Marc Hitzig is the Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASWDC). He has worked for JASW for more than 12 years. He currently sits on the National Cherry Blossom Festival Board
of Directors. Prior to working at JASWDC, he spent three years as an Assistant Language Teacher on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program in Nagaoka City, Niigata. While on the JET Program, he enjoyed learning Japanese pottery and the culture of Japan. Marc received a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Cincinnati.
Risa Okayama Kamio is the Director of Educational Programs. Before JASWDC, she was a Japanese teacher at Glenarden Woods Elementary School in Maryland and an educational coordinator/tour coordinator/interpreter at Japan Travelers Service, Inc. (also known as America Information Service, Inc.). She attended the ladder program of the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo and went on to study American literature at the University of the Sacred Heart.
Melissa Tolentino is the Assistant Director of Educational & Public Outreach. She was born in the United States and spent several years moving back and forth between the U.S. and Japan as a military dependent. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Japanese, she went to graduate school at Waseda University in Tokyo and received a master’s in International Culture & Communications. Melissa is also a published writer of both fiction and poetry.
Yuko Hishitani Smith is the Membership and Program Coordinator. She was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan and went to Ritsumeikan University where she majored in literature focusing on international cultures. While a student at Ritsumeikan, she joined the Dual Undergraduate Degree Program (DUDP) and studied at American University for 2 years, where she received another degree in international relations. After graduation, she worked at NNR Global Logistics in Japan for 3 years before moving back to the U.S. in 2016.
Marley Taylor is the Japan Bowl assistant. She recently graduated from American University with a major in international relations with a concentration in national security and sustainability. While an undergrad, she studied abroad at Ritsumeikan University. She was previously the president of the AU Japanese Conversation Club and enjoys acoustic jazz music.
Sunny Zhang is an intern working with the Japan-in-a-Suitcase program. She graduated from American University in 2016 with a major in international relations concentrating on global economy and comparative government. She was a Chinese tutor while at AU and enjoys Broadway, reading, and watching movies.
Wakaba Yoshimura is an intern with the Japan Internship for the Development of Young Leaders (IDYL) program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cultural Vistas. She is a senior at Keio University in the Faculty of Arts in Policy Management majoring in political science with a focus on imperial diplomacy.
Colette Fozard is a consultant with the Japan-America Society of Washington DC and serves as the Director of Operations for the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival. Colette is a professional events manager and, in addition to the Matsuri, has organized and/or assisted in the facilitation of conventions, dinners, and concerts all over the United States and overseas. When not running events, she loves attending them.
Hollyanne (Holly) Gandy is the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival assistant. She will be graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University this year with a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Asian Studies. She is a member of alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority, Inc., and held numerous positions on the VCU chapter’s executive board. She loves staying fit, trying new food, learning new languages/cultural customs, and watching Japanese or Korean dramas.
Guanrong Li is the Sakura Matsuri Volunteer Coordinator. She was born and raised in Yunnan, China, and went to Beifang Ethnic University where she received a bachelor’s in Japanese Studies. She went on to receive a master’s in International Area Studies at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. After graduating, she worked for Ryogen Aichi Corp. in Nagoya, which is a Mandarin-language book trading company, for two years before moving to the U.S. in 2016.