2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation


The Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program provides the opportunity for a select group of Japanese American leaders from across the United States to travel to Japan to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, non-profit and cultural sectors.

The trip also allows Japanese leaders to gain a greater understanding of multi-cultural America through the experiences of a diverse group of Japanese Americans. Upon their return, delegates collaborate with program alumni, the local consulates, the U.S.-Japan Council and local and national community organizations to continue strengthening ties between the U.S. and Japan.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), represented in the U.S. by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC and 17 consulate general offices, sponsors the program. The U.S.-Japan Council provides administration and support for the program. JALD began in 2000 and 207 delegates have participated to date.

2018 Trip

The ​ten delegates of the 201​8 Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) program returned home on March 1​0 after a full week of meetings, discussions and networking opportunities with Japanese leaders. ​With the aim to ​strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations​, the ​program build​s​ people-to-people relationships with Japanese leaders from various sectors.

The delegates sightseeing in Yamaguchi
The delegates sightseeing in Yamaguchi

The group first visited Tokyo, where they met with Prime Minister Abe. The Prime Minister emphasized that this was the 150th anniversary since Japanese Americans first arrived in Hawaii, and expressed his joy that this year’s delegates would visit Yamaguchi, his home prefecture.

(For a summary of his speech (in Japanese), click here.)

The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for his support of U.S.-Japan relations and of Japanese Americans.

(More information is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website ​(in Japanese) ​and ​a video of the discussion).

The Prime Minister took photos with each of the delegates, including ​Chris Uehara

The delegates also met with many other leaders in Tokyo, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who is also a Friend of the Council; MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi; U.S. Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty; members of the USJC Board of Councilors Ambassador Masaharu Kohno and Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Yohei Kono; other Japan-based USJC members; and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), Forum 21, Japan Foundation CGP and the Japan-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship League.

In ​Yamaguchi Prefecture, the delegates participated in a symposium titled “The Japanese American Experience: Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first emigration​ ​from Japan to Hawaii” (see this webpage for more information), co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), ​USJC and the Yamaguchi International Exchange Association, ​with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs​.​

O​ver 1​20 individuals attend​ed the symposium, which discussed the journey of Japanese Americans ​(including Gannenmono, the first immigrants), the role of Japanese Americans in​ contemporary America, and how to promote diversity and inclusion in both Japan and the U​nited States.​ ​The group also toured the ​Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii, as well as Hagiyaki Pottery and ​other sites.

The JALD program is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organized by USJC.

Click here ​to view more photos from the trip.

2018 Delegation

Sheri Bryant (San Francisco, CA)
Vice President, Strategic Business Development and Marketing
Linden Lab

Sheri Bryant

Ms. Sheri Bryant works in the field of virtual reality (VR), heading up business development and marketing strategy for Linden Lab, creators of the world-renowned Second Life. Sansar, their new social VR creation platform, has recently launched in beta. She has also served as a consultant to various Bay Area startups on cutting-edge technology and entertainment. Before leaving Los Angeles for Silicon Valley, Ms. Bryant was Co-Founder and CEO of Geek & Sundry, a popular entertainment network recognized for bringing the internet’s best in geek culture to audiences across the globe. Ms. Bryant oversaw the company’s financial growth, strategic brand partnerships, distribution channels, talent acquisition and programming. Prior to Geek & Sundry, Ms. Bryant founded Intelligent Life Media, a motion picture and digital production company that developed, financed and produced programming across a full range of distribution channels. Ms. Bryant began her career working for The Walt Disney Company as a financial analyst. She has spent most of her adult life promoting diversity and championing Asians in the cultural and lifestyle industries. She holds a degree in Economics (with honors) from Stanford University.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Kumamoto, paternal side from Kumamoto and Yamaguchi.

Darcy Endo-Omoto (Honolulu, HI)
Vice President of Government and Community Affairs
Hawaiian Electric Company

Darcy Endo-Omoto

Ms. Darcy Endo-Omoto is Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), where she has worked for over 10 years. Hawaiian Electric is Hawaii’s largest public utility which, together with its subsidiaries, serves 95 percent of Hawaii’s population. Ms. Endo-Omoto is the company liaison managing relationships between the electric utility and key stakeholders. She is responsible for the company’s educational outreach, including public and private schools, and planning and coordinating community events that HECO sponsors or supports. She also has oversight of the company’s $1 million+ annual corporate giving program. Prior to HECO, Ms. Endo-Omoto was a Partner at Goodsill, Anderson, Quinn & Stiffel, focused on regulatory law and government relations. She has also served as Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii, Department of the Attorney General, Consumer Economic Development Division, and as an Associate at Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Ms. Endo-Omoto holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Yamaguchi and Hiroshima, paternal side from Hiroshima and Yamanashi.

Monica Okada Guzman (Mangilao, Guam)
CEO & Managing Director
Galaide Group, LLC

Monica Okada Guzman

Ms. Monica Okada Guzman is CEO and Managing Partner of the Galaide Group, where she oversees the creation and coordination of media campaigns, public outreach events and special projects. Her company currently manages and operates the Guam Museum, including the Museum Retail Shop and Café. Ms. Guzman’s public service spans 13 years at the Office of the Governor coordinating and managing community outreach programs, constituent and media communications, research programs and special projects. Ms. Guzman was instrumental in the formation of the nonprofit Guam Unique Merchandise & Art, a business incubator program assisting Guam’s entrepreneurs, artists and cultural producers. She has served on boards of organizations including the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Guam Nikkei Association and the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities. She is a Founding Board member of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and was Executive Director for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Guam. Ms. Guzman is a recipient of the 2010 Guam Women’s Club Women of Movement certificate. She was chosen as the 2011 Women in Business Champion by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. In 2014 she was named the SBA’s Minority Business Champion and was nominated Business Woman of the Year.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Chiba.

David Inoue (Washington, DC) 
Executive Director
Japanese American Citizens League

David Inoue

Mr. David Inoue was appointed Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League in July 2017. He previously served for ten years as the administrative director for a medical shelter for homeless men in Washington, DC. Mr. Inoue worked for several years in health care policy with the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, and with the federal government at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He completed a dual bachelor of arts degree in chemistry and Asian studies at Cornell University, and obtained master’s degrees in public health and health administration from The Ohio State University. A sixteen-year resident of Washington, DC, Mr. Inoue has served as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and served one year as chair of the commission. He currently serves on the boards of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights and of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association. He is raising two children with his wife, Kaori Kawakubo Inoue.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Akita.

Denise Moriguchi (Seattle, WA)
President & CEO
Uwajimaya, Inc.

Denise Moriguchi

Ms. Denise Moriguchi is President and CEO of Uwajimaya, a gift and grocery retailer and wholesaler based in Seattle. A family business that opened in 1928, Uwajimaya has long been a hub for the community, sharing Japanese food and bringing people together to celebrate Japanese culture and traditions. Ms. Moriguchi spent a semester abroad at Sophia University as an undergraduate student, and graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Economics and East Asian Studies. She worked in consulting for several years, received her MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, and eventually returned to Seattle to lead Uwajimaya. Ms. Moriguchi serves on the Washington State Convention Center Board. She is co-chair for the 2018 Keiro auction, and is active in many other U.S.-Japan organizations and events.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Yamanashi, paternal side from Ehime and Okayama.

David Ono (Los Angeles, CA)
News Anchor

David Ono

Mr. David Ono is a news anchor at KABC-TV. He anchors three shows a day, including the highest rated newscast in all of Los Angeles for any time slot or channel, Eyewitness News at 6.  Mr. Ono also reports on stories from around the world. Since joining ABC7 in 1996, Mr. Ono has witnessed history, covering events including Hurricane Katrina, Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. He has attended the Royal Wedding in London, tracked drug runners through Central America and reported from Paris on a terrorist plot to bring down the Eiffel Tower. Mr. Ono has been invited to the White House twice for one-on-one interviews with President Obama, and once to speak about civil rights in America. In addition to his journalism duties, Mr. Ono is devoted to the community and participates in over 100 nonprofit events each year. The majority of the causes he promotes are related to Japanese and Japanese American issues. Mr. Ono has won 20 Emmys and five Edward R. Murrow awards, and received the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Kumamoto.

Lisa Sakai (Chicago, IL)
President & CEO
TransAgra International Inc.

Lisa Sakai

Ms. Lisa Sakai is President and Owner of TransAgra International Inc., a multinational agribusiness company. Her company’s mission and vision focus on sustainable, natural and effective solutions for agriculture. Prior to joining TransAgra, she worked at Citibank (asset-based financing for middle markets) and Bank of America (commercial lending for large corporate accounts). She holds a B.A. from Lake Forest College and an MBA from DePaul University. She has lived in Chicago since 1981, and has been active in the Japanese American community. Ms. Sakai joined the Board of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)-Chicago in 2016, and has been a member of the U.S.-Japan Council since 2015. Prior to its merger into the National JACL Credit Union, she was on the Board of the JACL Credit Union. She also served on the Board of the Japanese American Service Committee for over 10 years and was its President from 1999 to 2002. She has served on the National JACL Scholarship committee, the Asian Lunar New Year Committee and the JACL National Convention Committee, as well as the Asian Advisory Council for the Illinois State Comptroller and the City of Chicago’s Council on Human Relations.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: maternal side from Kumamoto, paternal side from Hiroshima.

June Taylor (Denver, CO)
Executive Director and State Personnel Director
Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration

June Taylor

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Ms. June Taylor to her dual role in the Department of Personnel & Administration (DPA), where she is responsible for managing the offices of Human Resources (HR), the Controller, Administrative Courts, the State Architect, State Archives, and the Employee Assistance Program. The programs and services provided are vitally important to the effective operation of the state government. Ms. Taylor has focused on improving customer service, leadership and employee engagement by implementing initiatives that drive discretionary effort across the state’s workforce of 33,000. Under her guidance, DPA is also leading efforts to overhaul the state’s procurement code and to implement the state’s first enterprise HR Information System. Ms. Taylor has been in senior leadership for 18 years in three industries. She graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico, and earned her J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Yamaguchi.

Chris Uehara (Portland, OR)
Assistant Chief
Portland Police Bureau

Chris Uehara

Mr. Chris Uehara has over 28 years of law enforcement experience, and recently served as the Interim Chief of Police for the Portland Police Bureau. He is the first Asian-Pacific Islander to hold these positions in Portland. Recognized for his heartfelt leadership style, Mr. Uehara inspires others to achieve their best. He has built sustainable community programs and excels at building partnerships. He was awarded the Bureau’s top service award for leading a four-year international training mission with the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Uehara has served on national and local boards, and is the founding president of an educational scholarship foundation that provides financial and mentorship support for inner city youth. A graduate of Pacific University, he will receive an executive education certificate in public leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2018. Mr. Uehara is an avid photographer, enjoys fishing and cooking Hawaiian style cuisine, and trains area youth in the sport of powerlifting.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Okinawa.

Laurie Van Pelt (Oakland County, MI)
Director of Management & Budget
Oakland County, Michigan

Laurie Van Pelt

Ms. Laurie Van Pelt is the Director of Management and Budget for Oakland County, a position appointed by the County Executive. As such, she serves as the Chief Fiscal Officer of the County and oversees accounting, budgeting, payroll, purchasing, equalization and reimbursement. She also serves on the County’s Retirement and Deferred Compensation Board. Ms. Van Pelt has worked for Oakland County for 39 years. She is a Certified Public Finance Officer, conferred by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). Ms. Van Pelt has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Oakland University and a master’s degree in finance from Walsh College. She is the recipient of the 2010 Crain’s CFO of the Year Award in the Government Sector category. Ms. Van Pelt is an active member of national and state associations, often serving as an expert to assist governments with common financial challenges.
Prefecture in Japan of ancestral origins: Kumamoto.


The relationship between the U.S. and Japan is considered by many as the most important bilateral relationship in the world, and Japanese Americans are uniquely positioned to help shape it. The connections between Japanese and Japanese Americans are complex. While World War II played a major role in severing ties between Japanese Americans and Japan, today’s opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit are great and demand a renewed commitment to involving Japanese Americans in U.S.-Japan relations.

The Japanese American Leadership Delegation provides Japanese American leaders with the opportunity to become acquainted or re-engaged with Japan and participate in discussions related to the role that Japanese Americans can play in addressing key issues that face both countries, now and in the future.

The first delegation was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to visit Japan in 2000. It included third and fourth generation Japanese Americans selected from various professional fields including the educational, cultural, philanthropic, legal and political sectors. Since the initial trip, delegations of Japanese American leaders from throughout the United States have visited Japan every year since 2002.

Program Alumni

JALD Alumni have created a network to ensure that the commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations is maintained. There have been JALD national reunions and several alumni groups have traveled back to Japan together to build on and sustain important relationships built on the program. Alumni of the program are invited and encouraged to join the U.S.-Japan Council’s international network of leaders and participate in Council programming and events.