Log in

Leadership for 2018


President: Mike Turner
Mike Turner was born in Japan while his father was serving in the US Army.  It was through his parents and their affinity for those things Japanese that he developed his interest in Japan.  As a Midshipman at Tulane University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, he was selected to spend 4 weeks with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force in 1979, including a stay at Eta Jima, the Japanese Naval Academy.  As President of the Japan Society of New Orleans since 2006, he has overseen its resurgence with a lot of hard work and assistance from some great Board Members.  He looks forward to the opportunity to help expand the knowledge of and culture Japan to the Greater New Orleans Metro area through our events and programs. 

Vice President: Greg Tokuyama

Greg Tokuyama is a volunteer Board member of Japan Society to help improve US-Japanese relations within the New Orleans metro area through culture and the arts. Greg is of Japanese heritage born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He obtained a BS/BA from Hawaii Pacific College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix in LA. After retiring as a U.S. Navy Supply Office, Greg became a Financial Claims Reviewer for a law firm in CBD. He has affiliations with a variety of organizations including the APAS, and participates in many other organizations including: Japan Club of New Orleans as the current president, Japan Fest as an organizer, Sushi Fest as a consultant to Renaissance Publishing, and PAWS as an event coordinator. 

Treasurer: Jennifer Torres

Jennifer Torres is a native of the New Orleans area. She began taking an interest in Japan when she was in middle school through the Japanese pop culture such as anime, manga, and Japanese pop music. As she got into high school she started researching the country as a whole and became interested in its traditional culture. Once she reached college at the University of New Orleans she began studying the language and even got to study abroad in Japan with UNO for their study abroad program in the summer of 2010. Once she came back from the study abroad experience she quickly gave all of her time into the Japanese culture and wanted to do more to teach people about Japan. She helped organize clubs related to Japan at UNO, but once she graduated in December of 2013, she moved to joining Japan Society of New Orleans and continuing her passion there. She runs two programs for Japanese Society: Nihongo Bin and Nihongo Renshuu. She has been elected as the Secretary for JSNO for the 2017 session.

Other than JSNO, she travels to Japan for fun every two years and has her own blog about Japan called JapanTherapy where she discusses everything and anything about Japan. She loves teaching people about Japanese culture, hoping it'll shine some light for people who may know nothing about the country.

Mary Hicks
Mary spent two years teaching English in Japan many years ago, which led to some wonderful opportunities and instilled in her a deep love for Japanese people and culture. Since then, she has worked at the University of New Orleans (UNO) in various positions, including her current position as Program Director in the UNO Division of International Education. Among other duties, she enjoys directing the UNO-Japan: Study at Doshisha University summer study abroad program. Since 2009, this program has brought almost 140 students to Kyoto, Japan, and Mary derives great joy from witnessing students’ love of Japan and the Japanese people blossom into deep, lifelong passions similar to her own. Ever optimistic, Mary hopes someday to be able to communicate better in Japanese – especially in the written form!


Mark Dispenza
Mark A. Dispenza is executive director of Worley Rewards, the employee loyalty and rewards program of Worley Catastrophe Response, LLC, one of the nation’s leading independent claims adjuster companies.  Prior to joining Worley in 2011, he had a 17-year career as a commercial insurance agent, 3 years as a local executive officer of the California Building Industry Association, and worked for nearly 7 years in business development and planning for Shimizu Corporation, based in Tokyo, Japan.  A Louisiana native, he graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans and has a BA from the University of Southern California. 

While living and working in Japan in the late 1980s, Mark founded the KAISHA Society, an association of foreign employees working for Japanese companies. He was previously an active member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the Japan America Society of Southern California. Mark also served for several years on the board of the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization in Santa Barbara, CA.


Gayle Dellinger

I first became involved with Japan Society when I agreed to host one of the exchange participants from Matsue. This was a wonderful and rewarding experience and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Naoko as well as the local members of Japan Society. My daughter and I spent a week in Tokyo in 2012 when we were headed to Truk Lagoon for a dive trip. Tokyo is the cleanest and most polite large city I have ever visited. I am a new Board member and I look forward to becoming active in promoting friendships and understanding of the culture and opportunities in Japan.

Michelle Hansen

[Bio coming soon.]

Nigel Copeland 

Lauren Bertolino

Lauren Bertolino has grown up all over the United States but considers New Orleans her home. She attended Tulane University and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science. Her interest in Japan began in middle school and she cultivated it into a deep love for the history, culture and language. She joined the Japan Society of New Orleans in 2013 and has been an active member since, helping with events like Nihongo Bin, Children's Day, Japan Fest, JUMP, and visits from Japanese delegates. Her interest and experience led to her being selected as a participant on the Tomodachi Exchange Program to travel to Matsue, Japan in an effort to increase the sister-city relationship with New Orleans. She has served on the board since 2017 and currently helps maintain the social media accounts. An avid traveler, she has visited 25 states and 6 countries and hopes to visit many more.  

Leo Danaher

Gissel Ferriol

Kay Izumihara

(Bio & Pictures coming soon) 

Board of Governors:

Patty Muehlemann
In 1973 Patty Habeeb spent three weeks in Japan visiting many of the tourist sites and staying in a friend’s home in Tokyo. On returning to the states was invited to join the Japan Society of New Orleans. At that time, the only place to enjoy Japanese food was at the Consulate of Japan functions.  She became secretary of the Society for many years taking the minutes and helping to arrange for many functions like the Sukiyaki dinners, luncheons, board meetings and events.  After that she became Vice President of the society for several years. She remains on the board.

Nancy Turner

In April 1957 I was married in Japan to Lieutenant  Bill Turner, USA. Our son, Mike Turner, was born in Japan. Thirty  years later Bill and I celebrated our anniversary in Japan to find a new and  vibrant country.  The Foreign Ministry of Japan selected me as a delegate to visit Japan  when I worked for the Foreign Relations Association of New Orleans.  I  served as president of the Japan Society of New Orleans and the Japanese Garden  Society, now the Japanese Garden Foundation. 

Secretary:  Samantha Perez

Bio & Picture Coming Soon

Board Members:

"Japan Society of New Orleans" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation. 

PO Box 56785 New Orleans, LA 70156-6785

Honorary Board Members:
Consul General of Japan Hiroyuki Kobayashi 
Honorary Consul of Japan Donna Fraiche

Consultants to the Board:
Amanda Brinkman

Wayne Encalarde
Wayne J. Encalarde graduated from Spring Hill College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In 2007, he became Vice-President/Managing Partner at WJE, where he continued to implement changes designed to maximize the efficiency and profitability of the company. He overhauled the company’s use of technology, providing smart phones or tablets to all onsite managers to increase communication and access to information. Encouraged by his experience in the workforce Wayne began pursuing an MBA, graduating from University of New Orleans in the top of his class in 2012. While in the program Wayne joined several societies, including the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and the Sigma Iota Epsilon Management Honor Society.
In his last semester of graduate school Wayne participated in the ACG Cup, a case study competition designed to give students experience and insight into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity. He led a team in the competition, winning at the intra-school level. At the same time he began working as a researcher at UNO, and co-authored a paper published in the Allied Academies Conference Proceedings. After receiving his MBA, Wayne started Encalarde Consultants, an accredited small business consulting firm that is helping organizations improve their performance through strategic analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for their improvements.


Tel: +123 (321) telefone-number
Fax: +123 (321) telefone-number


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software