Naomi Ostwald Kawamura (she/her)
Naomi Ostwald Kawamura is the incoming Executive Director of Densho. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in Metal Design and holds a Master’s degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently completing doctoral work in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, focusing on the intergenerational transfer of memory in the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian communities. She writes on the unique challenges and issues that community history organizations face with the passing of those who survived the forcible removal and incarceration of people of Japanese descent in Canada and the United States.
Prior to Densho, Naomi was the Executive Director of the Nikkei Place Foundation, a Japanese Canadian organization based in British Columbia, Canada. She has also held leadership positions at the San Diego History Center, the California Center for the Arts, and BAVC Media, among others. She is currently the Board President of the Museum Education Roundtable, a Washington DC based organization that publishes the Journal of Museum Education. Naomi has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals and has authored a chapter in “Negotiating Ethnic Diversity and National Identity in History Education: International and Comparative Perspectives,” edited by Helen Ting Mu Hung and Luigi Cajani (Forthcoming December 2022, Palgrave MacMillan).
Tom Ikeda (he/him)
Founder, Senior Advisor
Tom Ikeda is the Founding Executive Director of Densho and currently acting as a Senior Advisor. Tom 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 24 years, Tom has conducted more than 250 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 has received numerous awards for his community and historical contributions, including the Humanities Washington Award for outstanding achievement in the public humanities, the National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium Award, the Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellows Award, the Japanese American National Museum Founder’s Award, and the Robert Gray Medal from the Washington State Historical Society.
Will Allen (they/he)
Will is originally from South Georgia and graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s in history and government. They recently received their MLIS from the University of Washington. Will was inspired to pursue archiving after studying archival Southern queer history materials in their undergrad years and hopes to work on community archives projects and other history collections in the foreseeable future. Will is currently working with Caitlin Oiye Coon to create Densho’s Legacy Archive, an archive of Densho’s organizational records since its founding in 1996. Will is excited to be working with Densho and is looking to soak in all the knowledge they can about being a community archivist during their time helping to create the Legacy Archive.
Sara Beckman (she/her)
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 (she/her)
Caitlin Oiye Coon 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. She also holds an MA in History/Archives and Records Management from Western Washington University and and MLIS from San Jose State University. Caitlin has over 10 years of experience working with information and content management systems. At Densho she developed and currently manages their digitization program, helped establish archival best practices, and created training curriculum for partner organizations.
Geoff Froh (he/him)
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.
Christen Greenhill Robichaud (she/her)
Christen holds a Master of Library and Information Studies degree from The University of Alabama and a Museum Studies certificate from the University of Washington. She earned her undergraduate degree in anthropology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Christen followed Densho’s work for several years before she relocated to Seattle and excitedly applied for a position working with Densho’s archival collections. She is honored to support Densho in their mission to preserve and share history of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans.
Kassandra Hishida (she/they)
Kassandra is a Yonsei whose family members were incarcerated at Gila River and Jerome including their great-grandfather who was arrested by the FBI and incarcerated away from his family for over a year because he was falsely accused of being a Japanese spy.
Kassandra is from Fresno, California and is proud of their roots in the San Joaquin Valley. They grew up in a suburban, middle-class neighborhood and are multi-racial with white, Mexican American, and Japanese American heritage. Kassandra studied Environmental Science at Fresno State & went on to earn a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a Graduate Specialization in Food Studies from the University of Oregon.
Kassandra is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Densho community to learn more about their family history while connecting to Japanese American communities and organizations. As Densho’s Development Manager they bring over 5 years of experience in non-profit fundraising to the organization including their previous roles developing partnerships with foundations, philanthropy consultants, academics, & government agencies in their professional work to supporting grassroots fundraising campaigns in their volunteer work.
They are excited to work alongside Densho’s board, staff and supporters to develop special events & creative campaigns that highlight Densho’s unique approach to uplifting the stories of Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII in ways that are accessible, relevant, and action-oriented.
In Kassandra’s free time they love spending time with family, backyard gardening, recreating family recipes, art-making, and being near water.
Dana Hoshide (she/her)
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. She oversees day-to-day operations and also video records and processes Densho’s oral history interviews.
Geoffrey Jost (he/him)
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 (he/him)
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 (she/her)
Micah holds a Master’s degree in Museology (Museum Studies) from the University of Washington. 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.
Dina Moreno (she/her)
Dina holds a Master’s degree in Latin-American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on the intersection of labor and race, and a graduate certificate in Archival Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A third generation Seattleite, Dina has worked at a number of local repositories including UW Special Collections, MOHAI, and the King County archives. She is excited and honored to be part of the important work being done at Densho preserve and share a story that is so essential to the understanding of the history of this area.
Kristi Nakata (she/her)
Kristi is the child of a Sansei and Shin-Issei, born and raised in the Seattle area. Her paternal grandparents were incarcerated at Manzanar and Minidoka, and instilled the importance of nido to nai yoni, “let it not happen again.” She was introduced to Densho during her time as a member of the 2013 court of the Japanese Queen Scholarship Organization of Washington. Kristi is a graduate of Seattle University with a degree in Environmental Studies and Biology, with a minor in Political Science. She previously worked as the Digital Communications Manager for Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. At Densho, Kristi helps with digital marketing, communications, and fundraising.
Brian Niiya (he/him)
Brian Niiya 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 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 published many articles on Japanese American history in a variety of academic and mainstream publications and is the editor of the online Densho Encyclopedia, which draws on his prior Encyclopedia of Japanese American History, published in 1993 with a second edition in 2000.
Naoko Tanabe (she/her)
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 (she/her)
Communications and Public Engagement Director
Natasha Varner is a historian and writer with a PhD in history from the University of Arizona. Her book, La Raza Cosmética: Beauty, Identity, and Settler Colonialism in Postrevolutionary Mexico (University of Arizona Press, 2020), was a finalist for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s Best First Book Award in 2021. At Densho, she oversees the communications department, as well as the education and arts programs. Much of the public-facing work she does for Densho focuses on the intersections of art, social justice, and history, with an eye towards fostering empathy and action. Although she does not have a direct family connection to WWII incarceration, she feels strongly that this is a part of history that all Americans need to know and that it should be understood as part of a longer trajectory of American racism and xenophobia. In addition to regular contributions to the Densho Catalyst, Dr. Varner has bylines at Public Radio International’s The World and Global Post, Jacobin, Tropics of Meta, and Radical History Review’s online publication, The Abusable Past.
Nina Wallace (she/her)
Media and Outreach Manager
Nina is a yonsei who grew up in Phoenix but has lived in Seattle long enough to call it home. She is a graduate of Seattle University with a degree in English and Philosophy, and has worked in a variety of community-building and youth development programs in addition to her work at Densho. Her family was not subject to incarceration during WWII because they lived outside the West Coast “exclusion zone,” but Nina’s great-grandfather was arrested and detained by the FBI. Nina helps to manage Densho’s social media, blog, press relations, and community outreach.
Virginia Yamada (she/her)
Oral History Program Manager/Grants Manager
Virginia learned of Densho many years ago, when her mother-in-law was interviewed about her life and her family’s WWII incarceration experience at Minidoka and Crystal City. She began working at Densho not long after that. Most comfortable in the seat of the listener, Virginia manages the Oral History program at Densho, a role that utilizes her background in social sciences and her affinity for scheduling challenges, as she coordinates and participates in all aspects of the interviewing process. She also oversees the administration of all of Densho’s grants, which supply funding assistance to most of Densho’s programs. She holds degrees in Sign Language Studies from Ohlone College and Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara.
Kelsie Flack (she/her)
Kelsie received a Master of Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University in 2022 and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Utah in 2019. She gained a love of archival work during her undergraduate degree when she worked in special collections at the J.W. Marriott Library, which pushed her to pursue an MLIS at LSU where she developed a passion for archival preservation, access, and use; particularly for marginalized communities. She spent the last year working with the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans on digital and Indigenous archival initiatives. Kelsie has always been interested in the history of World War II and she is honored to be given an opportunity to learn more about the fraught history of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Kelsie lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Elias Hubbard (he/him)
Elias Hubbard earned his MS in Library and Information Science and MA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked as a graduate assistant in the Student Life and Culture Archives and served on the boards of the University’s student chapter of the Society of American Archivists and annual Women’s and Gender History Symposium. Before joining Densho, Elias completed internships focused on digital preservation at the Evanston History Center and the Theodore Roosevelt Center. In his time as a graduate student and early career archivist, Elias has sought out opportunities to grow as an anti-racist and support the dismantling of unjust systems. He is eager to continue this work at Densho.
Evan McGonagill grew up in Boston and is currently studying for her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons University. She previously earned her BA from Bryn Mawr College in English Literature. Before deciding to pursue her MLIS she performed many roles in many fields—including academic archives, marketing, freelance writing, and nonprofit administration. She has spent the last several years as a caregiver. Evan was drawn back to archives by her belief that the past is a relevant and vital part of the present, and by a desire to spark conversations that take history as a starting point. Her grandmother, Shiori Tamura (neé Yasumoto), was incarcerated at Poston.
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 served 12 years as a Trustee of the U.C. Berkeley Foundation.
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.
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.
Ivy Arai Tabbara
Ivy Arai Tabbara is a Yonsei whose father and grandparents were incarcerated at Minidoka during WWII. She holds a BA in History and a Certificate in African-American Studies from Princeton University, and JD from Georgetown University. Ivy was a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, litigating 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 one of Densho’s very first interns, in the summer of 1997. She is also the author of “The Silent Significant Minority: Japanese-American Women, Evacuation, and Internment During World War II” in Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Enlisted With or Without Consent.
Emeritus Board Member
Mark Fukunaga is the Chairman and CEO of Servco Pacific, Inc., which has operating businesses in automotive retailing and distribution in Hawaii and Australia. He also oversees Servco’s venture capital 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, and previously, worked for Senator Daniel Inouye. He sits on a number of boards, including Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Matson, Inc., Punahou School and KCAA Preschools, and is a trustee emeritus of Pomona College and former regent of the University of Hawaii.
Toshiko Grace Hasegawa
Toshiko Grace Hasegawa 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. In 2021, she was elected and is currently serving as Commissioner for the Port of Seattle. Toshiko is a writer and notable public speaker. She particularly enjoys speaking to young and emerging women and PoC leaders and is passionate about community empowerment, political organizing, and direct advocacy to lawmakers. Toshiko holds two Bachelor’s Degrees from Seattle University, as well as a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice, with a specialization in investigative criminology. Toshiko is a 4th-generation Washingtonian from the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle, where she lives today with her husband Michael and daughter Keiko Rose in the family home. 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.
Emeritus Board Member
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.