2020-2022 National Board Candidate Profiles

President – Jeffrey Moy

  • Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board.
    Leadership is finding a path forward for the people you represent, through a process of listening, engaging, and working collectively. Leadership requires reflecting on your own experiences, making difficult decisions, and taking action to create change. The JACL National Board’s role is executing the organization’s mission and vision in a way that respects our members’ viewpoints, while also ensuring the sustainability of the organization. We respect the duties our members have entrusted us with by serving to the best of our ability.
  • How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office?
    As President, I would work closely with other National Board members to determine the best ways we can work together and with other members to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan. This may include learning about best practices from chapters around the countries, asking committees for recommendations, or having National Board members work closely with staff to assess program areas. Throughout all this, the President needs to keep the bigger picture in mind and articulate to members how their skills and passions can help JACL move forward.
  • Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.
    I don’t believe that the ideological differences we see between generations in JACL are all that different than those we see everywhere in our society. To generalize, younger people want to be included and heard, while older people may be concerned that younger members have not had the appropriate training or have the commitment to take on leadership roles. What we must remember is that our shared values are what has brought us together, and that we must stay committed to listening to each other and learning from each other. We are members of JACL because we hope for a more just society. If we take the time to connect and learn about each other at a personal level, we can get past the stereotypes and artificial boundaries that prevent us from reaching our goals.
  • What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?
    JACL is uniquely positioned as the oldest Asian American civil rights organization in the country. As a membership organization, we should be able to quickly mobilize around social justice issues and be present for our community and for others facing injustice. A second term would allow me to continue building upon structural changes that should make it easier for our staff and members to have the resources they need so that JACL can continue to be a force for years to come.
  • How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL?
    Working with the Executive Director, I would continue working to determine how else I can assist with the overall fundraising plan, whether through relationships with corporate sponsors, or asking for individual donations. I also look forward to assisting the new Vice President for Planning and Development in continuing efforts to raise funds for our educational programming, and with whatever ideas they bring to the role. Underlying all of this is an understanding that as we work generally to raise JACL’s profile and strengthen our organization, more fundraising opportunities will come along.
  • How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors, and NCAPA organizations?
    Being strategic about how these relationships are approached by staff and other National Board members is important, but personally I am always open to conversations with any of the groups listed. I have experience with serving the NY/SC and more recently with Kakehashi, and make myself available to youth groups when asked. I have developed relationships with sponsors over the years and check in with them as requested. Similarly, my experience in DC has led to strong relationships with staff and board members for many NCAPA organizations.

VP of Gen Ops – Marissa Kitazawa

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

My leadership inspiration comes from a quote by Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees; under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” As an organization with 90 years of history, we struggle with staying relevant with the changing needs of the community today. My role as Vice President of General Operations is to strengthen the organization so that we can be sustainable and continue to make meaningful change for the community. In addition, I believe it would be my job to evaluate our infrastructure, build capacity, collaborate with the rest of the board and staff to determine how we can pivot and continue to grow as an organization.

All of the strategic plan initiatives are on-going and embed themselves deeply within the general operations of the organization.  In my elected office, I believe we can use the off-year National Convention as a venue in which we can showcase and strengthen these initiatives. 

For this past Convention in Salt Lake City – I took on the role of programming because I wanted to demonstrate how we could utilize the potential of our convention. I believe this can be a model to continue to refine moving forward:

  • Education & Social Justice: We organized plenaries and workshops that explored the current policies, State of Asian America, JACL and the Redress Movement etc..
  • Leadership: Provided leadership skills building workshops so that attendees could take the skills that learned and apply them in their own communities like preserving oral histories or how to apply for the JACS grant.
  • Youth & Young Professionals: Created youth specific programs and workshop tracks that were also organized by the NY/SC, Young Professional Caucus and the local Salt Lake City Youth Group. 
  • Communication: Hosted workshops on how members could utilize the social media tool kit.
  • Financial Development: this was the first time in 5 year, that convention netted a profit. We were able to strengthen our relationships with our funders by changing up our Presidential luncheon to include a program and collaborate with some of them to host their own sponsored workshops.
  • Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them.

When I first joined JACL in 2010, the ideological differences between the Youth and older members were very apparent and the divide felt very clear. The youth represented very progressive political view and the older generation clung to their cultural conservative values. This question is an extremely complex and the ideological differences can be explored further by examining the intergenerational trauma brought on by experiences of the Japanese American Incarceration to our community.  

I’ve witnessed JACL slowly change through the years.  I’ve been inspired by the organizations ability to have intergenerational dialogue about our experiences during World War II and about what’s currently happening at our borders in the immigration detention centers.

 At the Salt Lake City Convention, it was really important for me to create a space where our membership could have a dialogue about the experience of the resistors and JACL’s position. We witnessed those meaningful and emotional testimonials happen on our debate floor, but regardless of our ideological differences there was respect.

 As VP of General Operations, I plan to continue to create spaces likes this so that we can continue to have those tough conversations with each other. We need spaces where we can talk about Black Lives Matter and how we can be better advocates for our community. These conversations are necessary to have so we can grow both personally and as an organization. 

  • What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

As the largest and oldest AAPI civil rights organization with a rich history, JACL is uniquely positioned with its membership network of fierce advocates and activist, progressive educators, young upcoming leaders and talented artists. My vision for JACL is that we can continue to play a vital role within the civil rights world, and we continue to educate and uplift other communities.

In my second term, I would like to continue my initiatives to strengthen our structural capacity so we can support our staff, expand our services, advocate for what we believe and continue to grow our chapters. I’m inspired by the movement, dedication of our current board, and I believe we have the momentum to keep it going. 

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

As a Board member, I believe it is our fiduciary duty to give AND get.  In addition to making a personal donation, I’ve secured over $20,000 through corporate sponsorships and in-kind service for the chapter, district and national level over the years.

In my professional career, I’ve worked serving both the general and multicultural markets. While working at IW Group, I connected our Fortune 500 directly with the Asian American community. This experience has provided me a stronger understanding of how to build meaningful relationships with our corporate sponsors. In addition, I’ve been building relationships with many of our JACL sponsors since I was on the staff side. These personal relationships have allowed me to engage in honest dialogue with sponsors like AT&T and Union Bank on what they are looking for in the future, how we can improve and how to best collaborate with them moving forward. 

  • How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors, and NCAPA organizations?

My strength is my ability to collaborate and work with others. I believe in allowing others to have a seat at the table. I have a strong relationship with AAPI nonprofits and our JACL sponsors that I plan to continue to cultivate for JACL, whether that is garnering support on a particular issue or collaborating at convention. It really is about starting that initial dialogue in order to build a meaningful and authentic relationship. I truly believe that we can uplift others as we up lift ourselves. 

VP of Public Affairs – Sarah Baker

  • Please state your definition of leadership and your perception of the role of the JACL National Board: To be a leader is neither to dictate nor is it to reach a place of complacency within one’s position; it necessitates active participation and listening to the needs of the group that is being represented. In order to effectively take on a leadership role, it is imperative to account for the voices that create the whole and to find a way to guide the decision-making processes involved in facilitating those needs. The National Board of the JACL serves as the acting arm of the membership base. Those that serve within these leadership roles are tasked with representing members of the JACL to the best of their ability by being aware of the current issues and having an understanding of the needs of the organization as a whole.
  • How would you implement JACL’s Strategic Plan in your elected office? If re-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. 
  • Articulate the current ideological differences between youth and older members and how you would address them. The main differences that I see between the younger and older generations within the JACL surround implementation of succession planning and new goals in terms of outreach and advocacy with other communities. As we bring in new youth that do not necessarily have the same history with the JACL as some of our more seasoned members, it is hard to convey the experiences and legacy that come with time. Creating a clear support structure and pipeline for incoming leaders is key to the continued success of the organization. This will require participation by all members to make sure that we continue to be leaders within the National AAPI network in relationship to current events while maintaining the integrity and knowledge of our past.
  • What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years? As the United States’ oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, I see the JACL as a leader amongst the AAPI civil rights and advocacy groups. As such, my vision for the JACL is to strengthen our ties with other organizations, both within and outside of the AAPI communities, and to continue to be at the forefront of current social justice issues. In the next few years I see our organization serving our membership by continuing to be strong leaders in the areas of diversity and inclusion. To do this we must continue to build relationships with similarly aligned organizations while simultaneously working to increase our own capacity as a membership-based group. Work must be done both internally and externally to achieve these goals.
  • How would you assist in or actively participate in raising funds for JACL? I would help to build up existing relationships and create new ones with potential funding sources. Being a member of the National Board means being a voice for the larger organization. By being a strong leader and advocate, I plan to help bring the JACL forward to highlight our group with new funders. This can be done through my ties with local groups as well as outside of my immediate network. 
  • How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors, and NCAPA organizations? As mentioned previously, it is important within leadership roles to listen to the voices of the people you represent. As such it is critical to build relationships with other groups based on what our members find to be important. This can be done through a variety of ways, including but not limited to being visible as a representative of the JACL to build relationships on behalf of the organization, actively working to engage with groups whom we are already affiliated with, and by reaching out to new groups and organizations to build relationships that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. To me visibility and intention are key factors in how we can develop and improve upon our ties to other groups. Going beyond this, we must actively listen to and take the lead of organizations that differ from ours to better learn about their issues and how we can be supportive of those causes. 

NY/SC Representative – Mieko Kuramoto

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

Being a leader as an organization means strengthening our commitment to social justice activism, and leadership within the organization means strengthening and supporting our community in order to do so. As a civil rights organization, our commitment to social justice activism should be our highest priority, and by providing the JACL community with resources, building a pipeline of leadership among young AAPI leaders, and fostering intergenerational bonds, we can become stronger leaders and better advocates.

I see the role of the National Board as a unifying body for the organization. One of the strengths of the JACL is its regional character—different chapters have different cultures, respond to different needs in their regions and communities, etc. The National Board, however, represents the organization in all its diversity and should act as a unified face for national advocacy efforts. With that goal in mind, the National Board must actively seek out new sources of revenue and partnerships that can help support our organization, as well as keeping updated with civil rights and social issues that will allow us to expand our advocacy work.   

The National Youth Representative is a unique office in its focus on the younger generations of JACL leadership, and I believe this is one of the most critical demographics to reach with the Strategic Plan. I will work to increase the engagement with youth members through an active approach to social justice issues, including expanded political advocacy, more efficient public relations, and stronger leadership amongst community partners. I also plan to market the organization to young AAPI leaders by establishing a pipeline of leadership—I see it as important that we recruit a diversity of young people into the JACL to facilitate multiple perspectives in the leadership for years to come. Our leadership development strategies at the NY/SC level continue to be grounded in the JACL mission, vision, and history, but I will continue to seek out new and innovative programs to increase engagement.     

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

Realistically speaking, our priorities between the generations are similar: we seek to fortify our community and approach issues of civil rights and social justice from our own identities/ histories as Japanese and Asian Americans. However, in the past there has been generational split over the approach to activism, what issues should concern the JACL and what fall outside of our purview, and disagreements over the interpretation of the JACL’s mission as a civil rights organization.  

In addressing these intergenerational issues, I would point to the movement Tsuru for Solidarity as an example. Their structure is thoroughly intergenerational and integrates both the perspectives, wisdom, and experience of the older generation with the ideology and worldview of the younger to foster a cohesive movement with a clear goal. Mutual respect is the foundation of this cohesion, and in my role as the National Youth Representative I would like to offer more opportunities for the generations to collaborate, cooperate, and have open dialog with one another. Creating opportunities to foster that mutual respect and understanding is a key element to my approach to intergenerational issues, and as part of this effort I aim to create more platforms for idea exchange, such as workshops and mentorship programs. 

  • What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years?

The JACL enjoys a depth of history and a longevity that is relatively rare. It is often mentioned that we are the oldest and the largest Asian American civil rights organization in the country, and this is a proud legacy that we carry forth. In the coming years, I would like to see the JACL be as pioneering as that legacy implies. There have been many moments in JACL history when we have taken risks to be on the cutting edge of issues that we now proudly count as part of our history: taking on the United States government in court in a historic demand for reparations, for example, or taking a stand as the first non-LGBTQ national organization to publicly declare its support for same-sex marriage.   

In the coming years, I want to see the JACL revive this legacy. We need to step up to this platform that has already been built for us and take bolder strokes as advocates. I would like to see us openly strengthen our ties with vulnerable and frontline communities, advocate heavily on issues that impact other communities of color, and push to re-engage our national and grassroots organizing mechanisms.  

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

I believe that the highly-structured youth component of the JACL, specifically the NY/SC and our representation on the National Board, is an underutilized component in soliciting funds from donors. The degree to which there are high-level and institutionalized roles for youth demonstrates a commitment to youth leadership development and community service that the JACL could make a more marketed characteristic. 

We on the NY/SC specifically have already increased the support the organization received from corporate sponsors, and thus on the private fundraising level I would work to market the NY/SC more through direct meetings, interviews, or other publicity materials.

  • How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors, and NCAPA organizations?

As the National Youth Representative, I will actively encourage NY/SC members and other JACL youth to incorporate solidarity work as one of their primary focuses. In this past year in particular, we have taken inspiration for our work from the movement Tsuru for Solidarity, which focuses its activism in developing relationships with other communities and social justice organizations. IN the past, the NY/SC has built strong relationships with organizations that serve Black, LGBTQ, and immigrant rights communities in developing programs and Youth Leadership summits. I will continue to seek to develop deeper, long-term relationships with other organizations such that the NY/SC can delve deeper into and learn more about issues around which the JACL can be stronger allies.

NY/SC Chair – Justin Kawaguchi

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

Leadership in action is best characterized by the culture of the team in which one is working. An effective leader will rally a team around a central mission, supporting each member’s unique position and skillset to contribute in a meaningful way. In my experience, leadership is a learned trait built by experience in a number of different capacities. Each organization possesses its own unique challenges and strengths. A talented leader is able to take in a full picture of the organization’s position and create value and strategic growth. 

Within the JACL, the National Board is a guiding light that is necessary to ensure the vitality and sustained growth of the organization. As the oldest Asian American social justice organization in the country, the JACL has a special responsibility to set the example for what effective governance and advocacy looks like. The National Board must build upon a rich history of activism while bringing new ideas to the table that keep the organization relevant and engaging as the membership base changes over time. 

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

In support of the JACL Strategic Plan, the National Youth Student Council occupies the unique space of serving the younger generation of members. As such, it is imperative that the NY/SC develops leadership capacity and trains youth members to become advocates in their communities. As a current member of the NY/SC, we have striven to create increased engagement opportunities (in-person and virtual), greater partnerships with other organizations and develop a network and community that attracts new membership. I will continue to build upon these initiatives and work with the National Youth Representative to champion these goals as we step into what has become a “new normal,” activating new opportunities and taking advantage of virtual spaces. 

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

In my view, youth members today are several generations distanced from older members of the organization who may have been directly involved with the fight for redress and reparations or were directly impacted by the WWII incarcerations camps. Youth are passionate about contemporary issues and want to understand the history of our families in order to better realize goals revolving equity and social justice. Ideologically, youth and older members share similar values but the methods by which youth seek to carry out action is different. With a great number of different social justice initiatives and organizations available, it is crucial that the JACL both create space for advocacy/social justice AND community-building. Being adept in one is not enough to retain and build a committed membership base. Youth members value professional development, social engagement and a feeling of making a difference to name a few points that differ between older and younger members. There is an opportunity to create an engaging space for youth members but an openness to new ideas built upon an understanding of organizational history is essential. 

  • What is your vision for JACL? Where do you see JACL going in the next few years? 

My vision for the JACL is that the next few years will lead to candid conversations on ways to ensure the vitality and sustainability of the organization. As we approach a new normal and face the reality of a large age gap in active membership, we must consider what steps will engage and attract younger members. The JACL is a “household name” for many Japanese American families and has a unique value proposition from a public-facing standpoint. It will be important to create leadership-pipelines to maintain engagement in a cyclic and linear pathway for young members as well as develop a true sense of community. I have always felt immensely supported by the older members I’ve interacted with in the JACL community and my hope is that more young members will also have this opportunity to network, learn and grow. I hope to see the organization having critical conversations and implementing an infrastructure poised to engage the next generation of youth leaders. 

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

In agreeance with current National Youth Representative Mieko Kuramoto, I believe that the NY/SC could be leveraged as a resource when soliciting financial support from grant- providing organizations. The JACL has a strong and developed structure for youth engagement and inter-generational programming is an area that can be highlighted. By including NY/SC members in conversations about how to seek support there is an opportunity to increase funding sources. Youth members are not a population best suited to be solicited for donations, but can be a focal point when requesting support to be directed towards. 

  • How would you develop and/or improve relations with the following groups including, but not limited to, youth groups, corporate sponsors, and NCAPA organizations? 

If there is one thing that I have learned from being involved with Japanese American community organizations, it is just that: we are a community. Effectively executed partnerships are a mutually beneficial opportunity to build member bases, accomplish activism on a greater level and expand into new spaces. Leveraging personal connections to have conversations on ways to collaborate is the first step to impactful relationship building. I personally can bring value as an active member of the Southern California Japanese American community with connections to the LGBTQ+ space, collegiate Nikkei organizations and former experience building connections on behalf of the USC Asian Pacific American Student Assembly as the External Community Chair in the greater Los Angeles APA space. 

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