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Japanese American National museum hires CEO

G.W. Kimura, a fourth-generation Alaskan of Japanese and European heritage, will head the Little Tokyo institution as it struggles with fundraising and other challenges.

January 21, 2012|By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

Reflecting its diversifying community, the Japanese American National Museum announced Friday that it had hired a fourth-generation Alaskan of Japanese and European heritage as chief executive of one of Little Tokyo's most important institutions.

G.W. "Greg" Kimura, who headed the Alaska Humanities Forum, will take over the museum as it struggles with an aging donor base, fundraising difficulties and the challenge of appealing to younger and more assimilated Japanese Americans.

Gordon Yamate, chairman of the museum board, said Kimura's fundraising skills would be particularly needed, even as his institution has financially stabilized after retiring about $2 million in short-term debt in the past few years.

Kimura, 43, more than doubled revenue at the Alaska humanities council during his five-year tenure, Yamate said. Previously, Kimura taught religion and humanities at Alaska Pacific University, and is an ordained Episcopal minister.

The museum's announcement comes one week after a leadership change at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. Meanwhile, the longtime executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center also has announced his retirement.

Leadership changes at Little Tokyo's three most iconic institutions are aiming to serve an evolving Japanese American community as it diversifies with more intermarriage and greater geographical presence away from the old ethnic neighborhoods of the past.

teresa.watanabe@latimes.com

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