C. Nozomi Ikuta has lived her life on the borders among different races, cultures, classes, and settings. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a father from a family of farmers and house-servants in California and a mother whose artistic family was among the founders of Doshisha University in Japan in 1875. During World War II, while her father served in the US Army, his family was imprisoned in Poston, Arizona while her mother riveted sheet metal at a Japanese war factory and her husband's grandparents were frequent guests of President Roosevelt at the White House.
Raised in Brook Park, a working class suburb, and confirmed at the Middleburg Hts. Community Church, UCC, in a middle-class suburb, "Cynthia" graduated from Berea High, Carleton College, Harvard Divinity School, and New York Theological Seminary.
She served as a pastor in rural upstate New York and worked at the World Council of Churches office in New York City before moving back to Cleveland to work at the national UCC office. Her life was changed by working for racial justice and human rights in partnership with grassroots organizations led by people of color, who inspired her to claim her Japanese name, "Nozomi." After leaving the national offices in 2003, she worked as an organizer with the SEIU, the janitors' union, for three years before coming to serve Denison Avenue UCC as pastor.
Nozomi and her husband James moved to the Lorain/Denison neighborhood in 2010, opened Upcycles Bike Shop in 2012, and share their home with Nozomi's aunt. They are parents of two adult children. She enjoys tai chi, Japanese drums (taiko), and going for walks with their dog.