Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) announced Nov. 30 that Mitchell Maki, Ph.D., has been named president and chief executive officer, effective Dec. 1.
Maki, 55, had been named interim president of the national nonprofit education center in July 2016, when he succeeded Vincent Beresford, Ph.D., in the leadership role.
Maki brings more than 30 years’ experience in higher education, social activism and civil rights leadership to GFBNEC, which educates the public about the valor and history of second-generation Japanese American veterans of World War II. He will focus on the continued growth of the center, which inspires new generations to embody the Nisei veterans’ core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism.
“Mitch has the experience, commitment and passion to lead GFBNEC in its next phase of growth,” said Bill Seki, GFBNEC’s chairman of the board. “He brings a deep understanding of the Japanese American World War II experience, a strong academic background, and the leadership needed to align with like-minded organizations that are committed to education, awareness and social justice. On behalf of the board, I’m pleased to welcome Mitch as we plan Go For Broke’s future and continue to honor the legacy of our Nisei veterans.”
Maki noted that the center’s role has become even more important given the current sociopolitical climate. “The legacy of our Nisei veterans is more relevant than ever today, as we engage in national discussions over the rights and duties of citizenship, the importance of due process and the rule of law in our democracy. Discriminatory practices against individuals based on the color of their skin, the God whom they worship, the person whom they choose to love, or their country of origin cannot be tolerated.
“Our World War II Nisei veterans believed in America’s promise — the promise that America is a land of laws under which all people are equal. They believed in America, even when America did not believe in them. Their courage and conviction of faith exemplify the best our nation can produce when we do not abandon our core values.”
A native of Monterey Park, Maki previously served as a vice president of academic affairs, a dean of two colleges, and a professor at CSU Los Angeles, CSU Dominguez Hills, and UCLA. An expert on the Japanese American redress movement, he is the lead author of the award-winning book “Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress” (University of Illinois Press, 1999), a case study of the history and passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
He has served on the advisory board to the California State Librarian and the boards of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Civil Liberties Public Education Project, and the Japanese American National Museum.
Maki holds a bachelor of science degree in public administration, a master’s degree and a doctorate in social work, all from the University of Southern California.
“Go For Broke” was the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Army unit composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland. The term was Hawaiian slang for “shooting the works,” or risking everything for the big win in gambling — as the Nisei soldiers did while fighting on the battlefields of Europe and facing prejudice at home in the U.S. Today, GFBNEC preserves the story of all Nisei World War II veterans, and uses their history to inspire others to work for social integrity, equality and justice.
Founded in 1989, GFBNEC is a nonprofit foundation that maintains the Go For Broke Monument and the interactive “Defining Courage” exhibition in downtown Los Angeles, as well as extensive oral histories and archives, education and training programs, and other initiatives. For more information, visit www.goforbroke.org.