronicled the stories of the people who were held in the Wyoming concentration camp during World War II.  Okazaki’s relatives were at Heart Mountain for three and a half years.

Born in Japan to a Caucasian father and Japanese mother, Ono took his mother’s maiden name sometime in the 1990s. His father was in the military and served in Japan for several years. The family moved to Texas, where Ono grew up in San Antonio, largely among Latinos, and attended the University of North Texas.

“The first time I heard the term ‘hapa’ was in college when a friend from Hawaii used that term,” he recalled. “‘What’s that?’ I asked. She said, ‘You are. You have the look.’”

It wasn’t until he was hired by station KOVR in Sacramento that Ono began connecting with the Japanese American community.

He is doing pieces on race in America and continuing to explore new aspects of the story of the 442nd  Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion and the long-hidden role Nisei linguists played in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II.

The truth is: Ono is more than an anchorman. In 25 years as a broadcast journalist, he has given a new dimension to the profession.