This week, our featured alum is Karen Narasaki, class of 1980!
Having been influenced as a child by the impact of racial covenants on her family, Narasaki’s passion for civil rights has been evident in her lifelong work as a civil rights leader, human rights activist, and independent consultant.
After graduating from Yale College magna cum laude, Narasaki received a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Narasaki then moved from her attorney position at Perkins Cole to serve as the Washington Representative for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Later, under her leadership as president and executive director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) helped to provide African American, Latino, Native American, and other communities with research, training, and education on discrimination in the voting system.
Narasaki also serves leadership roles in a variety of civil rights coalitions, such as serving as vice chair to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, vice president of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and as chair of the Rights Working Group. Narasaki also serves to promote adult literacy as a member of the National Commission on Adult Literacy.
After advising President Bill Clinton on civil rights issues, Narasaki became a member of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age of FCC. In 2014, Narasaki was appointed as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights by President Barack Obama, and continues her work in impacting positive and integral change for civil and immigrant rights.