The following article is a reprint from the Hokubei Mainichi, which first printed and posted on March 25, 2009. The article was written by Gerrye Wong, a long time resident and community activist in Silicon Valley.
I want to share this article to highlight my passion for public service in Silicon Valley and to promote service to the community and to the neighborhoods in which we live. The one quote in Ms. Wong’s article that I like to share is the one that I share with young people who are interested in politics:
“My advice would be to run for the sake of serving rather than the prestige of ruling. Use your unique background to benefit the greater community through your special vision and voice. I started because I had a passion for excellence in public education, and have been fortunate to be able to bring my voice and vision to the local school districts.”
Silicon Valley Political Almanac encourages politicians to recognize and commit their service to those we serve, our neighbors and friends that make Silicon Valley a better place to live.
AT&T Executive Randy Okamura Shares His Love of Learning”
Randy Okamura addresses the American Association of Community Colleges in Philadelphia.
by GERRYE WONG
Special to the Hokubei
SAN JOSE – Having served the past 15 years as an elected school board member, Randy Okamura finds himself president of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District to 2012, another job to add to his long list of credentials as an inveterate community volunteer.
As Randy explains this turn in his life, “I’ve always loved school and learning. I first got involved with school PTAs when my daughter attended kindergarten in San Jose. With my business background, I served first on the districts’ revenue enhancement committee, and then carried out my mission to education by serving on the Fremont Union High School District School Board, and most recently, began my second term on the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Board.”
Born in Honolulu, Randy grew up in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, attending UCLA in 1976 and San Diego State University (MBA) in 1979. Work moved him to Silicon Valley in the mid-1980s to work for Litton Industries and raise daughter Akemi, an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, and Zachary, a high school sophomore who enjoys playing the sousaphone as a member of the Lynbrook High School Marching Band.
For a guy whose brilliant mind is always flashing on how he can serve his community, Randy calls his AT&T job “a dream job because I am most interested in working with community and public service. My job allows me to work in community and government relations, telling the AT&T story to everyone who would listen.
“It’s my job to know what the community leaders think and want to know about AT&T so that the company can serve our customers better. Our vision is: to connect people everywhere they work and live and do it better than anyone else,” continues the enthusiastic Okamura.
It is said the busiest people get the most work done, and that is so true in Randy Okamura’s case. Not only bringing his expertise in policy and business development, Randy works hand-in-hand with government officials, including playing a vital role in AT&T’s (then Pacific Bell) implementation of 1996’s Telecommunications Act.
He is also an integral part of AT&T’s community outreach team, and in this capacity, has worked with elected and appointed public officials from local levels of government all the way to the White House.
He gives back to the community as an educator, teaching basic finance at San Jose State University, political science and government at Evergreen College and recently as a member of the online faculty of the University of Phoenix, as a professor of management, organizational behavior, corporate culture and organizational climate.
In Randy’s own words, “I love the world of learning and enjoy teaching, whether it be in a formal setting like a classroom or in my work with AT&T. At some point I do want to write and teach. The Internet provides a great way to do the teaching and writing while still being a corporate citizen in the business world.”
Randy continues, “I really enjoy working with kids and community-based organizations, helping develop leadership with kids and adults alike. I find great joy in volunteering at local events, many times in the Japanese American community.
“I find there’s spiritual power in working with dedicated individuals to create a community effort for good causes. It’s kind of like the old fashioned community barn raising events of the days past, perhaps.”
Because Randy has given so much of his 55 years helping non-profit groups through his volunteerism spirit, his elected school board positions and his business savvy, we asked what advice he would give young people who are interested in community activism and politics.
He replied, “My advice would be to run for the sake of serving rather than the prestige of ruling. Use your unique background to benefit the greater community through your special vision and voice. I started because I had a passion for excellence in public education, and have been fortunate to be able to bring my voice and vision to the local school districts.”
Well respected as a popular, hard-working community activist, Okamura has served on many board and advisory committees, including the Asian Americans for Community Involvement, Santa Clara Metro YMCA, the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute, and the Silicon Valley United Way Community Advisory Council, the Asian American Justice Center, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and the Chambers of Commerce Government Relations Committees for the cities of Sunnyvale, Cupertino and Palo Alto.
Although we can’t imagine where Randy Okamura finds down time, he claims his hobbies run the gamut from photography, coin collecting video gaming, sudoku and crossword puzzles.
He enjoys playing, as he says, “any sport that involves striking a ball such as softball, volleyball, tennis, golf and racquet ball” and currently plays in the Silicon Valley Softball League.
Having lived, worked and been involved with many community projects and organizations in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, Randy has seen the changes that have evolved around the Asian American community here. He sums up those changes well — “The spirit of the community remains alive while the face of the community changes! I hope to continue my work in the community to keep the vision alive.”
I thank Ms. Gerrye Wong for taking the time to write the above article and I would like to thank the Hokubei Mainichi for publishing the article. I was immensely flattered and, yes, me ego was inflated. I can manage to get my head through doors now!