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About Us

About US

Dreams Interrupted Project Team

Inspired by the first-generation Japanese (Issei) women whose efforts were essential to the establishment of the Japanese American community/6ty in San Francisco, California, the Dreams Interrupted Project Team came together to explore and share the story of the Issei women and the rich history of the Japanese Young Women’s Christian Association.  Drawn together through their connections with Nihonmachi Little Friends, a culturally-based, non-profit childcare organization, and the Japanese-American community, the team members are highly experienced and respected in diverse fields including art, historic preservation, archival research, education, media communications, theology, law, community organizing, and video production.  The Team’s personal and professional activities have allowed them to examine the historical, cultural, and social context of Japantown and apply this knowledge to 6this project with empathy, insight, and authenticity.  They look upon this project as a vehicle for creating a meaningful, engaging, and freshly relevant resource honoring the Issei women. 


Dreams Interrupted Project Team Members 

Kaz Naganuma, Project Co-Director 

Gary Barbaree, Senior Project Advisor, Researcher 

Alicia Chang, Project Intern

Steve Ducich, Videographer

Donna Graves, Project Historian, Writer

Miki Heitzman, Web Developer

Cathy Inamasu, Project Advisor, NLF Executive Director Emerita

Karen Kai, Project Co-Director, Editor, Writer, Researcher

Makiko Kambayashi, Project Manager

Susan Kobayashi,* Researcher

Stephen McNeil,* Project Advisor

Dawn Mokuau, Project Advisor, NLF’s Executive Director 

Hiroshi Shimizu, Researcher

Maya Yoshikawa, Researcher, Video Editor


*We want to acknowledge the passing of Susan Kobayashi and Stephen McNeil and their contributions as members of the Project Team.


The 1830 Sutter “Issei Women’s Building”

The historic building at 1830 Sutter was the culmination of dedicated efforts by the Issei women to create a center that would serve the women and girls of the Japanese community in San Francisco.  Designed by famed architect Julia Morgan, the 1830 Sutter “Issei Women’s Building” was built as a Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1932, offering cultural and social activities and temporary housing for young women and girls.  Over six decades later, the building was entrusted to Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF) as part of an out-of-court settlement of a community-supported lawsuit to save the building.  NLF’s stewardship includes the protection and perpetuation of the Issei women’s legacy – keeping alive and sharing the story and achievements of these remarkable women.

1830 Sutter Street, as the Japanese YWCA and Issei Women’s Building, was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the California Historic Register in 2020 and was designated as San Francisco’s #291 Landmark in 2021. 

Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF)

Nihonmachi Little Friends, through and in conjunction with the Issei Women’s Legacy Committee, will be responsible for creating, maintaining, expanding, and supporting the “Dreams Interrupted” website.  Opened in 1975, NLF is a community-based, nonprofit childcare organization with a mission that includes introducing and engaging new generations of families to the history, culture, and community of San Francisco’s Japantown.  NLF, through its early care and education programs, has helped instill in the next generation the values and principles that have been long important to keeping a vibrant community alive.  NLF became the first organization in San Francisco’s Japantown to be recognized as a registered Legacy Business in September 2017.


Issei Women’s Legacy (IWL) Committee

Having nearly been lost entirely, the Issei women’s legacy at 1830 Sutter Street is a community treasure whose importance is now recognized and supported.  NLF’s Capital Campaign fund, established at its 25th Anniversary, assisted NLF’s acquisition of 1830 Sutter.  As owner and steward of this historic property, and to honor the legacy of the Issei Women founders, its Capital Campaign Committee spearheaded efforts to raise over $2.2 million to pay for the mortgage, renovations, and crucial seismic and accessibility upgrades which were completed in 2010.  Since then, the Capital Campaign Committee has engaged in numerous fundraising events and the production of educational materials about the Issei women’s legacy, and several members are on the Dreams Interrupted Project Team. 

This website is a dynamic venue for new research, features, and educational efforts.  This is a reflection of NLF’s philosophy of providing families with a point of entry to the Japanese American community.  Developing new information and looking to the needs of future audiences is integral to the work of NLF and the Dreams Interrupted Project Team.  Additionally, the Team is looking to expand its membership to include participants whose involvement will lead to new concepts and approaches, greater exposure for the website, and longevity for the Team itself, including young adults, educators and scholars, and participants from community groups included in stories on the website, such as the American Friends Service Committee and Buchanan YMCA.  The Team is particularly interested in expanding its efforts into the educational area by working with K-12 credentialed teachers and college professors.  Creating, updating, and keeping materials timely and relevant will be an ongoing goal for NLF and the Dreams Interrupted Project Team.

Contact Us

Get in touch with Us!

Thank you for your email. Due to the staffing shortage, our email response time is very slow. We will answer your inquiries as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you for your email. Due to the staffing shortage, our email response time is very slow. We will answer your inquiries as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

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