Officers are elected for a one-year term at the Society’s Annual Meeting in April


Masami Katayama


Vice Chair

Dennis Yamashita

Dennis Yamashita is a Sansei raised in Tokyo and has lived in Seattle since the 1970’s. He served as Chair of JASSW in 2009-2010. He retired as the Managing Director- Japan Practice Leader for the U.S. from Aon Risk Solutions after serving nearly 30 years. He has been a lifelong volunteer and served in leadership positions in major non-profit Nikkei organizations in the Seattle area including Chair-JASSW, President-Nikkei Concerns/Keiro NW, and President-Seattle Nikkeijinkai (Japanese Community Services). He currently serves as President of the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa. He is also the Representative Director of the Evergreen Glee Club a 4-part men’s chorus group. For his hobbies, he is a student of Gagaku, an ancient court ritual music, playing the Ryuteki flute.


Yuka Shimizu

Bellevue Children's Academy / Willows Preparatory School


Todd Mason

Todd Mason was born and raised in Seattle and is an Export Sales Manager at Weyerhaeuser Company. He received a BA in Economics and Accounting from Western Washington University, and an MBA with a Certificate in International Management from the University of Washington Foster School of Business. He lived and worked professionally in Japan for over 14 years, first as an English instructor, and subsequently in the automobile manufacturing and forest products industries. Todd has been active with JASSW for many years, and a member of the board of directors since 2016.


Chris Cummins

Chris is the Seattle-area Regional Business Development Manager for OIA Global, a Portland-headquartered freight forwarding company. His job is similar to a travel agent for freight-sized cargo, helping customers consider the routing and cost options needed, to meet handling and deadline requirements. He has been active with JASSW since 2007, after returning from Japan where he worked for the English conversation school, GEOS. He hopes you will consider volunteering alongside him to plan networking events for the JAS-NET group, fundraise for programs including JIS/AIS, and attend the variety of programs the events committee has put together for you to experience. Outside of his work and the Society, Chris raises guinea pigs, plays arcade rhythm games like Gitadora, and during the pandemic taught himself how to make some of his favorite cocktails.

Honorary Vice Chair

Governor of the State of Washington
The Honorable Jay Inslee

Board Member

Consul General of Japan in Seattle
The Honorable Makoto Iyori**

Elected Directors

Directors are elected for three-year terms at the Society’s Annual Meeting in April

Directors to 2025

  • Sarah Okawa Ellerbrock
  • Shoko Farmer, Russell Investments
  • Mark Harman, Costco Wholesale
  • Michelle Kato, PNWJETAA
  • Hideaki Katsube, Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.
  • Dr. Ryo Kubota, Kubota Pharmaceuticals
  • Taylor Mills, Boeing
  • Diane Butler, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Naoko Inoue Shatz, Shatz Law Group
  • Jane Stonecipher, Seattle Japanese Gardens
  • Satoko Valdes, Moss Adams, LLC
  • Manabu Miroku, Japan Airlines

Directors to 2026

  • Christopher Cummins
  • Kanako Matsumoto
  • Ambassador Michael Michalak
  • Yoshi Minegishi
  • Shigeki Okano
  • Kay Packard
  • Cliff Rudolph, Parker Smith & Feek
  • Matt Smith
  • Hideo Suganuma, Kohtoku Enterprise
  • Karen Swanson, Nichirei USA LLC
  • Carl Wollebek, Port of Everett
  • Michael Yaguchi

Directors to 2027

  • Rita Brogan, Mukai Farm and Garden
  • Masami Katayama, Starbucks
  • Masamichi (Mitch) Kato, Jamco America
  • Jane Corddry Langill, Teatro ZinZanni
  • RADM James D. Kelly (Ret.)
  • Todd Mason, Weyerhaeuser
  • Barbara Mizoguchi
  • Joel Paget, Ryan Swanson and Cleveland, PLLC
  • Yoshie Phillips, Russell Investments
  • Akemi Sagawa
  • Yuka Shimizu, Bellevue Children’s Academy

Former Board Chairs/Past Presidents***

Shoko Farmer
Russell Investments
2022-2024 Chair
Shoko Farmer is a seasoned product manager at Russell Investments. She, as a member of Russell’s Global Solutions Team, is responsible for implementation of Russell’s funds and onboarding its large institutional client accounts. Since joining Russell in 1989, she has held various roles and been involved in multiple important projects including establishing Russell’s fund business in Japan. Shoko has been a board member of the Japan America Society of the State of Washington and served as a chair of its Education Committee. Under her leadership, JASSW’s education program has been expanded with a new program, America in the Schools (AIS), and several new and updated Japan in the Schools programs (JIS).
Ellen Eskenazi
UW Japan Studies Program
2021-2022 Chair
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ellen has lived and traveled in Japan as a professional and a student (Tsuda University). She is a UW alum, with a BA in East Asia Studies from the Jackson School of International Studies, where she is Associate Director of the UW Japan Studies Program. She earned a certificate in Project Management during a career in information technology in the telecommunication and finance sectors prior to joining the UW, and has been involved with JASSW for over ten years.
Toshihiro Kawachi
Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)
2020-2021 Chair
Karin Zaugg Black
Port of Seattle
2019-2020 Chair
Karin Zaugg Black serves as the International Business Protocol Liaison for the Port of Seattle and advises on protocol matters related to international delegations of business leaders, dignitaries, and government officials in order to facilitate positive business relationships. She supports the Port’s various lines of business, including Airport, Seaport (in collaboration with the Northwest Seaport Alliance), Cruise, Fishing, and Economic Development & Tourism. Ms. Zaugg Black served as Communications Director for the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and has held other roles at the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce, Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI), and the Mayor’s Office of Kobe, Japan, on the JET program, serving as Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) from 1993-1996. Ms. Zaugg Black currently serves on the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington board as past chair, as vice chair of the City of Seattle’s International Advisory Affairs Board, and as co-chair of Greater Seattle Partners’ Marketing Council. She served as president of the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association from 1998 to 2015 and continues to serve on the board as past president. She is a graduate of the greater Seattle’s Leadership Tomorrow program. She and her husband Dan have two children and live in Seattle.
Samuel Shepherd
Individual member
2013-2014 Chair
2018-2019 Chair
As the son of missionary parents, Sam grew up in Japan (in Tokyo, Sapporo and Okinawa) until attending college in Pasadena, California and the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea, before settling in Seattle to attend graduate school in linguistics at the University of Washington. In 1994, Sam served as Executive Director of the Fulbright Program in Tokyo (the Japan-United States Education Commission) for ten years and later was President of the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) in Washington, D.C. He served on the Board of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington for several years after his return to Seattle in 2009. In 2010, Sam was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the government of Japan in recognition of his contribution to the furtherance of educational and cross-cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States.
Adam Goff
Russell Investments
2017-2018 Chair
Tay Yoshitani
Port of Seattle
2016-2017 Chair
Tay Yoshitani served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Seattle which owns over $6 billion in assets and operates the Seaport, SeaTac International Airport, and a real estate portfolio from March 2007 thru October 2014. Prior to this role, he was Senior Advisor for the National Association of Waterfront Employers in Washington DC for 2 years. His 26 years in the maritime port industry includes serving as Executive Director of the Port of Oakland, Executive Director of the Port of Baltimore, and the Deputy Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles. Tay has significant corporate governance experience and served on the board of directors at Expeditors International, a $10 billion global logistics company, and Port Blakely, a large family-owned international forestry company. In addition, he has served on the board of The Seattle Foundation, YMCA Eastside, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Japan America Society of Washington State. He is currently on the board of the Eno Center for Transportation, a think tank for public policy on transportation, and a member of the Advisory Board at Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington-Bothell. In 2019, Tay was also appointed a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Washington State (West). Tay is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. He served in the Army Corps of Engineers for five years and resigned as a Captain. He then graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1975.
Hiroko Huntoon
Costco Wholesale
2015-2016 Chair
Shinichiro Kawazoe
Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)
2014-2015 Chair
Mark Calhoon
Washington State Department of Commerce
2012-2013 Chair
  • 2011-2012 Megumi Kobayashi
  • 2010-2011 Doug Palmer, Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, P.S.
  • 2009-2010 Dennis Yamashita, Aon Corporation
  • 2008-2009 Linda Salomon, Gobo Enterprises
  • 2007-2008 Dick Dudley, Weyerhaeuser Company
  • 2006-2007 Tom Sasaki, ECORE Global
  • 2005-2006 Andy Read, Deloitte & Touche LLP
  • 2004-2005 Paul Rollins, Bank of America
  • 2003-2004 Chris Helm, Davis Wright Tremaine
  • 2002-2003 Sara Sandford, Garvey Schubert Barer
  • 2001-2002 Mic Dinsmore, Port of Seattle
  • 2000-2001 Roger Williams, Mithun Partners
  • 1999-2000 William Glassford, Bank of Americca
  • 1998-1999 Don Lorentz, Port of Seattle
  • 1997-1998 James R. Ladd, EnCompass Globalization, Inc.
  • 1996-1997 Jim Fitzgerald, Quadrant Corporation
  • 1995-1996 Gary R. Severson, First Interstate Bank
  • 1994-1995 James K. Doane, Preston Gates & Ellis
  • 1993-1994 Lawrence W. Clarkson, Boeing
  • 1992-1993 Mary Bernson, East Asia Resource Center, UW
  • 1991-1992 Victor S. Hirakawa, Mitsubishi
  • 1990-1991 Governor John B. Spellman, Carney Stephenson Badley Smith & Spellman, P.S.
  • 1989-1990 Dennis Okamoto, US West, Inc.
  • 1988-1989 Gail Ingersoll Ransom, Individual member
  • 1987-1988 Gene B. Brandzel, Stoel Rives Boley Jones & Grey
  • 1986-1987 Edward M. Burke, Burke Assoc. Architects
  • 1985-1986 Tomio Moriguchi, Uwajimaya
  • 1984-1985 Wayne B. Gentry, Individual member
  • 1983-1984 Richard W. Buchanan, LeGros, Buchanan & Paul
  • 1982-1983 Wilfred A. Pascoe, Ehrig & Assoc.
  • 1981-1982 David R. Enroth, Alaska Maritime Agencies
  • 1980-1981 George R. Cruickshank, Seattle Stevedore Co. 
  • 1979-1980 William P. Ellis, Cascade Shipping Co. 
  • 1978-1979 John M. Swihart, Boeing Commercial Airplane Co. 
  • 1977-1978 Mason J. Hoffman, George S. Bush and Co. 
  • 1976-1977 Theodore A. LeGros; Howard, LeGros, Buchanan & Paul
  • 1975-1976 Peter N. Beckett, Jones Washington Stevedore Co.  
  • 1974-1975 Robert C. Buckingham, Seaport Shipping 
  • 1973-1974 Gordon S. Clinton, Clinton, Fleck, Glein & Brown 
  • 1972-1973 William Y. Mimbu, Mimbu & Wong 
  • 1971-1972 Walter B. Williams, Continental, Inc. 
  • 1970-1971 Jack Greaves, Seattle Public Schools 
  • 1969-1970 Clayton R. Jones, Rothschild Intl. Stevedoring Co. 
  • 1968-1969 John W. Money, Kerr Steamship Co. 
  • 1967-1968 Charles L. Spence, Pacific Lumber & Shipping Co. 
  • 1966-1967 G. Raymond Seefeldt, Olympic Steamship Co. 
  • 1965-1966 Kenneth W. Sorrells, Kenneth W. Sorrells Appraisals 
  • 1964-1965 Capt. James R. Topper USN(ret), Peoples National Bank of Washington 
  • 1963-1964 Clemens Bursett, American Mail Line 
  • 1962-1963 Wheeler Grey, Jones, Grey, Bayley & Olsen 
  • 1961-1962 M.J. Weber, Weber Industries 
  • 1960-1961 Ralph A. Johansen, Ralph A. Johansen Associates, Inc. 
  • 1959-1960 Forest G. Scott, Northern Pacific Railway 
  • 1958-1959 Charles B. Howard, Summers, Bucey & Howard 
  • 1957-1958 Dr. Richard E. Fuller, Seattle Art Museum 
  • 1956-1957 George A. Jensen, Jensen-McLean Co., Inc. 
  • 1955-1956 Merville W. McInnis, McInnis & Co. 
  • 1954-1955  Lane Summers, Summers, Bucey & Howard 
  • 1953-1954 William F. Devin, Devin Hutchinson & Rolf. 
  • 1952-1953 R. Adm. Gordon Rowe, U.S.N. (ret.), elected president when society reorganizes. 
  • 1941-1952 Arthur E. Goodwin, Port of Seattle 
  • 1939-1941 Harry B. Jones, attorney 
  • 1938-1939 Wylie Hemphill, Preston Thorgrimson 
  • 1937-1938 Arthur Murphy elected, then resigned, replaced by Wylie Hemphill, Cumberland Coal 
  • 1936-1937 Arthur Murphy, Union Pacific Railroad 
  • 1935-1936 L.E. Force.  
  • 1933-1935 Corwin S. Shank, Shank, Rode, Cook & Watkins
  • 1931-1933 K.J. Middleton, Dodwell & Co., Ltd.
  • 1929-1931 J.W. Spangler, Seattle National Bank 
  • 1928-1929 Dr. Herbert H. Gowen, Professor of Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington
  • 1927-1928 Reginald H. Parsons, President, Dexter Horton National Bank 
  • 1925-1927 Corwin S. Shank, Shank, Belt and Fairbrook 
  • 1923-1925 E.G. Anderson, Western Dry Goods co. 

** The Consul General of Japan at Seattle is automatically conferred director status without election or respect to term limit.

*** Any past chair/past president who is still an active member of the Society is automatically conferred director status without election or respect to term limit.  Any remaining past chair/past president may be conferred to Advisory Board status.


List of Our Past Interns

Shion YamazakiApril 15, 2024 ~ May 31, 2024
Ryutaro KinzoFebruary 6, 2024 ~
Yujin HeoDecember 18, 2023 ~ July 28, 2024
KyungYoung (Jenny) KimApril 10, 2023 ~ November 19, 2023
Christie JungMarch 31, 2023 ~ July 8, 2023
Taira ShimotsuyaFebruary 27, 2023 ~ June 1, 2023
Koki MatsumuraJanuary 23, 2023 ~ March 30, 2023
Harin ParkOctober 3, 2022 ~ January 20, 2023
Chihiro MatsuoJune 29, 2022 ~ September 2, 2022
Moena YamakawaJune 29, 2022 ~ August 19, 2022
Jiwoo JungApril 4, 2022 ~ July 31, 2022
Satoshi MikiJune 2022
Ellen UchidaApril 2021 ~ December 19, 2023
Isami February 24, 2020 ~ April 3, 2020
RioFebruary 3, 2020 ~ February 27, 2020
DaichiFebruary 3, 2020 ~ February 27, 2020
Tomohiro IshiiJanuary 2020 ~ February 2020
Naoki KokubuNovember 1, 2019 ~ 
Randy UnJuly 2019 ~ September 2019
Tomomi July 1, 2019 ~September 13, 2019
Nanami KikuchiAug 7, 2019 ~ August 30, 2019
ChirikoJuly 2019 ~
Misako SatoJuly 22, 2019 ~
Kana KitahamaFebruary 6, 2019 ~ April 30, 2019
Aya OgataFebruary 1, 2019 ~ February 26, 2019
Yuno TanifujiJanuary 28, 2019 ~ March 30, 2019
Shari MonsonOctober 2018 ~ February 2019
Midori NakanoAugust 16, 2018 ~ August 31, 2018
Hiroki IshiiJune 26, 2018 ~ August 31, 2018
Yuka MuroiFebruary 7, 2018 ~ March 2, 2018
Lee Hyung WooFebruary 2018 ~ June 2018
Nao MiyamotoJanuary 28, 2018 ~ April 1, 2018
Hitomi Kase January 2018 ~
Ryoko YamamotoOctober 11, 2017 ~
Raymond SimOctober, 2017 ~
Chihiro KurokawaOctober 9, 2017 ~ December 1, 2017
Tomomi TsukadaAugust 25, 2017 ~ September 13, 2017
Shohgo MiuraJuly 6, 2017 ~ 
Jumpei AsakuraEnd of February 2017 - Mid-March 2017