Birthplace: Marysville, California
Position: Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Lon Hatamiya learned about hard work and family values while working at his family’s produce farm, H&B Orchards in California’s Sacramento Valley.
His grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Japan in the early 1900s, from Hiroshima and Yamanashi Prefectures, respectively. Since he was a child, Hatamiya has worked in and around agriculture and sees his appointment to his current post as a satisfying progression for a little boy who once helped his uncle and sisters unload trucks and grade fruits.
“As the first Asian Pacific American to be appointed to administer an agency within the USDA, it is not only a tremendous honor, but an enormous effort to lead our nation’s agricultural marketing efforts,” says Hatamiya.
In April 1999 Hatamiya became the first Asian American to hold a cabinet-level post in California state government when he was appointed Secretary of the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, the state’s primary promoter of economic development, job creation and business retention. He advises Governor Davis on all matters related to commerce and trade and represents the interests of California business. He also directs programs to stimulate international trade and investment, small business, rural development, tourism, manufacturing, entertainment, and other California-based industries. Since taking office Hatamiya has added a Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation to ensure that California remains the leader in hi-tech industries.
Though he has known a very successful career in agriculture, law, business and government, Hatamiya is still very aware of the racism which pervades elements of our society. “For example,” he says, “even as a high-ranking U.S. Government official, people comment that I speak English so well, in spite of the fact I speak no other language!”
As a result, Hatamiya believes his biggest role is to continually educate others through direct example that Asian Pacific Americans can be successful in all walks of life and can assume the greatest of responsibilities.
He is married to the former Nancy Takahashi and they have two sons, Jon, 4, and George, 2.
Hatamiya spends all of his free time with his family enjoying the various museums and historical landmarks in Washington, D.C. area. He also enjoys baseball, which he played in college, and football and basketball, his high school sports.