Meet Our Staff
Joshua W. Walker, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Joshua W. Walker, Ph.D., became President & CEO of Japan Society on December 2, 2019. Previously, he worked at Eurasia Group, the world's leading political risk analysis firm, where he served as global head of strategic initiatives and Japan in the Office of the President. He has actively expanded global events and new business offerings, including leading the company's first ever “GZERO” geopolitical summit in Japan. He has worked with clients worldwide with a focus on Japan and in a variety of sectors to evaluate global geopolitical risks.
Walker has more than two decades of experience in international business and diplomacy. Prior to Eurasia Group, he was CEO and president of the USA Pavilion of the 2017 World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan; founding dean of the APCO Institute; and senior vice president of global programs at APCO Worldwide, a leading global strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C. Before joining the private sector, he worked in numerous roles at various U.S. government agencies, including the State Department and the Defense Department. He is a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and professor of Leadership and the American presidency at George Mason University and the Reagan Foundation.
He co-founded the Yale Journal of International Affairs and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy in New York along with being instrumental in the Project on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations at Princeton. He has taught at numerous academic institutions, served on a variety of boards and won various awards along with being a Presidential Leadership Scholar, Trilateral Commission Rockefeller Fellow, Mansfield Foundation Network for the Future Member, Munich Young Leader, Council on Foreign Relations Member, Fulbright Scholar, Foreign Policy Initiative Future Leader, Sister Cities International Honorary Board Member and Truman National Security Project Fellow. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond, a master's degree from Yale University, and a doctorate from Princeton University.
Walker grew up in Japan where his parents still serve as missionaries, came to the United States when he was 18, and is bicultural and multilingual.
Director of Building Services
John Agapito joined Japan Society in December 2017 as Director of Building Services. He oversees all operations at the landmarked Japan Society building, bringing his extensive knowledge of construction management, operational efficiency, energy awareness, manpower development, life safety, and asset protection to the position. John holds certifications from Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the NYC Dept. of Health, and OSHA, and is also an FDNY Refrigeration Engineer. He is a member of the Passaic County New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.
Past projects include the construction of 450 Lexington Ave (above the landmarked Grand Central Post Office) and 885 Third Avenue (Lipstick Building). John has served as Facility Manager at 7 World Trade Center and Operations Manager at Grand Central Terminal Retail Division.
Chief of Staff to the President & CEO
Erina Aoyama is Chief of Staff to Japan Society President and CEO Joshua W. Walker. She previously worked at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, where she was Director of Communications for President Ian Bremmer and the firm. She also led publicity and press outreach for Eurasia Group's annual GZERO Summit in Tokyo.
Prior to joining Eurasia Group, she worked for NHK's New York bureau and traveled all over North America producing and reporting on topics ranging from NASA to cinema. Erina, who is fluent in Japanese and French, holds master's degrees from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and Sciences Po in Paris and is a graduate of the University of Washington. She also studied at Waseda University’s School of International and Liberal Studies.
Executive Vice President
Lisa Bermudez was appointed Vice President of Finance and Administration in 2008. She joined Japan Society in 2001 as an accountant, and in 2005 she was promoted to Director of Finance. Throughout a series of progressively responsible positions within finance and administration, Bermudez has demonstrated strong leadership and accountability. In her current role, Bermudez defines, directs and implements financial and administrative initiatives and strategies for the Society. She is responsible for directing and coordinating all activities of Finance, Administration, House Activities, Human Resources and Building Services. Bermudez has worked in the financial arena for over two decades, and previously held managerial positions at Oram, Yelon & Bernstein and Asia Society. She earned a BA in Business Administration and Accounting at Bernard Baruch College.
Chief Operating Officer
Andrew Connor joined Japan Society in March 2021. As Chief Operating Officer, he is responsible for leading key internal operations including HR and IT strategy. As a member of the executive leadership team, he is also involved in key external strategic initiatives, including augmentation of the institution’s reach and coordination of communications with the board on planning and execution of strategy. Andrew previously served as Chief Human Resources Officer for Eurasia Group and its subsidiary GZERO Media. As a member of Eurasia Group's leadership team and head of HR and Administration, Andrew held global responsibility for an employee population in 8 offices spanning 5 countries.
Andrew’s prior experience includes work as vice president of an Asia-focused executive search and HR consulting firm, where he managed full-cycle recruiting projects for major multinational corporations doing business in China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia and work in non-profit operations with the Tahirih Justice Center, a legal aid and advocacy organization in the Washington, DC area. Andrew, who graduated summa cum laude from Hamilton College with a bachelor's degree in Chinese language and Russian studies, speaks Mandarin Chinese and has spent time studying and working in Russia, China, Bangladesh, and the UK. He has also completed courses of study at SOAS University of London and the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing.
A linguist at heart, Andrew has received varying degrees of formal training in seven languages and has dabbled in a handful of others. He has traveled to more than 40 countries, including overland travel from Hanoi to London.
Director, Media & Marketing
Michele Debreceni joined Japan Society as Director, Media & Marketing in February 2016. Prior to joining Japan Society, Michele spent many years as a music industry executive. Most recently, she served as the Senior Vice President of Digital Media at KIDZ BOP LLC, overseeing brand website, e-commerce, and digital advertising initiatives. Before that, she helped launch the digital direct marketing division for Razor & Tie Entertainment. Michele holds a B.S. in Marketing and Communications, magna cum laude, from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.
Senior Director, Development
Lisa Goldenberg joined the Development office at Japan Society in October 2016 and was promoted to the role of Director, Foundation & Government Relations in the spring of 2019. She is responsible for fundraising from foundation and government sources for all eight departments plus capital projects at The Society. She has a diverse background in the fields of arts administration, international affairs, and as a professional dancer and teacher, and experience ranging from grant writing and fundraising to program management, special event planning, public relations, and marketing. She has worked on projects as varied as co-productions of Sesame Street in Northern Ireland and Russia; a visual arts education project for children in St. Petersburg, Russia and Almaty, Kazakhstan; and The New York City Irish Dance Festival. She received an M.Phil. with Distinction in International Diplomacy from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and a B.A. in History and Certificates of Concentration in East Asian Studies and Russian & Soviet Area Studies from Binghamton University. She has lived, worked, and travelled extensively abroad; is proficient in Russian, and has a good working knowledge of Japanese, French, Spanish, and Irish.
Director, Program Operations
Lydia Gulick is the Director of Program Operations, overseeing operations for all Japan Society programs and coordinating rental events for outside organizations. She started at Japan Society as a Development Associate on the Corporate Giving team, handling Corporate Membership, and transferred to her current role in September 2016. Before joining the Society in March 2013, she was Assistant to the Political Affairs Section at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations. She began her career in the Client Services and Marketing department at Indus Capital Partners, LLC. Gulick studied abroad for a semester in Kyoto, Japan. She holds an MA in East Asian Studies from Yale University, and a BA with High Honors in Japanese, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Colgate University.
Ramona Handel-Bajema, Ph.D.
Chief Program Officer
Ramona Handel-Bajema joined Japan Society as Chief Program Officer in June 2021. She holds a Ph.D. in Modern Japanese History from Columbia University’s East Asian Languages and Culture department. Ramona was affiliated with Waseda University from 2008 to 2009 as a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellow. Ramona served as Global Director, See to Earn Program for the social enterprise VisionSpring, where she oversaw teams in India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam and worked with multinational brands to provide eyeglasses for factory workers. Prior to joining VisionSpring, Ramona was AmeriCares Country Director for Japan from 2011 through 2015, overseeing $9 million in funding for disaster relief programs following the March 11, 2011 triple disaster in northeastern Japan. Based in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Ramona worked with more than 100 local partners and oversaw 200 grants for the emergency and recovery periods with a focus on psychosocial care, rebuilding facilities for people with disabilities, distribution of emergency relief goods, and grassroots-based community directed initiatives. Ramona also holds a Masters of Arts degree in international relations with a specialization on Japan Studies from the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley, in Asian Studies with a focus on Japanese History. In 2021, her book,
Director, Language Center
Tomoyo Kamimura grew up in Japan where she earned her BA from Waseda University. She received an MA in Linguistics from the University of Oregon as well as an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. While teaching English at The Tokyo University of Science, she co-edited Obunsha’s Shorter Japanese-English Dictionary and co-authored Josei no Shinri (Women’s Psychology). Other publications include translations of several books into Japanese. She has taught at numerous institutions, including Rutgers University, Kalamazoo College, The University of Oregon, and Baruch College, and also serves on the selection committee of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme in the New York region. Before coming to Japan Society, she was a full-time faculty member and Coordinator of the Japanese program at The New School for Public Engagement for nine years.
Director, Productions & Technical Management
Futoshi Miyai received a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Osaka Prefecture in 1991 and a Master of Arts degree in arts administration from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1999. Mr. Miyai started his career as an independent stage manager for theater groups in Osaka, Japan in 1989. In 1996, he moved to New York as a Saison Foundation Fellow. Mr. Miyai has worked with Japan Society's Performing Arts Program since in 1998 as a production coordinator for presentations at Japan Society and as tour manager in the United States and Canada.
Yumi Nagasawa, Ed.D.
Director, Education & Family Programs
Yumi Nagasawa is the Director for Education & Family Programs at Japan Society and is responsible for planning and executing education programs for families, K-12 students, and teachers. Programs include a bilateral high school student exchange, the Junior Fellows Leadership Program, the K-12 School Gallery Program, the Professional Development Program for educators in New York and Los Angeles, and annual festivities for families with young children. Before joining Japan Society, Yumi was an instructor at Teachers College Tokyo, Columbia University and an independent consultant for museum education. She has also worked for education programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She joined Japan Society in September 2012 as an Education Associate and was promoted to Education Officer in 2014, to Senior Education Officer in 2016, and to Interim Director in 2018. Yumi holds a B.A in International Relations from Nihon University, an M.A. in Arts and Humanities from New York University, and an Ed.D. in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Director, Business & Policy Program
Tomoko Okuno is the Deputy Director for the Business & Policy Program at Japan Society and is responsible for planning and executing approximately 30 public and private business and policy programs per year. In her role, she ensures audiences receive high-quality opportunities for engagement through lectures, panels, networking events and high-level invitation-only meetings. She joined Japan Society in November 2004 as the Program Associate. Prior to joining Japan Society, she worked for the Japan National Tourist Organization and also worked in the translation and PR fields. She holds a Master of Science degree in International Affairs from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Language and Communications from Kansai Gaidai University in Japan.
Director, Talks+ Programs
Tomomi Sekiya joined Japan Society in November 2012 as a Program Officer of Lecture Programs and promoted to Deputy Director of Talks+ Programs in January 2016. Tomomi came to Japan Society with more than 10 years of professional experience working with local and international cultural institutions in the fields of performing arts, visual arts, radio, online digital media and publishing. Most recently, Tomomi served as Senior Manager of Business Development at Symphony Space, a multi-disciplinary performing arts organization. Tomomi holds a Master’s degree from Long Island University where she majored in Theatre Administration, a Masters level Certificate for Arts Administration at New York University, and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in History at Atomi College, Japan.
Yoko Shioya became Artistic Director of Japan Society in 2006, overseeing JS's Performing Arts and Film departments. Since assuming the position of Director of Performing Arts in 2003, she has enlarged the scale and number of commissions for the creation of new works related to Japanese culture by non-Japanese artists, and increased the number of tours of Society-produced works throughout North America. Shioya also launched new initiatives, including co-producing commissioned work by international artists with presenting organizations in Japan, presenting works from East Asian countries, and establishing artists’ residency projects in New York City. Known in Japan as a writer/researcher on the public and private arts support systems in the U.S. and Japan, Shioya has been invited to speak at numerous symposia, lectures, and TV programs presented by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government, Keidanren, the Academy of Cultural Economics and the Japan Council of Performers' Organizations, among others. She has been a regular contributor to arts columns on performing arts and exhibitions for the Asahi newspaper, and has served as a committee member and selection panelist for numerous programs, including The Bessie Awards, Rolex Mentor and Protege International Program, and the Toyota Choreography Awards. Shioya holds BAs in musicology and dance history from Tokyo National University of the Arts.
Director, Development Operations & Board Relations
Kimberly Woodward joined the Japan Society’s development team as Director of Individual Giving and Membership in June 2016. She has dedicated her career to the nonprofit sector, primarily focusing on arts and culture. Previously, she was the Development Manager for the Tisch Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York. She has held positions in development, marketing and communications at cultural organizations throughout the northeast including the Hudson River Museum, Connecticut Opera, Long Wharf Theatre, the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Maine State Music Theatre and the Walnut Street Theatre. She holds a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from the University of Maine.