Beginning in May 2020, Suzanne Basalla will be the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization devoted to developing and connecting diverse leaders in the U.S. and Japan, with the overall goal of strengthening U.S.-Japan relations. Ms. Basalla succeeds the late Irene Hirano Inouye as the leader of the Council.
Ms. Basalla is also Vice Chair of the National Association of Japan America Societies, a member of the Japan Society of Northern California Board of Directors, and Special Advisor to Career Girls. She joins USJC from her role as Chief of Staff at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), a Silicon Valley-headquartered subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation that develops automated driving, robotics, and other human amplification technology for Toyota. She has been at TRI since 2017.
Prior to TRI, Ms. Basalla had served from 2012 – 2017 as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at USJC. She helped lead USJC through people-to-people connections, with a focus on investing in next-generation leaders through the private-public TOMODACHI Initiative, which was established in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Ms. Basalla is a former officer of the U.S. Navy, resigning in 2004 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Over 13 years in the Navy, her assignments included duty in Japan, the Pentagon, and Diego Garcia. Following her naval career, she was Director for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, DC. She subsequently was appointed Senior Advisor to John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, working at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2010-2012. In that capacity, she supported Ambassador Roos on the full portfolio of security, economic, political and cultural issues in the U.S.-Japan relationship. Ms. Basalla graduated from the University of Virginia and received a master’s degree in Asian Studies from George Washington University. In 2008, she received the inaugural Ryozo Kato Award for service to the U.S.-Japan Alliance.