PORTLAND — The Japanese American Museum of Oregon (JAMO) is excited to announce that after a prolonged, extensive search, Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong will be joining the organization as its new executive director.

Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong at Manzanar National Historic Site. (Photo courtesy Hanako Wakatsuki-Chong)

The museum’s Board and Search Committee unanimously chose Wakatsuki-Chong to succeed her predecessor, Lynn Fuchigami Parks, who retired from the position at the end of 2021 and has remained as a consultant to the museum and member of the leadership’s Executive Transition Team that will welcome Wakatsuki-Chong when she arrives in June.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Hanako stepping into this role,” expressed Fuchigami Parks. “I can’t wait to see where her experience, leadership, and vision will take JAMO.”

Professionally trained as a public historian, political scientist, and museologist, Wakatsuki-Chong has the perfect combined skill set for the position. She holds a BA in history and BS in political science from Boise State University, as well as an MA in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member for their Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage Management Programs.

She will be relocating from Honolulu, where she was the first superintendent of the Honouliuli National Historic Site of the National Park Service. Prior to her superintendency, she served on special detail as the acting chief of interpretation for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

In 2022, she was selected to work on a six-month detail in the Office of the Chief of Staff at the White House, serving as the AANHPI policy advisor to the deputy assistant to the president on issues and initiatives affecting the AANHPI community.

Wakatsuki-Chong has devoted the last 16 years of her personal and professional life preserving the history of the Japanese American incarceration experience during World War II.

“This topic is very personal to me, as my family was deeply affected by this trauma, which still reverberates down to me as a Yonsei/Gosei (fourth- and fifth-generation Japanese American),” she said. “I am excited to return to the Pacific Northwest and have the opportunity to honor my ancestors who settled in Oregon. It is a great privilege and honor to have this opportunity to lead the efforts set forth by my predecessor, Lynn Fuchigami Parks, and to take JAMO into the next step in its evolution.”

The mission of JAMO is to preserve and honor the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, educate the public about the Japanese American experience during World War II, and advocate for the protection of civil rights for all Americans. Formerly known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, it is a venue for culture and research as well as an invaluable resource for exploring Nikkei experiences and their role in Oregon’s multicultural community. Its permanent exhibit space highlights Issei immigration and early life in Oregon, Nihonmachi (Japantown), and the experience from wartime through Nikkei life today. Info: https://jamo.org/

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *