APA Spotlight

"APA Spotlight" is a regular interview series on 8asians.com by Koji Steven Sakai interviewing Asian American community leaders from around the country.
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Ellen Somekawa, Executive Director, Asian Americans United

Ellen Somekawa is a third-generation Japanese American from Minneapolis. There she was an activist in the Asian American student movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-nuclear movement and the movement against uranium mining and for indigenous land rights in the Black Hills.

Ellen received her M.A. in history at Penn, where her research focused on Southeast Asian refugee resettlement in Philadelphia. She was active in the Asian American Student Alliance, a group that successfully fought for Penn to change the offensive name of the “Oriental” Studies Department and to initiate the beginnings of its Asian American Studies program.

She joined ...

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Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George & Sakaye Aratani Chair, UCLA Asian American Studies Center

Lane Ryo Hirabayashi is professor in the Asian American Studies Department, and affiliate of the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA, where he is also the inaugural “George & Sakaye Aratani Chair in Japanese American Internment, Redress, and Community.”

Lane earned an M.A. (1976) and then a Ph.D. (1981) in Socio-cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Subsequently, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center in 1981-82. Lane is author of over thirty scholarly articles, as well as author/editor of nine books and anthologies, including Japanese American Resettlement Through the Lens ...

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Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center

Karen K. Narasaki is the President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), one of the nation’s leading voices advocating for the rights and interests of Asian Americans.

Ms. Narasaki serves in a number of leadership positions in the civil rights and immigrant rights communities. She is vice chairwoman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest and broadest civil rights coalition. She heads the Rights Working Group, a coalition of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant rights groups working to address the erosion of civil liberties and basic rights of ...

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media en

Gina Hiraizumi, Actress/Singer

Gina Hiraizumi is one of the hardest working people in Hollywood. I’ve been a big fan of her from afar but recently we were both invited to Japan for a conference and I found out that not only is she a super talented actor/singer, but also one of the most down to earth and funny people I know.

Gina has been in countless television shows, sung the national anthem all around the country, and is currently working on her first music album.

I sat down with Gina for a few moments and asked her 8Questions:

Tell us a ...

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community en

Bill Watanabe, Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center

Bill Watanabe, for the past 30 years, has been the Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), a multipurpose social welfare agency in the Little Tokyo district in downtown Los Angeles. Starting as a one-person office, Bill, together with the Board of Directors, has developed a comprehensive program of social services, housing and community development activities, with a combined staff of over 150 employees and hundreds of volunteers.

Bill received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal State Northridge. In 1972, he made a career change and received his Masters in Social Work from UCLA and has ...

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