Former MSH Staffer Atsuko Toko Fish Honored by White House as an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) “Champion of Change”

AtsukoToko Fish. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

AtsukoToko Fish, a former MSH staff member who coordinated health development projects between MSH, developing countries and Japan, was honored on Monday, May 6, as one of fifteen Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women who are “Champions of Change.” As part of the White House’s observance of AAPI Heritage Month, Atsuko was recognized for her work “doing extraordinary things to create a more equal, safe, and prosperous future for (her) community and the country.”

“Atsuko is a visionary woman who truly deserves this honor. She has long been active in Boston circles promoting Asia-American understanding and collaboration. Atsuko and I traveled to Japan to support MSH’s efforts to strengthen Japanese development work in health. She eventually became a board member of a new health nongovernmental organization called HANDS (Health and Development Services), a Japanese organization based in Tokyo which seeks to strengthen public health system initiatives in developing countries. I am thrilled to hear about her award,” said Ronald O’Connor, MSH founder and member of the Board of Directors.

Atsuko Toko Fish is a first generation Japanese American, committed to innovation and social change in the US and Japan, especially in the areas of empowering women and promoting understanding between the two cultures. In 2005, Atsuko founded the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative, an executive program that prepares Japanese women to become non-profit leaders and agents for social change. In the wake of the March 2011 earthquake in Japan, she created the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund-Boston raised nearly $1 million and provided 24 grants to 19 organizations.

“My experience at MSH prepared me to quickly respond to the earthquake and tsunami disaster that occurred in Japan. I knew exactly what to do, understanding that time is of the essence, and the importance of being on the ground to assess the needs,” wrote Atsuko in her Champions of Change blog post, “I called for immediate action and, with a team of Japan-experts and energetic young professionals, created The Japanese Disaster Relief Fund - Boston (JDRFB).”

“These fifteen women represent the strength and diversity of the AAPI community. These leaders – in business, advocacy, philanthropy, sports, the arts, and academia – are wonderful examples for young women across the country,” said Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

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