Julie Azuma

Julie AzumaJulie Azuma came to New York from Chicago to work in the apparel industry, and, politicized by the movement to provide Redress for Japanese Americans interned during WWII, she was soon involved in organizations advocating for Asian Americans. When her older daughter was diagnosed with autism, Azuma left the apparel industry to begin a business related to educating children on the spectrum. At the time there were limited resources to help autistic children, and therapists were constantly suggesting materials unavailable to most parents. Azuma found products to help children with language and help parents shape behaviors, and she started the company Different Roads to Learning in 1995. Later, the company developed internet applications for early intervention and autism. In 1999, she created Different Roads to Learning Books, publishing books and manuals that were missing in the repertoire available to parents and teachers of these children.

The term “Transformational Philanthropy” applies to Azuma, who in 2009 was one of 21 entrepreneurs highlighted in the Lisa Dietlin’s book by that name. An energetic advocate for the autism community and for Asian Americans, she has served as an officer and on the board of Asian Women in Business; Eden II and Genesis Foundation Board (working to educate and serve individuals diagnosed with autism); Japanese American Association; Coalition for Asian American Children and Families; the local board of the Japanese America Citizens League; Asian Americans for Equality; and the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre. She has also served on the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, Day of Remembrance Committee, the Justice for Vincent Chin Committee and JAJA (Japanese Americans and Japanese in America), a social network community group.




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