Board Members

Michael Kurima - Co-President

Michael Kurima is an Associate Principal at ZS Associates, a global consulting firm specializing in Sales and Marketing. Michael focuses on commercial strategy and re-organizations with small and large biotech companies in the Bay Area, mostly focusing on the BioOncology and Specialty Pharmaceutical sector. He has been based in Chicago, Tokyo, Princeton, and now the US West Coast during his time with ZS. Before business school, Michael worked in management in the service industry in Western Japan.

Michael has been active in the JACL since moving to Carlsbad with his wife and 2 children in 2011 and is currently serving as President of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter. He is a fourth-generation Japanese American who has lived 10 years in Japan and 6 years in Germany. He has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University in his hometown of Dallas, TX, and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina.

Jon Yokoyama - Co-President

Jonathan Yokoyama came to San Diego when he attended San Diego State University and earned his degree in Business Finance. For the past 10 years he has worked in banking and the financial services industry. 

Joining the JACL was influenced by his upbringing in Huntington Beach, CA while actively engaged with various Japanese American organizations. His involvement with the community included contributing to community events with Wintersburg Presbyterian Church, and Yonsei Basketball Association while playing on their basketball and baseball sports teams.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his longtime girlfriend, Jenna and their two rescue dogs, Toby, a miniature dachshund and Noodles, a chow-Weimaraner mix.

Sidney Shiroma - Treasurer

Sidney Shiroma grew up in Waipahu, HI, which for much of its history was known as a sugar plantation town.  Growing up, he went to the local Japanese language school run by the Hongwanji church.  Walking to the Japanese school located in the old camp, he had to walk on dirt roads which were occasionally sprayed with tar to keep down the dust.  He had to be wary of the haul cane trucks which when they passed by would shower him with a backdraft of dust and residual particles of burnt cane.

From those humble beginnings, he moved to San Diego, where he started a small college textbook publishing company. He became interested in the JACL while doing research on ideas for books to publish in Asian American Studies. Sidney is currently working on a book on the JACL which will include a chapter on the history of the San Diego chapter.

Cory Mitsui - Secretary

Cory Mitsui is the Electric Distribution Control Center Manager at San Diego Gas and Electric, overseeing daily operations of the San Diego electric distribution system.  Cory obtained a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and achieved a M.B.A. in Organizational Leadership from National University. While in his position, he has made contributions and helped organize events for several professional organizations including the Transmission Maintenance Management Association, Distributech, and the IEEE Power Engineering Society chapter in San Luis Obispo. 

Originally from the Los Angeles region, Cory is a fourth generation Japanese American. He has actively participated in the "Annual Day of Remembrance" for Japanese Internment during WWII, held in Washington D.C. and the "Japanese Americans in Baseball" exhibit that traveled to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. 

Joanne Hayakawa

Joanne Hayakawa is a multi-media artist and professor of art emeritus from San Diego State University.  She was born in Pasadena, California, and has resided in San Diego since 1982.  She has taught, lectured and exhibited in galleries, universities, museum, art centers and diverse art venues throughout the country and internationally.  After serving as a selection panelist and participating on the Commission for Art and Culture Public Art Master Plan Steering Committee, she was appointed by the mayor to the Commission for eight years where she also served on the City’s Public Art Committee, Education Committee and Executive Committee.

Joanne received her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her MFA from the University of Washington.  

Mitsuo Tomita

Mits Tomita is a physician who retired from Kaiser Permanente. In addition to being a current Board member of the San Diego JACL, Mits was on the Board of Directors for the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC). Most notably, he served as the Chair of the (City of San Diego) Mayor’s Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board.


Taiga Takahashi

Taiga Takahashi is an attorney at Latham & Watkins, a global law firm with offices in 14 countries around the world.  Taiga primarily practices in administrative and public law, with a focus on compliance with and challenges to federal, state, and local environmental and land-use regulations, and represents clients in a range of business sectors, including renewable energy, conventional power, commercial products, real estate development, and agriculture. Before law school, Taiga served in the military as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.  During graduate school at U.C. San Diego, Taiga worked as a consultant for San Diego Coastkeeper and the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties.  During law school, Taiga clerked at the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and at the California Regional Office of Earthjustice.  ​Taiga is a second-generation Japanese American who hails from the Midwest.  He has a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.P.I.A., with a specialization in statistical analysis, from the University of California, San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (now the School of Global Policy and Strategy), and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, with a specialization in Environmental Law.

David Kodama 

David Kodama is a former journalist and the Director at Cook + Schmid, a public relations and marketing firm in San Diego. He is also a former board member of the ABA San Diego. He came to San Diego as a youth from the Imperial Valley where he spent many years on a family farm. He graduated from SDSU with a degree in English. 


Gabby Masuda

Robert Yonemitsu

Chiho Fell

Advisory Council

Robert Ito
Robert P. Ito, CEO of Ito Girard & Associates, has over 40 years of experience in workforce and community development and real estate development in San Diego.  A San Diego native raised in Encanto, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from USIU and Masters in Social Work from San Diego State University.  He is the former founding CEO of both Occupational Training Services (OTS) and the San Diego Community Housing Corporation.  Career highlights includes: 30,000 jobs for low income San Diegans; administered $30 million in Federal, State, and Local funds; developed 1,200 affordable rental units providing housing for 3,650 people and developed and sold 160 homes to low and moderate income first time homebuyers.

Carolyn Aoki, MA, SPHR

Carolyn Aoki is a third generation Japanese-American (sansei) and is Japanese, German and Irish.  Carolyn studied sociology at UCLA, with a concentration on Race and Ethnicity, and later obtained a Master’s degree. She is a strategic human resources leader with over 13 years of experience and a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion and equal opportunity employment.