NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Diane Narasaki, the longtime executive director of Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), announced on Dec. 6 that she will retire in approximately 10 months, after 22 years of service.
Her retirement, effective Oct. 27, 2018, will coincide with ACRS’ 45th anniversary.
“It’s been such an incredible honor and privilege to have worked with Diane for most of her 22 years at ACRS,” said ACRS Deputy Director Elisa Del Rosario. “We were practically joined at the hip during ACRS’ capital campaign to build our beautiful home in the Rainier Valley. I’m sure I speak for most of the staff when I say we will be forever grateful to Diane for being the model of tenacious leadership and advocacy locally and nationally, done with so much humility, integrity, passion, and grace, yet sprinkled with a great sense of humor and periodic mischief.”
“No one has worked so strategically and tenaciously for justice,” said Sharon Maeda, a longtime friend and former colleague. “Diane is such a dedicated, and relentless, advocate for the community — no doubt she will contribute a lot more in the months before she retires.”
During Narasaki’s tenure, ACRS has grown to meet the evolving needs of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and many others, by expanding its culturally competent behavioral health programs, human services, and civic engagement activities, and its staff, who collectively speak over 40 languages and dialects.
“Diane has made a tremendous impact at both local and national levels,” said Gary Tang, a former colleague. “She served on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and worked hard to improve their wellbeing. Diane is one of Washington state’s greatest social justice leaders.”
Born and raised in Seattle, Narasaki was stunned as a teenager to learn that her parents had been interned with 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast during World War II.
Narasaki said Richard and Dorothy Narasaki taught her to “stand up [to] instances of inequality and to work to better the situation.”
“Diane is a strong beacon of social justice and civil rights,” said Teresita Batayola, the president and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS). “Under [Diane’s] leadership, ACRS has established itself as the voice of the Asian Pacific Islander and immigrant communities in the state, while it serves their basic needs in our region.”
Narasaki said ACRS remains a strong and healthy organization, “even during these turbulent times we live in. With leadership at all levels of the organization, deep community support, and local and national partnerships, ACRS will continue to thrive into the future.”
While at ACRS, Narasaki co-founded and currently chairs the King County Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, a network of community organizations serving AAPI immigrants and refugees in Washington state. She has also served as executive director of the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office and co-chair of the Seattle Community Police Commission.
The executive director of Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Michael Itti, commended Narasaki for improving the lives of people across the state.
“Her transformational and innovative leadership enabled teams to succeed in building a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization and achieving social change through civic engagement. We wish Diane all the best in her retirement.”
ACRS’ Board of Directors has appointed a special committee that is leading the search for the new executive director.
Ruth Bayang can be reached at email@example.com.