As Chair of the Foundation, Shirley Ann Higuchi, J.D., is the daughter of former Heart Mountain incarcerees, Dr. William I. Higuchi and the late Setsuko Saito Higuchi. Shirley’s parents were incarcerated as children. A farm boy from San Jose and a city girl from San Francisco, they sat next to each other in their 9th grade class picture, which now stands in the Interpretive Center. Years later, they recognized each other at the University of California, Berkeley, fell in love, got married, and the rest is history. Shirley’s pursuit of law stemmed from her feelings of discomfort toward how the U.S. judicial system treated her parents. It was not until her mother was on her deathbed in 2005 that Shirley began her involvement with the HMWF.
When Shirley’s family asked Setsuko where she wanted her “koden” or memorial contributions sent she said: “Heart Mountain.” Her answer stunned them and that was when Shirley discovered her mother’s secret dream of having “something built there” to memorialize what had happened to her family and others during that period of time. Shirley and her son attended the dedication ceremony of the walking tour on June 25, 2005, which was named in Setsuko’s honor, at Heart Mountain. It was when Shirley saw Heart Mountain and was overtaken by the number of attendees supporting the dedication, that she realized that this was not only a special place to Setsuko, but to many. Overtook by the importance of the place and the meaning it had to her mother, Shirley felt compelled to see her dream come to fruition. That year, Shirley stepped in to complete her mother’s term on the Board of Directors and was elected Chair in 2009. One of Shirley’s proudest moments was helping to unveil the Foundation’s world-class Interpretive Center in August 2011.
In addition to her work with Heart Mountain, Shirley currently leads the legal advocacy office of the American Psychological Association. Active in the District of Columbia Bar, Shirley served two elected terms on the Board of Governors from 1994 to 2000, served as Chair of the Bar’s Nominations Committee in 2001, and was elected President of the Bar for 2003. In 2008, Shirley was appointed to the Judicial Tenure and Disabilities Commission for a 6-year term where she was responsible for reviewing misconduct, evaluating reappointments, and conducting fitness reviews of the District’s judges. In 2014, Shirley was appointed to the Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) which screens federal judges to be sent to the White House for approval.
Shirley’s goal for the Foundation is to continue to make the Interpretive Center a world-class operation focused on education, policy, and research on the Japanese American incarceration experience during World War II.
Douglas Nelson is retired President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). For more than 20 years, he led AECF through one of the most remarkable and innovative transformations of a philanthropic organization—from a moderately-sized regional institution providing foster care services to disadvantaged children to one of the nation's most influential and respected large foundations. In 2010, President Jimmy Carter commended Nelson’s leadership, saying that “his service to our most disinvested and disenfranchised populations and to the overall betterment of America’s philanthropic missions has been extraordinary and all too rare.”
Among many other roles, Mr. Nelson serves as Chair of the CDC Foundation in Atlanta, GA; and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Carter Center. He is former Chair of Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative and former Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation Center in New York City. Mr. Nelson currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Race to Equity Project, a research-based initiative to increase racial equity in Dane County and the state of Wisconsin.
Mr. Nelson received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Suffolk University, an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University in 2010; the 2003 Whitney M. Young Award from the Urban League; and the Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award.
In addition to frequent lectures and addresses, Mr. Nelson has written widely on a range of domestic and social policy issues. His social history of the World War II internment of Japanese Americans entitled Heart Mountain earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1976. Mr. Nelson currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation as well as a member of the Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum.
Prior to joining the foundation in May 1990, Nelson was deputy director of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a Washington, D.C. Before that, he served as assistant secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services. He also studied and taught social history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Aura (Matsumura) Newlin is a faculty member at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, where she teaches Sociology and Anthropology and serves as the college’s Assessment Coordinator. She is Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. A fourth-generation Wyomingite, Ms. Newlin’s Japanese-American heritage involves intertwined stories of confinement at Heart Mountain, military service in the racially-segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and hardships suffered by Wyoming railroaders who were laid off as a result of their Japanese ancestry following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Ms. Newlin completed her doctoral coursework in medical anthropology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). She holds an M.A. in anthropology from CWRU, a graduate certificate in gerontology from CWRU, and a B.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wyoming. She has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Japan, and served as co-chair of the 2014 conference of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Her current scholarly interests include the "scholarship of teaching and learning" and the anthropology of law. As a teacher, she is dedicated to instilling in her students a heightened capacity for compassion and empathy toward those who are different from them.
Claudia Wade was born and raised in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming – just 72 miles from Heart Mountain. She is the executive director for the Park County Travel Council – a group responsible for bringing visitors to Park County. Claudia’s duties include administration of marketing grants, overseeing all financial aspects of the Travel Council, and developing and implementing countywide marketing strategies. For nearly 30 years Claudia has been promoting destination travel to Cody/Yellowstone Country. Today, more than ever, Claudia feels it is essential that the valuable lessons of Heart Mountain be shared with a worldwide audience and never hesitates to tell the story of the relocation camp, its people and its importance in Wyoming, United States and world history.
Claudia has served as an executive board member for the Park County Leadership Institute and is past present of Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition where she remains on the board of directors. She and her husband Tim, live in Cody and own North Fork Anglers, a fly fishing retail store and guide service and Tour Yellowstone guide service providing customized private day tours of area wildlife, history, Native American lore or Yellowstone National Park. Tim and Claudia enjoy living in Cody and sharing its history and beauty with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Damany Fisher, a native of Sacramento, California, is a teacher and scholar who teaches both secondary and post-secondary education. After receiving his doctorate in history at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008, Damany taught for four years at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in Walnut, California. It was there that he developed a relationship with Bacon Sakatani, a Mt. SAC graduate and former Heart Mountain internee. After inviting Bacon to speak to his class and hearing Bacon's personal experience in the camps, Damany developed a deep interest in learning more about the Japanese American experience during World War II and finding new and innovative ways to educate and engage young people about these concentration camps. In 2013, Damany began teaching at Phillips Academy Andover, in Andover, Massachusetts, one of the oldest and most prestigious boarding schools in the nation. In addition to his teaching, Damany has a wealth of knowledge and experience in designing curriculum, particularly around issues of race and social justice.
Darrell Kunitomi is the newest addition to the Heart Mountain Board. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times for 37 years in the Communications Department, giving speaking engagements on behalf of the newspaper and giving tours around the newspaper's offices to individuals and groups. Over that time, he has become the company's historian. He has also written articles on the outdoors for The Times. Darrell is a member of the Grateful Crane Theater Ensemble, an organization that creates performances around Japanese and Japanese American stories. Kunitomi's parents were incarcerated at Heart Mountain. His older brother Dale was born at the Heart Mountain Hospital.
Takashi (Tak) Hoshizaki earned his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961, worked as a research scientist at the Space Biology Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, UCLA for 13 years and retired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in 1989. He was twice president of the Southern California Academy of Sciences; published numerous scientific papers and articles; served as a consultant to NASA, Los Angeles County and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Dr. Hoshizaki was one of the 63 Resisters of Conscience at Heart Mountain who in 1944 contested the legality of the WWII Japanese American confinement. He spent two years in a federal penitentiary as a result. He later served two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Kris Horiuchi is a landscape architect and founding principal of Horiuchi Solien Inc. She received an undergraduate degree in Biology from Amherst College, a Masters in Forest Science from Yale University, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University. She is the daughter of Heart Mountain incarceree, Katsuhiro Horiuchi. Raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Together with partner Daniel Solien, she has designed award-winning landscapes throughout New England, including the 9/11 Memorial at Logan Airport in Boston. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a LEED accredited professional by the US Green Building Council. In 2011, Horiuchi Solien Inc. was inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame.
Jack Ybarra is the Founder/President of Transmetrics, Inc., a civil engineering firm based in Campbell, California. In business for the past 34 years, the firm provides design services to public entities seeking to improve or develop light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail or high speed rail facilities. Before the formation of Transmetrics, Jack operated a transport consulting company.
Jack is married to Grace M. Kubota, a San Jose attorney and former internee at Heart Mountain Concentration Camp. Grace’s parents were both active supporters of the Fair Play Committee and the resistance movement. Her father, Guntaro Kubota served time in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary along with the members of the Fair Play Committee and the young resisters of conscience.
Jack was born in Newman, California. During the early sixties, Jack worked with Cesar Chavez and the National Farmworkers Association (NFWA). Later he became the leader of the Confederacion de La Raza Unida, a coalition of sixty four Mexican American civil rights organizations in San Jose, California. During the early 1970’s Jack worked with Mayor Norman Mineta to convert the San Jose Municipal Airport to an International Airport by adding AeroMexico service to San Jose. He served as a Santa Clara County Transportation Commissioner and served as its Chairman for 2 years.
Currently Jack is an active participant in several state and International public transport organizations.
Allyson Nakamoto is the Director of Education at the Japanese American National Museum. She has had the opportunity to work with students and teachers in Los Angeles and around the nation to develop a deeper understanding of the Japanese American World War II experience and its contemporary implications. Her family was incarcerated at Poston, Arizona, but as a member of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation board, she has gained a very special admiration for Heart Mountain, its descendants, and for the people of Wyoming.
Sam Mihara is a second generation Japanese American and was born and raised in San Francisco, California. When World War II broke out, the United States government forced Sam, at age 9 years, and his family to move to a remote prison camp in northern Wyoming, where they stayed for three years. Sam and his family lived in one 20-square-foot room in barrack 14-22-C.
After the war ended, the family returned to San Francisco. Sam attended Lick Wilmerding High School, UC Berkeley and UCLA, where he obtained graduate degrees in engineering. He became a rocket scientist and executive with The Boeing Company. Following retirement from Boeing, Sam created his own high-tech consulting firm and with clients around the world.
Seventy years have passed since the incarceration and Sam is one of the few survivors of the Japanese-American imprisonment who actively speaking about his experiences. Sam has spoken to schools, colleges, attorney groups and other interested organizations. In his presentation, Sam discusses the details of how he and his family were forced out of their home by soldiers, moved to the guarded camp where they lived and suffered throughout the war, and finally released to return home after the war ended. He also describes the redress movement that resulted in a formal apology from the government. And he concludes his talks with lessons learned that apply to everyone, not just Japanese Americans.
Dana Ono is currently an Executive-in-Residence at several U.S. universities where he is involved in the creation of life science companies from promising inventions and technologies. Prior to this activity, Dana was most recently, co-founder and Managing Director of the VIMAC Milestone Medica Fund LP, a Boston-based early stage life sciences fund. He is the son of a Heart Mountain incarceree, Fumi Yokoyama. His experience includes over 30 years of general management at public and private biotech companies in addition to venture capital. A founding director of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Inc., Dana is a frequent spokesperson for the industry. He has written numerous scientific and popular articles in addition to authoring two books.
An evolutionary biologist, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, and is a member of the Explorers Club. He has also served on the board of the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund. Dana received his AB in Earth & Planetary Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University and his AM and PhD in Biology from Harvard University where he also completed a program in business administration. In his spare time, Dana is an avid fly fisherman and has fished all over the world in pursuit of anything that will take his fly!
Dr. Simpson is an adjunct professor and the Milward Simpson Professor of Political Science at the University of Wyoming. He began his career as a college administrator. While serving as Dean of Instruction at Sheridan College, he was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature. In 1984, he became Vice President for Development and Executive Director of the University of Wyoming Foundation and later served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. He is the brother of U.S. Senator Alan Simpson (retired) and son of former Wyoming Governor and U.S. Senator Milward Simpson.
Marc is a Senior Software Architect at Erlang Solutions, Inc. A Bay Area native, he is the son of internees of Heart Mountain and Topaz. His uncle, Takashi Hoshizaki, is also a Board Member.
Prior to joining the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors, Marc served six years on the Board of Trustees of The College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA, his alma mater, where among other roles he co-chaired the Head Search committee, chaired the Strategic Planning Steering committee, co-chaired the Governance Committee, and at various times was a member of the Head House Task Force, the Head Compensation Task Force, Diversity Committee, Buildings and Grounds Committee, and Audit Committee. He continues to serve on The College Preparatory School Advisory Council.
Marc has more than 30 years of software development experience. A published author, he wrote his first magazine articles and books while in high school. He has presented at Sybase User Group Meetings, the Colorado Software Summit, Erlang Factory San Francisco, and the Erlang User Conference Stockholm. At Erlang Solutions he works with customers to design, develop, review, and troubleshoot software systems written in Erlang. He also delivers tutorials and training classes at conferences, meetups, and in private sessions with clients.
He holds a Bachelors of Science in Engineering and Masters of Engineering from Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA).
Shigeru “Shig” Yabu was born in San Francisco, California on June 13, 1932. During mid-May 1942, his family was sent to the Pomona Assembly Center due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Four months later, they were sent to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, in between Cody and Powell, Wyoming. Shig and his family lived in Lower Block 14-2-C. When their next door neighbor closed the flute of his Pot Belly Stove, it created black smoke throughout the entire barrack. The Fire Department thought the fire was in their room because their neighbor and Shig’s family used the same chimney. Shig and his family moved to Block 9 before moving to Block 14-1-C.
While at Heart Mountain, Shig enjoyed having variety of pets, but his favorite was a magpie bird which he named Maggie and she was able to say many words, whistle and imitate laughter. Shig enjoyed playing various sports, hiking, swimming, and fishing, and was involved with Boy Scout Troop 333. When Japan surrendered to the Allies, the WRA encouraged the internees to leave as soon as possible. Shig’s family did not leave because Shig’s stepfather was an illegal alien. This was the loneliest period of time for Shig and two weeks before his family left, Maggie passed away. His family left Heart Mountain on the next to last train in the fall of 1945.
When Shig attended Galileo High School, he participated in the basketball and swim teams. In 1951, he joined the Navy and after recruitment training, attended the Hospital Corps School. He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego and later transferred to the Eleventh Naval District Headquarters in San Diego. After being honorably discharged, he started college and graduated from San Diego College. Afterwards, he was involved with the San Diego Boys Club, the Santa Monica Boys, and became the Executive Director of the Boys Club of Camarillo.When Shig turned 60 years old, he participated in the Senior Olympic Basketball. In 1974, Shig was the Man of the Year for Camarillo. He joined the Heart Mountain Board of Directors around 1997 and wrote two books titled Doggone Excuses People Make for Smoking and Hello Maggie. A Boy of Heart Mountain was written by Barbara Bazaldua, a retired Disney author and Willie Ito and Shig Yabu are owners of the book company called Yabitoon Books.
Hanako Wakatsuki is the Education Specialist at the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum where she serves as the Volunteer, Tour, and Events Coordinator and develops educational programs for students and the general public. With approximately nine years of experience in the museum and public history field, she is currently on a part-time detail with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as the Regional Advisor for the Regional Network. Hanako is actively engaged in the preservation of Japanese American incarceration history during WWII and volunteers for the National Park Service at Tule Lake, Minidoka, and Manzanar National Historic Sites, and is also serving as a board member for the Friends of Minidoka.
Hanako received her BA in History and BS in Political Science from Boise State University, and her MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She is passionate about visitor services and making cultural institutions accessible to the community while bridging the gap between academia and the public.
Kathleen Saito Yuille was born at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center and has served on the board of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation since 2009. She was the event chair of the 2011 Grand Opening of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and has been on the planning committee of the annual Pilgrimage at Heart Mountain. She will be co-chairing the 2016 July Pilgrimage.
After leaving Heart Mountain, Kathleen’s family returned to San Francisco. She attended the University of California at Berkeley and later accepted a dietetic internship at the University of Michigan where she met her husband, David Yuille. After working as a dietitian in the public/private sector in Michigan and the San Francisco Bay Area, she and David moved from the West Coast and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she became an active member of the Milwaukee Art Museum and served as board president of the Contemporary Art Society and as co-chair of two Contemporary Art Auctions, a major fundraising event for the purchase of art for the museum. She currently serves on the Milwaukee Art Museum Board of Trustees.
LaDonna Zall, a retired educator, is Acting Curator and serves as the principal docent and custodian of the Heart Mountain artifact collections. A pipeliner's daughter, she was ten years old when she watched the last train leave Heart Mountain carrying internees after World War II ended. She felt a connection to the Japanese Americans, many of whom had been confined over three years. As a docent, she has guided thousands of visitors around the Heart Mountain site, including students ranging from elementary to college age to adults from nearby schools, from across the United States, and from around the world.