JACL Board

Board Members

Lauren Morimoto, Co-President

Phyllis Tajii, Co-President

Phyllis is a sansei (third generation) Japanese American whose grandparents and a great-grandfather immigrated from Japan.  All of her relatives living in America during WWII were incarcerated.

Born in San Jose, California, Phyllis’ family moved to Sonoma County when she was a teenager, and she became a member of the Sonoma County Jr. JACL for several years.  After leaving the area for college and work, she moved back to the county in 1985, grateful to live in an area with beautiful open spaces and the camaraderie of family and good friends and allies.

Becky Brendlin Sugiyama, Secretary

Born and raised in Santa Rosa, Becky graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1967 and San Francisco State University in 1983 with a BA in Liberal Arts and a teaching credential. She had a career as a florist, and owned her own floral business in Seattle, WA. She has two sons and four grandchildren, all living out of state.

After a long absence she returned to Santa Rosa and re-met her high school friend, Gary Sugiyama; they fell in love and married in 2015. Her participation with the JACL began when she realized a way to become more involved with civil rights and social justice while exploring Gary’s cultural background. She and two other women created a Kamishibai unit to teach about the incarceration in WWII from a child’s perspective titled “Yuki and Taro”.

She is an artist who loves to paint, sketch in ink, take photographs, and explore digital art. Becky is a member of two bands with her husband – Maile Swing, a Hawaiian band, and Cedar Mountain String Band, a mixed genre band. She loves to hula, sing, and play ukulele. Working in the garden fills the gaps between music and visual art.

Nancy Davlin, Treasurer

Janet Tajii, VP of Finance

Sachiko Knappman, VP of Membership

Sachiko Knappman is currently VP of membership for the Sonoma County JACL Board.

She was born and raised in Kobe, Japan, and has been living in Sonoma County for the last 40 years. She really feels this is her home.

She is also involved with the Peace Crane Project, an anti-nuclear organization, and the Rohnert Park Sister City Committee. She has always been interested in promoting sustainable life styles and world peace. She served as a board member for the Sonoma Co. Peace and Justice Center some years ago. She is a volunteer for the Sonoma Co. JACL’s Speakers’ Bureau. This group visits schools and other local organizations to talk about the importance of diversity, equality and justice among all people using the experience of the Japanese American community during World War II. She also does cultural presentations including tea ceremony at schools and organizations.

Sachiko feels grateful to be a part of the JACL and feels our organization has a lot of potential.

Now that she is a grandmother of two grandsons, she feels even more committed to make the world a better place for all.

Her love is working with textiles, including sewing, knitting and embroidering. Her passion is also cooking especially the types of home cooking she grew up with in Japan.

Gail Yamamoto Seymour, VP of Civil Rights/Social Justice

Gail Yamamoto Seymour is a third generation American of Japanese ancestry and a native Californian having lived in Sacramento and Sonoma counties.  Her grandparents and parents were farm laborers in the 1920s and 1930’s in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Clara counties before they were relocated in 1942. Her father served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during WWII.

Gail is a Sonoma County JACL board member serving as the VP of civil rights and social justice. She is grateful to be a part of the JACL community which she finds to be an organization that supports all people faced with discrimination and oppression. She is especially impressed with JACL’s stellar outreach and education programs. Gail’s profession over the past 40 years has been as an environmental scientist and ecologist.  Most recently, she supervised watershed restoration staff for the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife in the nine county SF Bay Area. Preventing extinction of endangered species was the focus.  Today as a retiree, she works as a citizen scientist on boards and steering committees with the environmental community to implement climate change adaptation strategies to conserve our native wildlife and biodiversity.  She believes that protecting our natural environment is integral to human rights and our very survival.

Ron Tajii, VP of Culture and Community

Meg Mizutani, VP of Communications

Bruce Shimizu, Board Member

Bruce is a fourth generation Sonoma County native, having grown up on a chicken ranch in Cotati. He attended local area primary & secondary schools, Santa Rosa Junior College, and received his AS from the College of Marin. He continued his education at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, earning a BS in Landscape Architecture, and is a MS Candidate in Architecture. Bruce is married to Karen (Neuman), has 4 children and 2 grandchildren. They share their home in Windsor with their daughter Cecelia, Makanani (Husky), Freddie & Queenie (cats), chickens, a dozen Koi.

He has worked as a landscape architect and has spent most of his professional life as a real estate developer, building affordable homes for working families in the North Bay. Prior to attending college, he served as a hospital corpsman/paramedic in the US Coast Guard. His nonprofit experience is diverse with positions in civil rights, affordable housing and agriculture.  Bruce was the National Youth Director for the Japanese American Citizens League, affordable housing developer with Burbank Housing & Ecumenical Association for Housing, MidPen Housing, Habitat for Humanity, and Catholic Charities, Chief Operations Officer with California FarmLink, and Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Trails.

He currently works as a Housing Specialist/Senior Project Manager with LACO Associates, a civil engineering and planning firm in their Santa Rosa office. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and is a member of the Chapter’s Speakers Bureau. Bruce is also one of the founders of Sonoma County Taiko, a local community based Japanese drumming group.

Bruce’s life has been dedicated to serving the community and believes in finding sustainable solutions to problems that balance the needs of the planet, its people, and creates prosperity for all.