Norman Y. Mineta – In Memorium

On May 3rd, 2022 Norm Mineta passed away. The International Leadership Foundation lost a dear friend – our first National Honorary Chairman. America lost a great leader.

Although Norm Mineta saw the worst of America, he always believed in our best. He made America, and Americans, better for his faith in us. His persistent optimism made each of us who knew him want to live up to his ideals.

As a young boy he was incarcerated at the beginning of World War II, thrown into an internment camp along with his family and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans because our government would not trust their loyalty in a war against Japan. Through his efforts, the US government eventually apologized for the unjust internment, and gave restitution to the survivors.

Norm Mineta was a role model for the AANHPI community as city councilman and Mayor in San Jose, California, and as a Congressman. He was the first AANHPI Cabinet Secretary under President Clinton, then transitioned directly from one political party to the next. “Norm Mineta didn’t join my cabinet,” quipped President George W. Bush, “we joined him.” Nationally, he made his mark as a transportation expert, and as a cool hand in a crisis. He gave the unprecedented order to land every plane in the country during the 9/11 attacks. In the aftermath he directed the airlines not to profile or discriminate against Muslims.

Throughout his career, Norm Mineta exemplified all that the ILF tries to be. He mentored two generations of Asian Americans and helped usher them into America’s civic life. He lived his motto, “climb the ladder of success with one hand; reach back with the other to help someone else climb with you.”

We mourn a great loss. We grieve for his wife, Deni, and his family. We celebrate a life well-lived. He leaves behind countless friends, and a country, better for having known him.

~ Joel Szabat & Chiling Tong
Founders, International Leadership Foundation