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.

Shoko Kitano is a non-profit professional who currently works as a Program Lead at CNIB.  Born and raised in Tokyo, she moved to Vancouver, B.C. in 2001. As an immigrant, a woman, and a person with visual impairment, she is passionate about community-based actions that bring about a positive change to the society. She was originally drawn to the festival for its amazing food, and after learning about the socially-minded mandate and sense of community that it fosters, she became interested in joining the board. She hopes to help more people come out to, volunteer at, and feel the warmth of the festival and its community.

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.

Mike Okada works in the marketing industry, where he specializes in copywriting and brand consulting, and he is excited to be bringing his skills to continue building upon the successes of festivals past. Born and raised in BC, Mike is a fourth generation Japanese Canadian who has been coming to the Powell Street Festival since he was young. As a member of the board, he looks forward to working with an amazing team, getting back in touch with his roots, and helping the next generation make their own lasting memories of the festival in the years to come.

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.


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.


Emiko Morita 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. 


Raised in Vancouver, Gawa Desilets 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!

Samantha Marsh is a mixed race yonsei who has worked in the culture and heritage sector for over 7 years. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Samantha first came to Vancouver to complete her BA in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Since then, she has fallen in love with the land, the people, and all that Vancouver has to offer. Samantha completed her Msc in Museum Studies at the University of Glasgow where she focused on cultural revitalisation of postindustrial cities through the utilisation of festivals, heritage sites, and museums. She is passionate about making art and culture engaging, relevant, and accessible for underrepresented communities.

Duston Baranow-Watts 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.