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Irene Hirano Inouye Receives 2016 AAM Award for Distinguished Service to Museums

Category: Press Release


May 23, 2016

ARLINGTON, VA – Irene Hirano Inouye, President of the U.S.-Japan Council and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, will receive the American Alliance of Museums’ distinguished service award, recognizing more than three decades of her dedicated work and support to the museum community.

“Irene’s service has been exemplary, not only to the Alliance and the museum field, but to countless nonprofits and cultural institutions,” said AAM President and CEO Laura L. Lott. “The AAM Award for Distinguished Service to Museums recognizes sustained excellence and extraordinary service. Irene has made significant contributions to individual museums and to the entire museum profession and larger cultural community.”

Hirano Inouye will accept the award during the general session of the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Washington, DC on May 27.

Hirano Inouye served as President and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles for 20 years. JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience, including the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans by the US government during World War II.

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She has served as President of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) since its founding in late 2008. Hirano Inouye also administers the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership led by USJC and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. TOMODACHI was born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.   It invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs.

Hirano Inouye serves as a trustee and immediate past Chair of the Ford Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. She is on the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Board Member Emeritus of the National Museum of American History. She served as former Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Alliance of Museums and on the boards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Independent Sector and the Smithsonian Institution. She was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and has served on numerous other boards and advisory committees.

In a letter supporting Hirano Inouye’s nomination, William T. Harris, President and CEO of Space Center Houston and Vice Chair of the AAM Board, wrote, “Irene never hesitates to step forward if her efforts can help improve the lives of others.”

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance is the only organization representing the entire scope of the broad museum community. For more information, visit


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