WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has announced Mackenzie Kiyomi Walker as the 2011 JACL Mike M. Masaoka Fellow.
She is a recent graduate of the University of Washington, where she majored in sociology and minored in human rights, international studies, and diversity
Starting this fall, Walker will begin her assignment in the office of Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park). Serving as the representative for California’s 32nd Congressional District, Chu is also chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which has become a key element in advocacy work for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Walker attended the 2011 JACL/OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans) Washington, D.C. Leadership Summit, where she networked with fellow JACL members and others and made a presentation to a Capitol Hill staffer to encourage the advancement of an anti-bullying and anti-racial profiling bill. She has also served as an intern for the JACL Bridging Communities-Seattle Program.
As a board member of the JACL Seattle Chapter, she was a finalist in the JACL Minoru Yasui Oratorical Competition at the 2010 National JACL Convention in Chicago. She also attended the 2004 National JACL Convention in Honolulu, where she watched her brother, Brigham Walker, in the oratorical competition. She has followed his example by becoming a member of the JACL National Youth/Student Council.
“Being selected as the 2011-2012 Mike M. Masaoka Fellow is an incredible honor,” stated Walker. “It’s no secret to anybody that Mr. Masaoka was a political and social force to be reckoned with, and his efforts to advance civil rights and his dedication to public service are inspiring for young AAPI youth, like myself, looking to advance the same initiatives today.
“The knowledge that an individual gains while working on the Hill is invaluable, and I’m extremely grateful to the JACL for giving me the opportunity to experience and develop this first-hand. I am eager and excited to be working with Congresswoman Judy Chu, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to coalesce and advance my passions for human rights, AAPI leadership, and public policy directly and at the national level.”
The fellowship was established in 1988 to honor Mike M. Masaoka (1915-1991) for a lifetime of service to the nation and the JACL. He was the JACL’s national secretary, field executive, national legislative director of the Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Washington, D.C. representative. His wife, Etsu Mineta Masaoka, who passed away earlier this year, also contributed to JACL throughout her life.
Masaoka Fellows are placed in the Washington D.C. offices of members of the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. H. Tom Tamaki administered the program for the JACL for 20 years after its inception. The fellowship is now handled by the JACL Washington, D.C. office.
“We are very pleased to have Mackenzie Walker serve as the next JACL Masaoka Fellow,” said Floyd Mori, JACL national executive director. “This is a great opportunity for young people to get a taste and feel for service in the nation’s capital. Mackenzie’s achievements and service to the community thus far have been outstanding, and we expect that she will be a strong future leader within the JACL. We are grateful to all the applicants, who are clearly interested in service.”
“The JACL Mike M. Masaoka Fellowship is one of the flagship programs of the JACL,” added National JACL President David Kawamoto. “We are happy that Mackenzie will be able to have this wonderful experience in Washington, D.C.”