We are pleased to introduce our newest Sakura Foundation Board Members:  Sarah Harrison and Cathy Ishida.  Their professionalism, wealth of experience and committment to the Japanese and Japanese American community will enhance the work of our dedicated Board of Directors.

Cathy Ishida has lived in the Denver-metro area since 2005. Colorado’s array of Japan and Japanese American related organizations and activities have made the area a place to call home. As part of the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple (TSDBT) Minyou-kai (Japanese Folkdance group), she is at Sakura Square frequently for practice to prepare for leading the TSDBT annual Obon Dancing and performances at the Cherry Blossom Festival, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and Simpson United Methodist Church’s Hina Matsuri.

She recognizes Sakura Foundation as a key organization that can bring many sectors of the Japanese community in Colorado together to celebrate Japanese and Japanese American heritage, culture and community. As a Sakura Foundation board member and Cultural Events committee member, she applies her lifelong commitment to educational outreach and cross-cultural exchange to support the preservation and re-vision of Sakura Square as a Japanese cultural hub that promotes intercultural understanding and educates Coloradans about Japan and Japanese American heritage and culture.

Prior to coming to Colorado, Cathy spent seven years, total, living in Japan on exchange as an AFS Intercultural Programs high school student, Keio University undergraduate and University of Tokyo research student. She served as an assistant language teacher (ALT) and coordinator of international relations (CIR) on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program in Fukuoka prefecture.

She has worked in higher education for 18 years designing and leading professional development and experiential learning programs for inservice teachers in Japan and the United States. At the University of Colorado, she conducts teacher trainings in the forms of workshops, study tours and seminars that enhance K-12 teaching and learning in regards to Japanese culture, history and educational practices.

Cathy earned her B.A. in Japanese Studies from the University of Maryland. Her M.A. is in Education Leadership and Policy Studies with a focus on multicultural and diversity education in Japan and the educational experiences of the Japanese diaspora. She speaks Japanese and is raising a bi-lingual child of Japanese-Canadian-American heritage.


Sarah Harrison has worked in the nonprofit (or “social profit”) sector since completing her M.A. degree in English Literature at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1981. In late 2002, she joined the staff at The Denver Foundation, Colorado’s largest and most experienced community foundation, where she assists individuals and families with their philanthropic goals and charitable planning activities. Prior to working at The Denver Foundation, Sarah held leadership positions at Morris Animal Foundation, United Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines and Craig Hospital.

Trained in next generation philanthropy techniques by the 21/64 Institute, Sarah has expertise in fundraising, family philanthropy, legal issues related to charitable giving, and ethical concerns in nonprofit governance. She served as an adjunct professor for the University of Denver’s University College graduate certificate program in nonprofit studies and as a community volunteer. Sarah is a past president of The Advancement Network, a past president of the Colorado Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the 2013 recipient of its Outstanding Professional Award and a past Volunteer of the Year for the Junior League of Denver.

Sarah approaches her work from the values of passion and hope. She cares deeply about engaging people in community-based work that aligns with their values and expands opportunities for all. She is committed to community-building, equity, sustainability, education and women’s issues. Understanding what motivates people and how to assess impact are at the core of her practice. She seeks to know “what we did, how it helped, what we learned and what is next.”

A team player and a strategic thinker with excellent communications skills, she works well with a wide variety of donors, regardless of age, background, interests and level of wealth. When not focused on the evolving field of philanthropy, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, travelling and walking her dogs (or any dogs). Sarah and her husband, Tom Fair, have been married since 1984 and have one daughter and a fleet of aging cats and dogs.