Until the 1980’s, JASSW was run entirely by volunteers; today, our staff consists of three full-time professionals and our Board of Directors is headed by an annually elected Chair and composed of local and state leaders in business, government, education and the arts.


Dale Watanabe
Executive Director
Dale L. Watanabe was born and raised in the south end of Seattle. He attended Tyee High School and the University of Washington, graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and also earned an MBA from Seattle University. He worked for over 20 years with Microsoft as a senior business development manager, before stepping away in 2011. He served as Commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee in 2006 during the initial kickoff of the organization’s $2.5M Capital Campaign to remodel the NVC Memorial Hall, and has served on the NVC Board of Directors since 2004. “I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of such a well-respected, long standing organization whose mission it is to foster friendship, cultural exchange, and trade with the land of my ancestors,” says Watanabe. “Japan and U.S. trade, business and cultural exchange are important for many corporations and individuals here and in Japan. I look forward to working with and learning from the many JASSW members and volunteers who are dedicated to the mission and who have fostered the professional seminar series and the Japan in the Schools (JIS) program.”
Akiko Olson
Program & Operations Director
Akiko Olson started as the Japan in the Schools (JIS) coordinator on October 13, 2009, but she got involved with JASSW as a JIS volunteer in 2008. “I love what I do here at Japan America Society, helping to establish an acknowledgement of Japan or Japanese culture in our community. Meeting lots of kind people and getting involved with schools or planning events is a real thrill for me. Talking to young students in a classroom setting is also thoroughly enjoyable. It is truly a pleasure to share what I know about Japan to someone who is interested in my home country!”
Yumi L'Abbe
Education Coordinator
Yumi coordinates JIS visits with teachers and volunteers, and assists with the AIS program. Yumi is a resident of Seattle and comes to the Society via Kyoto, Japan. She has lived in Seattle since 1998. She is a big Broadway musical fan and loves Zumba. Yumi is also busy raising a 14-year-old daughter and ensuring that she keeps up with her Japanese language studies. Yumi is excited to be working for JASSW and also has volunteered with JIS for a short time in the past. She is looking forward to supporting cultural exchange between Japan and the community in Washington.
Mitsuko Toyama
Accountant
Mitsuko Toyama has been a long time JASSW corporate member and has recently joined as the accounting staff member. Previously, she held the positions of Office Manager and Accounting Manager while working in the Seattle offices of two Japanese companies over a career of thirty years. Mitsuko is also a boad member of a local NPO, Japan Arts Connection Lab, which works with a wide range of Japanese artists and craftsmen to bring their skills and artistry to the attention of the general public in Seattle.
Carolyn Peterson
Programs and Administrative Assistant
Carolyn grew up in Seattle and first began to take an interest in Japan when she started learning Japanese in middle school. She majored in Japanese at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and spent a year studying abroad at Tokyo's J.F Oberlin University. After graduating, she spent four years teaching English on the JET Programme in Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture, and thinks of Joyo as her second home. She is excited to work at JASSW and stay connected to the Japanese community. She is passionate about the importance of travel, study abroad, and ice cream.
Lisa Maria D'Aquila
Assistant JIS Program Coordinator
As a rotary exchange student in high school, and later as a high school English conversation teacher, Lisa Maria has first-hand experience in Japanese Schools. When she heard about the Japan in Schools program, she was very excited to share her experiences with American Students. She joined the Japan in the Schools program as a volunteer in 2004, then as a staff member in December 2012.

Our Interns:

Daniel Lizarraga
Intern
Daniel grew up in Shoreline, Washington and was first exposed to Japanese culture at an Aki Matsuri event when he was in middle school. He studied abroad for one year at Akita International University in Japan and recently graduated from Western Washington University with a double major in International Business and Japanese. Daniel’s work and volunteering with AUAP (Asia University America Program) lead him to become more passionate about intercultural exchange. He hopes to go back to Japan in the near future to gain work experience, spend time with his host family in Nara, and bathe with the snow monkeys in Nagano. His goal as an intern is to help JASSW’s events run smoothly and to connect with the Japanese community in Seattle.
Josephine Hoyne
Intern
Josephine was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Her family was a host family for foreign exchange students for more than ten years. Because her mother grew up in Okinawa, Japan and spoke Japanese fluently, the majority of the students that stayed with them were from Japan. Josephine was therefore exposed to Japan and developed an interest in Japanese culture from an early age. She studied abroad for two semesters at Doshisha University in Kyoto and graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Asian Studies. She then taught English with the JET program in Tottori, Japan for three years. She filled her days in Japan traveling the country, visiting as many onsen as possible, and learning Japanese traditional dance. Josephine became an intern with JASSW in December 2016. She hopes to further her connections with Japan while developing new connections in the Japanese community in the Greater Seattle area through her work there.
Karissa Bertz
Intern
Karissa is a 22 year old university graduate who was born and raised in Redmond, Washington. She attended a private school in Bothell and studied Japanese there for three years, before moving on to major in Japanese Linguistics at the University of Washington. She has a deep love for Japanese culture, history and language that drove her to learn the language and study abroad. She spent a year studying at Keio University with the MEXT scholarship from the Japanese Consulate. She started working as an intern for the Japan-America Society in January 2017. She is happy to intern in order to utilize her language skills in an environment that fosters the relationship between America and Japan.

Read our Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation.


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