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Members and VIPs


Meet the Commission



Joe joined the commission in 2014 and was elected chairperson in 2017. His efforts as chair of the commission have grown outreach and awareness of Japanese culture in the Bethlehem community, and continue to foster a healthy relationship with our sister city.

Ellen Bearn

Former Chairperson

Ellen has served as part of the commission for many years, and was chairperson until 2017 when she was succeeded. Always ready to step up to the plate, she continues to play an active role as a member of the commission.

Nancy Topping


Nancy has also been part of the commission for many years alongside the previous chairperson, Ellen. Organized and thorough, she continues to lend her support in all areas of need.

Leah Bogert

Secretary & Treasurer

After participating in our student exchange program, Leah has been involved with the commission since 2015. In 2024, she officially became a member and was elected as both secretary and interim treasurer. 

Deirdre Sumpter

Former Japanese Instructor

Deirdre joined the commission in 1997, and served as a valuable member of the commission until her passing on September 30th, 2023.

A long time veteran of education, Deirdre led our free Japanese classes at the Bethlehem Public Library. Her memory and legacy remain with commission members, students, and community now and in years to come.

Autumn Edwards

Media Manager & Japanese Instructor

Autumn has been involved in activities since 2016, and was a previous exchange student! As of 2024, she is now an official member of the commission serving as web manager and event planner. After 5 years in the classroom, she also took up a role as a Japanese instructor.

Alison Pilorz

Former Secretary

Alison has served on the commission as secretary and origami master for many years. Her connection, however, dates back to her very own participation in our student exchange program!

John Rivera

Our number one "Ikemen"

John is another former exchange student and acts as leader of the commission’s extremely popular sakura festival tea ceremony, and as an exchange program event planner.

Michiyo Salen

The Vital Native Speaker

Michiyo tours our Japanese visitors around the Bethlehem area and has been an outstanding volunteer at numerous commission and exchange program events, as well as a host for exchange students.

Jen Kerchner

Yukata Master

Jen was a commission volunteer for many years before officially becoming a member in 2024. Not only does she have a great eye for detail and design in the commission's projects, but she is also an expert in the art of yukata fitting! 

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