Board & Staff Biographies

Our Staff

Elaine Hang

Program and Administrative Coordinator

Elaine Hang is the Program & Development Manager for Kizuna, with the biggest love for organizing and spreadsheets.

Elaine is 1.5 generation Vietnamese American who lived almost all around the Southwest. Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, she developed a passion for illuminating and celebrating the experiences of Asian Americans. She's a big fan of storytelling and animation, and wanted to share that love with young folks. So in 2017, Elaine became a student teacher for Summerbridge Hong Kong, a non-profit organization which offers English Language Development programs for underprivileged students in Hong Kong since 1992. She worked with fellow teachers to support local students in growing their love for learning, confidence with English, and leadership skills. She taught students the essential components of storytelling through animated films, creative writing, and acting games.

Elaine's love for storytelling motivated her to major in English and Political Science at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where she highlighted community narratives about/written by Asian Americans whenever she had the chance. She is also involved with Tuesday Night Project, a grassroots and volunteer-based organization bringing together storytelling, art, and community in Little Tokyo since 1998. Elaine also has many likes and hobbies which includes houseplants and astrology.

Lauren Kojima is the Program and Administrative Coordinator for Kizuna.  

Lauren is Chinese-Japanese American, born and raised in Southern California.  She grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and exposure to the various ethnic communities was a part of everyday life. Lauren attended preschool at the Lumbini Child Development Center at Higashi Honganji in Little Tokyo, and this was her initiation in learning about the Asian American communities.  As a preschooler, she began practicing the art of traditional Japanese dance with Fujima Kansei Odori Kai.  The group performed at various Japanese festivals in Los Angeles and Orange County. She continued to practice odori until she left Los Angeles to attend college.  While in college, she was a part of the Conversation Partners Program, helping foreign-exchange students with their English-speaking skills.  Lauren, also, was a Summer Administrative Intern at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles.  Lauren enjoys the quest for any new, Asian-inspired foods and drinks, shopping is a serious hobby of her’s, and she’s a loyal Los Angeles Lakers fan.

Lauren graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Francisco. She majored in Asian Studies and minored in Japanese Studies, Psychology, and Fine Arts.

Elaine Hang

Program and Administrative Coordinator

Emily Hoang graduated from California State University, Fullerton, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entertainment and Hospitality Management. Prior to her graduation, Emily worked in the nonprofit industry. Her first experience working in the nonprofit sector was as a Donor Relations Intern at Together We Rise, an organization that strives to empower and give resources to foster youth nationwide. It was at that organization, Emily developed a passion for community building and youth empowerment.

Emily grew up in the Inland Empire, where she felt a disconnect from her Asian-American heritage, due to the lack of opportunities and AAPI representation in her community. After moving to Orange County for college, she sought community in Asian-American cultural clubs. She served on board for two years for the Association of Chinese Students (ACS) and the Association for Inter-Cultural Awareness (AICA), where she was able to connect and meet people who share similar stories and backgrounds.

She wants to dedicate her time to building communities and empowering the next generation of AAPI leaders. During her free time, Emily enjoys finding new places to eat with friends, playing tennis, and watching movies and anime. She is excited to grow with Kizuna as the Development and Communications Coordinator.

Our Board

Megan is a purpose-driven agent of change passionate about creating cross-sector social impact. In both her professional and community roles, Megan leverages her passions for communications, community building and strategic design to lead lasting social change. Megan has moved through Kizuna’s program pipeline as a former student participant, volunteer counselor/facilitator, Board Fellow and is now honored to serve as the organization’s Board Chair.

Currently, Megan works as a Results Delivery Analyst at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. where she orchestrates processes and strategy to propel enterprise-wide customer experience and digital innovation initiatives.  Megan obtained her masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership & Management with a certificate in Social Innovation from USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy where she also worked as a graduate research consultant. She earned her BA in Communication Studies and Marketing from CSU Long Beach where she served as Nikkei Student Union President.

Megan is an active advocate and volunteer for many nikkei community-based organizations including the New Generation Nikkei Fund, Japan American Society of So. California, Nisei Week Foundation and Orange County Buddhist Church. She also serves as an Executive Council NextGEN Leader for the City Scholars Foundation and is a volunteer Run Captain for the Social Hour Run Club. In her free time, you can find Megan running, jamming out on her ukulele, cheering on the Lakers and spending quality time with her family.

Bryce Ikemura is a Partnership Specialist at TDW+Co, a full-service, multicultural marketing agency with a focus on Asian audiences. Based in the company’s Los Angeles office, Bryce is invested in community building through accurate representation and national visibility for Asian American communities. His work has helped him gain a wider perspective on the national Asian American landscape as he continues to connect with organizations across the country.

Bryce has been involved with Kizuna since 2014 and is an alumni of both Kizuna’s Internship program and Board Fellowship program, in addition to proudly serving as an instructor in Kizuna’s Leadership and Summer Camp programs. Through his participation across Kizuna’s program pipeline, has become passionate about supporting the next generation of leaders and defining a more collective, progressive vision for the future of “community.” Prior to his role at TDW+Co, Bryce also worked for Keiro as a Program Analyst, an experience which further impassioned him to the Japanese American community.

Born and raised in Southern California, Bryce graduated from Chapman University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in English. In his spare time, Bryce serves as a member of the board-at-large for the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute and enjoys basketball, photography, and hanging out with his dog.

Tiffany is the Research & Development and Regulatory Manager at JSL Foods, Inc., a third generation Japanese American family-owned food manufacturer. She works closely with the Sales & Marketing team to manage bakery and alternative projects for various retail, industrial, and food service customers. In this constantly evolving industry, she enjoys juggling the technical and creative processes required to take each idea from bench top innovation to full-scale production and distribution. She also manages the regulatory department to ensure company-wide compliance with FDA and USDA regulations. Prior to her role at JSL Foods, Inc., Tiffany worked in Quality Assurance/Quality Control for Nagatanien USA.  

Tiffany grew up in the South Bay area playing in various JA basketball leagues, but her first real introduction to the Little Tokyo community was through USC’s Nikkei Student Union where she served as a board member for 2 years. After graduating and moving away from the downtown area, she became involved with the Nisei Week Foundation in order to stay connected to Little Tokyo. Over the several years since then, she has developed a deeper appreciation for this unique and resilient community while continuing to volunteer for organizations such as Kizuna, Nisei Week Foundation, JACCC, and Terasaki Budokan.

Tiffany graduated from the University of Southern California where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. She then went on to receive her Masters in Food Science from Chapman University.  During her free time you can find her running, walking with her two dogs, conducting kitchen experiments, and tending to her many houseplants.

Kevin Oyama is a Senior Associate at KPMG LLP in the Accounting Methods and Credits Services Tax practice. He assists clients to preserve cash, improve efficiencies, and mitigate risks while navigating a dynamic mix of economic, regulatory, and globalization challenges. He works to calculate and substantiate the R&D tax credit as well as tax accounting method changes for clients in the manufacturing and software industries.

Kevin began his involvement in the Little Tokyo community as a participant in Kizuna's NCI program at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) and later as a Staff Accountant at the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). At LTSC, he worked on grant invoicing and compliance, financial reporting, and property management for LTSC's affordable housing units in the greater Los Angeles area. Kevin currently serves as the Treasurer on Kizuna's Board of Directors and is excited to continue the organization's mission for future generations.

Born and raised in Palo Alto, California, Kevin earned his B.S. in Economics/Mathematics and his Master's in Accounting from the University of Southern California. Go Trojans! He enjoys running, golfing, Korean BBQ, napping with his dogs, and volunteering.

Ashley Honma is the Communications Manager at Ancora Investment Holdings, where she oversees
communications, social media and influencer marketing, public relations, and brand partnerships for its
investment, Taos AER, a wellness-based personal care line. She is also a council member on Ancora’s
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee.

As a graduate of Kizuna’s 2020-2021 Board Fellowship program, Ashley had the opportunity to serve as
a Board Fellow for the organization and gain valuable experience in leadership, strategic planning,
governance, fundraising, and networking. Born and raised in Southern California, Ashley attributes her
passion for community engagement and cultural education for the next generation to her deep-rooted
involvement in the Japanese American community. She grew up active within organizations including
Southeast Japanese School & Community Center, Orange County Buddhist Church Girl Scouts, and the
Nikkei Federation through its Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program.

Ashley received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language & Literature from the University of California,
Los Angeles, where she served in board and staff leadership roles for the Nikkei Student Union. She was
selected as 1 st Princess for the 2013 Nisei Week Queen & Court and was awarded the first Japanese
American Women’s Giving Circle Scholarship. Ashley was also named the 2013 Miss Pasadena JCI and is
a member of the program’s committee at the Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute.

Kari Kadomatsu is an Orange County native where she received her B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and JD/MBA from Chapman University.  In 2013, she relocated to Downtown Los Angeles to join the law firm of Seki Nishimura & Watase, LLP.  Through her work at the firm, Kari gained an appreciation for the importance of community involvement and taking advantage of opportunities to give back.  This eventually led to an introduction to Kizuna.  

Prior to joining the board, Kari participated in the Next Generation Leadership program offered by Kizuna and continued her involvement by serving on several committees including for the annual Showdown and Kizuna's 5th Anniversary celebration.  Additionally, along with the SNW firm, Kari assisted Kizuna in acquiring its 501c(3) and state exemption status.

In her free time, Kari enjoys annual Mammoth fishing trips with her family, exploring downtown while walking her puppy, Miso, and trying the newest and most delicious happy hours.

Tiffany Hashimoto

Secretary

Brandon Leong

Treasurer

Janet Hiroshima

Board-at-Large

Brandon Masashige Leong is the director of development and communications at Keiro where he oversees donor relations, special events, annual giving, and communications. Prior to his current role, he served as vice president of development at Go For Broke National Education Center. Brandon started his career in the Japanese American community in 2006 as program director at East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center. He later served as director of programs and strategic partnerships at Keiro.

An Eagle Scout, Brandon is an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. He served two years as course director of the National Youth Leadership Training program for the Boy Scouts and now serves as the area coordinator for youth leadership development, overseeing training for the Southern California area. He has served as a troop scoutmaster and on staff for numerous training courses.

In addition to serving on Kizuna’s board, Brandon previously served as a member of the ESGVJCC Board of Directors and president of the Sabers/Saberettes Youth Basketball Organization.

Candice Shikai is an associate attorney at Seki, Nishimura & Watase, LLP, where she focuses her practice
on complex general liability defense. Candice joined the Kizuna Board in 2019. She also serves on the
Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) Board of Governors, the JABA Educational Foundation Board
of Directors, and the TAIKOPROJECT Board of Directors.

Before attending law school, Candice worked for the U.S. Japan Council and played taiko while living in
Los Angeles and in Honolulu, Hawaii.  As a Boyle Heights native, Candice grew up in and around Little
Tokyo, attending kendo tournaments, Nisei Week, and other community events with her family.  She
obtained her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and her B.A. from UCLA, where she was a
member of the Nikkei Student Union, Kyodo Taiko, and the Asian Pacific Coalition.

Amy Watanabe brings her experience of community engagement, partnership building and program development to Nakatomi & Associates as an Account Director and Strategic Initiatives Manager. With her experience, she designs and executes communications and outreach strategies for public education campaigns and community engagement initiatives to reach diverse audiences and stakeholders. She is also the Associate Producer for the Mineta Legacy Project, a documentary and educational curriculum profiling the life and career of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Amy has worked with local and national non-profit organizations, and spent time in Washington, D.C., doing advocacy work, grassroots organizing, and developing the political pipeline and leadership for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Through her community involvement and professional career, she continues to advocate for increased diversity and opportunities, especially for people of color, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and women.

Amy is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for Kizuna; Vice Chair of National Japanese American Memorial Foundation; Board of Director for Venice-West Los Angeles Chapter of Japanese American Citizens League; and Vice Chair of U.S.–Japan Council's Emerging Leaders Program Steering Committee. Amy was born and raised in Los Angeles, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and minor in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kari Kadomatsu, ESQ.

Board-at-Large

Brandon Okita

Board-at-Large

Candice Shikai, Esq.

Board-at-Large
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