Mr. Kato is a sales, marketing, & business development professional with over 40 years of experience in high tech industries. Now he is the CEO at Silicon Valley-Japan Business Consulting and is helping Japanese and American clients to initiate/expand their businesses between the US and Japan. He has worked for HP, Agilent Technologies, and AMD.
John is a retired mechanical and electrical engineer who has worked in several high tech companies. He has visited Cupertino's sister city, Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture in 1998, 2003 and 2008 as a member of the Cupertino Delegation to attend 20th, 25th and 30th Anniversaries of the Cupertino--Toyokawa Sister City Relationship. He is originally from Taiwan and speaks Japanese in addition to English, Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese. John has lived in Cupertino and Sunnyvale for a combined 41 years.
Johney became involved with SSCA after his oldest daughter, Abigail, visited Iizuka and had an amazing experience. Johney practices intellectual property law at Levine Bagade Han LLP in Palo Alto. He was previously General Counsel at a start-up and he has also worked at the law firms of Morrison & Foerster LLP and Skjerven, Morrill, MacPherson LLP. Prior to law, he was a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry. He holds a J.D. from Santa Clara University and a B.S. from U.C. Berkeley.
Ron is a global customer service leader with >30 years experience and has worked with customers of all cultures. Employed by Coherent Inc., a world leader in Photonics based in Silicon Valley, Ron lives in Sunnyvale with his family. He first visited Japan in 1987, has returned there dozens of times and is presently learning Japanese in his free time. Sparked by the positive experience of a student exchange and the opportunity to put his nascent Japanese language skills to use, Ron volunteered to join The Sunnyvale Sister City Association in 2014.
Although raised in Cupertino and attended Cal, Tony spent around 10 years living and working in Fintech in Tokyo. During his time there, he managed to take a sabbatical to go back to school, obtaining a graduate degree in Economics from the Graduate Institute of Policy Studies.
Despite his time in Tokyo, he may just prefer Kansai a little bit more, and especially likes the Nishinomiya area. He loves the culture, people, and the beauty of Japan, and dreams of moving back. Tony currently works as a money manager with a boutique wealth management firm, and is a new father.
Jay Yamanaga has loved Japan and Japanese culture from a young age. He is a member of the Mountain View Buddhist Temple and enjoys taiko, obon festivals, ramen and Japanese pop culture. After college, he was an ALT on the JET program in Motomiya City, Fukushima Prefecture. He counts it as one of the greatest experiences of his life and enjoys maintaining strong friendships.
Now back in the US, he is fighting a desperate battle to prevent his Japanese language from decaying and hopes to pass the JLPT N1 exam one day. He works as a chemist at Nanosys Inc., a Milpitas-based nanotechnology firm.
Nicole Nishimoto is a UX/UI designer for a Silicon Valley eLearning company. Prior to working in tech, she was an English language teacher for three years in Toki City, Gifu Prefecture and has spent several months living in Florence, Italy. Nicole grew up in Sunnyvale where she lived across the street from Jay.
Jack Ewbank's introduction to Japan came early, and the people he has met, the foods he has tasted, and the experiences he has had in continuing that association continue to enrich his life. After receiving his BA in English from Willamette University, Jack continues to develop his technological and Japanese language skills, and looks forward to using both in his position as SSCA's Innovative Program Manager.
Katherine’s interest in Japan began when she received a copy of “Tonari no Totoro.” Growing up in hot SoCal, she was, and still is fascinated by the lush Japanese countryside!
Katherine studied Japanese in college and interned for a summer in Okayama. She attended Stanford's Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, where she picked up woodblock printing and experienced the value of a homestay. After working for Google in Mountain View for 3 years, she transferred to Tokyo where she mastered rush hour subways and biking with an umbrella. She dreams of moving to the Japanese countryside working on woodblock printing.
Susie Smare is a retired Sunnyvale middle school science teacher who loves to travel. Working with SSC allows her to combine the joy of working with students and the excitement of travel. Susie accompanied the very first delegation to Iizuka, and fell in love with all things Japanese. The scenery, the culture, and most importantly the people were amazing. The students and chaperones were treated like Rock Stars!
When not traveling, Susie runs a food pantry in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.
Mami was born and raised in Yamagata, Japan; although from the idyllic countryside, Mami's passion to improve her English and see the world has taken her to many different places. Mami previously studied International Relations in Ohio before going to work for Emirates Airlines as a flight attendant. Most recently, she worked for an American ad-tech company in Tokyo as an executive assistant and a simultaneous interpreter. Mami is currently enjoying her life in California, soaking up the sun and playing tennis as much as she can.
Kasumi Hamada was born and raised in Japan, although she spent five years of her childhood in Virginia. The life in Virginia made her eliminate cultural barriers and respect cultures other than hers. Therefore, she loves traveling because she can meet the people living there and enjoy local foods. Kasumi is currently studying global business at Mission College. She is so happy to be back in the U.S. and excited to see more diversity in this area.
Nao Kondo is a creator of lifelike robots who is working to make real an imaginary picture-book like world using robotics. She has served as leader of the TRYBOTS team known for developing a penguin shaped underwater robot, and proactively works to make robots more casual and familiar. She graduated at the Keio University Faculty of Environment and Information Studies. Her accolades include selection for such lists as Forbes 30 under 30 and the Nikkei Business 100 people creating the next era, as well as the L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science in Japan Special Award.
Sinziana was born in Romania where she experienced her first camp away from home in first grade and, after a short homesickness night, she enjoyed traveling ever after. After graduating Computer Science and working as a software engineer in Bucharest she lived in Haifa, Israel for a few years and Mountain View and Sunnyvale since 1998. She worked for several software companies until she had her second daughter when she started exploring a new world with her daughters, organizing math festivals, volunteering as an art docent and participating in international fairs. After experiencing the magic of S2I and I2S exchange she is very excited to help connect the sister cities through art too!
Andrea's educational background is in geological engineering and planetary sciences, but after 20 years as an aerospace engineer, she recently transitioned to being a full-time artist. She creates abstract custom works for private clients and home stagers. Andrea also loves quilting, crafting, cooking/eating, reading, and traveling. She and her husband are restoring their historic Eichler home. Andrea is currently supporting the Sunnyvale Sister City Association in the capacity of Student Exchange Manager.
Melissa's interest in Japan began years ago after having the opportunity to travel to Tokyo and teach high school in Okinawa after college. She loved the people, language and culture, and ever since has embraced opportunities to learn and be involved with Japanese activities wherever she is. She and her two teenage sons travel annually to Japan, where they spend all her money on convenience store snacks. In her spare time, Melissa is a corporate attorney at O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, working with companies at all stages of their life cycle.
I was born and raised in Kitakyushu (a one hour drive from Iizuka). I completed my studies at the University in Okayama receiving a teachers license in PE. In 1995, I moved to San Jose and have lived in Sunnyvale since 2000. I have worked for Japanese high tech companies including Marubeni and Toray since living in the bay area. My mom lives in Nogata and my brother lives in Iizuka, so that I feel thankful to get involved with SSCA and make a positive impact between Sunnyvale and Fukuoka!!
My name is Patricia Villegas and I have a Master's degree in Social Work with a focus in Children, Youth, and Families. I am currently a professor at Evergreen Valley College and teach a college success and career planning course. I enjoy the work I do because it allows me to have a platform to help students achieve their academic and career goals, and that inevitable as its self thrills me. I find great joy in helping others and giving support to individuals attempting to be the best version of themselves. On my free time, I enjoy dancing latin music and attending social events. My philosophy of life is, "there is no success without a struggle." In other words, failure is where the adaptation and growth comes from and one must not be intimidated when faced with challenges because it's all part of the journey of reaching success.
I have been interested in foreign countries and cultures since young age. So I like traveling very much. When I visited Sunnyvale as an I2S chaperone, the kindness of people living there and SSCA touched my heart. At the same time I’m into Sunnyvale and want to be a bridge between two cities. Currently, I teach English at a junior high school and an elementary school. On my days off, I often enjoy running. I’m looking forward to working with people and for people.
Sara Saunders is a current Homestead High School senior and a concurrent De Anza College student. She was a past SSCA exchange student and she had life changing experiences while she was in Iizuka. She is grateful for the opportunity and wants to enhance the relationship between Sunnyvale and Iizuka students. She runs and creates content for SSCA Connections. Besides volunteering for the SSCA, she is a senior officer for French National Honor Society and a member of several other honor societies on campus. She enjoys cooking French and Japanese cuisine, painting, creating websites, and studying French and Japanese.
Jenny is a mother of two school-age boys and works as a grants manager at Sequoia Healthcare District (SHD). Prior to joining SHD, she worked in the public schools for over a decade in various teaching positions at the high school, adult school, and middle school levels. Her interest in volunteering for SSCA stems from her experience teaching English in Japan for two years, which she fondly recalls as the best years of her life. Jenny holds a bachelor's degree in English from UCLA, a teaching credential from UCSD, and a master's degree in counseling from San Jose State.
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