TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

The 2017 Emerging Leaders at the 2017 Annual Conference in Washington, DC



The U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) identifies, cultivates, and empowers a new generation of Japanese American leaders. Emerging Leaders participate in leadership education, design and implement original USJC programming, and develop powerful, lifelong personal and professional friendships. A new cohort of leaders aged 24-35 is selected annually to attend the Annual Conference, become USJC Associates, and join program alumni in bridging the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship.


2018 Emerging Leaders

USJC is proud to announce the members of the 2018 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. In its ninth year, the program will bring 12 Japanese American young professionals to Tokyo for the 2018 USJC Annual Conference. The Emerging Leaders will participate in a leadership orientation program, network with high level leaders, attend all conference events and participate in the Annual Members Meeting.

Please join us in welcoming: 

  • Claire Fukuoka (Honolulu, HI)
    Project Manager, Austin, Tsutsumi & Associates, Inc.

  • Eric Hattori (Chicago, IL)
    Owner, Piko Street Kitchen

  • Yuki Inoue (Tokyo, Japan)
    News Anchor & Reporter, NHK

  • Toshiki Nakashige (New York, NY)
    Chemical Biologist, The Rockefeller University

  • Alyssa Nilemo (Westminster, CO)
    Executive Aide, City of Westminster

  • Eiko Okamoto (New York, NY)
    General Manager, CyberGym NYC; Founder, EOKA NYC

  • Amy Rubinger (San Mateo, CA)
    Marketing Director, Golden Whales Group

  • Sonia Sugimachi Livdahl (Menlo Park, CA)
    Client Solutions Manager, Facebook

  • Lindsey Sugino (San Francisco, CA)
    Software Engineer, BulbRocket

  • Alexis Ayano Terai (Washington, DC)
    Program Manager, U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress

  • Hisae Uki (Rancho Dominguez, CA)
    Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Sun Noodle

  • Amy Watanabe (Los Angeles, CA)
    Associate, Nakatomi & Associates



Past ELP participants have created a vibrant alumni network deeply engaged with the work of the Council.

Click here for more information on ELP and alumni activities.

Click here to read reflections from ELP alumni.





(Partial List)












The U.S.-Japan Council's TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program is supported by the generous sponsorship of companies, foundations and individuals. If you would like to make a donation to the program, please contact Allison Murata at or 310-500-2873.


We also thank the many generous donors who have contributed to USJC’s U40 Summit and other ELP alumni activities.



Photos from prior classes are available here:

2017 Emerging Leaders at the 2017 Annual Conference

2016 Emerging Leaders at the 2016 Annual Conference

2015 Emerging Leaders at the 2015 Annual Conference

2014 Emerging Leaders at the 2014 Annual Conference

2013 Emerging Leaders at the 2013 Annual Conference

2012 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference & Annual Members Meeting

2011 U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference

2010 Emerging Leaders at the 2010 Annual Conference




“The Emerging Leaders Program was an unforgettable experience. Not only did it give me a chance to meet leaders in the field of U.S.-Japan relations, it reaffirmed in me the importance of the U.S.-Japan relationship and my commitment to it. Most precious to me, however, were the friendships I built.”

 - Rylan Sekiguchi, ELP 2017


“The Annual Conference was hands down the most inspiring conference I have ever attended…the Emerging Leaders Program and the Annual Conference were overwhelmingly impactful. That experience has already started reshaping the course of my future and expanding my ability to contribute more effectively to promoting U.S.-Japan relations.”

- Andrea Sugano, ELP 2016


“The U.S.-Japan Council TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program was unbelievable and far exceeded my expectations. I left Tokyo with a strong sense of responsibility and possibility. As an individual it seems daunting, but together with all of ELP and USJC, I know it can happen. The idea that we can ‘change the world,’ I think is a real possibility and this definitely is just the beginning.”

- Lianna Kushi, ELP 2015




2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2016 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2015 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2014 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2013 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program