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Executive Committee

Paul Sakamoto

Paul Sakamoto (Chair), IT Specialist, State of Hawaii Department of Education

Paul started his taiko studies as a founding member of Puna Taiko under the tutelage of Reverend Earl Ikeda in 2002 and has served as the Director since 2004. In addition, Paul assists at Puna Taiko affiliate groups, Pahala Hongwanji Taiko and Kamana Senior Taiko, and is currently working on re-establishing the long-dormant Hawaii Island Taiko Camp. He currently serves on the TCA Fundraising Committee and previously assisted with the 2017 crowdfunding campaign. In his other life, he works as an IT liaison at the Hawaii Department of Education.

Contact: paul.sakamoto@taikocommunityalliance.org

Kelly Kuwabara

Kelly Kuwabara (Past-Chair), Development Director, Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia

Kelly Kuwabara has played taiko with Soh Daiko, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center, Kyo Daiko, and Hoh Daiko. She has taught taiko classes and workshops at Settlement Music School, Allens Lane Art Center, Staten Island Arts, and other locations. Kelly is also a member of the samba drumming group Unidos da Filadelfia (caixa). She has worked in many non-profit organizations, including stints as the Program Director and the Development Director of the Asian American Arts Alliance. She is currently the Development Director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and an adjunct instructor of English literature and composition at Cumberland County College. Kelly holds an A.B. degree in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College and an M.A. degree in English and Creative Writing from New York University. Kelly believes in the power of the arts to sustain people and build communities, the importance of music and rhythm in social change movements, and the necessity of showing up at demonstrations with a drum. Her favorite 16th note is the “ee” after one.

Contact: kelly.kuwabara@taikocommunityalliance.org

Dr. Wanda M. Kurtcu (She/Her), (Co-Vice-Chair), Supervising Teacher, San Jose State University

A performing member of Wadaiko Newark for 17 years, Wanda was also in attendance at the 2013 Launch Meeting for TCA and has since become a Lifetime Member of the organization, as well as currently serving on TCA’s HEART (Humility, Empathy, Anti-Racism, Resourcefulness, Transparency) Committee, focusing on the practices of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. Within the taiko community, Wanda is a part of the HUG (Healing, Unlearning, and Growing) collective, as well as NtbD (Name to be Decided) in taiko, addressing issues and challenges faced/experienced by women, non-binary, and LGBTQI+ players within the male-dominated world of taiko.

Wanda has a doctorate is in Social Justice and Equity and, with recognition of diversity as an important part of any organization, hopes to bring that experience and voice to TCA in support of its current “growing pains” and efforts to reshape itself into a more inclusive and supportive entity within the taiko community.

Additionally, Wanda is a LEGO enthusiast! She loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Comic and DC universes, and plays Dungeons and Dragons. Truth be told, she’s a Sci-fi/Fantasy nerd and lives in those worlds as often as she can. 🖖

Contact: wanda.kurctu@taikocommunityalliance.org

Carley Okamura, (Co-Vice-Chair), Executive Assistant to the Chair and Associate Chairs, University of Alberta

Carley has played taiko since 2001 with Kita no Taiko in Edmonton, Canada. She has served on their Artistic Board since 2006, organizing group administration and artistic direction. She also teaches workshops and classes, and performs. She enjoys producing large-scale performances, specifically with collaborative elements and guest artists. In 2017 she launched her own production, “The Model Minority” which used varied artistic disciplines to explore the social issues facing Asian Canadians. She is also proud to be a member of the Women and Taiko community, and is interested to explore the relationship between taiko, community, and identity.

Contact: carley.okamura@taikocommunityalliance.org

Gail Montgomery, (Treasurer), Executive Director, Michael I Kudo Foundation

Current member and the Treasurer of the newly-formed Sun Mountain Taiko of Colorado Springs, Gail began learning taiko with the Taiko Society in 2015 and was fortunate to attend workshops led by Kris Bergstrom, Minh Nguyen, Masayuki Sakamoto, and Yuta Sumiyoshi. Although she’s a relative taiko newbie, she has 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit arena, primarily in finance and project management with a holistic child development organization, and Board service for several animal welfare organizations, and holds both an MBA and CNP (Certified Nonprofit Professional) title. In 2019, Gail co-founded the Michael I Kudo Foundation and currently serves as its Executive Director.

As part of the TCA Board, Gail hopes to promote the benefits of taiko: cultural, physical, team-building, fun!

Additionally, Gail is the soft goods maker for Taiko Colorado and is a stay-at-home dog mom, living on acreage in Colorado where she doesn’t have to worry about bothering the neighbors when she practices taiko – and piano!

Contact: gail.montgomery@taikocommunityalliance.org

Jason Seymore (Co-Secretary), HR Business Partner, ADP TotalSource

In 2006 at the age of 17, Jason embarked on his taiko journey when he began learning under the tutelage of sensei ISHIKURA Takemasa of Matsuriza/Orlando Taiko Dojo in Orlando, FL. As a member of Orlando Taiko Dojo for nearly ten years, Jason performed all over the state of Florida and the southeast. He also assisted in teaching new students basic techniques, conduct workshops for local community organizations, and volunteered his time and energy every year for the annual Orlando Japan Festival. In 2014, Jason sought to forge a new path and began preparations to open a school for taiko drumming in New Hampshire. With permission and blessings from his teacher, he visited Japan to gain a deeper understanding of taiko and experience some of the classical musical instruments of Japan. In 2016, after completing his undergrad at the University of Central Florida, he relocated to New Hampshire to begin putting plans into action and incorporated Hokuto Taiko Dojo. While on his journey, Jason also began to become a more active member of the Taiko Community through attending the 2017/2018 East Coast Taiko Conference and the 2019 North American Taiko Conference. Realizing how large the community really is, Jason began looking for ways to give back by volunteering time at conferences to support and express his appreciation for the opportunities available during these events. As a new Member of the Board of Directors with the Taiko Community Alliance, Jason now has an opportunity to show gratitude and continue to support the community at-large and looks forward to working hard for everyone in the Taiko Community! 

Contact: jason.seymore@taikocommunityalliance.org

Kate Meigneux, (Co-Secretary), Design and Project Management, StudioK8.com

As Kinnara Taiko celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019, Kate celebrated the 20th year of her taiko journey with the oldest Buddhist Taiko Group in North America. In her younger days Kate was classically trained on violin, cello, and piano, performing in youth choir, orchestra, and dance in England and Australia. She went on to study Architecture and Design and received an MA from the Royal College of Art in London. Kate moved her practice to Los Angeles in the late 80’s, and started a family in the mid 90’s. Shortly after, she joined Senshin Buddhist Temple and felt the irresistible heartbeat of taiko drumming. As soon as she picked up the bachi in her mid-40’s, Kate knew she had found a new voice and a new community. With Kinnara, Kate has performed in several significant concerts in California, Oregon, Hawaii, and India; in particular, a momentous series of concerts brought California’s 3 founding taiko groups together in the 3 Japantown Concerts in Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco. Kinnara also has a special relationship with the Arpana Dance Company and the two have collaborated on many occasions over the years, combining the arts of taiko drumming with Bharatanatyam dance. A magical highlight on Kate’s musical journey was traveling with Kinnara and Arpana on a tour through Southern India bringing taiko drumming to places in which it had never been heard. Kate is now collaborating with members of Kinnara, San Jose Taiko, and SF Taiko Dojo on the TCA funded Taiko Voices Project.


Board Members

Daniel Hayman, Director of Data and Analytics, Ascend Public Charter Schools

Danny started playing taiko at the age of 15 with Kaze Daiko in Seattle, WA, under the instruction of Stan Shikuma. In his sophomore year of college, he founded Claremont Psyko Taiko (now called Claremont Colleges Shogo Taiko), the first taiko group at the Claremont Colleges in Claremont, CA. Also while at Claremont McKenna College, he founded SOURCE, an undergraduate-staffed organization which provides nonprofit consulting services to human services nonprofits in the Claremont area. After graduation, he moved to New York City, became a high school math teacher, and started drumming with Soh Daiko, where he was a member from 2009-2015. Now living in Seattle, Danny served as the registration chair for Seattle Regional Taiko Gathering 2018, and is currently serving on the Regional Taiko Groups Seattle bylaws committee. He is currently a member of Northwest Taiko along with his mother.

Contact: daniel.hayman@taikocommunityalliance.org

Josh YoonSenior Scientist at Johns Hopkins University APL

Josh is currently a student in the Mark H Taiko School taught by one of his heroes, Mark H Rooney. He was a former member of Stanford Taiko (2013-17) and freelanced as a performer, student, and workshop instructor for a few years afterwards. Josh largely works with all-things Tech, but also conducts scholarly work on the taiko community at large and Googles things when he doesn’t know how to do something.

Josh hopes to be someone who brings the best out of everyone on the Board and to help continue TCA’s march towards being better ambassadors for the taiko community.

Additionally, while Josh runs outside, his mind goes to weird places, and he’s wondering – what’s a good run-thought (or shower-thought, or ramen-thought…) you’ve had recently? Please feel free to share with him at his TCA email, listed below!

Contact: josh.yoon@taikocommunityalliance.org

Ger Tysk, Author, Artist, Sailor

TCA’s newest Board Member, Ger Tysk. Ger has been a long-time taiko leader in her community and she has volunteered at TCA for many years. When she is not working on a boat, she is also an aspiring entrepreneur trying to launch a kimchi business – YUM! Her taiko group is ShinDaiko. She brings a lot of experience and passion to her role on the Board.

Ger is a New England-based writer and artist. Using myriad available mediums – including written word, music, design, and photography – She creates compelling narratives that tell the Asian-American experience.

Ger was raised in Colorado and Texas, received earned her BA in English Literature and Japanese at the University of Texas at Austin, and then moved abroad to Japan. When she returned, she discovered Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick while working at a local library. That book changed her life, leading to an eventual move to New England, where she was able to nurture her love for all things nautical and historic. In the past decade of living in New England, she splits her time between several passions: as a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed tall ship sailor aboard historic wooden vessels, as the artistic director of a traditional Japanese drumming ensemble, and as an author and speaker, writing and lecturing on the history of American whaling and on the role of the sea in the American and especially Asian-American experience. She also work as a web and graphic designer, specializing in website design and branding for nonprofits.

Contact: ger.tysk@taikocommunityalliance.org