Our Team

Graphic showing organizational chart

Board of Directors

The Little Tokyo Community Investment Fund is managed by a Board of Directors (the “Board”) elected by the Shareholders. While the Board will oversee the Fund and its Properties, it will not directly manage any of Properties. The Board is authorized to employ, on behalf of the Fund, at the Fund’s expense, legal, financial, tax, accounting, and other professionals.

Size of the Board: The Board will initially have twelve (12) total directors (each, a “Director”), although it may have as few as five (5) and as many as twenty-four (24) Directors, with the number to be fixed within these limits by the Board.

Makeup of the Board: To anchor the LTCIF to its social purpose, and in order to ensure that the LTCIF remains one based in the community, the Board has been designed to ensure that representatives of each class of Shareholders has the opportunity to participate in LTCIF decision-making and that its social purpose is ensured, as follows:

  • Class A Directors: Irrespective of the amount of capital invested by Class A Shareholders, no less than one-third (1/3) of the directors of the Board shall be elected by the Class A Shareholders. Any fractional amount shall be rounded up.
  • Class B Directors: All remaining directors shall be appointed by the Class B Shareholders.
  • The Non-Profit Observer: The Board will invite no less than one non-voting representative of Little Tokyo’s social, cultural, and community institutions to attend, observe, and engage in meetings. The Non-Profit Observer must be a current employee or board member of an eligible non-profit institution (“Anchor Institutions”). Non-profit institutions may be added or removed to the list of Anchor Institutions at the discretion of the Board.

For illustration purposes, with an initial Board of 12 Directors, 4 could be Class A Directors and 8 would then be Class B Directors. 1 Non-Profit Observer would also attend, observe, and engage in Board meetings but would not vote.

Board Officers

Bill Watanabe, President
Bill Watanabe was the founding Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) in downtown Los Angeles. For 32 years, he guided its growth, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, from a one-person staff to a multi-faceted social service and community development program with 150 paid staff, many of whom are bilingual in any of eight Asian Pacific languages and Spanish. Bill retired from LTSC in June 2012. While at LTSC Bill helped to establish several key service organizations such as the Asian Pacific Community Fund, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Center, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, and the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC). Bill is also the founder of the API National Historic Preservation Forum. Bill has an MSW from UCLA, is married, and has one daughter. He lives in Silver Lake near downtown Los Angeles.

Miya Iwataki, Vice-President
Miya Iwataki retired as Director of Diversity and Cultural Competency, leading the establishment of a Cultural and Linguistic infrastructure for the LA County Health system which provides services for over 3.4 million visits a year for patients speaking 98 languages. Miya was Executive Director of the first Asian Women Center in the U.S. She was sponsored by United Nations NGO to UN Decade For Women Convention in Nairobi, Kenya. She worked in media at KCET-TV; produced weekly radio programs at KPFK-FM (10+ years); and served as National Press Secretary for Congressman Mervyn Dymally. She was national legislative director for Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR), a grassroots organization advocating for successful enactment of Redress/Reparations legislation for Americans of Japanese ancestry unjustly imprisoned in camps during WWII. Miya is Vice President of Little Tokyo Historical Society and a columnist for the Rafu Shimpo.

Steve Nagano, Secretary
Steve Nagano is a former secondary school teacher and is currently a resident of Little Tokyo. He is a longtime community activist and is currently is involved with the Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS), Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR), as well as a board member of the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council (HCNC). Since moving to Little Tokyo, his involvement has deepened as an organizer of Little Tokyo Sparkle (a community-wide cleanup day), a participant with Sustainable Little Tokyo, and as a Digital Histories (Visual Communications) filmmaker. With his father born on 4th St., an office in the Firm Building, and a member of the Olivers, his family roots in Little Tokyo reach back to the 1920s.

Mark Masaoka, Treasurer
Mark Masaoka, was formerly Policy Director of the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON) from 2008-2017. Previously, he was the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Los Angeles County Children’s Planning Council from 2004-2008, and Director of the Human Services Alliance from 2001-2004. Mark was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates.

Matthew Kobata, Assistant Treasurer
Matthew Kobata has 23 years experience in the financial services industry. Matt is a graduate of California State University Northridge, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics. He also holds the Certified Financial Planner designation.

Board of Directors

Natalie Masuoka, PhD
Midori Mizuhara, MCP
Stephanie Nitahara
Kevin Sanada, MPP
Glenn Sanada
Takao Suzuki, MURP
Dean Toji, PhD

Nonprofit Observer

Kristin Fukushima, Little Tokyo Community Council

Advisory Board

Lisa Hasegawa
Patty Nagano
Casey Nishizu
Ryan Sugasawara
Kenta Takamori
Mike Wright

Featured image: Original artwork by Shizu Saldamando