Profile on Maya Harris

maya-harris-hillary-clinton-policy-advisorThe Hillary Clinton campaign on April 14 announced three new policy advisors, including Maya Harris (@mayaharris_). An article calls it the campaign’s “most interesting hire yet.”

Maya is of Indian descent on her mother’s side and Jamaican on her father’s side.

She comes to the Clinton campaign after serving as a Senior Fellow at American Progress and a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. Her focus was on promoting policies that strengthen the U.S. economy and democracy through greater inclusion of women and people of color.

Before her time at the Center for American Progress, she was the Vice President of Democracy, Rights and Justice and an officer of the Board of Trustees at the Ford Foundation, where she led a global team in investing more than $150 million annually in grants to promote effective governance, increase democratic participation, and protect human rights in the United States and in 10 countries around the world.

Maya received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School. After practicing law as a civil litigator at Jackson Tufts Cole and Black, LLP, and teaching law as an adjunct professor, Maya was recruited to serve as dean and chief executive officer of Lincoln Law School of San Jose—at age 29, she was reportedly one of the country’s youngest law school deans.

Maya subsequently joined PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, and later served as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, of Northern California, where she led the litigation, public education, advocacy, and organizing efforts of the nation’s largest ACLU affiliate.

Dowa no Omatsuri: A Festival of Children’s Stories

Originally posted on San Francisco Japantown Foundation:

2015 Dowa Poster Final SMLThe children of Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF) will present their annual theater production and auction, “Dowa no Omatsuri: A Festival of Children’s Stories” on Sunday, March 8, 2015, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon Street in San Francisco.

Well-known community personalities Ms. June-ko Nakagawa and Mr. Benh Nakajo will serve as co-hosts for the theater program.

Nihonmachi Little Friends is a previous grantee of the San Francisco Japantown Foundation. Ms. Nakagawa serves on the foundation’s board of directors.

Featured will be GenRyu Arts and the students of NLF. The preschoolers will present their version of the children’s tales of “Three Little Pigs, Part 2” and “Rainbow Express”. The elementary school-age children will perform an original story, “The Magic Diary”. A silent auction beginning at 12pm in the lobby will precede the 1:30 performance and will feature a special performance of live music by The Shut-Ins, a mostly…

View original 416 more words

Guest Post by Tamlyn Tomita: UZUMASA LIMELIGHT a Must-See

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT is a Japanese movie that my mom and I absolutely loved.

The film is only playing for a week starting tonight, December 5, in Los Angeles. Screenings will only be extended if it brings in audiences. I rarely, if ever, tell people to go see a film or watch a TV show, but this one is special.

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT is a Japanese movie about a kirare-yaku, an actor who acts in samurai films and specializes in sword-fighting and dying and mentors a young actress. If you are a fan of chambara and jidaigeki, or samurai films, this film was made for you.

UZUMASA is directed by Ken Ochiai, a Japanese director who studied film at USC and stars Seizo Fukumoto, who has been acting for 50 years specializing in this cinema art form, but UZUMASA is his very first starring role. It’s also the first film for the lead actress, Chihiro Yamamoto.

The film is subtitled “Hope for the Next Generation” and is sweet, touching, and thoughtful. Very Japanese in tone and storytelling, it is beautifully telling of the Japanese heart and soul.

UZUMASA is in Japanese with English subtitles and in very limited release playing at: Laemmle Royal in Santa Monica, Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, and Edwards Westpark 8 in Irvine. Only 20 theaters in North America are screening the film from now through December 11. Screenings after these dates will be subject to change. Check theaters for showtimes.

Please go to for more information. Thanks for reading, and I hope you get to see UZUMASA LIMELIGHT!

~ Tamlyn Tomita

Aarti Kohli is the new deputy director at Asian Law Caucus

Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has a new Deputy Director. Aarti Kohli will fill the position that Chris Punongbayan vacated when he became co-director and then executive director of ALC, the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income AAPI communities. Aarti joins the Caucus just in time to attend the 6th Annual Advancing Justice Conference in her new leadership role with one of the Advancing Justice affiliates. The conference, AAPIs Standing Together for Racial Justice, is from Sept. 25-26 in Washington, DC.

Below is text the email scheduled for release on Sept. 3.

Dear Friends,

Kohli_AartiOn behalf of our staff and board, I am delighted to announce that Aarti Kohli has joined Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus as our new Deputy Director. Aarti Kohli is an experienced nonprofit lawyer, manager and philanthropic adviser with more than fifteen years of experience in issues impacting low-income and undocumented immigrants.

In her most recent role as Principal of Kohli Strategic Consulting, Aarti managed a project on the politics of demographic change and immigration reform at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. In 2013, she analyzed and conducted advocacy on pending immigration reform legislation in Congress with various national organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center and the Emerson Collective.

Prior to starting her own consulting practice, Aarti was the Director of Immigration Policy at the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley School of Law where she led the institute’s immigration initiative on issues of equity for immigrant families, particularly access to education, employment and legal protections in the deportation process. Formerly, she worked on a range of issues, from bankruptcy to voting rights, as Judiciary Committee counsel to Representative Howard Berman (D-CA). Before working for Congress she served as Assistant Legislative Director at UNITE union in Washington, DC where she lobbied on behalf of low-income garment workers.

I am very excited about the energy, ideas, and skills that Aarti brings to Advancing Justice – ALC. Her commitment to underserved communities on the local and national level allows us to continue and expand our more than four decades of social justice advocacy. Please join me in welcoming Aarti by sending us a tweet or posting your message on our Facebook page!

In Solidarity,

Chris Punongbayan
Executive Director

APIAVote Seeking Storytellers

Christine Chen, APIAVote, on C-SPAN

The fantastic nonprofit APIAVote is looking for storytellers to help write and produce stories about Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and the impact of election laws on AAPI communities.

APIAVote is a nonpartisan national nonprofit that mobilizes AAPIs in electoral and civic participation. The organization is building a national communications team led by a professional working journalist who will also serve as the team’s editor and mentor. The team will craft and distribute pieces to various ethnic and mainstream media.

Ideal candidates are journalism students or individuals who have experience in writing for any form of media (print/audio/video/online/photography). Individuals can work remotely. The team will develop stories across the country.

Interested individuals should submit a resume and work samples to by August 31, 2014.

Japanese American state legislator upsets incumbent Hawai’i governor


Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie (on the right) congratulates opponent State Senator David Ige (second from right) on Ige’s victory in the state’s Democratic primary on August 9, 2014.

Saturday’s primary election in Hawai’i saw AAPI candidates win impressive victories in top races. How do these races impact national AAPI politics?

Voter turnout was extremely low likely due to Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the islands on Friday, and the impending arrival of Hurricane Julio. However, absentee voter turnout was up 12 percent.

State Senator David Ige, a veteran Japanese Amercian state legislator, upset incumbent Governor Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary. The last time an incumbent governor lost a primary was 1962. Hawai’i’s first governor, Republican William F. Quinn, was defeated by Democrat John A. Burns, a former Delegate to Congress. Burns led a new coalition of labor and Japanese Americans that turned the 50th state blue after years of Republican domination.

Although he chaired the powerful Senate Ways and Means committee, Ige was not a household name. Despite a campaign war chest a fraction of the size of Abercrombie’s, Ige leveraged a strong grassroots campaign to tap into constituent dissatisfaction with the governor’s style and controversial decisions. Ige notably had the support of former governors George Ariyoshi, the first AAPI governor in the U.S., and Benjamin Cayetano, the first Filipino American governor.

AAPI electoral power is still strong in Hawai’i, but voters don’t cast their ballots strictly along ethnic lines. Gov. Abercrombie counted numerous AAPIs as supporters, including former State Senator Randy Iwase, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006.

Ige will meet Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, in the general election. Should Ige win the general in the heavily Democratic state, he will be one of the few AAPI governors in the union. Ige hasn’t played much on the national scene before and likely lacks ambitions for higher office. One of the most tech-savvy officeholders in the country, I suspect that we will see his influence more in public sector innovation than on the national AAPI front.

Sitting Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui, a Japanese American from Maui, comfortably won his primary and will join Ige on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket in the general election. It will mark the first time since 1974’s ticket of George Ariyoshi and Jean King that two Japanese Americans were the top-ticket team of any political party in Hawai’i. Governor Abercrombie picked Tsutsui as LG to replace Brian Schatz, who was appointed U.S. Senator following Daniel Inouye’s passing.

Senator Schatz faced a vigorous primary challenge from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. As of this writing, the race was still too close to call with Schatz leading with only 1,635 votes and a number of precincts still to vote because of polling place shutdowns due to the tropical storm.

Senator Inouye asked Governor Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa as his successor, but the governor instead went with Schatz, his LG at the time. Inouye loyalists were shocked at the governor’s decision, but others supported Governor Abercrombie’s selection.

Abercrombie later inflamed the issue by seemingly calling into the question the validity of Senator Inouye’s wish, raising questions about whether Japanese American voters would respond with support for Ige. It’s not clear how much this issue played into Abercrombie’s defeat, or in the Hanabusa-Schatz match-up.

If Hanabusa crosses the finish line ahead of Schatz, she will join Senator Mazie Hirono, and Hawai’i would have two AAPI women Senators representing it in Washington. Hirono and Hanabusa have been comfortable appearing on the national scene, appearing at progressive gatherings like Netroots Nation.

All the top candidates for Hanabusa’s seat in Congress were AAPIs. State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (Filipina/Korean), State Representative Mark Takai (Japanese), and Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang (Chinese) ran strong campaigns and gave voters distinctly different options. Kim was the early-on favorite and the fundraising powerhouse. Takai, a 20-year veteran of the state house and a Lt. Colonel in the Hawaii National Guard, eventually prevailed and will likely win the general.

If elected, Takai will likely be quite interested in the national AAPI political movement. His previous engagements on the national scene were largely as an advocate for veterans and our servicewomen and men. But once he makes the transition from being the political majority to the ranks of the politically under-represented, Takai will quickly see roles he can play in advancing AAPI empowerment.

25th Anniversary of UCLA Granting Tenure to Don Nakanishi

Photo of Don NakanishiTwenty-five years ago today (May 25, 1989), a widely watched three-year multi-racial struggle involving thousands of supporters came to a successful end with the granting of tenure to Don Nakanishi at UCLA. Prominent civil rights attorney Dale Minami led the legal fight, Dale Shimasaki coordinated the legislative advocacy, and Glenn Omatsu and many others organized student and grassroots support.

The fight for Nakanishi’s tenure is widely regarded as a “landmark movement in academia,” and has been taught nationally as an important case study for student-community mobilization. A year after gaining tenure, Nakanishi was appointed Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and helped to develop it as the largest and most prominent program of its kind.

Nakanishi retired in 2009 after 20 years as the Center Director and 35 years as a professor at UCLA.

In the video below, he speaks on May 20, 2010, about his writings and Asian American politics at a gathering celebrating the UCLA Asian American Studies Center 40th anniversary.

Be the First Statewide AAPI Outreach Coordinator for the Texas Democrats

The Texas Democratic Party is looking for a Statewide AAPI Outreach Coordinator. This is the first time that the state party is devoting a staff position for this role, says Ramey Ko, AAPIs constantly critique our political parties about the need to invest more in our communities. Well, the Texas Democrats are doing just that. 

dem_party_logo_150pxThe Statewide AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Outreach Coordinator will be primarily responsible for supporting the parties organizing efforts within the AAPI community. The Outreach Coordinator will oversee the creation, implementation and execution of the elements of the political outreach campaign plan. The Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for executing a program that builds relationships, tracks progress to goals and develops and executes metrics while ensuring reporting and accountability to senior staff.

In addition to the above responsibilities, the Outreach Coordinator will build relationships with community leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, small business owners, civic organizations, seek endorsements and leverage support to ensure program success and work with partners to ensure high turnout during GOTV.

Daily travel is expected and required to maximize the support for our campaign.

The Outreach Coordinator must have strong communication skills including an ability to talk to large groups of people, be excited to work as part of an accountable team and have a passion for electing Democrats. A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of one electoral cycles of work experience required. Applicants without these minimum requirements will not be considered.

To apply, please send a PDF resume to List salary requirements in your email. Please no phone calls. Applicants accepted on a rolling basis but no later than May 15, 2014. This position can be located in Dallas, Houston or Austin.

The Texas Democratic Party is an equal opportunity employer and it is our policy to recruit, hire, train, promote and administer any and all personnel actions without regard to sex, race, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, veteran status, gender identity or expression, ethnic identity or physical disability, or any other legally protected basis.

Women and members of historically underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

Launch of the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archives at CSUS

The following is text from an email sent by Kenji Taguma, President of the Nichi Bei Foundation, and Editor-in-Chief of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

I hope you are well. I’m writing to let you know about two events related to the launch of the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archives at California State University, Sacramento, put together by Prof. Greg Mark and others. Although I’m not directly involved with these events, I’m happy to help Greg spread the word of anything related to my mentor, longtime Nichi Bei Times/Weekly contributing writer, and founding Nichi Bei Foundation board member.

The first is a panel today (Friday, April 18) at the Association for Asian American Studies conference at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco, 1-2:30 p.m., in the Larkspur room: “Preserving Our History: The Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archive.” This features Dr. Gregory Mark, Dr. James Sobredo, Chao Vang, Marietess Masulit, Caitlyn Imura and John De Guzman. (Sorry for the short notice).

The next event is the official launch of the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archives at CSUS: Friday, May 2, 2014, 3-5 p.m., 
Forest Suite, University Union, 6000 J St., CSU Sacramento. With four decades of college instruction, Professor Wayne Maeda was one of California’s foremost scholars on Japanese American history and was a founding member of the Ethnic Studies Center and Asian American Studies. As part of his legacy, the Wayne Maeda Asian American Studies Archive was established for future generations of scholars and researchers, in an effort to serve higher education and preserve the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Flyers for the two previously mentioned events are attached.

On the one-year anniversary of Wayne’s passing, I posted my eulogy of him here:

A video tribute I produced for Wayne’s Memorial Service last March, which I modified for the Florin JACL event that honored him, could be found here:

Also of note, in honor of Wayne, the Nichi Bei Foundation has started a Wayne Maeda Educational Fund, essentially a vehicle to fund our educational programming such as our ever-expanding annual Films of Remembrance event, which had close to 500 attendees this year.

Hope to see you at any of these events.



Kenji G. Taguma
President / Nichi Bei Foundation /
Editor-in-Chief / Nichi Bei Weekly /
Co-Chair / Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival /


Dr. Wayne Maeda’s flyer.pdf