By Michelle Amano, VP for General Operations
I would like to wish everyone a wonderful Happy New Year. Last year was memorable for JACL as a whole. The success of the National Convention, held in Washington, D.C., in July, will help set the future for JACL, as it captured part of the history of our community, was fun for all ages and served as a forum in which important issues were discussed that affect us all today.
Under the capable leadership of John Tobe, we had a great reception presentation at the Smithsonian Institution for the exhibit “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” on the Japanese American internment, which has been extended until Dec. 18 of this year. Another activity was the cocktail reception for JACL delegates at the Embassy of Japan, where awards were presented and the Hon. Norman Mineta gave heartfelt remarks.
The highlight of the convention was the introduction of our new Executive Director David Inoue. I know that David has been busy visiting the various districts and chapters as well as taking care of JACL business.
Organizationally speaking, by having a more accessible operational budget, we could potentially lift the hiring freeze that is currently in place and give the staff much-needed additional resources for supplies and the necessary manpower needed for our day-to-day operations.
At present, we are not in any position to hire new people because of unexpected expenditures. A sizable amount of our other monies are segregated as restrictive funds for scholarships, internships and Legacy Grant funding.
I would encourage charitable giving to JACL, so that we can get interns and help the staff. I hope that we can do what Chicago did to help alleviate the pressure from staff. Washington, D.C., and Chicago both have established programs to raise monies independent of National JACL.
In D.C., we have been putting flowers on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend. This year will be the 69th anniversary of this event. We are losing 1,000 World War II veterans every day. Recently, we partnered with the Japanese American Veterans Assn., which has helped fund the flowers for Memorial Day.
I hope that this type of program memorializing whose shoulders we stand upon will be the type of programs that might inspire chapters and districts in your location. There are many other types of partnering that other groups might join to grow and strengthen our relationships.
As many of you know, JACL is a membership-driven organization, and without your membership, JACL could not survive. I hope that many of you will continue your memberships with JACL and also maybe consider upgrading your membership level within JACL.
As a Millennium Club member, I would personally encourage all present and future board members to join the Millennium Club. I have been a Millennium Club member since 2013.
One of the resolutions that was passed at the last convention was to change the Millennium Club membership from a calendar membership to a fiscal-year membership to encourage more people to join the Millennium Club. So, the day you become a Millennium member and until one year from that date, you are a Millennium Club member.
In order for any of our programs to be successful, we need to increase the number of sponsors that participate in the convention. If you know of any people or companies that are interested in being a sponsor, please let David Inoue know. David can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 223-1240.
We are coordinating our next convention this July in Philadelphia, which is looking to be an exciting, informative and fun-filled convention as well. The convention committee will soon be releasing information about the activities and events planned.
Philadelphia has so many wonderful attractions for people of all ages such as the new Smithsonian museum on the American Revolution, which is the most comprehensive museum on the American Revolution in America.
You might also think of visiting historical landmarks like Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the Franklin Institute, which has an extraordinary collection of Japanese artifacts and documents. There is also the Barnes Foundation Museum, which has one of the finest collections of Impressionist art, just to name a few places of interest.
See you in Philadelphia!