Our Team

The Powell Street Festival Society would not be possible without the support of our generous and committed volunteers, who make up the Board of Directors, several committees, and hundreds of volunteer positions during Festival weekend. Staff work collaboratively with volunteers throughout the year, to ensure programming and events are inclusive and representative of the communities we serve.

Board of Directors

Our active and dedicated volunteer Board of Directors sit on four volunteer committees, Advocacy and OutreachProgrammingFundraising, and Festival (seasonal), along with other community members. Our directors bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Society and share a love of the arts, Japanese culture and food.

Originally from Alberta, Edward Takayanagi attended university in Japan on the Monbusho Scholarship and lived in Kyoto for 4 years studying archaeology. He moved to Vancouver upon returning to Canada and attended Law School at UBC. After working for a Japanese plastics company for a number of years and practicing law in Vancouver, he is currently working Coast Mental Health Foundation. Edward has also been the president of the Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, is on the board of the Tomoe Arts Society and volunteers frequently with other community organizations.

Carly Yoshida is the breaking news producer for CTV Vancouver and has been working in the broadcast industry for more than four years. She has Japanese-Canadian heritage, and her family originally hailed from B.C. before settling in Toronto after the Second World War. Although she grew up in Toronto, she has many fond memories of visiting family on the west coast and volunteering at the Powell Street Festival. Carly recently moved to Vancouver with her husband. She is looking forward to her first year as a board member and is excited to be part of an organization that celebrates Japanese-Canadian culture in Vancouver.

Kyle Yakashiro grew up in Abbotsford, BC. Attended the University of British Columbia earning a BA with a double major in math and economics. Previously he worked in marketing for a Toyota dealership. Today he works in financial services as an Account Manager at Vancity Savings Credit Union.

Russell Chiong is a law student at the University of Victoria. Born and raised in Vancouver, Russell has been attending the Powell Street Festival for as long as he can remember, and looks forward to contributing this year as a board member.

Emily Wu is currently an Internal Coach and a Program Lead at University of British Columbia. Her current work involves developing, delivering, and managing innovative educational programs for adult professionals. As a first generation Taiwanese Canadian living and blending in multiple cultures, Emily finds stimulation in language, culture, and diversity. Emily has volunteered with Powell Street Festival since 2007. She loves the spirit of PSF, in particular connecting with community groups, celebrating arts and culture, and working with like-minded individuals that believe in the Society’s mission and values.

Angela May is a community activist, writer, and scholar. Her activism has changed over the years, originally more focussed on the Japanese Canadian community itself, and now more focused on the relationship between the Japanese Canadian and Downtown Eastside communities, particularly as they overlap in history, place, and politics. Her written work has been published across creative and academic publications, including Nikkei ImagesThe Volcano, and Canadian Literature, as well as emerge20, an anthology from Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio program, which Angela completed from 2019-2020. Angela also holds a BA in English (University of Victoria), an MA in Socio-Cultural Studies of Health (Queen’s University), and is currently completing her PhD in English at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Amber Dean. Alongside her doctoral studies, Angela is working on her next book project, a collection of linked short stories inspired by her master’s fieldwork in the Downtown Eastside.

Michael 新一 Hillman is a second generation Japanese originally from Hamilton, Ontario. Though, since moving West almost a decade ago, Vancouver is now his home. Working at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in local technical television news production, Mike embraces community and heritage as being the pillars which bring people together. Since his daughter was born, Mike has strived to engage more in the Japanese Canadian community so that she may learn, understand and connect more with her ancestral heritage.

Caleb Nakasaki is a community support worker to seniors in the DTES neighborhood, and is passionate about opening up cultural access and sharing between our local communities. As a yonsei Japanese from Honolulu, he came to Vancouver in 2015 and in the summer of 2021 he connected with the Powell Street Festival through the PSF Dialogues.

Marina was born and raised in Japan, and moved to Vancouver in 2012. She is the founder of Southern Wave Okinawan Music and Dance Society and actively engaged in practicing Okinawan performing arts in Lower Mainland. She is currently studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture. She also loves to cook and eat Japanese food. 

Committees

Our year-round and seasonal committees play a large role in our outreach, events, and governance. Committee members bring a range of skills and expertise to the committee. Please contact emiko [at] powellstreetfestival.com if you are interested in joining any of these committees.

Programming Committee researches and identifies artists and arts organizations that give voice to the Japanese Canadian community. Learn more ›

Advocacy and Outreach Committee promotes the profile of the organization to the cultural, social, political and mainstream communities; and participates in Downtown Eastside community-building efforts. Learn more ›

Fundraising Committee solicits and secures financial support. Learn more ›

Festival Committee (seasonal) coordinates the logistics and production of the Festival.

Staff

Emiko Morita (she/her) became the Executive Director of Powell Street Festival Society in 2015, 25 years after she first worked as an intern for the festival in 1990. In between, she was Marketing Director at Douglas & McIntyre Publishers, Export and Special Sales Manager at Raincoast Books and Marketing Manager at Polestar Press. She co-founded the Access Copyright Foundation and served as a board member there as well as the Association of Book Publishers of BC, Asian Canadian Writers Workshop and Modern Baroque Opera Society. 

Debbie Cheung (she/her) has worked in arts and culture since graduating from Emily Carr University (ECU) in 2011. Her background in communication design, marketing, and event production has led her to work with various organizations, including previous stints at the UBC Museum of Anthropology and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Before attending ECU, Debbie studied Japanese at the University of British Columbia for two years and in Tokyo for a summer semester. She looks forward to working with the Powell Street Festival team and presenting programs that engage both the Japanese Canadian and Downtown Eastside communities.

Raised in Vancouver, Gawa Desilets (she/her) moved to Japan for five years. She lived in Tokyo, and later Kyoto, where she worked in marketing in the tourism industry. Now that she is back in Vancouver, she is excited to stay connected with Japanese arts & culture and to serve the community through the Powell Street Festival Society. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Miki Konishi (he/him) is a mixed, nisei Japanese-American who grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. From young age, he has been involved in the Japanese community through cultural and educational practices such as kendo and Japanese Saturday school. He became more involved in social justice advocacy beginning in college, where he co-founded MULTI, a student organization for multiracial and multiethnic students, while completing his BA in Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. After college, Miki moved to Miyazaki prefecture in Japan to teach English to elementary and junior high school students for two years. Following his time in Japan, he moved to Washington state where he worked as an Admission Officer for Whitman College and remotely as an Assistant Teacher for the Japanese Saturday school he attended as a kid. Miki is excited to serve the Downtown Eastside community and contribute to the important work of Powell Street Festival Society

Duston Baranow-Watts (he/him) moved to Vancouver in 2014 and holds a BFA in Theatre Design & Production from the University of British Columbia, emphasis Stage Management. During his degree, he also studied Japanese and attended a summer term in Asian Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. Before coming to Powell Street Festival Society, Duston worked on Stage Management teams to coordinate performing arts projects, created content for social media, and facilitated and instructed in a Japanese-language immersion program. In his spare time, he enjoys cloud watching, cooking, and mug collecting.

Kathy Shimizu is a sansei, graphic and web designer, artist, and community organizer. She has worked for the Powell Street Festival Society in various roles since 1991, is a co-founder, collective member, and administrator of WePress, serves on the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association Human Rights Committee, and is a member of Sawagi Taiko. She works to use the importance of history, and the power and joy of arts and culture, to build community, fight for social justice and change, and help create space for the voices of communities and individuals marginalized by our existing systems.