Board Members

Mami Kukuchi

Board President, Bylaws Committee, Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: Sapporo, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2014

Why I volunteer on this board: I was born and raised in Sapporo; I lived in Sapporo until I moved to Portland. So far, I have spent two thirds of my life in Sapporo and one third in Portland. The only two cities I ever lived in my life, and I love both cities!

Two fun facts: In the summer of 2020, I completed a 50 miles bike ride (Big Eastside Loop). I met and chatted with Quentin Tarantino, at the Yubari movie festival in Japan, before he became famous.

Leah Klaas

Board Secretary, Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2020

Why I volunteer on this board: I first learned of the PSSCA after moving to Sapporo for work through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, where I had the opportunity to work closely with PSSCA members to continue cultivating close ties between the two cities. After returning to Portland, I wanted to maintain my ties to the city which had become my second home, and it seemed only natural that I volunteer with the board.

Two fun facts: I won first place in the national AATJ Japanese nengajo card contest in 2012 for my drawing of a dragon in Toshikoshi Soba ("New Year's Eve noodles") . I learned how to ski in Sapporo and achieved level 3 status with the Ski Association of Japan, although I now teach snowboarding.


Robin Young

Board Treasurer, Bylaws Committee, Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

Member of the Board since: 2020

Why I volunteer on this board: My wife, who is from Sapporo, and I live in Sapporo part of every year and love both Portland and Sapporo. We want to contribute to both cities.

Two fun facts: My favorite book of 2020 was "Humankind: by Rutger Bregman while my favorite Japanese author is Banana Yoshimoto and I love her book titled "Kitchen."


Dr. Thompson M. Faller

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 1981

Why I volunteer on this board: My interest in the Japanese people and culture.

Two fun facts: I have been Knighted twice so I am “Sir Sir." My official title is - His Excellency, Sir,Sir, Dr.,Dr., The Honorable, Colonel Thompson M. Faller, Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight of the Order of Malta and Colonel of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I am also a Representative of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre to the Vatican.

Steven Orcutt

Bylaws Committee, Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 1985

Why I volunteer on this board: To stay connected to Japan, where I was an exchange student.

Two fun facts: I play jazz piano and I had a top secret security clearance while I was in the Navy.

Yoko Gulde

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Nagoya, Japan

Member of the Board since: 1990's

Why I volunteer on this board: It was natural extension of participating in sister city exchange activities since 1973.

Two fun facts: I am a bookworm, usually reading two or three books at the same time. I enjoy visiting used book stores wherever I travel, another interest of mine.

Jo Guyer

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 1993-2001, rejoined again in 2020

Why I volunteer on this board: I was interested in volunteering on the board after my family’s participation as a host family and my daughter and I went to Sapporo with the Women’s and Children’s Exchange.

Two fun facts: I'm a retired Speech and Language Pathologist and an active volunteer at Chapman Elementary School here in Portland.

Charley Scott

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2000's

Why I volunteer on this board: Passionate about cross cultural exchanges and have come to enjoy traveling/working with the Portland Snow Sculpture Team that participants in the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

Two fun facts: I've been to 19 Sapporo Snow Festivals and have skied at all of the major ski resorts in Hokkaido. I rode the train to Kobe, in Hyogo Prefecture of Japanese, where I ate Kobe beef steak.

Chiyoko Honma

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Sapporo, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2000's

Why I volunteer on this board: I had been involved in many ways since Sapporo is my home town.

Two fun facts: I love to get behind the wheel and go places to discover unexpected sights and things; I've driven across the United States 3 times. I'm also really addicted to Sudoku puzzles.

Michael Bacon

Past President, Bylaws Committee, Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2007

Why I volunteer on this board: I have spent over 30 years going back and forth between Portland and Japan, visiting, living, studying and working in various places in Japan. In my work for Portland Public Schools, I focus on immersion education. The Japanese immersion program in particular is a long standing, successful program that thrives with many student exchanges. Building youth exchanges between our sister cities became a major driver for me volunteering on the PSSCA board and allows me to continue my passion for Japanese language, culture and people.

Two fun facts: I consider myself an urban farmer and I have an identical twin.

Steve Bloom (Photo by Christina Sjogren)

Ex-officio, Portland Japanese Garden

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Member of the Board since: 2007

Why I volunteer on this board: Relations between the United States and Japan is a passion of mine.

Two fun facts: I used to be a symphony orchestra conductor and I used to have a full head of long flowing blonde hair.

Natsuko Llewellyn

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Nagoya, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2013

Why I volunteer on this board: I would like to support youth exchanges and the next generation because I was given a fabulous opportunity to study in Europe when I was a high school student.

Two fun facts: I love eating delicious food! Also, I release my stress by cutting carrots into small strips and making a Japanese "kimpira" dish.

Patricia Lincoln

Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2013

Why I volunteer on this board: I am a graduate of Portland Public Schools Japanese Immersion Program and interested in being part of preserving the long term relationship between Sapporo and Portland.

Two fun facts: I love puzzles and want to travel to all 7 continents.

Naoko Horikawa

Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: Sapporo, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2014

Why I volunteer on this board: I love my hometown Sapporo, and my second hometown Portland. It is a great pleasure to be part of this historic relationship and effort to continue connecting the people of Sapporo and Portland.

Two fun facts: My favorite places are warm beaches and Odori Park/downtown Sapporo in early summer along with Portland Park Blocks and anywhere with colorful flowers/trees during fall.

Jeff Mandel

Royal Rosarian Liaison, Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Member of the Board since: 2014

Why I volunteer on this board: I have a long running connection to both local friends and friends living in Sapporo, who love the Winter Snow and Ice Carving Festival in Sapporo. Upon becoming a Royal Rosarian, it became natural that I would be drawn to supporting Portland's ongoing Sister City Program and in particular Portland's relationship with Sapporo.

Two fun facts: I have gone to the final showcase on The Price Is Right and lost everything because I overbid my showcase and my opponent under bid her showcase by 17K.. I am a trained auctioneer.

Michi Goto

Sapporo Resident Member, Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Sapporo, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2014

Why I volunteer on this board: In 1969, I was connected with Portland for the first time when I was an international student at PSU. Since then, I have been involved in exchanges personally and through my work at Sapporo International Communication Plaza. After I retired, I wanted to contribute my time and feeling to Sister City activities which made me who I am now.

Two fun facts: I enjoy driving, even when it is snowy. Driving gives me more opportunities to participate in events, enjoy nature see new areas and help others. I learned basic cooking and traditional Japanese cooking from my mother and so I am now intrigued to try new recipes.

Phylicia Bishop

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2014

Why I volunteer on this board: I was very fortunate to be able to go to Sapporo as an Assistant Language Teacher on the Japan Exchange Teaching Program. I consider Sapporo a second home, and I wanted to maintain that connection with Sapporo and help bridge the two cities. Shortly after joining the board, I actually moved back to Sapporo and continued my work for PSSCA from there. I'm now back in Portland and very excited to support this wonderful sister city relationship.

Two fun facts: I love tea and I've done voice over work you can hear my voice in announcements on public transit in Sapporo and Hokkaido.

Brandon Silvestre

Uwajimaya Liaison, Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2016

Why I volunteer on this board: To serve with gratitude to the PSSCA’s work, maintaining our sister city relationship with Sapporo. I have benefited from this relationship since high school when I was an exchange student between Roosevelt High School and Shinkawa High School. That time had a big impact in my life and led me to my current career.

Two fun facts: I love to do Karaoke and I can play the baritone saxophone.

Donte Rogers

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2017

Why I volunteer on this board: I was interested in making a connection for my son and me to have a community of people that loved Japanese culture as much as we do.

Two fun facts: I'm a licensed massage therapist however it's not my daily job. I love the outdoor and have tons of camping skills and gear to be sustainable in the outdoors.

Natsuko Takahashi

Portland Japanese Garden Liaison

Hometown: Kyoto, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2018

Why I volunteer on this board: In 1958, Portland became the sister city to Sapporo. This relationship led to the creation of the Portland Japanese Garden. As a staff member of the Garden, I'd like to contribute to the goal of continuing to foster and promote cross-cultural understanding between the two cities.

Two fun facts: I used to do Kendo (Japanese fencing) and got third place for 7th through 9th grade levels in the Kyoto prefectural tournament. I like dogs over cats.

Alana Moore

Communications Committee

Hometown: Yokosuka, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2018

Why I volunteer on this board: As a half Japanese, half American person, it made sense for me to volunteer with an organization that outwardly manifests the bridging of those two aspects of my personal identity. I enjoy volunteering alongside other board members who love the culture of Portland and Sapporo as much as I do.

Two fun facts: If I was to start a new career, I would build custom wood furniture. I collect knick-knacks that are in the shape of pear fruits.

Ayaka Call

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Sapporo, Japan

Member of the Board since: 2020

Why I volunteer on this board: I love both Sapporo and Portland. I wanted to be involved with connecting the people of Sapporo and Portland to share their cultures.

Two fun facts: I love traveling around the world and have visited 15 countries so far - mostly in Europe, but I want to explore Asia in the future. I became a dog-person because of our dog. She is a Labradoodle and I can't imagine my life without a dog now!

Tommi Meyer

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2020

Why I volunteer on this board: After participating in 2019's Sapporo Summer Institute trip, I wanted to ensure that it was accessible and enjoyable for as many students as possible. I hope to do so through my work on the board, and expand events to more students and adults

Two fun facts: I've lived in three different states, and I am currently studying international relations at American and Ritsumeikan Universities.

Zia Shonk

Event & Exchange Committee

Hometown: Troutdale, Oregon

Member of the Board since: 2022

Why I volunteer on this board: I benefited from a sister city exchange program when I was young and still keep in contact with my host family from that time. I want to ensure the same intercultural opportunities are available for future ambassadors to both countries.

Two fun facts: The only season I have not experienced in Japan yet is springtime. I enjoy Umeboshi flavored snacks!

Steven Prag

Membership & Communication Committee

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Member of the Board since: 2022

Why I volunteer on this board: After a 30-year career in international education, I plan post-retirement to continue my engagement in intercultural exchange. I am especially interested in Japan - my wife of 40 years is from Hakodate, Hokkaido, and I have developed and managed several Japanese academic exchange programs over the years. I simply love Japan and its culture.

Two fun facts: My wife and I both came to the United States as international students and met in the international student office at the University of Montana; I love Japanese roll cakes of any flavor and matcha (green tea) ice cream.