Tom Ikeda, Executive Director
Tom is the founding Executive Director of Densho. He is a sansei (third generation Japanese American) who was born and raised in Seattle. Tom’s parents and grandparents were incarcerated during World War II at Minidoka, Idaho. In addition to leading the organization over the last 20 years, Tom has conducted over 200 video-recorded, oral history interviews with Japanese Americans. Prior to working at Densho, Tom was a General Manager at Microsoft Corporation in the Multimedia Publishing Group. Tom also worked as a research engineer developing hemodializers (artificial kidneys) with Cordis Dow Corporation and as a financial analyst at the Weyerhaeuser Company. Tom graduated from the University of Washington with a BS in Chemical Engineering, BA in Chemistry and an MBA. He has received numerous awards for his historical contributions, including the Humanities Washington Award for outstanding achievement in the public humanities, the National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium award for Education, and the Microsoft Alumni Fellows Award.
Sara Beckman, Assistant Digital Archivist
Sara graduated from Indiana State University with a BS in History and from University of Washington with a Masters in Library and Information Science. She moved to the Seattle area in 2010 and loves her adopted home. Sara knew almost nothing about Japanese American incarceration upon joining Densho as an intern in 2015. Now she hopes to help spread awareness to the wider public with her work on the Densho Digital Repository. Before joining the staff at Densho, she interned with several other digital archives, including Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, The Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library, The South Asian American Digital Archive, and The Early Seattle Theatre History Project.
Caitlin Oiye Coon, Digital Archivist
Caitlin is a yonsei who was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Her interest in the incarceration stems from her paternal family’s experiences at Tule Lake incarceration camp. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in History and from Western Washington University with an MA in History/Archives and Records Management. Caitlin also earned her Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Before joining Densho she worked at Windermere, Lane Powell, and, most recently, King County where she focused much of her time on electronic records management systems.
Geoff Froh, Deputy Director
Though trained as a social scientist, Geoff has over 15 years of experience developing technology and information management strategies for a variety of for-profit and non-profit ventures, ranging from small think-tanks and startups to the Department of State, the Adobe Corporation and his Holiness the Dalai Lama. Most recently, Geoff served as the Chief Information Officer of Health Alliance International, an NGO engaged in global health work. Born and raised in the Washington, DC metro area, Geoff has a BA in Asian Studies from the University of Virginia and an MS in Information Management from the University of Washington. His interests range from information science to political thought in 19th century Japan, and—when he is not chained to a computer —Geoff enjoys engaging in ill-conceived mountain-biking expeditions.
Jen Fukutaki, Fund Development Director
Growing up in Texas, Jen had no exposure to information about the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. After moving to CA and meeting her husband, she received first-hand accounts of the camps from her father-in-law and some of his 12 siblings. The Fukutaki family lived in Pasadena when WWII began and were subsequently sent to Gila River. Jen deeply appreciates the access to history that Densho preserves and shares, as well as Densho’s voice in preventing discriminatory practices in today’s society. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from TCU and an MLIS from the University of Washington. Jen is utilizing her background in advertising, marketing research, education, libraries, and fundraising to help build Densho’s resources for a sustainable future.
Danielle Higa, Fund Development Manager
Born and raised in Seattle, Danielle is fourth generation Japanese American (Yonsei). During her freshman year at University of Washington, she interviewed her grandmother, Hatsumi (Hats) Higa, about her war and camp experience. This was the first time Hats spoke about living in Minidoka as a teen. The experience inspired Danielle to attend the Minidoka Pilgrimage in 2005 and to major in American Ethnic Studies. Danielle spent the past five years working at the University of Washington with the Regional Advancement and College of Arts & Sciences Advancement teams. Danielle feels very fortunate to come back to working within the Japanese American community and is especially excited and thankful to join the Densho team. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and most recently snowboarded in the French Alps this past winter. Danielle is planning to snowboard on her next trip in the mountains of Hokkaido, Japan.
Dana Hoshide, Operations Director
Dana is a Yonsei who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, but grew up in Seattle. She first learned about the incarceration in part from her maternal and paternal grandparents who were incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka camps during World War II. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in American Ethnic Studies and has worked for Densho ever since. Her work with the project includes videography, digitizing visual history interviews, and processing interview transcripts and historic photographs and documents.
Janet Hayakawa, Contract Education Specialist and Workshop Facilitator
Janet is an education specialist who has helped Densho develop teacher workshops since 2010. Janet is Japanese American, born and raised in Seattle. Her parents and grandparents were incarcerated during World War II at Minidoka, Idaho, and Tule Lake, California. Prior to working with Densho, Janet prepared a study on the achievement gap for the Washington State Legislature, facilitated school reform efforts with schools in Washington and Oregon, and was involved in the production of over 400 educational television programs—including hosting a series, New Tools: Teaching with Technology—which was distributed nationally. She has taught students and teachers across the country through her work at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Education Development Center, public television’s Thirteen/WNET, and the Creative Arts Team at New York University. Janet started her career as a classroom teacher in the Seattle Public Schools.
Geoffrey Jost, Senior Software Developer
Geoffrey graduated from California State University Fresno with a BA in Linguistics and minors in Music and Japanese, and a year’s study at Waseda University in Tokyo. He then joined the JET Program and taught English in Kawai-cho, Nara Prefecture, following that with a Masters in Library & Information Studies from the University of California Los Angeles. Because working in a library would be too obvious, he then became a web developer, cutting his teeth in the computer games industry before moving to the Japanese American National Museum, where he was the primary software developer for all the Museum’s web sites including DiscoverNikkei.org. His first computer was a TRS-80 Model I.
Philip Kikawa, Digitization Technician/IT Support Specialist
Philip graduated from Roger Williams University with a BA in History and minors in East Asian Studies and Philosophy, and was working for the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle before coming to Densho. He has a passion for both historical preservation and technology and is happiest when either conducting historical research or when tinkering with computer hardware. Philip’s grandparents were incarcerated during World War II at Manzanar and Tule Lake, and he is thrilled and humbled to be a part of Densho.
Micah Merryman, Digitization Intern
Micah is currently a graduate student at the University of Washington pursuing a Master’s degree in Museology (Museum Studies). She graduated from Willamette University with a B.A. in History. Her studies at Willamette focused on Japanese American history, culminating in a thesis on the Nikkei community around Salem, Oregon. Before moving to Seattle to attend UW, Micah worked at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland, Oregon as a Digitization Specialist funded by an Oregon Heritage Grant. Her work there was digitizing part of ONLC’s collection for Densho’s Digital Repository. The stories and histories of Japanese Americans are what drew Micah to a History degree, and she wants to share that same inspiration with others.
Brian Niiya, Content Director
Brian is a Sansei born and raised in Southern California to Nisei parents who were born and raised in Hawai’i. His maternal grandfather was one of the small number of Japanese Americans from Hawai’i who were interned, and his mother’s family went to Japan on an exchange ship during the war. Brian is a graduate of Harvey Mudd College (a hard core science and engineering school, Mudd has somehow produced two well known Japanese Americanists, both of whom once worked for Densho) and holds an M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA. His professional life has been dedicated to Japanese American public history and information management, having held various positions with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i that have involved managing collections, curating exhibitions, developing public programs, and producing videos, books, and websites. He has also written widely read newspaper columns for the Rafu Shimpo, Nikkei West, and the Pacific Citizen and edited the Encyclopedia of Japanese American History, published in 1993 with a second edition in 2000. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Naoko Tanabe, Office Manager/Event Coordinator
Naoko was born in Kobe, Seattle’s sister city, and raised in Kyoto, Japan. She graduated from Kobe College with a BA in English and worked in Osaka before she came to the U.S. in 1987. She manages Densho’s fundraising events, processes financial transactions and reports, and translates materials.
Natasha Varner, Communications and Public Engagement Director
Natasha is a historian and writer with a PhD in history from the University of Arizona. She edits and contributes to the Densho blog, manages Densho’s print and digital communications, media relations, community collaborations, public events, and contributes to strategic planning and fundraising efforts. She also oversees and co-facilitates teacher workshops for Densho’s new curriculum initiative, “Examining Racism and Discrimination Through Oral History.” At Densho and beyond, she is most interested in researching and writing about the historical intersections of race, gender, representation, and labor struggle.
Nina Wallace, Communications Coordinator
Nina is a yonsei who grew up in Phoenix but has lived in Seattle long enough to call it home. Her maternal grandmother, one of six children to the only Japanese American family in her small Eastern Washington town, was not incarcerated during WWII but still remembers the day her father was arrested by the FBI. Nina graduated from Seattle University with a stereotypically millennial degree in English and Philosophy—and is grateful to Densho for hiring her in spite of this. She helps to manage Densho’s social media presence, publicity, and community outreach, in addition to frequent contributions to the Densho blog and fundraising assistance.
Virginia Yamada, Visual History Program Manager/Grants Manager
Virginia’s first meaningful exposure to the incarceration came from the firsthand accounts and poems of her mother-in-law: a human rights activist and gifted storyteller, who was incarcerated as a teenager at Minidoka with her mother and three brothers, while her father was held at Crystal City. In college, Virginia turned her interest in numerous social science subjects into a BA in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. Presently, she likes to think that this background is put to good use as she manages Densho’s grants and coordinates the visual history interviews.
Ron Tanemura, Board President
Ron Tanemura is a retired partner and former advisory director for Goldman, Sachs & Co. where he served on the FICC Risk Committee and Firmwide Credit Policy Committee. He was also a managing director at Salomon Brothers and Deutsche Bank. During his twenty years in banking Ron led a variety of fixed income and derivative sales and trading businesses in London, New York, and Tokyo. Ron has served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including post-reorganization Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, ICE Clear Europe, ICE Clear Credit, TPG Specialty Lending, Social Venture Partners Seattle, and the Scoutreach Foundation. Ron received a B.A. in Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley where he also serves as a Trustee of the U.C. Berkeley Foundation.
Ivy Arai Tabbara
Ivy Arai Tabbara was a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro from December 2009 to January 2019. She litigated on behalf of plaintiffs in complex class action lawsuits in the areas of employment discrimination, antitrust, consumer protection, health care, environmental and product liability. She has been a Trustee of the Federal Bar Association of the Western District Washington, and provides free in-person legal consultations regarding civil rights issues at the FBA Civil Rights Clinic, where she has volunteered her time since 2006. Ivy was also one of Densho’s very first interns, in the summer of 1997.
Mark Fukunaga is the Chairman and CEO of Servco Pacific, Inc., whose core businesses are automotive retailing and distribution, appliance distribution, and insurance services. He also oversees Servco’s real estate and private equity investments. Mark joined Servco in 1988, prior to which he was a corporate attorney with a New York firm serving international clients. Previously, he worked as a legislative aide for Senator Daniel Inouye. He sits on a number of boards, including Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Hoku Scientific, Nippon Golden Network, Children’s Discovery Center, Contemporary Museum, Hawaii Business Roundtable, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Japan America Society, and the Japanese American National Museum.
Toshiko Grace Hasegawa
Toshiko Grace Hasegawa is a 4th-generation Washingtonian from the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle. She has over ten years’ experience in community advocacy around civil rights issues, and was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee as Executive Director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) in October 2018. Toshiko is a writer and notable public speaker. She particularly enjoys speaking life into young and emerging women and PoC leaders interested in community empowerment, political organizing, and direct advocacy to lawmakers. In the workplace, she wears her tattoos open – loud and proud. Toshiko holds two Bachelor’s Degrees from Seattle University, where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. She has studied and lived internationally and speaks Spanish fluently. For leisure, she enjoys traditional Tahitian dance, creative writing and backpacking through the Pacific Northwest.
Gene S. Kanamori
Gene S. Kanamori is President and CEO of Keiro Senior HealthCare (KSHC). Prior to joining KSHC, Gene spent 28 years at United Parcel Service as the Director of Human Resources for different regions around the country. He also spent two years at Pepsi Bottling Group as the Health and Safety manager. Gene has served on many boards such as United Way of Greater New Orleans, Urban League of Greater New Orleans, JACL of Greater Seattle, Organization of Chinese Americans of Greater Seattle, and the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce of Washington State. He is currently involved as a Board of Governor for the Japanese American National Museum and is a co-founder of the Sansei Legacy of Southern California. Other organizations that he is active with are Asians for Miracle Marrow Match, Grateful Crane Ensemble, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Go for Broke National Educational Center. Gene resides in Cerritos, California, with his wife Vickie and two children, Traci and Lance.
Colbert M. Matsumoto
Colbert M. Matsumoto is the Chairman of Island Holdings, Inc. Active in business and civic affairs for more than 40 years, Matsumoto has served in leadership roles with various for-profit and non-profit organizations, including the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and board of trustees of the Employees Retirement System of the State of Hawaii. Born and raised in a plantation community on the island of Lanai, Matsumoto is a third-generation Japanese American whose grandparents emigrated from Japan to Hawaii in the early 1900s. He is the son of a Nisei veteran who served in Europe during WWII as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Matsumoto earned a JD from the UC Berkley School of Law in 1978. Upon returning to Hawaii he spent 6 months training as a Zen monk before initiating his legal career, and he credits that period of training as having the most significant impact on the course of his life.
Nicholas Oki is a software engineer and consultant in Washington, D.C., where he has worked in the federal sector since 2017. He is also a fourth-generation Japanese American, an Eagle Scout, and the grandson of two Densho narrators who taught him the importance of knowing his historical roots. As a member of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ data and analytics team, Nicholas led the development of applications that are used by thousands of immigrant families and their representatives to access estimated processing times for over 250 USCIS forms. He currently works with the Department of Health and Human Services, building web solutions to combat the opioid crisis in America. Nicholas is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in Computer Science and minored in Studio Art & Design.
Scott Oki is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Oki Developments, Inc., and is a professed entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist, and community activist. His personal mission statement is “to marry my passion for things entrepreneurial with things philanthropic in a way that encourages others to do the same.” Prior to founding Oki Developments, Scott retired after ten years with Microsoft Corporation where he held a variety of executive positions. Scott serves on dozens of advisory boards and boards of directors for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. He has founded or co-founded more than a dozen not-for-profit organizations.
Irene Yamamoto is the Finance Chair and Treasurer of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, where she provides oversight over SPL’s investment portfolio and annual revenues, and works with the CFO, investment managers and accounting firm to ensure due diligence, operational efficiency and risk assessment. Irene was previously the Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at Union Bank in Seattle, from 2005-2018, and has extensive experience in multiple aspects of banking and finance. She also volunteers her time as a member of the Finance Committee at Keiro Northwest.