May 16, 2014

Gladys McCoy Award winner Dr. Connie Masuoka with Chair Madrigal
Dr. Connie Masuoka is honored by Multnomah Co. Chair Marissa Madrigal for being the 2014 Gladys McCoy Award winner.
Dr. Masuoka with many of her supporters.
Dr. Masuoka with many of her supporters.
Dr. Connie Lei Masuoka is the twentieth winner of the Gladys McCoy Award for lifetime volunteer achievement. She was honored at the Multnomah County Volunteer Awards Ceremony on April 16. Dr. Masuoka is a dentist who volunteers free dental services to the homeless and people in need. She has been president of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, which advocates for civil rights and civil liberties protections, and educates people about the history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Masuoka also leads Unite People, the youth affiliate of the Portland Chapter JACL, currently one the largest youth groups in the organization and a model nationally. Members serve meals to the homeless, attend leadership conferences, volunteer at community events, and fundraise through various events to support their activities.

The projects Dr. Masuoka has taken on have had significant impacts. One example is revitalizing an event to commemorate Japanese internment during World War II. It included educating TriMet about how the Expo Center MAX stop was an internment camp site. Art was subsequently installed to memorialize the site. Other examples include creating a fund to assist youth groups to travel to conferences, and organizing three annual Japanese cultural events that are highly attended.         

“Dr. Masuoka is an ideal recipient of the McCoy Award given her exceptional generosity, mentorship, and advocacy for the health and civil rights of Multnomah County youth, minorities and people in need,” said Sue O’Halloran, Chair of the County’s Citizen Involvement Committee (CIC). The CIC makes the Award each year to an outstanding nominee who has given exemplary time and service to the county community.

Along with her other work, Dr. Masuoka serves on the boards of Ikoi So Terrace, OHSU Dental School Alumni Association, and Multnomah Dental Society.  She is also active with numerous Japanese churches and temples and Friends of Creston School Dental Clinic. Further, she provides funding to support many organizations she volunteers with and activities she puts on. Her colleagues believe that she either doesn’t sleep or has been blessed with eight more hours a day! To all her volunteer service, Dr. Masuoka brings incredible vision, compassion, problem-solving, and a commitment to justice.

The Gladys McCoy Award was established in 1994 to honor those who have given outstanding service in the area of community service and citizen involvement. Dr. Masuoka certainly fits that criterion both through her inspiring example and legacy. Her name will appear on a plaque with past winners on permanent display in the Multnomah County Boardroom.