Meet the Program Staff

Stephanie Nitahara is the Interim Associate Director for the Japanese American Citizens League, a national membership organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Asian American and Pacific Islanders and all others who are affected by injustice and bigotry.  Founded in 1929, JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization with over 100 chapters in 26 states.  She is the first yonsei/fourth generation Japanese American to serve in the Executive Director role in JACL’s history.

Working in Little Tokyo, Stephanie is passionate about proactive preservation and intersectional building of the Little Tokyo and greater Japanese American communities.  Her work is grounded in her grandparents’ World War II incarceration experience and she is passionate about preserving their legacy through community education and advocacy on contemporary civil rights issues.  She serves on the Little Tokyo Community Council Board, Los Angeles Day of Remembrance Planning Committee, and was a co-chair and logistics team lead for Okaeri 2016: A Nikkei LGBTQ Gathering.

Bill Yoshino served as the Executive Director and Midwest Director for JACL. Mr. Yoshino served on the staff of JACL for over thirty years, and worked on the JACL Redress Campaign during the 1980s. He has made numerous presentations on the Japanese American incarceration experience and participated in producing three revisions of JACL’s highly acclaimed curriculum guide, “A Lesson in American History: The Japanese American Experience.”

Rebecca Ozaki is a proud Japanese-Filipina American dedicated to uplifting marginalized communities and building an equitable society for all. She currently serves as the Program Coordinator for JACL and as Youth Co-Chair on the board of the JACL Chicago Chapter. Through speaking engagements at campuses, community events, and media platforms, she continues to share her family’s story of incarceration to ensure that lessons of the past are not forgotten. In the Fall, Rebecca will attend the Jane Addams School of Social Work in Chicago.

June Aochi Berk was a 10 year-old child living in Los Angeles at the outbreak of World War II. Ms. Berk and her family were temporarily incarcerated at the Santa Anita Racetrack prior to being incarcerated at the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas. After living approximately ten years in Denver following the war, Ms. Berk returned to Los Angeles. Today, she serves as a docent at the Japanese American National Museum where she relates her wartime experiences to visitors.

Alan Nishio retired from California State University, Long Beach after a career teaching in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies and serving as the Associate Vice President of Student Services. Within the community, Mr. Nishio was a founder and co-chair of the National Coalition of Redress/Reparations, an organization that played a role in the redress campaign for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Mr. Nishio is also a past president of the California Conference for Equality and Justice, a leading human rights organization in the state. Mr. Nishio’s current community service includes being the president of the board of the Little Tokyo Service Center, the leading Asian Pacific American community development corporation in the region.

Alison M. De La Cruz is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist, producer, facilitator, educator, cultural space keeper and space maker. De La Cruz has collaborated with a broad range of artists, ensembles, administrators, educational and non-profit arts organizations to produce programs and fundraising events to create new artistic work, educational programs or cultural spaces of significance to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander, Latinx American, African American, LGBTQ, youth, and immigrant communities in Los Angeles. A native Angeleno, De La Cruz has been a facilitator helping diverse communities talking with each other since 1990. De La Cruz served as the Narrator and Associate Producer for GRASSROOTS RISING: ASIAN AMERICAN WORKING FAMILIES, a documentary produced by Visual Communications that premiered in 2005. De La Cruz is the Director of Performing Arts & Community Engagement at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

Kanji Sahara was born in Hiroshima and came to Los Angeles when he was half year old. During WWII, his family was in Santa Anita, Jerome and Rohwer.   In 1945, his family resettled in Chicago. He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and PhD from Northwestern University.

Dr. Sahara worked for General Dynamics in Pomona and was an Engineering Supervisor.   He and wife Jane (Sakata) raised Richard and Judy in Claremont. Kanji was President of the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center. Upon his retirement Kanji and Jane moved to Torrance. With his ukulele, he has been leading the Sing-A-Long at the Gardena Adult Day Care Center for 16 years. He received the Gardena Volunteer of the Year Award in 2013.  Kanji belongs to GLA JACL, NCRR, Manzanar Committee, Faith UMC and a JANM docent.   He was Project Director of the Tuna Canyon Traveling Exhibit.

Comments are closed