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

Office Staff

Dale Watanabe
Executive Director

Dale L. Watanabe was appointed Executive Director in May 2012.  He was born and raised in the south end of Seattle, graduating from Tyee High School.  Watanabe 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 have appreciated 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've enjoyed working with and learning from the many JASSW members and volunteers who are dedicated to the mission.”

Akiko Sato
Program & Operations Director
Akiko Sato 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!”
Michiko Yoshino
Communications & Social Media Coordinator

Born in Japan and raised in the States, Michiko has had a long relationship with Japan. After spending most of her youth in Seattle, she studied at Middlebury College in Vermont where she spent a year studying abroad at International Christian University in Tokyo and received her Japanese/Sociology undergraduate degree. After graduating, she spent the next four years in Yamagata, Japan as a prefectural Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for the JET Program. She returned back to Seattle in September 2021 after gaining an appreciation for ryokans, snow, sake, and good food. Although Michiko has lived in various parts of the US and Japan, she considers Seattle her home and is excited to help forge and strengthen international relations between Washington State and Japan.

Maika Bingham
Program Coordinator

I was born and raised in Miyazaki, Japan and spent time in Nagoya, Aichi for university which included a one-year study abroad program at Western Washington University. After graduating from university, I worked at the Sheraton Resort in Miyazaki for 3 years. As I met and greeted many customers from all over the world while working at Sheraton, I realized that being bilingual broadened both my horizons and my perspective. As a result, I decided to change the direction of my career by accepting a position as an instructor in an eikaiwa school (private school that teaches English conversation and grammar). In this new position, I hoped to encourage my students to be interested in the world outside of Miyazaki. In addition to my work as a full-time English teacher, I also partnered with an American colleague to provide English lessons to the local community on weekends. After almost 2 years teaching, I decided to seek a more international working experience by moving to Seattle, where my father’s family is located. I hope I can bring positive insights from my previous life/work experiences to JASSW and share my immense passion for education, Washington-Japan relationships, and, most importantly, my love for my home country, Japan!

Education Staff

Lisa Maria D'Aquila
JIS 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.
Elizabeth Lee
Programs Coordinator

Elizabeth commits herself to bridging communities. She has been an Academic Adviser for first-year Whitman College students, English Teacher for over 4,000 Japanese students on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, Project Coordinator at the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, and Board Member of the Japan Arts Connection Lab (JACLab),  Currently, she is a fifth-year Japanese teacher at South Kitsap High School and is excited to be back with the Society as a remote program coordinator. Her other interests include onsen, theater, and karaoke.

SBEA Staff

Asako Tateishi
Small Business Resiliency Program Coordinator


2008年の経済危機を機にシアトルへ移り、パートナーと二人でのマイクロビジネスとして「ジャパン・クリエイティブアーツ」を立ち上げ「太鼓の学校/The School of TAIKO」を運営、2014年より「Bellevue World TAIKO Festival をプロデュースするなど、主に邦楽を通じて日本の魅力をアメリカで伝える活動を行っている。


Born in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture of Japan.

After the 2008 financial crisis, she moved to Seattle and founded the microbusiness, “Japan Creative Arts” in 2009 which provided Japanese music, arts and culture mainly though “The School of TAIKO/太鼓の学校”.  In addition, in 2014 she started to produce the “Bellevue World TAIKO Festival” to introduce and promote high quality, unique Japanese culture.

She is pleased to take part in this new project to support the community in Japanese, taking advantage of her experience running a small business in the United States as a Japanese immigrant, to surviving the current challenging days due to COVID-19.

Fred Harriman
Interpreting & Translations



Fred Harriman has worked as a professional interpreter and translator of Japanese and Spanish since the time he lived in Hamamatsu City of Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan from 1977 to 1994. During his years in Hamamatsu with his wife Takayo he participated in the local community as a father of 2 daughters and a son-in-law to Takayo’s Mom and Dad. He also worked in local radio and television as well as volunteering to translate and interpret for the local non-Japanese community.

Here in the U.S. Fred has continued his career as a professional interpreter. He has also worked many years recently as a contract interpreter for the US Department of State – handling DoS program work, ceremonies, conferences, and military interpreting work. He is also registered by the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts as an Interpreter of Japanese. 

Fred remarked for this profile: “Japanese people have shown me patience and kindness throughout my life. My fellow Americans can learn much from Japanese culture and the Japanese worldview, and I hope I can play a role in bringing those to the Pacific Northwest."

Miki Smith
Small Business Resiliency Program Coordinator




Hi! My name is Miki Smith. I’m from Funabashi, Japan. I will be in charge of helping Japanese immigrant and Japanese-American owners of small businesses and microbusiness owners  with their business operations in Washington. Since I arrived in Washington in 2015, I have wanted to work as a bridge between Japan and the United States. It is an honor to be able to do this work at JASSW, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Since 2020, JASSW has partnered with the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington State Small Business Recovery Working Group to stay up-to-date with the newest information regarding small business support. Feel free to contact me! I look forward to helping you.

Kiersten Zugg


Koki Matsumura

Koki was born and raised in Hyogo, Japan.  He studies Japanese ancient history in Kwansei Gakuin University in Hyogo, Japan. As an intern, he wants to communicate with staff at JASSW and a lot of people whom he gets involved with through the internship. Also, he wants to learn practical English by communicating with them.

He is interested in JASSW activities, especially JIS (Japan in the Schools). Therefore, he looks forward to joining the program as an intern.

Moreover, he is interested in the history of Japan-America Society. Through the internship, He wants to learn how Japan-America Society came to be what it is today.

Ellen Uchida
Ellen Uchida got involved with JASSW as an intern in April of 2021. She was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and currently studies finance at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She is happy to dedicate her time helping the Japanese American community and be involved in opportunities that utilize her English/Japanese bilingual skills. She hopes to visit Washington state and visit the JASSW office one day in person. In her free time, she likes to practice karate as pictured in the photo above.

List of Past Interns


List of Our Past Interns

Chihiro MatsuoJune 29, 2022 ~ September 2, 2022
Moena YamakawaJune 29, 2022 ~ August 19, 2022
Jiwoo JungApril 4, 2022 ~ July 31, 2022
Satoshi MikiJune 2022