Board of Directors
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Derek Oye (Chair), Program Associate, The Rose Hills Foundation
Derek is currently a member of Kinnara Taiko of Senshin Buddhist Temple. He’s been honored to learn from Cal Raijin Taiko (Go Bears!), ICU Wadaiko, Yoki Daiko of Tenrikyo Church, Taiko Effect, Blazing Trails Taiko, the Los Angeles Taiko Institute, and UnitOne. Derek has experience in nonprofit and community work, and was a Board Fellow at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute through Kizuna’s Next Generation Leadership.
Akemi Chan-Imai (Co-Vice-Chair), Programs Manager, Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Akemi began learning taiko drumming in 2001 with Makoto Taiko in Pasadena, CA and has served as Artistic Director and Artistic Coordinator for USC Kazan Taiko from 2007-2010. Akemi served on Makoto Taiko’s Operations Committee from 2009-2014, and became President of the group after it obtained 501(c)3 nonprofit status in late 2014. She is a former Board Fellow of Kizuna’s Next Generation Leadership program and obtained a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management at Antioch University Los Angeles in 2018. After serving as Makoto Taiko’s inaugural Executive Director from 2017-2018, Akemi relocated to Oakland, CA and currently works at Oakland Asian Cultural Center as their Programs Manager.
Benjamin Pachter (Co-Vice-Chair), Executive Director, Japan-America Society of Central Ohio
Ben is Assistant Director of Dublin Taiko, a student taiko group that is part of Dublin City Schools, Dublin, OH. His passion for taiko lies not only in performance but also in research and documentation. He received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, writing his dissertation on the musical history of contemporary taiko performance in Japan and the United States. This path led him to co-develop TaikoSource.com, a website dedicated to the development of information resources about taiko performance. Meanwhile, he is also deeply involved in the documentation of taiko performance, having served as photographer and/or videographer for the North American Taiko Conference, the European Taiko Conference, and the East Coast Taiko Conference. When he’s not playing, researching, or documenting taiko, Ben is the Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Central Ohio, a non-profit based in Dublin, OH.
Margaret McKenty (Co-Secretary), Technical Writer/Editor
Margaret has been a long-time player, instructor and Board member for Hinode Taiko Inc. in Winnipeg, Canada. A founding member of the Winnipeg Early Music Society, she has performed in genres ranging from medieval/folk fusion to Renaissance madrigals to baroque opera and oratorios. She helped edit TCA’s Statement of Core Values and Guiding Principles and served on the Transition Committee and By-Laws subcommittee before joining TCA’s Board of Directors in June 2015.
Paul Sakamoto (Co-Secretary), 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.
Daniel Hayman (Treasurer), 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.
Rome Hamner, General Manager, San Jose Taiko; Independent Teaching Artist and Performer
A certified Orff instructor with nearly 20 years experience, Rome is a teaching artist and taiko performer whose career includes 14 years as the co-director of Odaiko Sonora, the ensemble she co-founded in Tucson, AZ. Performing highlights include playing Odaiko for a crowd of 30,000 while suspended 200’ in the air and combining poi training and pyrotechnics to play with lit bachi, i.e., bachi that were set on fire on purpose. Rome believes passionately in the power of taiko to change lives and has developed 30+ unique curricula in Taiko and Orff-based general music for students of all ages. Rome holds a Masters in Public Administration and currently plays with Taiko SOBA in Palo Alto, California and Kristy Oshiro’s Queer Taiko, is an activator in PJ Hirabayashi’s TaikoPeace movement, and leads in-school taiko residencies in the south San Francisco Bay Area.
Kelly Kuwabara, 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.
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.
Carley Okamura, 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.
Tamiko Ooka (TCA Vice-Chair, 2019-2020), Account Executive, National Tenant Network
Tamiko began learning the art of Japanese drumming in 1990 with instruction from Reverend Ron Miyamura of the Midwest Buddhist Temple and Soh Daiko. She is a founding member of Hoh Daiko, a Japanese drumming group established in 1991 and affiliated with the Seabrook Buddhist Temple in southern New Jersey. Tamiko has served as both artistic director and manager for Hoh Daiko and is still an active member. Tamiko became a member of Soh Daiko from 2002-2004 and 2011- present. She currently serves as Chairperson for Soh Daiko in New York City.
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!
Joe Small Taiko Drum Artist; Assistant Professor of Dance, Swarthmore College
Joe Small is a professional taiko drum artist and Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College. Joe began studying taiko as an undergraduate at Swarthmore in 2002, spending summer vacations learning under Kenny and Chizuko Endo, and interning for San Jose Taiko and Portland Taiko. Following graduation, Joe relocated to Japan on a Fulbright Fellowship to research taiko and festivals, leading to a two-year apprenticeship for the internationally-renowned ensemble Kodo. Since 2012 Joe has been a disciple of pioneering taiko artist Eitetsu Hayashi and sole non-Japanese member of his touring ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai. Joe has also been a member of Prota, Taikoza, and the Australian ensemble Taikoz. Based in LA from 2014-2017, Joe taught, created, and performed taiko in a variety of contexts, including mixed-disciplinary productions and his first original full-length work, Spall Fragments. Joe is a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, Dance) and a 2015 graduate of UCLA (MFA, Dance).