Irene Y. Hirano (born October 28, 1948) is the President of the U.S.-Japan Council, having been appointed to that position when the group was formed in 2009. Hirano focuses on building positive relations between the United States and Japan. She is also Chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. She previously served as President and founding Chief Executive Officer of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles from 1988 to 2009, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Hirano has served in the field of non-profit administration for over 35 years. One of her earliest positions was as the Executive Director of the T.H.E. Clinic, a non-profit community health facility for low and moderate income women and families. She currently serves as Chief Executive of the nonprofit organization: National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. Also, she is a member and Chair of the Ford Foundation board of trustees; as well as being President of the U.S.-Japan Council. Hirano is board member of Kresge Foundation and Vice Chair of the American Alliance of Museums. She is also a Trustee of the California Japanese American Leadership Council, Little Tokyo Community Council, and the LA Inc. Convention and Visitors Bureau. Hirano also serves on the Business Advisory Board of Sodexho.
Accordingly, in the past, she has also served as a Board Member for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a member of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution, member of the Toyota Corporation's Diversity Advisory Board, member of the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums, appointed by the president to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women, and Board Member of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Among the awards Hirano Inouye has received for her work include ones from the Anti-Defamation League, the League of Women Voters, the National Education Association, the University of Southern California Alumni Association, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Arab American National Museum, the Asian American Federation, the Asian Justice Center, and the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.
She married senior United States Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii on May 24, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. They spent their honeymoon in Carmel. Hirano met Inouye when he served on the board of the Japanese American National Museum. The couple became engaged in January 2008. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Hirano is 24 years younger than Inouye. It is the second marriage for both. Hirano divorced her first husband more than 20 years prior. She has a daughter, Jennifer, from that marriage. Inouye's first wife died of cancer. Senator Inouye died of respiratory failure on December 17, 2012.