Mirai Generations Leadership Program Alumni


Class of 2017 Bios

CLARYNNE BLANCHARD is a new mother with a vision to raise her son to be proud of his Japanese ethnicity. She grew up in Hawaii and Japan, learning the traditions of both cultures and embracing her Jodo Shinshu background. Her Bachelor of Science degree in communications and graphic design led her to assist with creating a studio that focuses on educational apps for kids. Recently she and her husband Nick Blanchard started a leadership development business. Clarynne is grateful to continue networking in the JA community. Her eyes have been opened to the solid foundation that has been put in place to make the community what it is today. She looks forward to helping expand the community through cultivating a more inclusive definition of what it means to be Japanese American.


COLIN MOCHIZUKI ELROD is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an account manager at Arrow Electronics, Inc. in the Enterprise Computing Solutions division. Since moving to Colorado from Kentucky in December 2016,Colin has been active in the Japanese and Asian American communities by volunteering at the Colorado Dragon Film Festival andColorado Dragon Boat Festival. He is passionate about preserving his Japanese heritage as well as encouraging others to become involved in the community. His participation in the MiraiGenerations Leadership Program has allowed him to expand his network within the JA community and he plans to continue his involvement into the future.  Colin has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Japan American Society of Colorado.


ALYSSA HOLLAND is employed in the City Manager’s Office of Westminster. The recent passing of significant family members prompted her to reinvest in the JA community. Through the MiraiGenerations Leadership Program she has been reintroduced to the Colorado JA community and identified where she can be of service. She feels strongly about the endeavors of Sakura Foundation and the future of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and looks forward to supporting both organizations. She also hopes her work with local government will allow her to represent JAs in Colorado politics in the future.  Alyssa has been selected into the 2018 Asian Chamber of Commerce Scholar’s Program to Washington DC.


KAREN MURAKAMI grew up with the Japanese and JA communities in Wailuku, HI. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Northern Colorado. Karen is currently the Operations Coordinator for Sakura Square LLC. She participated in the Mirai Generations Leadership Program in hopes to connect with and give back to the JA community in Denver. The program has enabled her to network with various JA organizations, hone her leadership skills and maintain and enhance her cultural ties. She feels that a strong bond exists within the local JA community which enables various organizations to support each other and further advance the missions of each group. In the future, Karen plans to be more active withinthe JA community by volunteering and engaging with various organizations to which she has been introduced through her participation in the leadership program.


COURTNEY OZAKI holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and a BSM from the University of Colorado at Denver and is a Colorado native. She is the Operations and Business Director for the Lone Tree Arts Center. Courtney serves on the board of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple, was a judge for the Japanese American Community Graduation Program and is a founding member of the Japanese taiko drum ensemble, MiraiDaiko. Courtney was selected to U.S.-Japan Council’sEmerging Leaders Program and attended its U40 Summit.Courtney applied to the Mirai Generations Leadership Program to further establish connections within the Japanese and JA communities, connect with other like-minded young leaders and advance her leadership skills. She has gained immeasurable insight into her values as a leader and is inspired by the unique cultural makeup of Colorado’s JA community. She looks forward to contributing to the growth of an ever-evolving community and aspires to strengthen ties between members of Colorado’s Japanese and JA communities and others around the U.S. and across the globe through the arts.


KEIKO OZAKI is a freelance video editor and motion graphics designer. Her journey into video production started after graduating from the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver and working for Warren Miller Entertainment, widely known for its yearly ski film. Now that Keiko is a mother, her priority is to strengthen and support the JA community in Denver. Growing up as a member ofTri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and participating in taiko were positive and key identity-forming experiences for Keiko.Her desire is to provide the same opportunitiesfor growth to her two young boys. Being part of the MiraiGenerations Leadership Program has strengthened this desire. Keiko plans to continue her involvement in the community. Specifically, she wants to utilize her skills in video production to enhance community engagement.


AKEMI TSUTSUI grew up in Denver, Colorado and has practiced Shotokan Karate for more than twenty years. This lifestyle instilled in her a great sense of duty to her ethnic community. As an extension of such, she received her BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of Colorado at Denver where her education focused on the Asian American and Japanese American experience. Akemi is currently a Youth Educator for the Asian Pacific Development Center. The Mirai Generations Leadership Program is an opportunity for her to join a network that is committed to the sustainability of her culture. She sees the community’s recognition of culture change as a chance to form new bonds in the JAcommunity. Moving forward, Akemi intends to further her involvement with the local JA organizations.

Class of 2018 Bios

WENDY BARILE  was born and raised in Brazil in a multicultural family (Japanese/Italian). Growing up in challenging environments molded her to believe in kindness and virtue. Wendy holds a Bachelor and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She is currently enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Colorado at Denver and works as a Marketing Associate at Trimble. In Brazil, she was involved with the Japanese Association of Rio de Janeiro as a volunteer and teacher. Since moving to Colorado in 2011, she has been volunteering for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. She also supports the Denver Sister Cities International, the Denver Police, and the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission.


SHAKIRA JOHNSON is a native of Denver and is currently employed as a Travel Consultant for InsideJapan Tours. After moving to Japan for two years during university, Shakira developed near fluency in the language and discovered her passion for Japanese culture while assisting with earthquake and tsunami disaster relief in the Tohoku region. Upon her return to the States, she earned a degree in Music with a minor in Japanese from Colorado State University and later went to work at the Office of the Consulate General of Japan in Denver as a Political and Economic Affairs Specialist. It was there that Shakira realized it was her personal mission in life to become a bridge between the United States and Japan and to establish lasting connections between both countries she calls home. The Mirai Generations Leadership Program has taught Shakira that the Japanese American community in Denver is a place to find common ground.  She hopes to continue fostering relationships of trust and inclusivity in the future.


EVAN SHIGAYA was born and grew up in Denver and has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He currently works as a Thermodynamics Engineer at United Launch Alliance. Evan grew up attending the Denver Buddhist Temple as well as practicing Judo at the Temple dojo. Being involved in these activities early on was a large influence on his values and worldview today. Evan joined the Mirai Generations Leadership Program to meet people in the Japanese American community outside of the Temple and learn about their experiences in the broader community. Evan hopes to gain a better understanding of the larger JA community and its needs.


PATRICK TULLY was born and raised in the Denver Metro area. He holds a B.S. in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism and a minor in Business Administration from Colorado State University, Fort Collins. He is currently an Account Manager at Guest Research Inc. after spending three years in various roles at Inspirato. Prior to his participation in the program, he was honored to receive a scholarship through the JACGP and volunteered with Chibi no Gakko and the Go For Broke Golf Tournament. Patrick applied to the Mirai Generations Leadership Program to help discover his Japanese identity, as well as represent and sustain his family heritage. He views MGLP as the perfect introduction to the JA community and looks forward to his continued involvement and contribution.


KATRINA YOSHIDA is a proud hapa who was born in Japan but moved to Colorado when she was two years old. She is passionate about issues surrounding what it means to be 3rd culture and believes to think global but act local. She loves to be outdoors and is passionate about gender issues. She currently works for a non-profit based in Denver as their marketing/communication manager. She joined MGLPas a way to be more connected with the Japanese community after living in Tokyo.