SAN FRANCISCO – The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California on March 17 announced a new president to lead the organization.
Donna Ong-Kimura, who has served as member of the JCCCNC Board of Directors since 2006, was appointed president, succeeding Donna Kotake.
A native of San Francisco and graduate of Lowell High School and City College of San Francisco, she has worked in the health care arena for the past 28 years and currently serves full-time as software development senior advisor in the Healthcare Division at Dell Inc.
“I did not grow up in the Japantown community,” says Ong- Kimura. “When I was young, I was part of my home neighborhood community. With the pace of life today and the rarity of kids attending neighborhood schools, it is hard to find close-knit neighborhood communities anymore. This makes the Japantown community so much more important to my family.”
Ong-Kimura is the first ethnically non-Japanese president and the first Chinese American president at the JCCCNC. Although her husband has an established business in Japantown, she was not familiar with the JCCCNC until her youngest daughter participated in the Shinzen Goodwill Exchange Program in 2005. She eventually moved on to co-chairing the program in following years.
Since then, she has supported the development of the Takahashi Youth Ambassador Fellowship Program, a U.S.-Japan exchange program to provide opportunities for youth to gain leadership and civic development skills. Today, Ong-Kimura continues to participate in many of the classes and workshops the center has to offer, including as an active member of the hula class every Thursday and Saturday.
“It has always been very important to me to preserve the Japanese American culture and heritage so that my children, who are half Chinese and half Japanese, would continue to learn about the experiences of their ancestors,” she says. “I believe that my children have learned by example and give back to their communities in any way they can. They have an appreciation for the Japanese community and continue to participate.”
In addition to her long-time involvement with the JCCCNC, Ong-Kimura has served as co-chair of the Kimochi Inc. golf tournament for over ten years, is past president and current treasurer of the San Francisco Nikkei Lions Club, and past president of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco Youth Athletic League.
“We are extremely privileged to have Donna as our new president,” says Paul Osaki, JCCCNC executive director. “Along with her leadership skills, she also brings to her new role a unique and broad perspective as a parent of a child who participated in our programs, a program participant herself, a volunteer and a long-time board member.”
With her compassion and care, along with her extensive experience and dedication to the community, Ong-Kimura looks to embrace the legacy of the JCCCNC by building a strong foundation and future for the organization and community at large.
“As our first grandchild was just born, it makes it more important for us to preserve our community so that our grandchildren will be in touch with their heritage and will always have a sense of community,” she says.
On the Web: www.jcccnc.org