LTSC Welcomes Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto and Noelle Ito to Board of Directors - Little Tokyo Service Center

LTSC Welcomes Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto and Noelle Ito to Board of Directors

LTSC recently welcomed Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto and Noelle Ito to the Board of Directors, adding to a diverse lineup of professionals from a range of backgrounds. Both possess close ties to the Japanese American community and look forward to utilizing their unique perspectives and experience to further LTSC’s mission.

Stay tuned for introductions to more of our new Board members in an upcoming issue of the Changemaker!


Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto

Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto is a Clinical Psychologist and spent her career in higher education at both UCI and Cal State Long Beach, where she ended her career as Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. She served as the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, and chaired the Student Affairs Equity and Diversity Task Force. Since retiring, she’s been part of LTSC’s mental health advisory committee for Changing Tides, bringing in several major donors/funders to Ripple Effect: Nakashige Foundation, CSULB, and Coast Produce. 

She is a third generation Japanese American who grew up in Gardena in the 60’s and 70’s. “I did not realize what a unique and special place that was until I got older and moved away from the community,” she shared. Mary Ann still maintains deep ties to this community and is still in contact with many of the friends she grew up with in Gardena. “I am grateful for the strong sense of community and wonderful role models that were part of my upbringing in Gardena.”

How were you first introduced to LTSC? 

When I first finished my graduate training, I was involved with LTSC when they were starting the Nikkei Helpline. I was part of the planning committee that developed the training for the initial program and it is amazing that it is still in operation today!

Then, I was introduced to the Board by Alan Nishio who has been part of the Board for some 40 years. Alan is one of my biggest heroes and I have such respect and admiration for him. Alan was the one who hired me at Cal State Long Beach in 2005, and it was a privilege to serve in his position as Associate VP of Student Affairs after he retired. Since I retired from the university in 2021, I felt that serving on Little Tokyo Service Center’s Board was a way to give back to the community.

Why is serving on LTSC’s Board meaningful to you?

It is an honor for me to serve on the Board of LTSC. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, including our parents and grandparents who made many sacrifices for us to be successful. I have been committed to equity and social justice issues throughout my career and look forward to bringing this passion to my work on the Board.

Are there specific programs or work areas at LTSC that you’re looking forward to engaging with? Why?

After my retirement, Margaret Shimada (Director of Service Programs at LTSC) contacted me and let me know about Changing Tides (CT). I have been involved as a volunteer with CT for the past year and have been very impressed with the work that this group has done. Mental health is such an important issue in all communities, but it is often not dealt with in the AAPI and Japanese American community. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of education and prevention around mental health, especially for young adults. I look forward to assisting in any way I can.

What makes LTSC unique from other nonprofits?

LTSC is unique because it serves a broad community, not only the JA community, and has branched into new areas to meet the evolving needs of the community. It is exciting to join a strong Board of committed and passionate individuals.


Noelle Ito

Noelle Ito is a fourth generation Japanese American, born and raised in Pasadena but with deep roots in Little Tokyo. “I spent weekends visiting my grandparents at Tokyo Villa, playing with friends in the back of Frances Bakery, bowling at Yaohan, and volunteering at various community events,” she shared. 

Noelle started her career in event planning and development but later transitioned to working in philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. She served as Vice President for Programs at Asian/Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and was a Corporate Responsibility and Foundation Specialist at Avery Dennison. She was also former Director of Development at LTSC and worked on the Terasaki Budokan capital campaign for many years. She received her MBA in Nonprofit Management from American Jewish University, and BA from George Washington University. Currently, she works at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in the Dean’s Office organizing all things related to the Board of Directors and special projects. 

How were you first introduced to LTSC? 

I was first introduced to LTSC through A3M (Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches). I did a summer internship in college through LEAP and was placed at A3M. After graduating, I went back to work for A3M and later moved over to LTSC where I worked with Bill Watanabe on the capital campaign for Terasaki Budokan which back then we called the Rec Center (I may still be guilty of calling it the Rec Center every so often). I later went on to become Director of Development and I’m so thankful that I was considered for the job. I was young when taking on the role and really learned so much from the leadership team. I was honored to work alongside Bill, Dean, Erich, Evelyn, Mike, Scarlet, and Yasuko. 

Why is serving on LTSC’s Board meaningful to you? 

Serving on the Board is meaningful to me because it is a way of giving back to the organization and community that helped shape who I am today. It is also a way of staying connected to the community so my daughter can also make some Little Tokyo memories of her own!

LTSC may physically be on the outskirts of Little Tokyo but is the nexus of the community serving as a leader, connector, and innovator. I’m hoping to also do the same: Lead from a Board standpoint; Connect LTSC to new donors and allies; and Innovate and think outside the box on how to contribute time, talent, and resources to further elevate LTSC.

Are there specific programs or work areas at LTSC that you’re looking forward to engaging with? Why?

I love all of LTSC’s programs! Each one is so critical. Affordable housing and Changing Tides come to mind though as the two that really stand out as we continue to process the last three years of pandemic life. With so many unhoused Angelenos, the work that LTSC has been doing in affordable housing is more critical than ever and I am thrilled to see them taking a more active approach to serving this population. I am also inspired by the next generation opening the doors to discussions on mental health. It is something our community has needed for so long.

What makes LTSC unique from other nonprofits?

LTSC is unique because of the thoughtful and intentional leadership that puts the community first! It is no wonder that during the pandemic they were able to rally together, provide critical services, and endure these tough times. I know it wasn’t easy but I have such deep appreciation for this team and I’m proud to be joining the Board.

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