The Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles announced Friday the hiring of G.W. (Greg) Kimura, Ph.D., as its new chief executive officer.
The appointment concludes an extensive national search begun last August.
“Dr. Kimura brings a unique set of leadership skills, intellect and experience to the CEO position along with his unbridled passion for the museum’s mission,” explained Gordon Yamate, chair of the Board of Trustees and head of the Board Search Committee. “I view his appointment as transformational for the museum — he will ably lead and elevate the museum to new levels of programming, experiences and excellence, particularly with our broadening and more diverse audiences.”
Since 2006, Kimura has been the president/CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum (Alaska’s state humanities council). Its revenue doubled during his tenure and its standing jumped to the third largest in the nation. He has an extensive academic background as a department head and professor at Alaska Pacific University, and has a Masters in Divinity from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Cambridge University.
Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, another member of the Board Search Committee, observed, “In many ways, Greg Kimura represents our evolving community. He is a Yonsei who grew up outside the larger historic Nikkei communities. Yet he has maintained his cultural ties, has a thorough understanding of our community’s history, and has expressed his desire to pass his heritage on to his own children.”
Despite living in Alaska, Kimura has often visited JANM when he was in Los Angeles. As a museum member, he recalled being personally touched by several exhibitions, including “kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa” (2006).
“I have been profoundly moved at the Japanese American National Museum, as a visitor and member. Coming to the Japanese American National Museum is truly like coming home,” Kimura stated. “The museum has an important story to tell about culture, diversity, and what it means to be American. This matters deeply to us all. In an increasingly complex and contentious world, the museum can be not only a place to celebrate these enduring values, but to do the visionary work to guide the future.”
JANM is dedicated to fostering greater understanding and appreciation for America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by preserving and telling the stories of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Since its incorporation in 1985, it has grown into an internationally recognized institution, presenting award-winning exhibitions, groundbreaking traveling exhibits, educational public programs, innovative video documentaries and cutting-edge curriculum guides.
In 2010, JANM was presented the National Medal by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the highest honor possible for an American museum. Institutions are recognized with this singular award for their “extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions.” JANM is only the fourth institution in California (and one of only two museums) to receive the National Medal.