Board of Directors
Roles and Terms
Tonari Gumi’s Board of Directors consists of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. The Board’s role is to oversee and manage the organization within the guidelines set out in its constitution and by-laws on issues such as organization policies, human resources and authorities given to staff to carry out day-to-day operations.
2022-23 Board of Directors
Completed Two Year Term and Re-Elected for 2022
Alan Iwaasa Jr.
Alan Iwaasa Jr. earned his Bachelor of Management in human resources and labour relations from the University of Lethbridge in 2019. Alan is a human resources generalist currently working at Amazon. As a yonsei, Alan Jr. has a keen interest in contributing to the Japanese Canadian community.
Emily attained her CPA, CMA designation in 1991 and has a Masters of Arts in Political Science that she attained in 2003. Her industry experience includes import/export, public utility, agriculture, healthcare, tech and not-for-profit in Canada and the United States. She enjoys a nearly daily dose of boxing/kickboxing/out-of-the-box-fitness and has completed 13 marathons and several half-marathons, triathlons and duathlons. In her free time she is often seen walking her Maltese pup, and driving around discovering new restaurants and unique businesses.
Naomi is a Sansei who grew up on a berry farm in the Fraser Valley. After graduating with a BA in Anthropology she lived in Japan for 5 years, worked at Tonari Gumi in it's early years as well as for Powell St. Festival and JC Redress. She was employed at Select Wines as a Japanese Accounts Marketing Rep before retirement. Enjoys practicing tai chi and continues to volunteer for various community groups.
Makiko was born in Yokohama, Japan, but raised in Toronto, where she established a floral design business. Later moving to Vancouver, she graduated from University of British Columbia, with a Major in Philosophy and later completed the SFU’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program. In 2000, she joined the Canadian federal service, transferring in 2004 to their newly released New Horizon’s for Senior’s Program, working with that program until her retirement.
She now volunteers with the Tonari Gumi Garden Club and writes the monthly gardening column Our Edible Roots for the Bulletin. In addition to the numerous TG test gardens, she also volunteers at the historic Cougar Annie’s Garden on Vancouver Island and several other local community gardens. Currently Makiko is still waiting for her yuzu plants to fruit.
Completed Two Year Term and Re-Elected for 2022
Born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, Makoto graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and worked as an interpreter at the Kyoto International Conference Centre prior to immigrating to Canada in 1981. In addition to her deep Kyoto roots and education are the life lessons learned as a small business owner; raising a bright, successful daughter; and, latterly, settling visiting Japanese language students into rewarding home stay placements. Now semi-retired, Makoto hopes to share those roots and life lessons with others, volunteering with organizations such as Tonari Gumi.
Fourth Year of Four Year Term
Larry M. Okada
Larry has been a Professional Chartered Accountant in Canada and a Certified Public Accountant in the United States for 37 years. He was involved with mining companies during those 37 years as an auditor for 31 years, as a Chief Financial Officer for 5 years, and a director of public mining companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange for 10 years. The majority of companies he worked with during those 37 years had mineral properties located in North, Central and South America.
Completed Four Year Term and Re-Elected for 2022
Tamako was born in Matsue and grew up in Tokyo. She entered Keio University in 1954. While a student at Keio, she went to UBC in 1955-6 as the first Japanese exchange student on the World University Service of Canada scholarship and spent an extra year at the University of Toronto. She returned to Keio in 1957 and graduated in 1959 (psychology with interest in socio-linguistics). Graduate studies at Yale University followed and she received her MA in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies in 1962. Tamako is married to Maurice Copithorne (international law and foreign affairs) of Vancouver and spent 23 years in Ottawa and various foreign capitals including, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Beijing.
Sixth Year of Six Year Term
David B. Iwaasa
A third generation Japanese Canadian, David was born in Raymond, Alberta. His grandfather emigrated to Canada from Hiroshima-ken in 1898 and ancestors from his mother’s side come from Fukui-ken. He studied international economics at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Kyoto University in Japan and the University of British Columbia. David joined the Canadian federal government in 1975 and has worked in Ottawa, Washington DC, Paris, and Tokyo. He has served as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, various community associations and for his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He and his wife served as volunteer missionaries for three years in Fukuoka, Japan. After returning to Canada in 2009, he worked as the Executive Director of Tonari Gumi from March 2010 to October 2014. Married to Jane Kadonaga, he has four children and ten grandchildren.
Thank you for your dedication and hard work on the board!
IT Advisory Council
Expert volunteers supporting Tonari Gumi's technical needs