Irene Hirano Inouye
Doctor of Humane Letters 2015
Irene Hirano Inouye has served for more than 35 years in nonprofit administration, community education and public affairs with culturally diverse groups. As president of the U.S.-Japan Council since 2009, she is dedicated to strengthening relations between the two countries through people-to-people connections. She previously served for 20 years as president and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America's ethnic and cultural diversity through the experience of Japanese Americans. She also was president and CEO of the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, a museum affiliate. Earlier in her career, she served as executive director of T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Clinic in Los Angeles, a nonprofit community health facility for low and moderate-income women and families. Her professional activities include positions as current trustee and immediate past chair of the Ford Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. She earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration from the University of Southern California. For her contributions to enhanced understanding of Japanese Americans and to strengthened relations between the United States and Japan, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer upon Irene Hirano Inouye the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.