(The following is a response from the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center to the Aug. 28 open letter by concerned members of the Little Tokyo community, “How Did This Happen?”)
The brief tenure and departure of JACCC CEO Greg Willis has raised many questions within the community on how this happened and the role of the Board of Directors as the overseers of the nonprofit institution.
First and foremost, the JACCC Board takes responsibility for the situation that the JACCC finds itself as a result of the resignation of CEO Greg Willis last month. Mr. Willis was hired with the best of intentions by the JACCC Board based on a strong record of business turn-around experience and a vision for the future; both qualities deemed necessary at a critical time in the operations of the JACCC.
As was stated in the open letter and to which we concur, the JACCC is a valued and premier institution in the Nikkei community and the board was working with Mr. Willis to produce new seasonal programs such as “LA Bloom,” expand revenues and implement its new vision for the future.
The board and staff of the JACCC remain even more committed to strengthening the organization, and continue its pursuit of its vision for the future. We understand, however, success will depend on how we re-engage our community and bring together our collective strength, which is the historic foundation our organization was built upon over 32 years ago.
We regret the disruption caused by events of the past few weeks and deeply appreciate the concerns from the community and support for the staff during a very difficult period. We have brought on Bill Watanabe, Deborah Ching and Keith Shiozaki, experienced and respected community leaders, to assist in the rebuilding process that must take place as we transition and move forward to implement this vision.
We hope the community will continue its support for and trust in the JACCC as we, the board, work together to strengthen and restore that trust.
Sandy Sakamoto, JACCC Board Chair