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 elected Chair and composed of local and state leaders in business, government, education and the arts.

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!”
Katie Collins
Events and Programs Coordinator
Kathryn (Katie) grew in in Olympia and began studying Japanese at Olympia High School. During high school, she participated in the Sister City Exchange program and traveled to Japan for the first time. She majored in Japanese Studies at Willamette University and spent one year at Tokyo International University in Kawagoe, Saitama. She remains close to her host family and thinks of them as her second family. After graduation, Katie went on to get her Master’s in Japanese Language and Linguistics at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Upon completing her Master’s, she moved to Japan to teach English, first in Chiba, then Tokyo for 5 years. Katie is excited to work at JASSW so she can continue to share her passion for community, international education and travel. She also loves board games, tap dancing and photography.
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.