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.
Larissa Lai was the former ASB President and a student of the Class of '14 at Sunnyvale Middle School. She was also one of the first people in the sister city program to travel to Iizuka alongside 10 other people. She loves Japanese food and enjoys learning more about the culture of Japan. Her hobbies currently are rowing, listening to music, reading manga, and specializes at making origami.
Kentaro Tanaka was born and raised in Fukuoka, and he is also studying computer science as a student from De Anza College. He came to Silicon Valley in 2014 and he saw many technologies and startup cultures here, and it will continue to influence in his future. Because of these experiences, he thinks that he wants people from Fukuoka to get to know other cultures by joining SSCA and would like Fukuoka to develop more as a start-up city and Asian Silicon Valley.
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.
Naomi was born and raised in Iizuka City, Fukuoka. Drawing on American influences, she recently started a photography career. Her work uses real life moments and natural light to create evocative visual stories.
Her photography career builds on her interests in international communication. The English skills and global perspectives she gained during her stay in the United States have inspired her to be involved in international programs in Iizuka, working as an interpreter and teaching English to children at her own language school. She met SSCA when her family participated in S2I program as a host family in 2015. Focusing on the joy of intercultural communication, Naomi strives broaden the horizons of all students.
John lived in Yonago, Japan for a year as a YFU scholar, where he learned the power of intercultural exchange in fostering mutual understanding, broadening perspectives and breaking stereotypes. He is the Founder and CEO of a computer hardware startup, and sits on the board of directors for other for-profit and non-profit organizations.
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.
Maria received her B.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University. She caught the travel bug when she studied under development and globalization in Southeast and East Asia at City University of Hong Kong. She has since visited France, Japan, Macau, the Philippines, South Korea, and Spain. Through her travels, she learned the importance of international education and developed a passion for learning different cultures. Maria has worked in immigration, higher education, and most recently at the City of Sunnyvale. She is currently at San Jose City College as a Program Specialist for the International Program.
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