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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Kendee Yamaguchi, Executive Director, Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs

Kendee Yamaguchi is the Executive Director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. She was a director in the Office of Management and Administration at the White House. Prior to her appointment to the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, she worked in the Office of Public Liaison on the signing of the executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She has experience working as a television executive for one of the world’s largest networks and as a staff member in the Legislature. More recently, she worked as an ...

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Marilyn Tokuda, Co-Chair, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition

Marilyn Tokuda has been working for East West Players (EWP) since 2002 and is the organizations first Arts Education Director. She was one of the founding members of COLD TOFU, the first Asian American comedy group and served as its Artistic Director for six years. Marilyn also works with Oku & Associates in diversity training with Fortune 500 companies as well as representing East West Players on the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) which meets with television networks on an ongoing basis to evaluate the visibility and portrayals of Asian Pacific Americans in the media. Recently, she and Guy Aoki ...

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Lucy Walker, Director of The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Being that my mother is from Japan, I feel a connection to that country that many Japanese Americans do not. So when the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster hit in March, I felt it in my gut. I was worried not only about my relatives but also friends and strangers alike. At home, I made it point to take another look at my family’s earthquake disaster plan and make sure we all knew what to do. However, after only seven months, life has returned to normal for me.

That’s why when when I watched The Tsunami and the Cherry ...

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Frank Abe of Conscience and the Constitution

The generally accepted Japanese American narrative goes something like this: We came to this country. There was discrimination. Then Pearl Harbor happened. We went peacefully to the concentration camps and then while there we remained docile and peaceful. Some fought bravely in Europe and helped win the respect of the country which 50 years later resulted in reparations and an official apology.

While a lot of that is true, there was also a group of people in the 1940s that decided to fight for not only their rights but for all Americans. They questioned the constitutionality of what was going ...

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Mari Watanabe, Executive Director, Oregon Nikkei Endowment

Mari Watanabe is the Executive Director of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment (ONE), a non-profit that preserves the history and culture of the Japanese Americans in Oregon. Prior to joining ONE, Ms. Watanabe worked for 25 years in the apparel field with major brand labels where her work took her primarily to Asia, Europe and Central America. Since transitioning to work in the non-profit field and ONE in July 2008, she has she has expanded the educational focus to a more diverse audience which includes educating Japanese students about the World War II internment experience.

Appointed by Oregon State Governor Kitzhaber ...

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