November 15, 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us on November 3 to make the Densho Virtual Gala a very special event! Even though we weren’t able to gather in person, we were blown away by the incredible engagement and support from our community. 

Toshiko Grace Hasegawa and Dominique Stephens charmed us all with their warmth and energy as hosts. Robyn Mineko Williams and Jacqueline Burnett’s preview of their dance performance Hisako’s House—plus creative responses to the archives from writers Lauren Ito, Nikiko Masumoto, Karen L. Ishizuka, and Lane Tomosumi Shigihara—put us in awe of the ways artists are interpreting and sharing the stories of Japanese American WWII incarceration. Homer and Barbara Yasui’s touching conversation about how they’ve worked with Densho to preserve their own family history reminded us of the importance of passing down these stories to future generations. And outgoing executive director Tom Ikeda’s heartfelt passing of the torch to Naomi Ostwald Kawamura brought us all to tears.

This was a truly historic moment for Densho, as we celebrated Tom’s 27 years of service to the community and welcomed Naomi as she officially steps into the role of Densho Executive Director. As Naomi so eloquently said during her address at the gala, “Even with this change of leadership, Densho will always remain a community-grounded organization, stewarding our community’s stories and history into this next chapter.” 

We went into this event with a goal of raising $850,000 to honor Tom’s legacy and set Naomi up for success — and we’re happy to share that we not only reached that goal but surpassed it. Thanks to your generous donations, we brought in a total of $860,806!

Thank you from all of us at Densho for this incredible show of support. Our community is at the heart of all that we do, and we are so excited to step into this new chapter and “tell our next story” with you.

Densho staff pose for a group photo after the gala. They are on a stage with a blue background and the Densho logo, standing and kneeling in two rows.
Densho staff at Kirkland Performance Center after the 2022 Virtual Gala.

Below are some highlights from the 2022 Densho Virtual Gala: Telling Our Next Story. (Watch a recording of the full event here.) We hope you enjoy these moving performances and powerful conversations as much as we do.

Hisako’s House Dance Performance

Director and dance maker Robyn Mineko Williams shared an exclusive preview of her immersive, dance-based performance Hisako’s House to open the 2022 Densho Gala. The piece is rooted in curiosity about her Japanese American family’s experience before, during, and after the incarceration of WWII, as well as the intergenerational trauma and resilience that followed. Williams’ performance at the 2022 Densho Gala alongside dancer Jacqueline Burnett marks the first public viewing of her new work in progress.

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The Yasui Family on Preserving Their History

Educator and longtime community volunteer Barbara Yasui speaks with her father Homer on how they’ve worked with Densho to preserve their own family history and the importance of passing down these stories to future generations.

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Writers Respond

Featured writers Lauren Ito, Nikiko Masumoto, Karen L. Ishizuka, and Lane Tomosumi Shigihara perform readings of their creative responses to photos from the Densho archives and other archival collections. Their works illuminate the stories of hope, resistance, and resilience passed down in these historic images.

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Naomi Ostwald Kawamura’s First Address as Executive Director

Naomi Ostwald Kawamura shares her vision for the future of Densho and the importance of education about Japanese American WWII incarceration in her first address as Executive Director of Densho. 

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Tom Ikeda and Naomi Ostwald Kawamura in Conversation

Tom Ikeda and Naomi Ostwald Kawamura discuss the historic transition from Densho’s founding director to the next generation of leadership, the organization’s fundamental values as a steward of our community’s stories and history that will always remain, and the future of Densho.

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All recording and production by Kirkland Performance Center.

[Header: Tom Ikeda and Naomi Ostwald Kawamura in conversation during filming of the 2022 Densho Virtual Gala at the Kirkland Performance Center.]