The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is overseen by an 18-member Board of Directors led by Shirley Ann Higuchi, a descendant of Heart Mountain incarcerees. The Board includes former incarcerees, descendants, scholars, and other local and national professionals from across the country.
The daughter of two former Heart Mountain incarcerees, Dr. William I. Higuchi and the late Setsuko Saito Higuchi, Shirley became a lawyer in part because of her discomfort with how the legal system treated her parents and their families. After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center, she was an attorney for the Washington firm of Epstein Becker Green before leaving to head the legal advocacy office of the American Psychological Association. She is a past president of the District of Columbia Bar and is a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Nominating Commission appointed by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. In Spring 2020, her book Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press. “I would not be here if not for the incarceration,” she said. Shirley serves as the Heart Mountain board chair as a tribute to her family and to the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II and to make sure that something like this never happens again.
Douglas made his first trip to Wyoming in 1968 as a graduate student at the University of Wyoming. That’s when he first learned about the concentration camp at Heart Mountain, which became the topic of his master’s thesis. The thesis became a book – Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp – and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Doug is the retired president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which for more than 20 years he transformed from a philanthropic organization to one of the nation’s most influential and respected large foundations. In 2010, President Jimmy Carter commended his 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, Doug serves as chair of the CDC Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia; 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. Doug is also one of the creative forces behind the new Heart Mountain Institute, which is developing content to spread the word of the incarceration beyond the confines of the former camp site.
Aura is an assistant professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. She is also an advisory board member for the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. A fourth-generation Wyomingite, her Japanese-American heritage involves intertwined stories of confinement at Heart Mountain, Tule Lake, and Manzanar; military service in the racially segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and hardships suffered by Wyoming railroaders who were fired after the Pearl Harbor attack because of their Japanese ancestry. Aura is pursuing a Ph.D. in 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 her current scholarly interests include legal anthropology and the “scholarship of teaching and learning.” 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 was born and raised in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming – just 72 miles from Heart Mountain. She is the executive director of the Park County Travel Council and has been doing destination marketing for Cody and Park County Wyoming for more than 30 years. Claudia believes the valuable lessons of Heart Mountain must 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 is one of the co-chairs of Heart Mountain’s new fundraising committee for the planned project dedicated to the work of Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson.
Kris grew up in Los Angeles, and currently lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Her father, Katsuhiro Horiuchi, and his family were incarcerated at Heart Mountain. She is a founding principal of Horiuchi Solien Inc, an award-winning landscape architecture practice that designed the 9/11 Memorial Park at Boston Logan Airport. She has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects for her distinguished contributions to the profession. Kris holds a Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College, a Master of Forest Science from Yale University, and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Kris joined the board after a family reunion at the opening of the Interpretive Center in 2011. Since then, she and her parents have returned to the annual pilgrimages, and both her children have volunteered at the Interpretive Center.“Heart Mountain has connected all of us as we honor our family’s history, their personal hardship and their extraordinary perseverance to rebuild their lives after the war,” she said. Kris’ work on the Facilities Committee focuses on preserving and interpreting the original camp property. “The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center — and the stories that we tell — shine a light on a dark chapter of American history and the unjust mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. Our stewardship here, combined with our broader efforts to protect civil liberties everywhere, ensure that the lessons of Heart Mountain remain relevant and endure.”
Takashi was 16 when he first arrived at Heart Mountain in 1942 after spending his childhood in Hollywood, where his father owned a grocery store. Early on in the incarceration, he determined that he would not enlist in the Army while he and his family were imprisoned without trial. He carried that commitment to federal prison in 1944 after he and 62 other Nisei men were convicted of resisting the draft. He spent two years in the federal prison in McNeil Island, Washington, returned to Los Angeles and attended college. Takashi 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 and 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. Takashi did not resist the draft because he did not want to serve in the military; he did not want to serve a country that had unjustly imprisoned him, his family and 120,000 other Japanese Americans. During the Korean War, he was drafted again and served two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
An attorney practicing law in Boulder, Colorado, Julia is a graduate of Stanford University Law School with a bachelor’s degree from Stanford as well. She has been active in environmental and reproductive law issues. Her grandfather, George Ishiyama, was a Heart Mountain incarceree who later established a company that worked extensively in Japan and around the world.
Darrell has worked for the Los Angeles Times for 40 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. He is a member of two of the most notable families of the incarceration. His father Jack was the sports editor of the Heart Mountain Sentinel and a member of the Military Intelligence Service. His aunt Sue Kunitomi Embrey was a leader of the Manzanar pilgrimages and the Manzanar Committee. His uncle Ted Fujioka was the first student body president of Heart Mountain High School; Ted died in France while serving as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Darrell’s older brother Dale was born in the Heart Mountain hospital.
Sam is a second-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in San Francisco. He and his family were incarcerated at Heart Mountain, where his grandfather died because of poor medical care and his father went blind because of the harsh conditions. 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. Sam is one of the few survivors of the Japanese-American imprisonment who actively speaking about his experiences in engagements around the country to schools, colleges, attorney groups and other interested organizations. His presentations document 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. In 2018, he received the National Council of History Education’s Paul A. Gagnon Prize for his teaching of the Japanese American incarceration and its lessons for today.
A native of Torrance, California, Lia is a public affairs consultant based in Sacramento. Her experience in economic development policy spans the local, state, and international levels. She also serves on the board of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) Greater Sacramento Chapter. Lia holds a B.A. from California State University Long Beach and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Lia is the granddaughter of Heart Mountain incarcerees and her grandfather served in the Military Intelligence Service.
Dana 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 the 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. Dana’s 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. An evolutionary biologist, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., 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 A.B. in Earth & Planetary Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University and his M.A. and Ph.D. 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!
Eric is professor emeritus of American studies at the University of Wyoming. He was also the founding director of the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research. His scholarly writing concentrates on American photography, including depictions of the wartime Heart Mountain experience, and American landscapes. He became involved in the development of what became the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in the late 1990s and maintained contact through seminars that he taught at UW, several of which involved field trips to northern Wyoming, often in winter. He is particularly interested in locating the many barrack fragments that were the building blocks of the post-war landscape between Cody and Powell. Eric was a leader in developing the teaching programs that won a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Pete grew up in the shadow of Heart Mountain in nearby Cody, Wyoming, and visited the camp as a Boy Scout for jamborees with the incarcerated Japanese American scouts. Pete 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. Sen. Alan Simpson (retired) and son of former Wyoming governor and U.S. senator Milward Simpson. Pete’s commitment to Heart Mountain is deeply rooted in the experiences of him and his family during the war and their friendship with many of the former incarcerees and their families.
Marc is a software engineer at Datometry. A Bay Area native, he is the son of internees of Heart Mountain and Topaz. His uncle, Takashi Hoshizaki, is also a board member. Before he joined the Heart Mountain board, Marc served six years on the board of the trustees of The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California, his alma mater, and led multiple committees and task forces. 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. He delivers tutorials and training classes at conferences, meetups, and in private sessions with clients. He holds a B.S. in engineering and a master’s of Engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. Marc brings a strong sense of social justice to his work on the board and a commitment to ensuring the foundation’s finances are strong enough for it to endure long into the future.
Prentiss Susumu Uchida was a 1-year-old when he and his family were sent to the Walerga Assembly Center as a result of Executive Order 9066. Months later, in 1942, the family was sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Center, and in September1943, the family was transferred to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. After the war, the family returned to Cupertino, California. Prentiss grew up on the farm and then the family moved to town in San Jose. He received a BA in Mathematics from San Jose State University and upon completing college, worked for the Lockheed Missile and Space Company. During the next 40 years, as a serial entrepreneur, Prentiss held positions in both private and public companies; including founder and CEO of Vector General (a pioneer company in interactive computer graphics), CEO of the Inner Game (a training and development company founded by Tim Gallwey), and CEO of Secom General (a NASDAQ mini-conglomerate of automotive component manufacturers). Additionally, he was a founder and director of Instar Infomatiqué (a French medical software company), and a founder and director of Kahootz (an enterprise software company). At Vector General he was the architect of the graphics workstation that generated real-time, dynamic three-dimensional images used in the original Star Wars movie. Vector General CAD applications were used by Boeing, Lockheed, Chunichi Shimbun, Nijmegen University, Brown University, among others. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Stanford University / Western Electronic Management Association Executive Institute, and on the Los Angeles Board of Directors of the United Way. Prentiss is currently a volunteer mentor and teacher for SCORE, sponsored by the SBA. He lives in Moorpark, California, has 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
Shigeru “Shig” Yabu was born in San Francisco, was sent as a child to the Pomona Assembly Center and then to Heart Mountain, where he enjoyed having variety of pets. His favorite was a magpie bird that he named Maggie, who was able to say many words, whistle and imitate laughter. His family was on the next-to-last train leaving Heart Mountain in November 1945, just days after Maggie the magpie died. 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 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. He joined the Heart Mountain Board of Directors around 1997 and wrote two books – Doggone Excuses People Make for Smoking and Hello Maggie: A Boy of Heart Mountain with Barbara Bazaldua and legendary animator Willie Ito.
She was one of the 556 children born at Heart Mountain, where her parents, two older brothers and older sister were incarcerated. After the war, the Saito family returned to San Francisco, where Kathleen graduated from high school before attending the University of California, Berkeley. She now lives in Milwaukee, 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. She is now a tireless advocate for the preservation of the memory of the Japanese American incarceration, an interest that began when her daughter’s fifth grade class assignment rekindled her sense of family history.
A retired educator, LaDonna is the acting curator and serves as the principal docent and custodian of the Heart Mountain artifact collections. A pipeliner’s daughter, she was 10 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.