Janice Mirikitani

Community Activist, Poet, Editor: b. 1941

"I found that my wounds begin to heal when the voices of those endangered by silence are given power. The silence of hopelessness, of despair buried in the depths of poverty, violence, racism are more deadly than bullets. The gift of light, in our compassion, our listening, our works of love is the gift of life to ourselves."

Biography

Janice Mirikitani is the Founding President of the Glide Foundation where she, in partnership with her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams, have achieved worldwide recognition for their groundbreaking work to empower San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities and to make meaningful changes in people´s lives to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. Over 40 years they built 87 comprehensive programs that provide education, recovery support, primary and mental health care, job training, housing and human services. Mirikitani's passion has been to create programs for women and families as they struggle with issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, single parenting, childcare, health/wellness, education, and jobs development.

Mirikitani is San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate, appointed in 2000. She has written four books of poetry -- Awake In The River; Shedding Silence; We, The Dangerous; and, Love Works -- and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies which provide platforms for writers of color, women, youth and children.

Mirikitani has served as a commissioner on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 1996 and was reappointed by Mayor Newsom in 2004. She is the recipient of over 40 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women and Families´ “Minerva Award”, San Francisco State University’s “Distinguished Alumnae Award,” the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s "Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award,” the prestigious American Book “Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature,” and the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor’s “Medal of Honor Award".

Mirikitani graduated from UCLA, earned a teaching credential from UC Berkeley, and has received two honorary doctorates.

She and her family were incarcerated in the Rohwer, Arkansas concentration camp with the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.