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Presenting Candidates for the 2018-20 JACL National Board

By June 15, 2018July 11th, 2018No Comments

Among the important business aspects of this year’s JACL National Convention in Philadelphia will be the election of a new JACL National Board for the next biennium. Following are candidates’ statements of those who submitted their application before the nominations deadline. Floor nominations are allowed and are subject to additional requirements, in addition to turning in the Candidate’s Application Form. For more information, visit the JACL website (

Candidates for National President

Michelle Amano, Washington, D.C., Chapter

Michelle Amano

The primary challenging issue I see facing JACL is fundraising. This has and will continue to be something that will affect all aspects of JACL. Without the appropriate funding, JACL cannot hire adequate staff to assist the executive director or manage programs such as college outreach, fellowships and internships, membership retention, social justice and voting rights. Funding is required to adequately compensate our hard-working and dedicated staff. It is important that JACL is addressing the many issues where our voice can be heard.

Everyone can help with fundraising — it can be as simple as increasing your membership level within the organization or giving gifts to memorialize present and future generations. I have been a Millennium Club member since joining the National Board as governor from the EDC. Therefore, I understand there is a significant amount of sacrifice in time and money to be working for a volunteer organization like JACL.

I graduated from Goucher College, the former sister school of Johns Hopkins University, where I received a bachelor of arts degree in communications. Since graduating from college, I have had many life experiences by working with a law firm and receiving my paralegal certification and earning my Maryland real estate license.

I had the experience of working as an eldercare caregiver to my grandmother. However, to understand how I could better help my grandmother, I took a two-year course at Johns Hopkins University and received my Elder Care certification. I have grown to empathize with Nikkei who are caring for their parents or grandparents.

Taking care of the elderly creates additional responsibilities and greater burdens for many of our JACL families.

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

To me, the definition of leadership is someone who is able to work with everyone within the confines of the group, and it includes respecting those who want to be involved and allowing them to participate in the discussion. New ideas and views make sure that everyone can express their opinion and hopefully expand the thinking of the group.

One of the ways of achieving success is the teaming up of group members to work on various aspects of the same project. We have done this successfully within the Washington, D.C., Chapter by having co-presidents. Many of the people in our area travel for business and are not readily available on a full-time basis. By sharing responsibilities, there is consistency and continuity in carrying out our programs. The JACL National Board could be working in a similar manner with the vice presidents with different particular responsibilities working for an overall similar goal.

Jeffrey Moy, Washington, D.C. Chapter

Jeffrey Moy

My name is Jeffrey Moy, and I am running for national president. I am currently senior program manager for Culture of Health Leaders, an opportunity for people across the country to form new partnerships to build healthier communities.

I have managed programs for several nonprofit organizations, received a master of public administration from Baruch College and a bachelor of arts in philosophy and psychology from the University of Southern California.

In my time with JACL, I’ve been fortunate to work with many amazing members across the country. But I’ve also found myself wondering why so many of my friends and colleagues have left the organization and what we could have done to retain such amazing leaders. Perhaps it’s due to changes in their lives, or burnout, or frustration; there are plenty of good reasons. But JACL is something special: a family of fierce advocates brought together by a shared heritage, fighting against future injustices. Unfortunately, I think that special quality has become all too easy to forget.

It’s time for us to come together and reinvest in this organization, to dig deep and find new solutions so that JACL can thrive as we move forward. With the right team in place, I know that we can ensure that JACL continues to be a beacon of hope and justice for decades to come. We are at a critical juncture: We can have business as usual, or we can approach JACL with renewed excitement and energy and remind all of us why we are privileged to be a part of this incredible community. Thank you for all that you do for JACL, and thank you for your consideration.

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

Leadership involves listening to those you represent and working collectively to find solutions for the greater good. Leaders serve their communities by developing an understanding of the issues that need to be worked on, as well as the actions that will create change.

The National Board serves the JACL in executing the vision and mission, serving the membership and ensuring the success and sustainability of the organization. Although part of this responsibility is fiduciary, ultimately, National Board members are elected because delegates trust that these officers will do what is best for the organization and the greater community JACL represents.

National Vice President for General Operations

No applications submitted.

National Vice President for Public Affairs

Sarah Baker, Seattle Chapter

Sarah Baker

My name is Sarah Baker, and I am running for the position of vice president for Public Affairs. I work as a program manager for Wayfind, 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 B.A. in international business.

One challenging issue I feel the JACL must address is an internal one: How do we plan to remain at the forefront of civil rights groups while simultaneously retaining our legacy? As the United States’ oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, we have a duty to our members to represent Japanese American history through the lens of social justice and advocacy. But as our numbers continue to dwindle, we must draw upon other sources outside of our immediate community to replenish and revitalize our membership base. How do we expand our network to be inclusive of non-Japanese American identities?

The answer to this question is unfortunately not a simple one, and I believe that we must take a critical look at our organization to find ways to broaden our horizons for the continued growth and success of the JACL in the future. Our organization has a long and illustrious history that cannot be forgotten, lest we see history repeat itself. It is up to us to keep that story alive while continuing to stay relevant with current events. Moving forward, I see us building deeper relationships and coalitions that will hopefully strengthen us as a membership-based organization and continue to keep us on a path that aligns with our mission and vision.

It has been an honor to be a member of the JACL, and I look forward to continuing to serve in whatever capacities I am able.

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

If 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.

National Vice President for Planning and Development

Matthew Farrells, Twin Cities Chapter

Matthew Farrells

Thank you for the honor of serving as vice president for Planning and Development during the 2018-2020 biennium. It is truly a great pleasure to fulfill this role and lead JACL toward continued prosperity. I owe the success of this term to my fellow colleagues on the JACL National Board, the dedicated and hard-working staff and to the membership, who have given me their trust to serve in this important role.

When I ran for office during the period leading up to the 2018 National Convention, I was committed to these vital initiatives: 1) Continued support of existing grant and scholarship programs and 2) an increased effort on fundraising. Not only were these the platform initiatives I ran on, but more importantly the goals, which will define my term as VP for Planning and Development. Despite our past accomplishments in these areas to date, I believe there is always room for improvement. So, as I prepare to continue to serve the membership in this role, I look forward to focusing on and improving our grant and scholarship programming and fundraising efforts as an organization.

In closing, I believe my experience serving on the National Board as well as my personal and professional experiences will greatly aide me in contributing toward the success of the organization during the 2018-2020 biennium.

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

I will provide leadership in executing the JACL’S Strategic Plan in several major ways. First, I will push for programming at the National Board level that is vital to grow awareness of our organization, issues and mission throughout the communities we work and live. JACL programs, including scholarships and grants, create the means of providing education on advocacy, leadership, social justice and community preservation. Second, I will support the fundraising and budget allocation efforts to allow the JACL programs to flourish and succeed. Without the proper funding of these crucial programs, we will set them up to fail.

National Vice President for One Thousand Club, Membership and Services

Haruka Roudebush, San Francisco Chapter

Haruka Roudebush

I am Haruka Roudebush, and I am running for vice president of 1,000 Club, Membership and Services. I work as the programs manager at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California in San Francisco’s Japantown, where I administer ongoing classes and activities, as well as plan and coordinate cultural, educational and recreational workshops, activities and festivals. I am a Shin-Issei and was born in Tokyo, Japan, and immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 2. I became a naturalized U.S. citizen at 12. I grew up in the Bay Area in Lafayette, Calif., and received my bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in Japanese studies from UC San Diego. My previous career was as a paralegal for a civil rights law firm working on California state prison reform and prisoner rights advocacy, and I appreciate that the JACL continues to provide me with means to engage in both the Japanese American community and with civil rights issues and policy.

A challenge JACL faces is the struggle to remain visible and effective as an advocacy organization while contending with generational change and leadership succession. I believe the JACL can continue being an exciting and effective organization to be part of, so long as we take actions that are impactful, develop skills and leadership experience of our younger members and can market our organization as one that is a dynamic and exciting cause to sustain and an authoritative voice for our community that commands respect.

As the JACL’s current VP of Membership, I was appointed midterm and believe I can accomplish my plan of action if given an additional term to see it through. From technical improvements to activating our members, I intend to stem the long-running trend of declining membership and reinvigorate the ranks of our organization. I understand that people are members for a multitude of reasons, but I understand even better that strong memberships are built on a sense of pride and achievement through the organization, and even more importantly, the social bonds and cherished connections developed through the JACL.

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

The Strategic Plan provides several points to form strategies for membership retention and recruitment around. If elected for an additional term, I intend to continue working on the goals set forth for membership, which incorporate priorities set forth in the Strategic Plan, including continuing to support the establishment and growth of the Young Professionals Caucus. I believe that effective membership engagement is crucial to any future growth in JACL membership and will require us to implement other areas of the Strategic Plan beyond just the section specifically pertaining to membership, including visible advocacy, social and community enrichment and outreach and partnerships with other communities and new constituents.

National Secretary/Treasurer

James Kirihara, Twin Cities Chapter

James Kirihara

Hello, my name is James Kirihara, and I am running for national secretary/treasurer. I am a fourth-generation Japanese American, and my family has been involved in the JACL Twin Cities (Minnesota) chapter for decades after my grandparents were interned at the Topaz internment camp in Utah and the Tule Lake internment camp in California. JACL has been a presence throughout much of my life, from local JACL meetings and potluck dinners during my childhood, to scholarship support during my college education and my involvement as treasurer of the National Youth Student Council (NY/SC) during the early part of my career. I would be honored to give back to the organization by serving as national secretary/treasurer and believe I have sufficient qualifications to successfully serve in the role.

I have worked professionally for over 10 years, first as a public accountant at KPMG and then as a management consultant at Accenture. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accountancy at the University of Notre Dame and recently completed a master’s degree in Business Administration at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

As secretary/treasurer, I would prioritize fiscal responsibility for the organization to ensure we can continue to support key programs and initiatives in the short term as well as the long term. I believe it is crucial for the organization to continue to reassess sustainable sources of funding for the future and maintain budget discipline and agility to quickly react to ever-changing circumstances and unpredictability. I will advocate for reshaping the organization to align with its strategic priorities in contrast to doing things for the sake of tradition or “because it is the way it has always been done.” Thank you for your consideration and support.

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

Given the nature of the role of Secretary/Treasurer, fundraising would be a key focus area for me to ensure the organization can meet its obligations and support its programs and initiatives. I would promote regular reviews of actual fundraising efforts and outcomes vs. plans to identify potential shortfalls that may require board attention to resolve in current budgets and spending. Additionally, I would actively promote fundraising efforts both within JACL membership, as well as through outside supporters and partners. I believe having additional corporate/business sponsors would be beneficial for fundraising, as well as diversifying the funding sources so that we are not overly dependent on one or a handful of companies.

National Youth/Student Council Chairperson

Kota Mizutani, Washington, D.C. Chapter

Kota Mizutani

Ask what single factor has contributed most to my life, and I will always give the same answer: the JACL. From offering leadership opportunities to support my journey through Brown University to providing the guidance and resources needed to pursue a career as a Congressional staffer on AAPI issues, the JACL has consistently contributed to my personal, academic and professional life. My own experiences as a lifelong beneficiary of the JACL’s mentorship lies at the center of why, as current NY/SC Chair, I hope to continue leading one of JACL’s greatest programs: National Youth/Student Council.

Throughout my experience with the JACL — as Chapter Youth Representative, District Youth Representative and Chair — I have encountered an array of levels of youth engagement. From some chapters with active youth groups to whole districts with little to no youth engagement, the JACL has long suffered from a disjointed youth leadership pipeline. Indeed, one of the JACL’s most significant challenges regarding youth membership is that, oftentimes, young leaders who become involved with their chapters or districts find few opportunities to engage in advocacy work and eventually discontinue their involvement.

In my second term as NY/SC Chair, I will continue to work with the rest of the NY/SC to develop a stronger and more coordinated youth leadership pipeline across the JACL. Through coordinated Youth Leadership Summits, a robust communications strategy and stronger district-based youth structures, the NY/SC can dramatically expand its reach beyond the national level. After all, if JACL, can, on all levels, invest in each youth member the same way it invested in me, then perhaps one day the JACL will become not only the “oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States,” but also the “most effective and innovative civil rights organization in the United States.”

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

Like most other AAPI communities and communities overall, the JACL faces ideological schisms between its younger and older members. While older JACL members tend to assess young people as incapable, inexperienced and perhaps radical, younger JACL members are often frustrated with the organization’s lack of activism despite its civil rights-based mission and vision. This tension has undoubtedly entrenched itself over the years and created a deep generational divide.

To address these differences, I would continue to support ongoing NY/SC programs that develop stronger intergenerational understanding by highlighting the mutually beneficial relationship possible between younger and older members. Programs like the National Convention Mentorship program, for example, help younger members learn from the experiences and expertise of older mentors, while providing opportunities for mentees to educate older mentors on contemporary issues.

National Youth/Student Council Representative

No applications submitted.