The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) has appointed Kelli-Ann Nakayama as its new chief development officer.

Nakayama has more than 20 years of professional nonprofit fundraising experience, with a specialty in capital campaigns and major/principal gifts. She provides leadership to the museum’s national philanthropic funding strategies, including membership, individual and institutional giving, and development operations.

Kelli-Ann Nakayama

She received her MA in museum studies from San Francisco State University, her BA in anthropology from UC Berkeley, and has professional certificates in philanthropy and fundraising management.

Nakayama’s extensive fundraising experience stems from her previous work with Boy Scouts of America National Foundation, where she spearheaded a team of fundraising professionals, 44 local councils, and hundreds of volunteers to raise over $21.5 million for local membership growth initiatives.

As the director of development at the USC Keck School of Medicine, she solicited, managed, and secured over $4.3 million in individual gifts for stem cell research and supported a team responsible for raising $35 million.

She also has a strong connection to the Los Angeles Japanese American community and JANM.

“When I visited JANM, I felt the gravity of past hardships, saw the resilience of families, and learned about the perseverance of leaders who fought for justice,” Nakayama said. “Those visits were also poignant reminders that many communities today suffer from the same discrimination that plagued the U.S. 80 years ago.

“As a fourth-generation Japanese American whose relatives were incarcerated during World War II (and whose grandfather started Tokyo Bank and was one of the first Japanese American bankers in the U.S.), I have a deep and personal appreciation of JANM for capturing the shared histories and contemporary narratives of our vibrant and dynamic community.”

“Kelli brings a wealth and depth of experience in every aspect of fundraising, management, and leadership to JANM—  and she is no stranger to the museum,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM. “As she said to me, ‘It’s like coming back home.’ I am excited to have Kelli aboard, and for the passion and leadership she brings to our stellar development team.”

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