Amy Ancona

I recognize the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance to the security of the entire Western Pacific, and as an Officer in the United States Navy I will always do my best to maintain this strength. In an era where our strategic interests remain inextricably linked to political, security, economic and demographic trends in Asia, the United States must now more than ever strengthen its alliance with Japan.

My time in Hawaii was also an opportunity for ELP alumni to come together with many future ELP candidates. As my involvement in the Japanese American community continues to grow with the Emerging Leaders Program and the U.S.-Japan Council, I encourage everyone to continue to critically think about how they can contribute to the future of USJC. I am proud to have taken part in the program last year and am excited to see how much more we can accomplish together in the years to come.

Hawaii is truly the center point of U.S.-Japan relations and my recent trip to Hawaii was far too short. The water is warm, the sun is out and I’ve already saved my spot in the sand. I hope to see everyone this October in Hawaii!

This month marks one year since the ELP class of 2013 found out we had been selected to join the U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program. Since then, the connections we immediately established with tenured USJC Members and the new bonds created with our fellow ELP class have been extraordinary.

From day one, Council Members from the Midwest region, specifically in Chicago, have made me feel a part of the USJC family. Before attending the Annual Conference, we met for dinner as a chance to get to know each other and spend some quality time together. At the Conference in DC, it was great to see familiar faces as I attended sessions and listened to speakers. Shortly after the Conference, Members from Chicago put together a wonderful event to inform the educators, civic leaders, business people, parents and students from around the area about the TOMODACHI Initiative. With the goal of generating interest in hosting TOMODACHI participants from Japan in the Chicago area, as well as gaining support for TOMODACHI exchanges from schools, businesses and students and their families, it was an honor to hear USJC Executive Vice President Suzanne Basalla speak about TOMODACHI. The group in the Chicagoland area has also organized many group dinners, where we get together to catch up.

Alumni of the Emerging Leaders Program continue to keep in touch via email and social media. Being spread all across the country and world, it is always exciting to hear about promotions, engagements, moves and what is going well in everybody’s day to day life. We are all hoping to get together this fall in Honolulu for the USJC Annual Conference!