East-West Center to Honor Distinguished Alumni at Okinawa Conference in September


HONOLULU (July 24, 2014) – The East-West Center has announced the names of EWC alumni, volunteers and a local alumni chapter that will be honored at the Center’s upcoming international alumni conference in Okinawa. The honorees are being recognized for their outstanding personal accomplishments and service toward the Center’s mission of helping to promote better relations and understanding among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments, including significant contributions to the promotion of better relations and understanding among the countries of East and West through activities of cultural and technical interchange; significant achievement in one’s career; and continuing support of the goals of the Center. The award was established and endowed by Dr. Dai Ho Chun, former Director of the East-West Center’s Institute for Technical Interchange


Hiromitsu Miyagi has rendered outstanding contributions to promote and implement the EWCA Okinawa Chapter as the chapter’s former president and devoted executive officer for fifty years.  As the former vice-governor of Okinawa Prefecture and a business leader, he has contributed greatly to Okinawa’s development and has received many meritorious awards for his role in economic improvement.  He was decorated by his Majesty the Emperor of Japan for his distinguished service to society and was awarded the Testimonial of Commendation by the governor of the Okinawa Prefecture for his service in the field of administrative affairs, an award bestowed to those who make great contributions to the development of Okinawa.

Puongpun and Thanh-Lo Sananikone met as EWC students in the 1960s and have continued to further the mission of the Center through their decades of ardent involvement and support. Puongpun has held significant positions in international businesses including the Asian Development Bank, Louis Berger International, Hawaiian Agronomics International and PacMar, Inc.  He was the first EWC alumnus to be elected as chairman of the East-West Center Board of Governors, and he has also held leadership positions on the East-West Center Association Executive Board and East-West Center Foundation. Thanh-Lo is a recognized leader in the business community and received the 2003 Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. She has built bridges for economic development in Pacific and Southeast Asian countries and is Hawaii’s unofficial ambassador to Vietnam. An active leader in the East-West Center community, she has been involved in the EWC Alumni Association, the Friends of the EWC, the Hawaii Chapter of EWCA, and the EWCA Development Committee.

Outstanding Volunteer Awards

This award recognizes outstanding alumni volunteers who have provided significant contributions to the programs and activities of the East-West Center Association and recognizes their selfless service. The awardees lead by example, demonstrating the qualities that bring out the best in others.


Sumi Makey is well-known to many EWC alumni from her years as the Center’s Dean of Students and Open Grants. Since her retirement from the Center, she has served as a volunteer in numerous committees and has worked tirelessly to help raise funds to ensure the Center’s future. She is a vital member of the EWCA Endowment Committee and has also established a scholarship in her name to benefit Center degree fellows.

Bob Nakasone is recognized for his many years of volunteer support in building links between the EWC and the Okinawa community. He is a founding member of the Worldwide Uchinanchu Business Association (WUB) and helped create the Obuchi Okinawa Education and Research Program which promotes scholarships, faculty/research exchanges, and business seminars and internships between Okinawa and the U.S. The program, supported jointly by the East-West Center and the Japan Foundation, serves as an important link between Okinawa and the United States and as a means to help advance Okinawa’s future.  Most recently he has been providing volunteer support as a valued adviser in preparation for the EWC/EWCA International Conference in Okinawa.

Larry Smith has provided outstanding service and support to the Center by contributing to the development of educational programs for EWC students. He has served as an active member of the Friends of the EWC, including two years as its president, and is currently the co-chair of the EWCA Endowment Committee, which raises funds for student scholarships as a legacy to help future generations of students share the EWC experience.

Outstanding Chapter Award 

This award recognizes outstanding East-West Center Association chapters that have provided significant contributions to the goals and programs EWCA of the including an active and committed membership, activities which broaden the outreach of the Center into local communities and programs which benefit and interest the local alumni.


Lahore, Pakistan Chapter

The Lahore Chapter strives to promote community awareness of socio-economic issues and has organized numerous educational and social activities in the community such as providing clean drinking water as well as distributing textbooks and related materials to children from marginalized families. The Lahore Chapter’s leader, Arfa Zehra recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Pakistan’s Teacher’s National Conference.

The awardees will be honored at the East-West Center/EWC Association’s major biennial international conference, which will be held Sept. 17-19, 2014 at the Pacific Hotel Okinawa in Naha City. Several hundred international scholars, officials, educators and business leaders are expected to attend the conference on "Developing a Peaceful and Sustainable Asia Pacific Community."

The conference is jointly presented by the East-West Center, an internationally recognized education and research institution headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the East-West Center Association, the organization that represents the Center’s more than 62,000 alumni throughout Asia, the Pacific and the U.S., many of whom now serve in positions of responsibility in their respective fields.

For more information or to register online, visit: EastWestCenter.org/okinawa2014

Or call: +1 808-944-7506.