The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has named Marissa Kitazawa as the new Associate Regional Director/Program Director for the Pacific Southwest District (PSW). She will be responsible for the Pacific Southwest District and coordinating several youth programs.
Kitazawa is a graduate of Pitzer College with a B.A. in Media Studies and Economics. Her Media Studies thesis was based on the power of community and oral history. She created a documentary about her Grandmother’s experience during WWII, specifically her survival of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. As a fourth generation Japanese American, Kitazawa feels it is important to continue to educate the youth about history and activism as tools for social teaching.
At Pitzer College, Kitazawa was active in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community and led workshops and open forum discussions to create dialogue among her peers. She held several leadership positions in the API community and was the Head Sponsor in the Asian American Sponsor program for three years and the co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Coalition. It was a combination of her education and community engagement that inspired her to pursue a career in the API community.
Since graduating, Kitazawa has been working at the JACL – PSW for the past year serving as a Program Associate for the Community and Cultural Program. She has coordinated several of the PSW District programs: Camp Musubi, Youth CAN and the Collegiate Japanese American Internship.
She also produced and directed JACL’s Passing Down the Legacy documentary. This documentary follows the Bridging Communities program and explores how the Japanese American and American Muslim communities have used two traumatic historical events to create a proactive program for change. The film highlights the power of cross-cultural collaboration in forging a more compassionate future.
She is excited to continue and expand her work at JACL.
Floyd Mori, National Executive Director of the JACL, stated: “We are happy to have Marissa serve as the Associate Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest District. Her experience will be valuable to the JACL in continuing the programs in PSW.”