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2019 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD RECIPIENTS

JOIN US AT OUR 39TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION ON SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2019.

 

TRACI KATO-KIRIYAMA
2019 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE


 
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traci kato-kiriyama (she/they) is an award-winning artist, community organizer, and cultural producer.   traci is an actor and principal writer for PULLproject Ensemble, and has received recognition from several institutions including the Exchange and Continuation awards from the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Their most recent show, TALES OF CLAMOR, is a theatrical call to action and a journey of when deafening silence evolves to collective noise.  The play utilizes circus, movement and multimedia including archival video footage from the 1981 CWRIC Hearings. TALES OF CLAMOR just had its world premiere, produced by the JACCC in the Aratani Theatre Black Box - playing to a wide spectrum, from a deeply diverse Nikkei audience and dedicated theatre-goers to members of Muslim, Jewish and POC communities, to the literary, activist, and circus communities.  She is a steering committee member of Vigilant Love, member of Nikkei Progressives, former staff of JANM and LTSC, and current Director & Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project (presenter of art+community series, Tuesday Night Cafe, now in its 21st year and the longest-running Asian American mic series in the country).

traci was the springtime Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Grand Park, Artist-in-Residence for the AARC at Pomona College and was a guest lecturer at Pitzer College. For over the last two decades, she has toured to hundreds of venues throughout the country [Presenters incl. The Getty Foundation (L.A.), Skirball Cultural Center (L.A.), The Smithsonian (D.C.), The Ford Amphitheater Inside The Ford (L.A.), LaMaMa Cabaret (NYC), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia), EnWave Theatre (Toronto)].Her writing and work have been featured by numerous print and online publications including NPR; PBS; C-SPAN; Elle.com; The Hollywood Reporter; Entropy; Regent Press; Heyday Books; Tia Chucha Press; Chapparal Canyon Press.  Her forthcoming book of writing & poetry will be released by Writ Large Press.


DOROTHY MATSUOKA
2019 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE


 
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Dorothy Matsuoka grew up in a small rural town in Central California named Reedley.  It was a very community spirited place. Her friends and activities were centered between Church and Community.

She carried that with her when she moved to So Cal and went to CSULB and graduated with a BS in Physical Therapy.  She married and has 3 sons.

Starting out at Orange County Buddhist Church she wanted her boys to have a sense of Community and Culture. There were very many opportunities to join in activities there.  She became a Sunday School Teacher and continues to work with Dharma School for over 25 years.  She enjoyed working with the seniors and joined Project Kokoro. Later she developed a Craft Workshop, a place for seniors to gather, make projects, and to fund raise for OCBC.

While working with OCBC, she was introduced to Keiro and their many programs.  She worked to share educational opportunities that Keiro offered as a partnership with the JA Community.  Later she trained to be a Memory Kai and Matter of Balance Trainer.  Currently she is working with the Nikkei Network group to expand Keiro’s role in the Orange County  Japanese American Community.  She loves keeping busy with travel, crafts, family and friends.  Eating and cooking are favorite hobbies along with reading and watching TV.

She wants to thank her friends and peers for this humbling nomination. ARIGATO!


RONALD N. OHATA
2019 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE


 
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Ronald Noboru Ohata was born in Nagoya, Japan, and immigrated with his family to the Uptown Area of Los Angeles at the age of three. While his mother was Yamaguchi-ken born, his Nisei father and Issei grandfather had been deported to Japan in 1946. Upon their return to L.A., they reunited with the half of the family that remained. His parents owned Fumi and Fuji Cafés which served as centers of the Nikkei community.

Ron was student body president at Berendo Jr. HS and L.A. HS. At UCLA and UC Hastings School of Law he was involved in the activism of the era, including ensuring that affirmative action programs remained intact.

As a lawyer, Ron practiced primarily in the public sector. First as a L.A. County Deputy District Attorney, then as a trial attorney for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, in private practice, and then as a Federal Immigration Judge.  As an Immigration Judge, he demonstrated public service with compassion and fairness. He participated in pro bono programs and mentored immigration lawyers.

He was active in the Japanese American Bar Association (1978-1995) served on its Board and as President, served on the ABA National Institute of Minority Lawyers (1980-82), and served as the initial chair of the national Asian bar. He was active in JACL Pacific Southwest District, serving as their Legal Counsel (1985-1994) and JACL Pacific Citizen Board Chair. He provided probono services to the Nisei Week Committee, was an early supporter of the Japan American Student Conference, UCLA Asian Support Group, JACCC, JANM, the US-Japan Council, Women’s Eye, and Kizuna.

Ron’s singular efforts (1985-2007) to build the Teramachi Housing for seniors, served as a catalyst for housing and economic development in Little Tokyo and bridged the surrounding Arts District and Downtown Historic core. His volunteer efforts with the Southern and Eastern District Buddhist Council, Buddhist Churches of America, and Ekoji and Senshin Buddhist Temples contributed to the religious sustainability of the Japanese American Buddhist community.

Ron’s compassionate and passionate commitment of service to the community, both to organizations and to individuals, and his quietly identifying a problem and working towards a solution helped sustain his community and created opportunities for others to succeed. With him in this effort are his wife, Fujie, and his daughter, Lauren.


 

Thank you too all who participated—nominations for 2019 are closed.

CLICK HERE FOR PAST COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD RECIPIENTS


2018

CRAIG ISHII
KATHY MASAOKA
ALAN MIYATAKE

2017
BETH FUJISHIGE
KANJI SAHARA
EVELYN YOSHIMURA

2016
YASUKO SAKAMOTO
GORDON TANI
CAROL TANITA

2015
RON DYO
PATTY ITO NAGANO
GLENN TANAKA

2014
VICTOR FUKUHARA
NANCY KIKUCHI
MICHAEL OKAMURA

2013
IKU KIRIYAMA
LELAND LAU
DIANA ONO

2012
JUNE AOCHI BERK
RUMIKO NAKAANI
AMY PHILLIPS KUSHIGEMACHI

2018 Community Spirit Award recipients Craig Ishii, Kathy Masaoka, and Alan Miyatake.

2018 Community Spirit Award recipients Craig Ishii, Kathy Masaoka, and Alan Miyatake.

2017 Community Spirit Award recipients Beth Fujishige, Kanji Sahara, Evelyn Yoshimura, and 37th Anniversary Celebration Chair David Yamahata

2017 Community Spirit Award recipients Beth Fujishige, Kanji Sahara, Evelyn Yoshimura, and 37th Anniversary Celebration Chair David Yamahata

2016 Community Spirit Award Recipients Yasuko Sakamoto, Gordon Tani, and Carol Tanita

2016 Community Spirit Award Recipients Yasuko Sakamoto, Gordon Tani, and Carol Tanita

2015 Community Spirit Award Recipients Glenn Tanaka, Patty Ito Nagano, and Ron Dyo with JACCC President & CEO Leslie Ito

2014 Community Spirit Award Recipients Victor Fukuhara, Nancy Kikuchi, and Michael Okamura with JACCC President & CEO Leslie Ito