Tim Otani spent 17 years with Washington Mutual (now Chase). He recently announced his departure from the company. Now you may ask, why are we writing an editorial about a man who worked for a financial institution?
During Otani’s tenure at Washington Mutual, he was the first vice president for the company’s Corporate and Employee Giving Department. He developed the kind of corporate giving that looked to communities of color, making sure that they were represented well. Because of his initiative and leadership, Washington Mutual has invested millions of dollars into low-income and under served communities throughout the Northwest, Northeast, and Southeast parts of the country.Otani is notable in that he held a powerful and influential position at a large, mainstream organization — and he strove to properly represent Asian communities as well as other communities of color.
Many Asian Americans in mainstream organizations are often reluctant to support ‘Asian’ causes. It could be due to a worry over showing favoritism or about being pigeonholed into a niche. Whatever the reason may be, the fact is that Otani may be an exception to the norm.
Otani wasn’t self-conscious and what he has done for so many communities of color is brave. He has served as a bridge between communities and Washington Mutual because he has an empathetic understanding of the value of these communities and their needs.
The thing is that our community can’t do a lot of marketing to companies like Washington Mutual due to limited resources. But we know we are doing good work through our nonprofits, our healthcare facilities, and our volunteers.
Otani knew of our struggles and goals. He has been very supportive to our organizations by vouching for us. It’s tough being a little guy, knocking on doors, trying to get a big corporation to pay attention to us. It helps immensely to have someone like Otani in our corner.
Now that he has resigned from the company, we don’t know if Chase has someone who will also be an advocate for us. Otani’s absence will be a big loss for us, and though we are sad that he won’t be there anymore, we are also optimistic for him and his next stage in life. We appreciate all that he has done, and our sadness at seeing his departure is a testament to how much he has meant to this community.
“Tim Otani is the best example of a person working in the private sector,” said Center for Career Alternatives Executive Director Al Sugiyama, “who has make a tremendous and lasting impact on the public sector. The contributions he made on behalf of WaMu to nonprofit agencies helped thousands of at risk individuals. We can’t thank Tim enough.”
Good luck, Tim!
There will be an appreciation reception for Otani at the Four Seas Restaurant in Seattle on July 17 from 5–7 p.m. ♦