Irene Hirano-Inouye

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Irene Hirano-Inouye

Template:TOCnestleft Irene Y. Hirano-Inouye (nee Yasutake) is the President of the U.S.-Japan Council and President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. She was married to United States Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, from 2008, until he died in 2012.


Born on October 7, 1948, in Los Angeles. Hirano's grandparents on her father's side came from Fukuoka, and her mother was born in Japan. Hirano was one of only three women in the University of Southern California's (USC) Public Administration Program at the time; she received her Bachelor of Science in Public Administration in 1970.Her sister, Patti Yasutake, played Nurse Ogawa on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Ford Foundation chair/achievements

28 May 2010 — The Ford Foundation announced today the election of Irene Hirano-Inouye as the next chair of its Board of Trustees.

Ms. Hirano-Inouye, who has served as a trustee since 2006, was elected yesterday by the full board to become the 10th board chair in the foundation's 75-year history. She succeeded Kathryn S. Fuller, who retired both as chair and a trustee after the board's September meeting.

Ms. Hirano-Inouye is a nationally recognized leader in the nonprofit sector, with more than 35 years experience in nonprofit administration, community education, and public affairs. She served as the president and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum from 1988 to 2008, bringing it to national prominence and affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. Ms. Hirano Inouye is the immediate past chair of the American Association of Museums, a standards-setting and best practices organization working with more than 3,000 institutions nationwide. She is also a trustee and served as chair of the Kresge Foundation from 2006 to 2008.

"Irene will bring to this role invaluable experience as a social entrepreneur, having built a large, independent, and mission-driven organization," said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. "Her national reputation has been built on a record of vision, collaboration, and accomplishment, as well as an unyielding commitment to the values of collective fairness and individual opportunity that lie at the heart of Ford's mission. She will play a critical role in guiding our work to improve lives and create opportunity for people throughout the world."
Under Ms. Hirano Inouye's leadership, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles grew into a national institution, opening its restored historic building in 1992 and expanding into a state-of-the-art 85,000-square-foot facility with programs in arts, culture and history in 1999. In 2005, she opened the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, the museum's third major expansion under her leadership.
Prior to her work in the museum field, for 13 years Ms. Hirano Inouye was the Executive Director of T.H.E. Clinic, a community clinic serving diverse women and families in southwest Los Angeles. She developed specialized health programs serving African American, Hispanic and Asian American women. Her work in serving women included serving as Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and founding the National Asian Pacific Women's Network.[1]

Awards and recognition

Among the awards Hirano Inouye has received for her work include ones from the Anti-Defamation League, the League of Women Voters, the National Education Association, the University of Southern California Alumni Association, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Arab American National Museum, the Asian American Federation, the Asian Justice Center, and the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.

Early non-profit career

Irene Hirano has dedicated her professional life to non-profit work supporting a number of important communities. She started her work in the field of public administration as the Executive Director of the T.H.E. Clinic, a non-profit community health facility for low and moderate income women and families. She worked at the clinic for thirteen years, during which time she discovered that there was a need for the public to understand the differences in the needs of people based on gender and cultural backgrounds


Unity June 20, 1984

In 1984 Irene Hirano T.H.E. Clinic in Los Angeles, was on the California steering committee of the Jesse Jackson campaign.

Ford Foundation

Irene Hirano-Inouye serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ford Foundation, as of April 14, 2010.[2]

Committee of 100 Celebrates Lunar New Year on Capitol Hill

On February 14, 2012 Committee of 100 hosted a “Year of the Dragon” Lunar New Year Reception in Washington D.C. in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building. The guests were Asian Pacific American leaders, Members of Congress and Congressional staffers, media representatives, and other honored guests.


Committee of 100 Chairman Dominic Ng, Representative Judy Chu (CA-32), Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) each addressed the approximately 120 guests. The Committee paid tribute to two members of the Committee’s Advisory Council, Irene Hirano and the Honorable J. Stapleton Roy, who were thankedd for their exemplary service and long-time support.

Other distinguished guests included: Representative Mike Honda (CA-15); Kenneth G. Lieberthal, Director of the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution; Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program; Kin Moy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; C.H. Tung, founding Chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation; Steve Orlins, President of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations; and Eugene Robinson, Columnist and Associate Editor of The Washington Post and 2011 alumnus of the C-100 Journalist Delegation Program.[3]

C-100 mourns death of Daniel Inouye

December 20, 2012, the Committee of 100 mourns the death of Senator Daniel Inouye.

Senator Inouye was a trailblazer in leading theprogress of Asian Americans in the United States. For more than half a century, Senator Inouye has been a paragon of public service and personal sacrifice. Along with his wife Irene Hirano-Inouye, the Senator actively advanced the Committee of 100's mission of bridging US-China relations and empowering the Asian American community. Mrs. Inouye is a devoted member of the C-100 Advisory Council.[4]

C-100 Advisory Council members

Committee of 100 Advisory Council membersAs of March 2018;[5]

External links