Category: board

Jennifer Chiba

I have been a preschool teacher for 15 years and am a mother of two wonderful kids. Now that both children are away at college, I wanted to give back to my community and joined Portland Taiko’s Board of Directors in April of 2017. I first became involved with Portland Taiko seven years ago when my son, Toshiki, joined their taiko camp for a week. He fell in love with it and through hard work, eventually became a performing member. Being a member of the taiko community as a parent and now as a board member is an absolute joy and a wonderful learning experience.

Avis Newell

I first experienced Taiko in the mid 1980’s at a folk festival in Seattle, and loved it so much I kept my eyes open for more. I attended Portland Taiko concerts whenever I could once I moved to Portland. Last summer, my husband and I went to Symphony in the Park, making sure we caught the pre-concert Portland Taiko performance. That’s where we heard about Taiko lessons and we both signed up on the spot! Turns out I love drumming as much as I love listening to it. Last year I retired from work as an environmental scientist, so when I heard of an open board position, I decided to change careers and focus on supporting the arts.

Valerie Otani

(Board Secretary)

I first saw taiko at the Cherry Blossom Parade in San Francisco. Big drums and dynamic playing on a float is still a dream I hope Portland Taiko can realize. I was part of the group that created Portland Taiko in 1994. I was intrigued by an art form that expressed cultural pride in a bold, commanding, and joyful way. I have been on the Board of Directors and worked on costumes and sets, but mostly I have been our internal ombudsperson. As a naturally shy person, taiko has helped me grow. One of my favorite memories was playing in the Oregon State Prison for the Asian club. It was very moving to express power and pride to prisoners who might not feel that way in their lives. I am an artist and arts administrator, deeply involved in the local Japanese American community. My husband is very supportive! Both of our sons played taiko and Kenji was one of the original members of PT when he was in high school.

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Carolyn Saiget

As a Sansei, I’ve found that cultural traditions like taiko connect me to my heritage and my Japanese-American identity. I am always impressed with the energy and talent embodied in Portland Taiko performances. Through the Oregon Buddhist Temple, I have danced to the beat of the taiko at Obon and have attended taiko workshops. While I lack the stamina and talent to ever be a performer, I think I make up for it with my enthusiasm, respect, and support for those who do. In addition to Portland Taiko, I volunteer with the Camas Education Foundation and the Oregon Buddhist Temple. As a “retired” teacher, I have more time to enjoy sewing projects and traveling. My husband, Bill, and I have three adult sons. I joined the Portland Taiko Board of Directors in December 2015. 

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John Schumann

(Board Treasurer)

I worked in the railroad industry as an engineer, manager, and senior consultant for over forty years. Simultaneously I have supported and advocated for classical music as a board member of All Classical Public Media, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Choral Arts Ensemble, 45th Parallel Chamber Music, and Northwest Piano Trio. I recently joined Portland Taiko’s Board of Directors, but I have been a fan of Portland Taiko since its debut season in 1994. I enjoy the intimate works with taiko and strings, and one of my favorite memories of PT was Ann and Zack performing Confluence together.

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Chad Williams

(Board President)

My first exposure to taiko was at a kite festival in Long Beach, Washington, and it happened to be Portland Taiko! I joined the performance group in 2004 and the Board of Directors in 2011. Thinking back to my childhood, I was most influenced by arts education. I love how a taiko performance or workshop leaves such a lasting impression on its participants. One of my favorite PT moments was having the opportunity to perform for patients at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem—it was very rewarding to see their faces light up.

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