In an unprecedented year, JACL holds a virtual board meeting in lieu of an in-person national convention.
By P.C. Staff
To say that 2020 has been “challenging” is something probably ALL Americans will agree with, no matter what side of the political fence they reside on, and the year is only three-quarters done. From Kobe Bryant’s tragic death to the Black Lives Matter protests in light of George Floyd’s murder to preparing for the most important political election in our nation’s history in a mere two months — 2020 has been a year unlike any other. Oh, and did we mention we’re all trying to survive a global pandemic that has seen countless lives lost due to COVID-19?
But no matter the twists and turns, JACL has stayed the course, adapting itself and forging ahead and planning its future — and though coronavirus forced the organization to postpone its annual national convention in June, JACL held an all-virtual national board meeting on Aug. 15.
The meeting’s tone was set as President Jeffrey Moy said, “It’s important that we continue to represent you, especially in these trying times.”
Executive Director David Inoue then presented a summary of JACL’s packed slate of actions, including support for the HEROES Act, BLM, Tsuru for Solidarity, immigration, the Muslim Ban, U.S. Census and civic engagement, the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium, Kakehashi program and its COVID-19 response.
In his report, Inoue said, “The outlook for the remainder of the year is that we will remain responsive to challenges from COVID with regards to operations, continuing to mostly work from home and also working on COVID-related issues in policy. Looking ahead to 2021, we are anticipating a return to normalcy as scheduling for events such as Kakehashi in March and the convention in July, but will continue to remain flexible on these activities as well.”
National Secretary/Treasurer Jim Kirihara presented the 2021 budget and reflected on year-to-date 2020 actuals, which showed an operating net deficit of $139,158. However, he reported that membership dues are $12K above the pro-rata budget, thanks to strong January and May results.
Kirihara remained confident that the overall trend will shift, as the market volatility situation has continued to improve since March when coronavirus effectively shut down the nation’s economy.
YTD as of June 30, JACL’s total assets were $12,949,692, down from $13,268,737 as of Dec. 31, 2019.
In presenting the 2021 budget, which was approved by the board, Kirihara outlined in his report a $1.74 million total budget, a 12 percent decrease from 2019-2020’s 1.98M budget.
“Our overall methodology was to be conservative whenever possible,” Kirihara said. “We will have the ability to be flexible and adapt depending on what’s happening at the time.”
And in his final membership report as outgoing vp of membership and services, Haruka Roudebush reported 8,106 total members as of Quarter 2, a 233-member decline (-2.8 percent) since end-of-year 2019.
Forty-five chapters had membership losses of 5 percent or greater since EOY 2019, however 26 chapters recorded record gains in membership since EOY 2019, among them Berkeley, Livingston Merced, Portland, Downtown Los Angeles, Seattle and Stockton.
Among Moy’s first tasks is to appoint a new vp of membership, with Roudebush assuring the national board that he is willing to help until a successor is named.
“I encourage you guys to keep up your efforts to seek out ideas for ways to recruit new members . … It’s been an honor to serve with you all,” he said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been able to serve you all in this capacity, and I wish you all luck going forward.”
Right now, the entire world needs luck in navigating through the remainder of 2020 and beyond. But no matter the challenge, one thing’s certain: JACL is more than prepared to meet whatever else comes its way.