Kikumura Yano Stepping Down as JANM CEO

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The Japanese American National Museum Board of Trustees announced on Friday that President and Chief Executive Officer Akemi Kikumura Yano, Ph.D., has decided to step down from her current position.

Akemi Kikumura Yano, CEO and president of the Japanese American National Museum, at the annual gala on April 16. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

The board also announced it will soon conduct a national search for her successor.

Yano has been in discussions with the Board of Trustees about her desire to step in order to shift her focus to content-based pursuits. She has agreed to continue in her current role until the board identifies her successor.

“Akemi’s tireless work in leading the museum during the last three-plus years has been nothing less than heroic, particularly during a time of critical leadership transition and the continuing economic recession,” said Board Chair Gordon Yamate.

“Our board deeply appreciates Akemi’s significant achievements during her 24 years of service to the National Museum. She served as the museum’s first curator and progressed to positions of increased responsibility and impact, serving as executive vice president before being named president and CEO in early 2008.

“We are fortunate to have her continued help to ensure a smooth and orderly transition to a new CEO as the museum completes an astonishing record of accomplishments over the past 25 years and prepares for the future.”

During Yano’s extended service, she has curated, written, and directed numerous award-winning exhibitions, publications, and educational products, bringing national and international recognition to the museum. Key initiatives under her leadership include the National Partnership Program, which conducts numerous community-based projects throughout the U.S.; international networks in Japan and Latin America through the “International Nikkei Research Project” and the award-winning global “Discover Nikkei” website; and the New Leadership Advisory Council, which has added approximately 250 new museum members in the 21-40 age bracket.

In December 2010, JANM received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums.

“When I agreed to come on board as the museum’s CEO, I promised the board that I would stay in that position for as long as necessary to strengthen the museum’s financial base and secure its future,” said Yano. “I am proud to say that I have fulfilled those promises during my tenure. Today, the museum is well positioned to meet exciting challenges and to continue telling the evolving stories of the Japanese American community, which is a truly unique and compelling American story. I will continue my devotion to and support of the museum in any way possible.”

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