Following last week’s successful U.S.-Japan Council Annual Conference in Washington, DC, another important chapter has closed and a new one is beginning. Today I am announcing my plans to step down as president and CEO of the U.S.-Japan Council by the end of the first quarter of 2024 to pursue a new professional opportunity at Geodesic Capital, and that the Board of Directors has launched a search for my successor.  

I believe that the timing for my transition is right — that succession is best when an organization is healthy and on an upward trajectory. The Council is indeed on its strongest footing by every measure and is positioned for even greater impact and success going forward. 

Today, USJC is a convener, a network and a community. We leverage our network to tackle the complex bilateral issues that require collaboration across sectors, generations, cultures and borders. We cultivate a leadership pipeline to sustain a dedicated community to do this important work for the benefit of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the greater good. 

Our signature programs such as the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD), the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), the Annual Conference, and TOMODACHI are in a class by themselves. Our committed and engaged members are leading through boards, regional and affinity groups, alumni cohorts and committees, and program participants are the heartbeat of the Council. Our sponsors, funders, and friends in the government and private sector provide resources and opportunities to enable our innovative and unique programming and other activities. 

We are on a course to further improve our ability to connect leaders from across diverse sectors, generations, and geographies to encourage shared understanding and problem solving while strengthening people-to-people relationships. If you are interested in leading the Council as its next president and CEO, please see the job description, requirements, and application procedures here.

The U.S.-Japan Council has been intertwined in my life since I met Irene Hirano Inouye almost 14 years ago. After the 3/11 disaster in Japan, assisting Irene in creating the TOMODACHI Initiative in my role as senior advisor to then-U.S. Ambassador John Roos showed me the Council’s vital role in people-to-people connections to support one another and strengthen bilateral relations. I embraced the Council’s mission and left my government career to serve as Irene’s EVP and COO for five years. In 2020, after a stint at the Toyota Research Institute, I returned to USJC to carry on Irene’s vision after her untimely passing and to navigate the Council through the disruptions of the pandemic. With the help of so many of you, we came through this very challenging period stronger, closer and more committed to our mission.  

Stepping down is not a decision I make lightly, and I fully intend to stay involved as an active member of the USJC community. At the same time, I am excited to tackle new challenges outside the Council and look forward to continuing my career of strengthening U.S.-Japan relations in a new capacity. I will begin to step back from some of my day-to-day activities in the new year as I assist in the leadership transition to a successor and embark on my next chapter. In the meantime, I hope to have the opportunity to talk to many of you and I appreciate your continued support of the important mission of the U.S.-Japan Council.

Suzanne Basalla
President & CEO