PASADENA, Calif. — Leslie A. Ito, 43, has been named executive director of the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Calif., following a six-month national search, effective Sept. 4.
Ito, who recently announced her resignation after five years as president and CEO of the Japanese American & Cultural
Community Center in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, comes to the Armory with more than 20 years of proven leadership and fundraising expertise.
Prior to her tenure at JACCC, Ito served as program director for arts and health at the California Community Foundation and director of grant programs at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
In a statement given to Pasadena News Now, Ito said, “My family has lived in Pasadena for over 70 years. My relationship with the Armory dates back to its predecessor organization, the Pasadena Art Workshops. Some of my earliest and best art memories happened in the classrooms of the Pasadena Art Workshops, where I took classes in photography, ceramics, jewelry making and enameling.
“I consider the Armory part of my arts lineage,” Ito continued. “The impact that these classes had on me are a part of my professional building blocks in the trajectory of my arts career. I am thrilled that I have been able to pass this tradition on to my own children through the Armory’s art classes, art birthday parties and visits to the gallery. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this important arts institution, and I look forward to working with the board, staff and community constituents to continue its great work.”
In a statement given to its members and supporters, Craig Tomiyoshi, chair of the board of directors for the JACCC, said, “After five and a half years of leading our organization, Leslie Ito will be stepping down as president and CEO of the Japanese American & Cultural Community Center at the end of July. She’ll be joining the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena as their new executive director, and we are excited for Leslie as she brings her creativity to the arts and culture community in her hometown, Pasadena.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Leslie for all she has accomplished and brought to the organization,” Tomiyoshi continued. “Under her leadership, JACCC experienced an incredible period of revitalization and growth. Leslie helped shape and rebuild the organization, including balancing the budget, strengthening our relationships and ties with Japan and developing a robust strategic plan that will continue to help guide and shape the future direction of JACCC.”
The JACCC plans to announce the search for a new president and CEO, as well as an interim director, in the coming weeks.
Ito will be officially installed as the Armory’s new executive director in September. A native of Los Angeles, Ito holds a bachelor of arts degree in American studies from Mount Holyoke College and a master of arts in Asian American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition, Ito attended Stanford University Graduate School of Business’ Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders.