SAN JOSE — The Japanese American Museum of San Jose Board of Directors announces the appointment of a new executive director, Taline Ayanyan Mitten, by unanimous vote.

Taline Ayanyan Mitten

Mitten will bring her years of experience as a strategic and leader-through-service executive to JAMsj. Her background in nonprofit and heritage preservation will help the museum meet its dynamic strategic goals and advance its mission to share Japanese American history and culture and promote cross-cultural understanding. She will also support the museum’s initiative to provide a historical forum that stimulates present-day discussions on civil liberties, race relations, discrimination, and the American identity.

”We are excited to have Taline join JAMsj as the new executive director,” said Michael Sera, JAMsj board president. “Her operational skills and background in architecture will help us as we restore the Kawakami House and tackle future expansion projects.”

As the chief operating officer of Mar Structural Design in Berkeley, Mitten helped open the mission-driven firm in 2014 and oversaw its financial, marketing, and other operational departments, contributing to its sustainable growth and its positioning at the forefront of sustainable and seismically resilient structural design.

Prior to that, Mitten developed expertise in heritage preservation through heritage documentation consulting at CyArk, an Oakland nonprofit dedicated to “digitally recording, archiving, and sharing the world’s most significant cultural heritage.”

During her role at CyArk, Mitten worked on the digital recording of three Japanese American confinement sites: Manzanar and Tule Lake in California and Topaz in Utah.

“It was an unforgettable experience meeting and interviewing Jimi Yamaichi, one of the founders of JAMsj,” recalls Miten. “Experiencing the rich and welcoming experience created by him and seeing the immense contributions of the JAMsj board, staff, countless volunteers, and community partners at that time was what led me to want to become part of the museum.”

Mitten also reflected on the personal significance of this new chapter with the museum. Her passion for cultural preservation began after she immigrated to the Bay Area from Syria in the 1990s with her mother and siblings.

“JAMsj is a unique and precious resource in the San Francisco Bay Area, and its mission is of personal importance to me, not only as an immigrant but also as a third-generation descendant of Western Armenians who were violently forced to flee to Syria and other parts of the world during World War I, leaving their homes and businesses behind,” she said.

“It is, therefore, an honor for me to serve the JAMsj team as executive director, and to curate the conditions for the museum to continue to flourish, grow, and engage the community in new ways.”

Mitten holds a Master of Science in Conservation of Monuments and Sites from the Raymond Lemaire International Center for Conservation at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and a Bachelor of Architecture from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

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