On October 15, the U.S.-Japan Council hosted the 2020 Members Forum, as part of the 2020 USJC Signature Series. Emceed by Council Leaders Lisa Sakai (JALD ’18) and George Kobayashi (JALD ’20 selectee), members virtually gathered from East to West for two hours of discussions on biculturalism and identity, USJC committee reports, celebrations of accomplishments, and even networking breakout sessions.
As USJC President and CEO Suzanne Basalla emphasized in her opening remarks, members are the heart and soul of USJC, and this virtual event served as proof. USJC Associate Mana Nakagawa (ELP ’14) discussed the newly formed Outreach and Allyship Committee and Council Leader Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks (JALD ’04) moderated a panel on multiethnic identity and being “Japanese American-ish,” providing a platform for Council Leader Jose Keichi Fuentes (JALD ’06) and USJC Associates Kei Ashizawa (ELP ’11) and Christine Kitano (ELP ’16) to share their “multi-lives.” The panel reminded us that it is through people-to-people relationships that our life changing experiences really happen.
USJC Board Member and Chair of the Engagement Committee Tasha Yorozu (JALD ’16) shared USJC program statistics in the last year: 40 total events, 16 networking events, 10 educational events, our recurring signature leadership programs, happy hours, brown bag lunches and more. Tasha welcomed members to share their ideas with USJC Director of External Relations Wendy Abe and Membership Engagement and Regional Coordinator Merissa Nakamura as we continue to conduct virtual events into the next year.
Jennifer Hirano, daughter of USJC founding president, the late Irene Hirano Inouye, gave keynote remarks. She spoke about embracing the growing diversity in the Japanese American community, encouraged members to continue cultivating relationships for the purpose of providing innovative solutions to the problems that the virus brought to light, and her mother’s legacy of mentoring and developing the next generation of Japanese American leaders.
Finally, USJC Board Chair Phyllis Campbell thanked members for engaging in USJC programs, connecting, and really helping each other navigate through these uncertain times. Thank you once more to the members for taking the time to join the 2020 Members Forum and we look forward to connecting at our other upcoming virtual events.