Debra is President and CEO of Nakatomi & Associates, a Santa Monica-based communications and PR firm dedicated to promoting equity, advancing social change, and strengthening mission-driven organizations. She guides the firm’s strategic and creative vision, advising clients on communications, media, and culture change initiatives.
Debra has more than 30 years of experience in community education, public affairs, and communications for philanthropic organizations that support women and girls and advance health equity and wellness in underserved communities. Debra is trustee and former chair of The California Wellness Foundation and former president of the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation. She previously served as vice chair of Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum and chair of the Los Angeles Women’s Foundation.
A lifelong advocate for gender equality, she was elected in 2021 to the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), comprising 10 million members in 153 countries. She serves on the Advisory Councils for Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles, Kizuna, Peace Over Violence and the Irene Hirano Inouye Philanthropic Leadership Fund. In 2020, Debra was conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for her work to foster relations between the U.S. and Japan.
Debra co-produced “Stories From Tohoku,” a PBS documentary chronicling survivors’ stories of courage and resilience after the 2011 Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.
She also co-produced “The Mineta Legacy Project,” a television documentary and online educational curriculum for high school and college students which profiles the life and career of Norman Mineta, who spent his early years imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp and rose to serve as Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton and Secretary of Transportation under President Bush.
Debra received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento. She is a graduate of UCLA’s Management Development Program for Entrepreneurs, Gallup Leadership Institute, a fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute and a member of the 2009 Japanese American Leadership Delegation. She is recipient of the Changing the Face of Philanthropy award from the Women’s Funding Network.