Leslie A. Ito (Los Angeles, CA)
Ms. Leslie A. Ito is President and CEO of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) located in Los Angeles. Founded in 1971, JACCC is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. Previously, Ms. Ito was Program Director for Arts and Health at the California Community Foundation, and Director of Grant Programs at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. She has also served as Executive Director of Visual Communications, the nation's premiere Asian American media arts organization, and as Program Associate in the Media, Arts Culture Division at the Ford Foundation in New York. Ms. Ito served on the Board of Directors for Americans for the Arts, TELIC Arts Exchange in Los Angeles’ Chinatown and Films By Youth Inside (FYI Films), inspiring incarcerated youth through filmmaking. She is also a co-founder of the Los Angeles Asian American and Pacific Islander Giving Circle. A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Ito received an M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Fukuoka, Wakayama, Kumamoto.
Wendy Takahisa (New York, NY)
Ms. Wendy Takahisa is Executive Director, Office of Community Relations at Morgan Stanley in New York. There, she works to position Morgan Stanley as a leader in community development, managing relations with community groups, regulators and other stakeholders to understand and respond to community needs. For much of the past 30 years, her career has focused on ensuring that banks provide services to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and people. Previously, Ms. Takahisa held several positions over 20 years with Citigroup, including Managing Director, Global Compliance Programs. She has been on the Board of Directors of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for more than 20 years, and served as President of the Board of Directors for over 12 years. AAFE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Asian Americans and all of those in need. She is also an active member of the New York Japanese American community, participating with organizations such as the Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese Americans and Japanese in America, and the Japanese American Citizens League. Ms. Takahisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Tokyo and Osaka.
Ken Russell (Miami, FL)
Mr. Ken Russell was elected Commissioner of Miami’s District 2 in November 2015. He soon became the Vice Chair of the City Commission and the Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, and the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. His priorities include transit solutions, smart development, homelessness, green space, and affordable housing initiatives. Mr. Russell has begun work with Consul General Ken Okaniwa to restore Miami’s Ichimura Japanese Gardens. He has conducted business in over 40 countries and founded several charitable standup paddleboard events. He spent many years as a professional yo-yo player, a skill learned from his mother, one of Japan’s greatest yo-yo players. Mr. Russell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and studied International Business at Kwansei Gakuin Daigaku in Nishinomiya.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Nara, Tokyo.
Mr. Matsutaro Fukumitsu was born in Kanazawa city. He is the 13th president of Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery, which was founded in 1625. He graduated from Keio Business School after receiving his BA from the Department of Economics, Keio University.
Mr. Fukumitsu became the President of Fukumitsuya in 1985, and has been implementing various projects that introduce new ways to enjoy Japanese Sake in daily lives. He opened a restaurant in Tokyo, which is now known for receiving a Michelin Star. He is a supervisor of the Japanese Sake and Shochu Makers Association, director of the Kanazawa Craftwork Business Creation Agency, as well as a board member of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. He has received numerous awards, including the Kanazawa Cultural Activities Award (1999), the Ishikawa Design award (2001), and Medal with Blue Ribbon from the Japanese Government.
Dr. Masayuki Sasaki is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics, Doshisha University. He is also an
Emeritus Professor at Osaka City University. Dr. Sasaki received his Ph.D in Economics from Kyoto University, as well as his MA and BA.
Before assuming his current position at Doshisha University, Dr. Sasaki taught Economics at the Osaka University of Economics and Law, Kanazawa University, Ritsumeikan University and Osaka City University. He was also a visiting researcher at University of Bologna in Italy. His research focuses on creative cities, creative economy, cultural economics and urban economics. His works include: “Urban Regeneration through Cultural Creativity and Social Inclusion: Rethinking Creative City theory through a Japanese Case Study” (2010) and “Creative Cities of the 21st Century: Their Diversity and Network” (2016).
Irene Hirano Inouye
Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye is President of the U.S.-Japan Council, a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., dedicated to building people-to-people relationships between the United States and Japan. She is the former President and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, a position she held for twenty years. A recipient of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and an honorary doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University, Ms. Hirano Inouye has extensive experience in nonprofit administration, community education and public affairs with culturally diverse communities nationwide. Ms. Hirano Inouye’s professional and community activities include serving as Trustee and immediate past chair, Ford Foundation, Trustee and immediate past chair, Kresge Foundation; and Trustee, Washington Center. She was married to the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: paternal side from Fukuoka, maternal side from Tokyo.