Kimochi’s Development Director Sandy Mori Retires


Sandy Ouye Mori photo courtesy of Kimochi, Inc.

Nearly four decades after helping to co-found one of San Francisco Japantown’s well-known nonprofits, Sandy Ouye Mori has retired from her position as Kimochi, Inc.’s development director.

Mori, whose retirement became official on Dec. 31, will spend more time in Sacramento helping to care for her 96-year-old mother, Grace Ouye.

Mori has held her current position with Kimochi since 2001.While Mori’s role with the nonprofit has changed over the years, her passion for creating programs and services to benefit seniors has remained the same. In addition to twice serving on Kimochi’s board of directors, she was also the project coordinator charged with developing Kimochi Home, a residential/respite care/social day care facility for seniors.

The Sansei is the immediate past executive secretary to the San Francisco Health Commission, a seven-member governing body appointed by the mayor to oversee the Department of Public Health and make health policies for the City and County of San Francisco.

Her previous role as a therapeutic and administrative dietician at multiple hospitals informed her work on Kimochi’s Nutrition Program. Mori noted that prominent Nikkei civil rights advocate Edison Uno told her about funding that was available to benefit a nutrition program for seniors. The state’s first “ethnic meals program” was thus born in 1974, Mori said.

The program, which provides seniors with “quality and nutritious food,” Mori said, is one of Kimochi’s “high priority services.”

Steve Nakajo, Kimochi’s executive director, said that Mori “depicts the characteristics and attributes of a community leader,” and  exhibits the utmost “love and devotion to our community.”

Reflecting her approach to serving and advocating for elders, Mori believes in asking seniors a simple yet important question: “What are your needs?”

In order for Nikkei seniors to feel comfortable speaking so freely, one must gain their trust, Mori said. Mori recalls nearly 40 years ago struggling to convince the Issei that she and other community leaders — including Nakajo — were in fact dedicated to the organization.

Nakajo praised Mori’s “love and respect for seniors.” This very commitment was one of Mori’s driving forces in her efforts to help in the 1983 establishment of Kimochi Home.

Mori counts Yori Wada, the late civil rights advocate and former executive director of the Buchanan Street YMCA, as one of her mentors. Wada was also the first Asian American appointed to the Regents of the University of California.

Mori recalled Wada’s passion for serving youth, and called him the “Godfather of the Western Addition.”

Wada’s daughter, Patty Wada, said that Mori has “been a role model for countless Asian American women. She taught me you have to stand by your principles and what you believe in, speak up and speak your mind, even if it’s a position colleagues may disagree with. She made sure women were at the table, encouraged them to take on leadership roles in the community, and received the respect and recognition they deserve.”

Wada further described Mori as “a visionary for our community in the areas of aging and elder care, who made sure institutions and services for our seniors became a reality. She was the one who put senior issues on the community agenda.”

Mori currently serves as the co-chair of the board of the San Francisco Long Term Care Coordinating Council. The council, Mori said, works on policies that affect seniors and younger adults with disabilities. She has long been a leader within San Francisco’s Japantown, and serves on the Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee. Mori’s extensive advocacy work has also led her to serve on numerous other boards.

In short, Nakajo describes Mori as “irreplaceable.” The nonprofit will, however, be charged with finding someone to fulfill some of Mori’s fundraising responsibilities.

Fortunately for Kimochi, Mori’s work is far from over. She is continuing to volunteer with Kimochi, and will be assisting with such projects as the KTSF telethon in March to benefit the nonprofit, as well as its annual Spirit Award event.

One response to “Kimochi’s Development Director Sandy Mori Retires”

  1. Katsuya Nakatani Avatar

    Dear Sandy Mori,

    My name is Katsuya Nakatani. I live in Pico Rivera, California. I started on Shinshichi Nakatani’s contribution for Japan Village for The California Midwinter International Exposition,1894’s burried history in 1995. Over a year ago I met Rosalyn Tonai at her office and explained to her for my reason tp be there.

    According to Rosalyn’s message, you have teamed up with her for my plaque placement issue with the SF Park and Recreation Department. Thank you for your understanding and kind offer to help take care of this issue. Again, thank you very much. I hope to meet you soon.

    Best regards, Katsuya Nakatani

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