JACCC is excited to announce its 8th Annual Community Spirit Awards, highlighting the tireless efforts of the unsung heroes of our community. As part of JACCC’s 39th Anniversary Celebration & Awards Dinner, we will be recognizing three individuals who are making a significant impact on our community through arts, activism, social services, or business. Nominations open January 1, 2019!
2018 community spirit award recipients
2018 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD RECIPIENTS
Craig Ishii has dedicated his career to the development of the next generation of Japanese American community leaders. In his various community roles, Craig has worked with thousands of youth over the last decade.
In 2011, he joined the founding team of Kizuna, a nonprofit with the mission of building a future for the Japanese American community through the education, empowerment and engagement of the next generation. Now in it’s 8th year of operation, Kizuna is amongst the largest Japanese American youth-development organizations in Southern California, with new expansions developing nationally.
During his tenure with Kizuna, Craig has led the organization’s development of its highly effective leadership development pipeline, a strategy which is lauded for its ability to create a unique age-specific experiences, and successive educational experiences for all ages of the next generation. This pipeline is responsible for the development of key new leadership within the Japanese American community. During this time, he also co-authored a children’s book entitled, Thank You Very Mochi, an engaging story about the importance of family relationships and cultural traditions.
Craig also served on the Board and was the previous Chair of the Little Tokyo Community Council, a neighborhood council of over 90 Little Tokyo nonprofits, businesses, residents and other community stakeholders successfully coordinating community concerns on a number of critical community issues. Previous to his work at Kizuna, he served as a Regional Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, a national civil rights organization. He was the youngest to serve in both of these positions.
As a community leader, Craig believes in creating cultural & historical awareness, a passion for community service, and ethical, respectful & competent leadership abilities amongst the next generation.
Craig earned his Masters in Public Administration with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management in 2010 and is a 2007 graduate of UCLA.
Born and raised in a multicultural Boyle Heights and coming of age during the late 60’s were
very important influences on Kathy Masaoka’s values and the direction of her life. After
graduating from UC Berkeley, she became involved with the Japanese American Community
Services-Asian Involvement (JACS-AI) office in Little Tokyo.
Kathy was part of the Worker Newcomers Committee which did outreach to workers in Little
Tokyo explaining their rights. She worked at the Little Tokyo Service Center, coordinating the
Nikkei Escort and Interpreter Program and continued to work with residents of the San Pedro
Firm Building as part of the Housing Committee until the LTSC Community Development
Corporation was formed.
Since 1980 she has been a part of the National Coalition for Redress & Reparations, now the
Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, which led a grassroots campaign to win redress for Japanese
Americans. Kathy was Co-chair of NCRR during the late 80’s, helping to lead outreach and
grassroots efforts, going to Washington D.C. with the 120 plus delegation in 1987.
Kathy continues to work with the Education Committee which conducted teacher workshops on
the film, “Stand Up for Justice” and preserved testimonies (both co-produced with Visual
Communications) from the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians or
Commission Hearings tapes from 1981. After 9/11, Kathy helped form the NCRR 9/11
Committee to build support with the Muslim and South Asian communities.
Little Tokyo is also where she is rooted as part of the Sustainable Little Tokyo project. Kathy
serves on the Board of LTSC, volunteers at Far East Lounge, enjoys yoga and tai chi, works on
poetry with Amy Uyematsu, and supports FandangObon which brings the JA, Latino, and
African American communities together. She has also performed with Great Leap projects,
“Memories of Boyle Heights” and “Yellow Pearl: Remix.”
Kathy taught for 30 years, mainly at a continuation high school in LAUSD located at All Peoples
in South Central Los Angeles. She is married to Mark Masaoka and have two children Dan
(married to Veronica) and Mayumi (married to Jibby/Tawon), and a newly born grandson,
Alan Miyatake was born to Archie and Takeko Miyatake in Los Angeles. Being a part of a
family business, he was around Little Tokyo all his whole life. Every activity revolved
around Little Tokyo and the JA community.
Alan has been the owner and photographer at Toyo Miyatake Studio since 1992. It feels like
he’s worked here his whole life. He actually started when he was 16 years old. Alan takes
pride in photographing 3 and 4 generations of families. Recently, he had the honor to
photograph Fujima Kansuma. It was a very historic studio moment as Fujima Kansuma has
been photographed by his grandfather, Toyo and his father, Archie. Alan and his daughter,
Sydney are currently working towards celebrating the studio’s 100 th anniversary in 2023.
As a youth, Alan played basketball for the Nishi Hongwanji Wanjis, only winning
sportsmanship trophies and for the Nisei Athletic Union Seiji Isomoto Laker Organization.
The studio sponsored many community teams back then. The Seiji Isomoto Scholarship
Organization gave scholarships for 20 years in which Alan participated.
Alan has been involved in several community activities such as the Girl Scout and Boy Scout
troops from Koyasan, Nishi, and Orange County, as well as coaching and photographing
many different basketball organizations. He also services numerous community cultural
groups with his photography services and volunteers at the Los Angeles Buddhist
Coordinating Council camp and the Saishin Dojo summer programs for kids.
Alan graduated college with a degree in photography and spent decades being mentored by
his grandfather, father, and uncles. He learned his craft, and more importantly, learned the
meaning of serving the community.
Being involved with JACCC, Nisei Week, Little Tokyo Historical Society, and other
community groups for so many years has enriched Alan’s life. He was fortunate to grow up
in Little Tokyo, spending almost every weekend around J Town.
Alan’s hobbies are hiking—he recently completed Half Dome in Yosemite, fly fishing,
playing basketball, and spending time with his wife, April and daughters, Sydney and