Bill Watanabe (right) and Dean Matsubayashi in front of the Little Tokyo Service Center offices at the Casa Heiwa affordable housing project.

The Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) Board of Directors announced on Friday the appointment of Dean Matsubayashi to be the agency’s next executive director.

According to LTSC Board President Alan Nishio, “The LTSC Board has unanimously affirmed the selection of Dean Matsubayashi to succeed our long-time Executive Director Bill Watanabe, who recently announced his plans to retire by June. Dean has been a staff member of LTSC for 15 years, and has been part of the agency’s executive management staff for the past five years.

“Matsubayashi has grown up in the local Venice Nikkei community playing basketball in the Nikkei leagues, he has earned urban planning and public policy degrees from UC Irvine and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and has also worked in community economic development programs in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

“We are fortunate to have such a well-qualified candidate who has worked alongside Bill Watanabe for a number of years, and can now take over the reins of the organization.”

Nishio stated that Matsubayashi will continue to work in his current position for the coming months to ensure a smooth transition and will work with Watanabe until his final retirement date in June.

Matsubayashi is the third major hiring in Little Tokyo this month. Greg Willis was named president and CEO of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center on Jan. 13 and G.W. Kimura was named the new CEO of the Japanese American National Museum on Jan. 21.

Watanabe expressed his wholehearted support for this selection, stating that “Dean is one of those special persons who can relate to any person of any age, and yet has a keen intellect and high level of energy. During the extreme fiscal crisis in 2009 and 2010 that threatened the work of many community groups, including LTSC, Dean worked tirelessly to ensure that the vulnerable programs and projects of LTSC were able to continue towards completion.

“As has been noted by others, it is coincidental that three of the major community groups in Little Tokyo have announced new leadership personnel, and I think Dean will be a great example of the ensuing generation of leadership to face the challenges of the future.”

According to information provided by LTSC, Matsubayashi has been a leader in forging ties in various diverse communities to advocate for and strengthen the work of community-based affordable housing development.

He has served on the executive boards of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD), and also sits on the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Matsubayashi, the son of retired Rinban and Mrs. George Matsubayashi, is married, has a daughter and lives in the Silverlake area near downtown Los Angeles.

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