FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 25, 2022

PRESS CONTACTS:

Media Relations - mediarelations@janm.org - 213-830-5690

William T Fujioka Named Chair of the Japanese American National Museum Board of Trustees


headshot photo of Bill Fujioka
Courtesy of Bill Fujioka.

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) is proud to announce that William T Fujioka has been named chair of the JANM Board of Trustees.

Fujioka is a third-generation Japanese American who started his forty-four-year career in public service working for the County of Santa Cruz while attending the University of California, Santa Cruz in the early 1970s. After graduating in 1974, he interned with the Los Angeles Police Department for the City of Los Angeles. In 1978, he left the city and spent the next nineteen years working for Los Angeles County in various administrative and management positions across five different departments. In 1999, he was appointed city administrative officer for the City of Los Angeles, the first person of color to hold that office. He initially retired in February 2007, but returned to public service in July when he was appointed the first chief executive officer for Los Angeles County. He again was the first person of color to hold the top position in the county. He managed thirty of the county’s thirty-seven departments, oversaw the county’s $28 billion budget, and navigated the county through the Great Recession in conjunction with the board of supervisors. He retired from public service on November 30, 2014.

Fujioka’s paternal grandfather, Fred Jiro Fujioka, was a prominent pioneer in the Los Angeles Little Tokyo community. Prior to World War II, he owned and operated the largest Oldsmobile dealership in the western United States and sold cars, trucks, and tractors to Japanese farmers, business owners, and families. He was wrongly accused of being a war criminal at the onset of World War II and lost everything.

When the United States entered the war, Fujioka’s father was a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. After enlisting in the US Army on April 1, 1942, he joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s Cannon Company. Upon returning home from the war as a decorated veteran, he married Fujioka’s mother, Linda.

Linda Fujioka participated in the initial fundraising effort for JANM and was a long time volunteer and docent. While raising two sons, she worked in a flower shop and later, as a teacher’s aide. She eventually returned to school in her forties and earned her BA degree and teaching credential from California State University, Los Angeles. She taught full time in the Los Angeles Unified School District for seventeen years and was a substitute teacher into her late eighties. She was a positive influence on many young lives and instilled her passion for helping others in her two sons. 

Fujioka is married to Darlene Kuba and has a son named Jason. His brother Fred, recently retired as a judge for the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Fujioka succeeds the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, an extraordinary leader, friend, and chair of the board of trustees from 2015 to 2022. Secretary Mineta served on the board of governors from 1988 to 1995 and was the chair of the board of governors from 2010 to 2015. A trustee since 1996, he passed away on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at his home in Edgewater, Maryland. In honor of Norm’s exceptional leadership, he has been appointed chair emeritus.

“It is my great honor to follow Secretary Norm Mineta as JANM’s board chair. Secretary Mineta was a strong champion for social justice and it’s my goal to continue this important effort. JANM’s mission is to preserve the story, struggles, and accomplishments of the Japanese American community. It’s also our responsibility to be a strong voice and advocate against not only anti-Asian hate but any form of hate directed against all communities regardless of race, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation. We will continue and increase our efforts to stand for social justice and equality for all. It’s also an amazing honor to work with Ann Burroughs and all the amazing staff at JANM,” said Fujioka.

“Bill brings a depth of leadership and a record of exceptional professional experience at the highest levels of public service to his role as chair. He is also a true visionary with a deep commitment to JANM’s mission and to the importance of elevating our presence on the local and national stage. His collaborative spirit, sage counsel, and boundless energy will be invaluable as we advance our core mission and work towards a more just future for all,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM. “We are indeed fortunate to have a chair of Bill’s caliber following in Norm’s footsteps and it will be my privilege to work closely with him in the future.”


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About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions onsite while traveling 17 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. For more information, visit janm.org or follow us on social media @jamuseum.