Board of Directors
Michael Kurima - Co-President
Michael Kurima is a Management Consultant, specializing in helping healthcare companies with commercial strategy and commercial organizational design. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the JACL. Michael also serves on the Community Advisory Board of the San Diego Union-Tribune and co-chairs the Youth Impact and Education Task Force of the San Diego API Coalition.
Michael 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 M.B.A. 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.
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.
Taiga is a second-generation Japanese American and a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is an attorney that provides legal counsel regarding administrative law and regulatory compliance issues, in both litigation and transactional matters, though he serves on the Board in a non-legal capacity. His pro bono legal representation has included work for the National Veterans Legal Services Program, the American Civil Liberties Union, The Ocean Cleanup, the ABA Immigration Justice Project, the California Innocence Project, and other nonprofit organizations. Prior to becoming an attorney, he also worked as a consultant for San Diego Coastkeeper and as a law clerk for Earthjustice and the U.S. Department of Justice.
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 B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her M.F.A. from the University of Washington.
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.
David Kodama is a former journalist and 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.
Chiho Fell is a Client Success Manager at Kibo Commerce.
Bob Yonemitsu is a third-generation Japanese American, now retired from San Diego State University.
Rob Shinno is a Technologist, specializing in helping companies design and manufacture the products of the future. He has worked and consulted with Apple, Tesla, Intel, Boeing, Medtronic, Google, and many others on everything from airplanes to autonomous driving and 5G. Rob also produces and is a member of the band Hemisphere, an all original music band, who has been nominated for three San Diego Music awards over the years. He joined Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the JACL in August 2021.
Rob is a third-generation Japanese American who grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and has lived in San Diego since 1983. He has a B.S. in Engineering Arts from Michigan State University, where he graduated with honors. His parents were both Japanese Americans from Hilo, HI, and both went school in Chicago where his father was the Valedictorian of Northwestern University, before re-locating to Detroit.
Leo Tanaka joined Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the JACL in August 2021. He is a physician at UCSD, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, as well as a former senior flight surgeon, dive medical officer, and pararescue medical director.
Jyl Kaneshiro is a theatre, film, and television actor and co-founder of the Asian American Reperatory Theatre in San Diego. She joined Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the JACL in November 2021.
Alex Yamashiro is a Vice President and Relationship Manager in Business Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Prior to his current role at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex was a Portfolio Manager in the Middle Market division at Bank of America and US Bank and was a Portfolio Manager and Relationship Manager at Comerica Bank. He is originally from Michigan and earned a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University. Alex joined Board of Directors for the San Diego Chapter of the JACL in November 2021.
Recent Board Alumni
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.