TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

The 2016 Emerging Leaders at the 2016 Annual Conference in Silicon Valley



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.


2017 Emerging Leaders

USJC is proud to announce the members of the 2017 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. In its eighth year, the program will bring 12 Japanese American young professionals to Washington, DC for the 2017 U.S.-Japan Council 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: 

  • Kimberly Haruki (Honolulu, HI)
    Senior Director of Integrated Marketing, PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. 

  • Danielle Higa (Seattle, WA)
    Fund Development Manager, Densho

  • Derek Kenmotsu (San Francisco, CA) 
    Global Supply Manager, Apple Inc. 

  • Kyla Kitamura (Washington, DC)
    Manager, Government Affairs, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association

  • Lea Okudara (Honolulu, HI)
    Communications Manager, Kupu

  • Kevin Otsuka (Tokyo, Japan)
    Founder & CEO, ABC Coffee Club

  • Courtney Ozaki Moch (Denver, CO)
    Operations and Business Director, Lone Tree Arts Center

  • Rylan Sekiguchi (Stanford, CA)
    Curriculum Specialist, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE),
    Stanford University

  • Michael Sueoka (Los Angeles, CA) 
    Head of User Experience, Gimbal

  • Jaime Sugino (New York, NY)
    Manager, Investor Relations, Institutional Investor

  • Yuko Watanabe (Seattle, WA)
    Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

  • Staci Yamashita-Iida (Torrance, CA)
    Attorney, Elder Law Services of California 



(Partial List)

The U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program is supported by the generous sponsorship of companies, foundations and individuals. 













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 Michael Berrios, Membership & Development Coordinator, at or 202-750-4030.


We also thank the many generous donors who contributed to the USJC U40 Summit hosted by ELP alumni.



Photos from prior classes are available here:

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




“Hands down, the most powerful conference I’ve ever attended…. I’ve never had the opportunity to be in a room full of such inspiring leaders and individuals.”

 - Yuri Hongo, ELP 2016


“I have organized numerous leadership programs in the past and participated in many more, but ELP was by far the most meaningful program I've ever been involved in…USJC provided us with the best available platform, tools and resources to effectively advance strong U.S.-Japan relations.”

- Russell Saito, ELP 2016


“As a new member of the U.S.-Japan Council through the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), I was surprised to instantly become immersed in an environment of respect, humility, ambition, honor and comfort. I should have been intimidated to meet and dine with such accomplished members and attendees of the USJC Annual Conference. Instead, I felt at ease thanks to their sense of camaraderie and openness. I was overwhelmingly humbled and proud to become part of such a unique and accomplished family.”

- Erika Ninoyu, ELP 2016




2016 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2015 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2014 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program

2013 TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program