Skip to content
Loading Events

« All Events

How Bill Naito Shaped Modern Portland

April 29 7:00 pm 9:00 pm

McMenamins, Oregon Historical Society, and Japanese American Museum of Oregon present

How Bill Naito Shaped Modern Portland, Presented by Erica Naito-Campbell
In Conversation with Mari Watanabe
Part of McMenamin’s History Pub Program

April 29, 2024, 7pm (doors at 6pm)
McMenamin’s Kennedy School, History Pub
5736 NE 33rd Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97211

William “Bill” Sumio Naito (1925-1996) was a remarkable and visionary individual-the Portland-born son of Japanese immigrants who became one of the city’s most significant business and civic leaders.

Naito lived through major events in Portland’s history, from the Great Depression and World War II through the city’s rebirth in the 1970s and its subsequent profound growth. From growing Portland’s urban tree canopy to revitalizing downtown to preserving historic buildings, Naito’s name became synonymous with civic leadership. But less is known about his difficult childhood and the racism he endured during World War II. After the expulsion of Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor and his military service in occupied Japan, Naito overcame great emotional turmoil to return to Portland and become one of its greatest change-makers.

Bill’s granddaughter, Erica Naito-Campbell, shares how his life mirrors the story of Portland, the city he loved. She reveals the emotional wounds that drove Naito to become one of Portland’s most inspiring civic leaders, a pivotal player in the city’s journey from a moribund downtown to a national model for livability, urban renewal, and historic preservation.

Erica Naito-Campbell was born in Portland, Oregon and grew up next door to her Grandma and Grandpa Naito, who instilled in her progressive values of social justice and equality for all, as well as a profound personal connection with nature. She followed in her grandfather’s footsteps and attended Reed College, where she cemented a passion for learning, history, and the well-crafted word. Recently, she has worked on Oregon Rises Above Hate, an annual event highlighting Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander issues and community.

Mari Watanabe was the first executive director of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, the director of Leadership Portland, and the current executive director of Partners in Diversity. She has served as board member of the Oregon Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, the National Veterans Network which worked to win the Congressional Gold Medal for Japanese American veterans of WWII, the Center for Women’s Leadership, Japan-America Society of Oregon, and more.

5736 NE 33rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97211
+ Google Map