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Janice Mirikitani and Chip Conley To Visit USF Next Tuesday For Diversity Talks

Elizabeth Silva
Staff Writer

Diversity Scholar and Visiting Professor Janice Mirikitani will be at USF next Tuesday, October 7 for a presentation with veteran CEO/Hotelier, and New York Times bestselling author Chip Conley to address the importance of the human connection.

Mirikitani will reflect on her life-long legacy of leading civil rights and justice programs in San Francisco and on her poetry career.

Mirikitani is the founding president of the Glide Foundation.  With her husband, Rev. Cecil Williams, Mirikitani has worked for over 43 years to create 87 programs that help San Francisco’s impoverished  and marginalized communities make changes to improve their lives.

“Everyone can make a difference. Community groups in all neighborhoods are crying out for volunteers, for the kind of expertise and human power (hard work) that students can contribute,” said Mirikitani. “Reach out through their websites. Make a phone call. Every meals program/senior center/recreation center, and HIV/AIDS services are looking for young peoples’ energy and ideas to help ease human suffering by care and compassion.”

According to Glide’s website, her passion is “to create programs for women and families as they struggle with issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, single parenting, childcare, health/wellness, education, and jobs development.”

The creation of these programs is particularly relevant to her because she underwent years of emotional isolation, poverty, sexual abuse, and incarceration in Rohwer concentration camp during World War II.

Mirikitani expressed these struggles in her poetry and writing, reflecting on her identity and confronting stereotypes that surrounded Asian-American women.  In 2000, Mirikitani was named San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate, and she will be reading poems from her new book, Out of the Dust, on Tuesday.

Community activism and advocacy has led to worldwide recognition for Mirikitani.  She has received more than 40 awards and honors, including the “Medal of Honor Award” by the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s “Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award.”  Mirikitani was also recognized as Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly in the 17th Assembly in 1988.

USF declared Mirikitani to be this year’s Diversity Scholar. The program was started last year and Mirikitani is the second person to receive the award [Dr. Clarence B. Jones, was the first scholar.]

Adriana Broullon, Diversity and Community Relations Program Manager, explained the criteria for this award.

“Every year we select a visiting professor who is a recognized living legend or elder of our community who has exemplified social justice and the Jesuit values through their life’s work,” said Broullon.

Mirikitani “can symbolically represent part of our multicultural American history and share this experience first hand in a teaching engagement with USF students,”said Broullon.

The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement will be hosting Diversity Talks: The Power of the Human Connection on Tuesday, October 7 at 4:30pm at Presentation Theater. It will also be streamed live at 4:30pm.


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