Manzanar National Historic Site Superintendent Bernadette Johnson is shown here addressing the crowd during the 48th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 29, 2017, at the Manzanar National Historic Site. (Photo by Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee)

The Manzanar Committee congratulates and extends its best wishes to Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site, upon her retirement from the National Park Service on Nov. 8.

Johnson, who served as superintendent at Manzanar beginning in June 2014, is finishing her career after 31 years of federal service. She has previously worked with the National Park Service Division of Interpretation and Visitor Services in Santa Fe, N.M., at Grand Canyon National Park and at Glacier National Park. She then worked in several positions with the Bureau of Land Management before returning to the National Park Service at Manzanar.

“On behalf of the Manzanar Committee, I want to thank Bernardette for her work at Manzanar,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “Honestly, we have been pleased and very fortunate to have superintendents at Manzanar who have collaborated with and responded to community input.

“She has brought her own special touches to Manzanar. It’s no small matter that she has a long history in Payahuunadü (Owens Valley), and comes to Manzanar with both a ‘local’ and a National Park Service viewpoint.

“Bernadette has really helped solidify many of the projects at Manzanar, and  has worked closely with us to ‘professionalize’ many aspects of our pilgrimage. Following up on former Superintendent Les Inafuku’s efforts to ensure that our community was safe at the pilgrimage, she helped us handle many health and safety issues.”

Embrey noted that the Manzanar Committee has worked closely with every superintendent and the staff since Manzanar became a national historic site in 1992.

“Naturally, given the nature of our relationship to the site, having lobbied for, and helping shape the site’s foundations, we have some pretty strong opinions,” he said. “There always is, and will be creative tensions between the National Park Service and the Manzanar Committee. This is to be expected, and I’m sure exists at other sites, as well. I think it’s useful for all stakeholders to reflect on, and draw lessons from, the changing of the guard.

“Clearly, we believe our community must have, and needs to have, input on the work at Manzanar, beyond a promotional role. We look forward to continuing our work with the National Park Service to work out how we all can make the Manzanar National Historic Site an impactful, and enriching place for all.”

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when constitutional rights are in danger. A nonprofit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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