2023 Annual Conference: Member’s Forum

The Annual Conference’s final day featured the Members Forum, providing a final opportunity for members to gather with one another. Hosted by Mistress of Ceremonies, 2023 Annual Conference Host Committee Co-Chair and Washington, DC & Vicinity Regional Chair Janet Nuzum (Foreign Agricultural Services, JALD ‘10), the program kicked off with high energy created by Ms. Nuzum as she interviewed members as they were coming into the room. 

The morning session included a Veterans Day commemoration with the presenting of the colors by the United States Air Force Color Guard led by Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army, (Retired) Mark Nakagawa (U.S. Department of Defense, JALD ‘19). Veterans in the audience were recognized, and a missing person table was set up on stage to honor fallen, missing or imprisoned military service members. Ms. Nuzum also acknowledged one of USJC’s founders, the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who was a veteran himself. After that, Board of Directors Co-Chair Susan Morita (Arnold & Porter, JALD ‘11) offered remarks and President & CEO Suzanne Basalla, presented USJC’s strategic plan. Upon the morning session’s conclusion, members broke out into strategic discussions with board members.

Following lunch, the exemplary work of several USJC members-led programs were highlighted. Japan Regional Co-Chair Darin Arita (Prudential Financial Inc.) and New York Regional Committee Communications Lead Susan McCormac (JapanCultureNYC) highlighted members and regions. Attendees watched a special video of remarks from regional leaders.

Following this, Steering Committee Chair Yuga Cohler (Coinbase, ELP ‘19) spoke about the Emerging Leaders Program, and 2024 U40 Summit Chair Aki Shibuya (Casey Family Programs, ELP ‘21) shared information on the U40 Summit in Seattle next year. ALC co-chairs Craig Ishii (Beckman Coulter, ELP ‘13) and Derek Kenmotsu (Defense Innovation Unit, ELP ‘17) also shared the results of a new program launched at this year’s conference, the Advanced Leadership Collective. An upcoming member survey was also announced by Engagement Committee Chair Rona Tison (ITO EN (North America) Inc.) and Engagement Committee Member Dana Heatherton (Waymo, ELP ‘11). Executive Vice President Fred Katayama (JALD ‘23) also offered an update on development strategies and provided a pitch on the Double Kansha Campaign.

Members were then treated to a panel discussion titled “What It Means To Be Japanese American,” with an introduction by Debra Nakatomi (Nakatomi & Associates, Inc., JALD ‘09). The discussion was moderated by NorCal Regional Co-Chair Dianne Fukami (Bridge Media, Inc., JALD ‘09) and included panelists Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka (Canaan Partners, ELP ‘20), Aila Gomi (Azek/TimberTech, ELP ‘23), Robert Gondo (Tokyo Gardens Catering, ELP ‘19) and Kendall Matsumoto.

Following the panel, Nominating and Governance Committee Chair Josh Morey (The J. Morey Company, Inc., ELP ‘16) thanked outgoing board members and announced new board members. Ms. Nuzum along with her co-chair Margaret Cummisky (Hawaiian Airlines, JALD ‘05) acknowledged their thanks to their 2023 Host Committee and introduced 2024 Host Committee Chair and Board of Director (Japan), Ayako Kameda (Shell). Ms. Kameda announced Tokyo as the location of next year’s Annual Conference. 

The Members Forum ended with an inspiring message from Hawaii Regional Chair Co-Vice-Chair Kristin Alm (Remedy Intelligent Staffing, ELP ‘20) and a Maui Strong video produced by Jan Yanehiro (Jan Yanehiro, Inc., JALD ‘10) and Derrick Yanehiro (ABC News). 

We would like to give a special thanks to the regional and program leaders for their hard work. Congratulations on the amazing successes our leaders accomplished this year! 

Check out more photos from the 2023 Members Forum here.