Celebrating Agents of Asian Ancestry: JoAnn Sakato
JoAnn Sakato shares her experience as an FBI Special Agent of Asian ancestry.
I am JoAnn Sakato and I entered on duty in 1978. And I retired in 2002. I am fourth-generation Japanese American born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was the first Asian female FBI agent. I was also the first female agent from the state of Hawaii.
One Sunday I read an article about women in the FBI and I thought, "Oh, I can do that." So I applied and they were very happy to see me and I was very naïve. And of course I didn’t realize that would be the first Asian female agent.
In terms of being—the advantage to being a minority female in the FBI was that even I had the vision of a FBI agent as Efrem Zimbalist Jr. And so I could do interviews, I could work undercover and no one, it never crossed anyone’s mind that I would be a FBI agent. So that was a great advantage and I did work undercover in a number of roles and it was a good career.
I think I busted a couple of bubbles in the sense that as the first Asian female and as a Japanese female I think some of the agents expected a geisha. They expected someone to, who was very shy and retiring and reserved and soft spoken. And would say yes and not challenge people. Well, that’s not what they got when they hired me.
I’m pretty independent; always have been. And a funny story is that in the Los Angeles Field Office they would call me Dragon Lady. And I suppose in some context it could be a derogatory term. I decided to adopt that as my moniker. And I made it my own to the extent that I even had a personalized plate that said DRGNLDY and I guess I established a certain reputation for taking no prisoners. You know if you wanted to, I expected high things of myself. I expected good work, hard work. And I expected the same of others who interacted with me. And I think that I established a certain reputation of being rather harsh so others can probably tell you. But I adopted that and that was my persona. That was who I was and I wasn’t afraid of that. So I made it my own.
- 07.13.2018 — FBI St. Louis – Armed Business Robbery on June 23, 2018
- 07.13.2018 — Chicago Youth Baseball Leagues Benefit from FBI Fraud Case
- 06.28.2018 — Wanted by the FBI: Reward Available for Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Antwan Mims
- 06.11.2018 — FBI Swears In Honors Interns
- 05.25.2018 — FBI New York - Citgo Robbery on February 14, 2018
- 05.15.2018 — Tennessee Ponzi Scheme Preyed on Friends and Neighbors
- 05.07.2018 — Reporting Cyber Crime is as Easy as IC3
- 04.27.2018 — Director’s Community Leadership Awards promotional video
- 04.26.2018 — Facebook Live Event - Becoming an Intelligence Analyst
- 04.25.2018 — 2017 Director's Community Leadership Awards
- 04.19.2018 — FBI San Francisco Division completes final day at RSA Conference
- 04.19.2018 — FBI San Francisco Division wraps up 2018 RSA Conference
- 04.18.2018 — Recruiting seminar at the FBI San Francisco Division booth at the 2018 RSA Conference
- 04.18.2018 — Meet an FBI Bomb Technician and working K-9 at the 2018 RSA Conference
- 04.18.2018 — San Francisco section chief to speak at 2018 RSA Conference
- 04.18.2018 — Visit the FBI San Francisco Division booth at the 2018 RSA Conference
- 04.12.2018 — Wanted by the FBI: Rafael Caro-Quintero Added to Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List
- 04.03.2018 — Operation Targets Dark Web Drug Buyers
- 03.29.2018 — Wanted by the FBI: Reward Available in Kevin Robert Harris, II Murder Investigation
- 03.23.2018 — Wanted by the FBI: Seeking Tips in Amy Bradley Investigation