Ten distinguished Japanese Americans were selected to participate in the 2015 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD).
The group met for an orientation Jan. 30-31 at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. From March 6 to 10, they will travel to Japan, where they will visit Tokyo and Hiroshima.
The JALD program provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the U.S. to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, non-profit and cultural sectors. The trip also allows Japanese leaders to gain a greater understanding of multicultural America through the experiences of a diverse group of Japanese Americans.
Upon their return, delegates collaborate with program alumni, the local consulates, the U.S.-Japan Council and local and national community organizations to continue strengthening ties between the U.S. and Japan.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented in the U.S. by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. and 17 consulate general offices, sponsors the program. The U.S.-Japan Council provides administration and organization for the program. A total of 166 delegates have participated to date.
The 2015 delegates are:
• Lynn Hashimoto (Seattle), senior attorney, Worldwide Sales Group Microsoft Corporation. She serves as lead in-house counsel to Microsoft’s consumer-focused businesses in the U.S., negotiating supply, distribution and marketing support agreements and providing strategic advice regarding the launch of new products and technologies.
Prior to her time at Microsoft, Hashimoto spent nine years working as attorney in the Tokyo office of Morrison & Foerster. She has also worked at law firms in Silicon Valley and New York City, and served as law clerk to Napoleon A. Jones Jr., U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of California.
Hashimoto is a board member of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW) and a Scott M. Johnson Fellow, U.S.-Japan Leadership Program (USJLP). She received a B.A. in English Llterature, magna cum laude, from Barnard College and a J.D., cum laude, from New York University School of Law.
Ancestral origins in Japan: paternal side from Kumamoto Prefecture, maternal side from Osaka and Nara
• Yoshie Ito (New York City), assistant director of Global Initiatives at the Asia Society. In this capacity, she fundraises, curates, markets and executes Asia Society’s conferences, seminars and lectures on global themes at its headquarters in New York City and Asia.
Before coming to the Asia Society, she worked for Zephyr Management as the manager of investor relations. She also served as the head of investor relations for StarMedia Network Inc. in New York and Grupo Elektra in Mexico City. In Mexico, she taught finance to university students at Escuela Bancaria y Comercial. She also did equity research for Santander Investment and worked for ITOCHU Corporation Mexico.
Ito graduated from Chuwo Gakuen and Liceo Mexicano Japones in Mexico City and received her bachelor’s degree from Escuela Bancaria y Comercial in the same city. She holds a master’s degree in finance and investment from the University of Exeter in the U.K., and a second master’s degree in East Asian studies from Yale University.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Yamaguchi Prefecture
• Toshiki Masaki (Detroit) government affairs manager, Ford Motor Company. He has been with Ford since 1988, holding a variety of positions in vehicle engineering, finance, purchasing and government and community relations (G&CR). His current responsibilities include the Ford Political Action Committee, the Business Plan Review, Global Leader of G&CR Learning and Development, and public policy and economic impact analyses.
In January 2013, Masaki was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Asian and Pacific American Affairs Commission. Previously, he was the vice chair of the Michigan Health Care Information Technology Commission (appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006).
He was born in Osaka and has been living in the U.S. since 1979. Masaki holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Osaka, Tokushima Prefecture
• Richard I. Morimoto (Chicago), Bill & Gayle Cook professor of biology, Department of Molecular Biosciences, Northwestern University, and director of the Rice Institute for Biomedical Research at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He has been continuously supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has been a visiting professor at several international universities, including Osaka University and Kyoto University, and is a founder of Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., a biotech company developing small molecule therapeutics for age-associated degenerative diseases.
As a faculty member, Morimoto helped found the Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern University in 1995. In 2010, he was selected by the Japanese American Citizens League as recipient of its Japanese American of the Biennium Award. He holds a B.S. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Chicago, and trained at Harvard University.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Hiroshima Prefecture
• Priscilla Ouchida (San Francisco), executive director, Japanese American Citizens League. She was appointed in 2012, and is the first female to serve in the position on a permanent basis. Ouchida sits on the Executive Board of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of leading national civil rights organizations.
She is vice president of membership for the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, and a member of the Leadership Committee of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. She is also on the advisory board for Asian Pacific Islanders for Professional and Community Advancement, an employee resource group within AT&T, and was recently appointed to the National Park Service Centennial Advisory Committee by the National Park System Advisory Board.
Ouchida holds a B.A. in biological sciences from CSU Sacramento.
Ancestral origins in Japan: paternal side from Kumamoto, maternal side from Shizuoka Prefecture
• Linda Taira (Los Angeles), senior manager, internal and CEO communications, Boeing Defense, Space & Security Unit. She has recently been assigned to lead communications for Boeing’s global satellite business, based in Los Angeles. Prior to Boeing, she was vice president and corporate secretary at the national headquarters of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She was also a senior vice president of media relations at two international public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton and Ketchum.
As a journalist, Taira served as chief congressional correspondent at CNN, as well as a correspondent at CBS News, where she covered the White House and Congress.
Taira holds a M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Hawaii.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Fukuoka, Fukushima, Okinawa, Tokyo and Toyama Prefecture
• Sach Takayasu (Washington, D.C.), president and CEO , Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship. ACE is devoted to addressing the needs, interests and aspirations of entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate leaders of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander heritage. Prior to joining ACE, Takayasu built many of IBM’s new businesses, including Digital Marketing.
Her contributions have been recognized by the industry through many awards, including the 2011 Forrester Groundswell Award and an invitation from the executive director of the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) to join its Strategic Innovation Advisory Board. Over the years, Ms. Takayasu has also helped various organizations such as the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, UNFPA and New York International.
Takayasu holds a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from Ohio State University.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Nara Prefecture
• Tyler Tokioka (Honolulu), vice president for external affairs, Island Insurance Companies. He has been with Island Insurance Companies for 14 years and currently coordinates the public relations effort regarding the company’s charitable giving and develops long-term relationships with various community leaders (non-profit and political) to ensure that the efforts of the company are aligned with the needs of the community.
Tokioka is also president of the Island Insurance Foundation and coordinates the foundation’s annual giving program by developing an annual budget and reviewing giving requests with the standing review committee.
He is very active on a number of boards, including those of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, the Japanese Cultural Center, Hawaii Chapter CPCU Society, and Koa Anuenue.
Tokioka received a B.A. in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Ancestral origins in Japan: paternal side from Okayama and Niigata, maternal side from Hiroshima Prefecture
• Dr. Tracy Tsuetaki (Chapel Hill, N.C.), senior vice president of PAREXEL International, a global life sciences services and technology organization. He has accountability for peri- and post-approval services and PAREXEL Consulting and Medical Communication Services, and oversees the strategy and operational management for both businesses worldwide.
Prior to his current position, he was group president of Optum Life Sciences, a UnitedHealth Group Company. Tsuetaki’s experience includes general management, business development, R&D, marketing, sales, and manufacturing management in publicly traded and private equity-backed life science and health services and technology-based companies. He works with government regulatory agencies and collaborates with life science organizations on development and commercial programs.
Tsuetaki holds a B.S. from UC Davis, a M.S. and a Doctorate of Optometry from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Ancestral origins in Japan: maternal side from Okayama, paternal side from Wakayama Prefecture
• Dr. Robin Yasui (Denver), director of geriatrics at Denver Health and Hospitals. In this capacity, she developed and directs a program of care for 6,000 of Denver’s senior patients from over 60 countries. Also an assistant professor in medicine at the University of Colorado, she is an award-winning teacher, lecturing on topics in cultural medicine to colleagues and students from wide-ranging healthcare disciplines.
Yasui carries her passion for activism beyond the hospital walls, serving on boards in the Latino, Asian, immigrant and refugee communities. She attributes her dedication to serving diverse communities to her family roots. She follows in the footsteps of the Yasui family tree, including her uncle, Minoru Yasui, who spent over 40 years working for the Denver community she now serves.
Yasui holds a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.D. from Indiana University. She completed her internship and residency in internal nedicine as well as a fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.
Ancestral origins in Japan: Okayama Prefecture
The relationship between the U.S. and Japan is considered by many as the most important bilateral relationship in the world, and Japanese Americans are uniquely positioned to help shape it. The connections between Japanese and Japanese Americans are complex. While World War II played a major role in severing ties between Japanese Americans and Japan, today’s opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit are great and demand a renewed commitment to involving Japanese Americans in U.S.-Japan relations.
The Japanese American Leadership Delegation provides Japanese American leaders with the opportunity to become acquainted or re-engaged with Japan and participate in discussions related to the role that Japanese Americans can play in addressing key issues that face both countries, now and in the future.
The first delegation was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to visit Japan in 2000. It included third- and fourth-generation Japanese Americans selected from various professional fields, including the educational, cultural, philanthropic, legal and political sectors. Since the initial trip, delegations of Japanese American leaders from throughout the U.S. have visited Japan every year since 2002.
JALD alumni have created a network to ensure that the commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations is maintained. There have been JALD national reunions and several alumni groups have traveled back to Japan together to build on and sustain important relationships built on the program.
Alumni of the program are invited and encouraged to join the U.S.-Japan Council’s national networking of Japanese American leaders known and participate in council programming and events.
For more information, visit www.usjapancouncil.org/.