With the New Year, a new leadership team is assuming responsibility for the Japan America Society of St. Louis as Dr. Chikako Usui steps down after 10 years leading a period of tremendous growth of the JAS. Dr. Usui was the longest-serving president in the society's history and her tenure saw greatly increased activity in programs and services rendered to the people of St. Louis, as well as membership.
Perhaps most important, though, Dr. Usui has implemented a transition plan to continue the success of the JAS and the new leadership team is a highly dedicated and well-qualified group. Greg Gorman takes over as president of the JAS. Greg is an executive at Nidec Motor Corporation who brings a great depth of knowledge about the financial aspects of the organization. He is both knowledgeable and well-respected in the Japanese community. Kenichi Kitajima steps in as 1st Vice President. Mr. Kitajima also brings a strong business acumen as an executive with Novus Corporation. He is likewise dedicated to the growth and activity of the JAS. Linda Austin continues as 2nd Vice President. Ms. Austin has served the JAS and JAS Women’s Asociation (JASWA) for many years. She is quite involved with cultural and social programming and brings a professional knowledge of marketing to bear on the efforts of the JAS. And, her long experience serves as an invaluable institutional memory of the society. Another Japanese executive, Toshio Kitamura of CIS Leasing, steps into a leadership role as 3rd Vice President. Mr. Kitamura arrived in St. Louis from Tokyo in 2015 and became a highly dedicated member of JAS. With this executive leadership team, the JAS should be well-positioned for strong transitions in the foreseeable future.
In addition to the president and succession of vice-presidents, the JAS also importantly strengthened its treasurer position with the addition of Ron Sakai, an accountant with Wells Fargo. Mr. Sakai brings the knowledge and experience of accounting matters that will be essential to demonstrating financial strength to our constituent, sponsors, and donors. Ron is also Japanese American with a history of involvement in the community. He will be crucial to the ongoing success of the JAS.
2018 will be a year of change and transition at the Japan America Society, but with the planning and hard work Dr. Usui has put into place to secure a strong leadership team, everyone at JAS is optimistic about our prospects for even more success this year. Happy New Year!