Mito Kudaka says “Përshëndetje, Hola, Hello from the Fox Cities”
By Mito Kudaka
It is great to be back home! This is my second of three homes I have established.
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. A formal introduction would have me state my full name as Juan Carlos Kudaka Okuma. I got the Spanish and Japanese well represented in my name (3rd and 4th generation Japanese in Peru, 100% Japanese descent). If you get a chance, ask me how “Mito” came about as my nickname.
I arrived in the Fox Cities in 1991 to attend Lawrence University. I lived and worked in this community having an eclectic career journey. I worked in information technology for eight years, seven of them at Schneider National in Green Bay, to then serve as the intercultural relations coordinator for the Appleton Police Department for over two years. I then joined Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin to lead Lean/continuous improvement until the end of 2012.
My non-work life was very much dominated by two key aspects: a) volleyball, which I have been playing for over 30 years; and b) community involvement.
I started getting involved with the Hispanic community in 1996, co-directing an English Language Learners (ELL) program in Neenah. I was also a DJ/director of a local Spanish radio program, co-founder of Latino Link (now Casa Hispana), and I created an endowment fund here at the Community Foundation in early 2013 to support Casa Hispana’s scholarship program.
Other areas of involvement included serving in several boards and committees: Fox Cities Rotary Multicultural Center, United Way Fox Cities, Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity, Mielke Family Foundation Grants Committee, and Goodwill Industries NCW among others.
I lived in the Fox Cities until March 2013, when I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served three years in Albania. People ask me how my experience was in Peace Corps, and I tell them it was truly life changing.
Shortly after finishing Peace Corps I married Alkida, and we lived in Durrës, Albania, for two years. Alki and I have decided to move to the Fox Cities, and we cannot wait to start a family here. Our kids will be Japanese-Peruvian-Albanian Americans!!!
Alki visited our area this past “polar vortex winter,” and is back in Albania while we finish our immigration paperwork. Hopefully summer will be gentler on us during her next trip.
After arriving back in the Fox Cities, I had the true privilege and honor to work with the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board and help support the operations of its six job centers and Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act program.
I am now part of this wonderful team at our Community Foundation in the capacity of operations coordinator. My key role is to help the organization in strategic projects, cultural alignment, continuous improvement and truly to be in service of philanthropy.
Our community, you, entrust us with your gifts to ensure they grow to do the most good forever. That is a very powerful mission, and I know we all welcome this wonderful challenge.
Check out our Community Foundation team.
Here are some additional photos of Mito, his family and friends (Use the arrows at the bottom right to advance the slideshow):