National Youth / Student Council
National Youth Chair: Jess Juanich
Jess Juanich is a first-generation college student in his senior year at Seattle University. He is double-majoring in Public Affairs and Political Science. Jess plans to attend law school and work with underrepresented communities in Seattle. He is a legal assistant for the King County Bar Associaiton’s Housing Justice Project. Jess is involved with the JACL as the current National Youth / Student Council Chair and is a board member on the Seattle JACL chapter. He enjoys making music covers and travel vlogs on his Youtube channel.
National Youth Representative: Mieko Kuramoto
Mieko is currently a senior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majors in Spanish and American Studies. A mixed-race yonsei, Mieko was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and first became active with the JACL through the Wisconsin chapter. She attended her first JACL National Convention in 2015 and has been active with the NY/SC since then, first as the Eastern District Council Youth Representative and now through her role as the National Youth Representative. Mieko hopes to someday work in political advocacy for the Asian American Pacific Islander community and is passionate about Asian American and Asian Latin American studies, playing squash, dogs, and kettle corn.
Central California District Council (CCDC) Youth Representative: Jenna Aoki
Growing up gosei with grandparents incarcerated in World War II, Jenna was always familiar with the JACL, and decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Jenna participated in the Kakehashi Project and soon became a part of the NY/SC. She is now the Central California District Council (CCDC) NY/SC Youth Representative. Jenna is a senior in the Smittcamp Family Honors College at California State University, Fresno where she is majoring in Kinesiology- Physical Education and a minor in Physical Science.
In her her spare time, she enjoys baking and running a small business, Yumi Bakes.
Eastern District Council (EDC) Youth Representative: Caitlin Takeda
Caitlin Takeda is a senior at Brown University. She is majoring in Visual Arts and is a member of the Program in Liberal Medical Education, an eight-year undergraduate/medical school program affiliated with the Brown Warren Alpert School of Medicine. Caitlin has lived the majority of her life in Simi Valley, CA, and was introduced to the JACL through the Ventura County Chapter and by attending JACL events in Little Tokyo. Now based in Providence, RI, Caitlin is a member of the New England Chapter. Caitlin is passionate about healthcare equity, women’s healthcare, social justice, Japanese-American Incarceration, metalsmithing, film photography, collegiate taiko, and dogs.
Intermountain District Council (IDC) Youth Representative: Brian Heleker, Quinn Susuki
Quinn Susuki began his involvement with the Snake River Chapter of the JACL as a teen through family friends and JACL events. Though not always an active youth member, Quinn volunteered for events and fundraisers with the JACL and throughout high school. Quinn had been a youth/class representative on his chapter board through high school and attended the last two National Conventions. Quinn is currently an undergraduate Bioengineering major at Oregon State University and hopes to work toward solutions to future and current problems in that field. Quinn hopes to keep a focus on inclusivity and unity during his time as the Assistant Intermountain District Representative.
Brian Heleker was raised attending JACL gatherings and functions. Attending said events and being a part of the active JACL community in Ontario, Oregon did much to shape his childhood. Through activities like participating in the local judo dojo and volunteering at events like the annual crab feed, Brian absorbed the community’s values and the desire to contribute on a larger scale became evident. Before starting college, Brian served as a youth representative and learned what it was like to be involved on a broader platform. Now, as a young professional, he seeks to help increase the youth involvement and help amplify their voices.
Midwest District Council (MDC) Youth Representative: Kendal Takeshita
Kendal Takeshita is a second-year at Macalester College. He is currently studying Political Science and Data Science. Born in Bellevue, Washington and raised in Everett, Kendal is a 5th generation Japanese American, bilingual in English and Japanese. This is his first year as a youth representative and board member of the Twin Cities Chapter but he is always looking to more involved. One of his most memorable moments was visiting the Tule Lake internment camp in 2019 where his family was incarcerated during WWII.
Northern California Western Nevada Pacific (NCWNP) District Council Youth Representative: Marco Torrez
Pacific Northwest (PNW) District Council Youth Representative: Sheera Tamura
Sheera Tamura is currently an undergraduate student at Seattle University who is majoring in Social Work and minoring in Business Administration. She originally became active with the JACL through joining the Seattle Chapter and by being selected as a participant on the 2019 December Kakehashi Project. Furthermore, she is also very passionate about Asian American Social Justice and is planning to attend law school to work for underrepresented communities. Aside from JACL, she was the president of the Hawaii Federation of the Jr. Young Buddhist’s Association and was a member of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii. She aspires to continue building connections with Asians Americans nationwide and is excited to meet and network with members from all across the world.
Pacific Southwest (PSW) District Council Youth Representative: Justin Kawaguchi
Justin Kawaguchi is a junior at the University of Southern California majoring in Global Health with minors in Consumer Behavior and Public Relations. Born in Pasadena, California and raised in Thousand Oaks, he maintained engagement with the Japanese American community through involvement at the Senshin Buddhist Temple before founding his high school’s Japanese Culture Club, pushing for new spaces for diversity and inclusion on campus. At USC, he continues involvement with the API community through Directorship in the USC Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, Nikkei Student Union (NSU), and volunteering at the Japanese American National Museum. Recently, he has increased involvement with the Japanese American Citizens League after attending the Kakehashi program in December 2017. This past March he joined the PSW District Youth Board and is currently working to find ways to engage youth members and create a stronger Japanese community in Southern California.