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JSB Staff

Yuko Handa
Executive Director

Yuko Handa has been a business professional for over 20 years, with experience in both the for profit and not-for-profit sectors. Born and raised in Japan, in the Shonan region of Kanagawa prefecture, from a young age, she was educated in International Schools in Yokohama. She attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she earned her BA degree in Sociology. Returning to Japan after graduation, she worked for three years at an Asian Airline, before joining Analog Devices in Japan. In 2005 she relocated to the United States with her family and now calls New England her home.

Naoko Takayanagi

Membership and Operations Manager / Instructor

Naoko Takayanagi was born and raised in Tokyo.  She received a B.A. in Modern Languages from McGill University and an M.A. in International Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.  She worked in corporate banking, asset management, and financial translation, and later taught Japanese at Berlitz and tutored through Wyzant. She is CELTA certified.

Julia Napier

Programs Manager (Language and Podcast)

Julia Napier has a BA in East Asian Studies and a minor in Art History. She has spent three years in Japan and loves learning about Japanese pop culture, traditional culture, literature, film, and food. 

Emily Buttner

Programs Manager (Events)

Emily is a 2021 M.A. graduate of the Department of Theater & Performance Studies from Stanford University. She also holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and spent four years in Ibaraki Prefecture on the JET Programme. In addition to working with JSB, Emily currently teaches Japanese Performance as a remote adjunct instructor at Rikkyo University. She hopes to work in Japan again in the future.



Michael is an incoming freshman at Harvard who plans to concentrate in East Asian Studies and Mathematics. He has taken Japanese classes for five years and independently studied Japanese culture, religion, and economics. He hopes to help expand Japan Society Boston's offerings and further understand the richness of Japan.



Dylan is a senior at Suffolk university majoring in Global Cultural Studies with a concentration in Culture, Conflict, and Communication. He has studied Japanese language and culture independently for four years, through which he has developed a passionate interest in the culture and history of Japan that he hopes to combine with his multifaceted study of the humanities to help the JSB in its mission to connect Japanese and American culture in the context of today's globalized world.

Chris Ellars

Special Programs Associate

Christopher is a student at Boston University, where he majors in both Voice Performance and Japanese.  He wishes to bridge his studies together to explore and spread Japanese music and culture throughout the world.

Sandy Jen

Public Relations Associate

Sandy has a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in public relations at Boston University. Following that, she continues pursuing a master’s degree in media science at Boston University. She has spent one semester studying abroad at Doshisha University in Kyoto and wishes to apply fundamental knowledge of public relations with fluency in Mandarin, English, and Japanese to achieve media relations goals for organizations. 



Kira graduated from the University of Rhode Island and studied abroad for a year at Kochi University in Japan. She double majored in Art and Computer Science and minored in Japanese. In the summer she works as a kayak guide in southeast Alaska. She loves Japan and Japanese, anime, the outdoors, drawing, climbing, music, and adventures of all sorts!


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