January 20, 2022

After 26 years at the helm of Densho as the organization’s founding executive director, Tom Ikeda is announcing his pending retirement. Read a message from Tom below—and join us for an upcoming virtual community town hall to learn more about this transition.

Tom Ikeda smiling in front of a garden.
Tom Ikeda, January 2022. Photo by Tani Ikeda.

I’m writing to share some exciting but bittersweet news. I turn 66 years old this week and it’s time for me to shift my priorities and spend more time with my family. I am going to retire, but not until I am certain that Densho is in excellent hands under the direction of a new executive director. 

Planning for this transition began several years ago when Densho’s board, executive leadership team, and I started a thoughtful and rigorous process to prepare the organization and myself for my eventual retirement. We made changes that have strengthened Densho and readied the organization for this next step. 

This summer, I asked the board to begin the process of searching for Densho’s next leader. After vetting numerous search firms with national reach and expertise in founding executive director transitions, the board selected Koya Partners to lead the search and I couldn’t be happier with their choice. 

Everyone at Densho and at Koya is committed to ensuring that the vision and values that have driven the organization from its start are honored throughout the search process and transition to new leadership. Because of that, I have confidence that this change will lead to great new opportunities and growth for Densho and all of our supporters.

I have poured my heart into Densho for the past 26 years and consider it my life’s work to preserve and share the story of WWII Japanese American incarceration so that it is never forgotten. My commitment to this history and this community will continue long after my retirement. This isn’t an ending so much as the start of an exciting new chapter for Densho and for me. 

I know that you may have questions about Densho’s future or the search process. To help answer these questions, I’m scheduling two virtual community town halls (details below) when we will discuss the transition and answer questions. 

With gratitude,

Tom Ikeda

Community Town Halls

Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 4:00 – 5:00pm (PST)

>> Register

Thursday, February 3, 2022, noon – 1pm (PST)

>> Register

[Header: A view of barracks at Manzanar. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.]