Meet the Villagers

Steven Leeper
Executive Director 

Steve has spent about half of his 69 year life in Japan as a counselor (10 years), management consultant (14 years), translator (30 years) and peace activist (18 years). He is proud to have translated, edited and interpreted more atomic bomb victim testimonies than anyone in the world, other than his wife, Elizabeth. Since 2002, he has been the New York contact person for Mayors for Peace. From 2007-2013 he was chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He was also a visiting professor a Hiroshima Girl's College and Nagasaki University. Steve has a Master's degree in clinical psychology from West Georgia University. His books include Hiroshima Resolution (in Japanese and English), Japan Saves the World - Best Scenario to Remove Nuclear Weapons, and Hiroshima: The American's Report

Ryoichi Kondo
Program Director
Secretary

When Ryo was a college student he spent two weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, volunteering at a support facility for people born with disorders or mutations induced by defoliants dropped during the Vietnam War. After returning to Japan, a newfound concern for problems of poverty in developing countries led him to volunteer with several related NPOs. At the same time, he steadily realized the extent and complexity of structural and fundamental problems within his own country. Hoping to explore these topics in more depth, he quit his job at Hewlett Packard, where he had been for 4 years, to volunteer for a year at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). At ARI, located in rural Tochigi Prefecture, trainees and volunteers live and work together while learning about rotation-style agriculture. While at ARI, Ryo felt increasingly drawn to living in community and in harmony with nature so, when he heard about PCV, he was eager to be involved.

Atsuko Yamabe
Farm Manager
Treasurer

Bei first visited ARI as a university student interested in international development. There, she participated in challenging farm work and livestock care, coming away with a new appreciation for what we eat and how it's grown. She visited ARI several times after that, and worked to deepen her knowledge of agriculture in developing and developed nations. After graduating from university, Bei worked for 3 years in food safety at a food coop in Tokyo. In 2015, she decided to take a 9 month break from work to train at ARI. She studied organic agriculture and lived in international community, working with local people to spread awareness about the importance of organic, healthy farming practices. During her training, she heard Steve speak about PCV, and decided to join PCV's team after finishing.

Mary Popeo
English Program Director
Public Relations Manager

As a student at Boston College, Mary had two opportunities to visit Japan. During her trips, she conducted independent research on Hiroshima, interviewed 25 people familiar with nuclear issues, interned at the World Friendship Center, participated in the World Conference Against A & H Bombs, and helped organize the YMCA's International Youth Peace Seminar. Returning to Boston profoundly influenced, Mary began volunteering with organizations like the American Friends Service Committee and Global Zero. In 2015, she participated in the Japan Council Against A & H Bomb's annual Peace March as an international youth relay marcher, walking from Okayama to Hiroshima to spread awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons. Her dream was to move to Hiroshima, and after hearing about PCV she was determined to live there.

Elizabeth Baldwin
Public Relations Director

Elizabeth grew up in Japan during the post-war period, a child of the US occupation and Christian missionaries, which made her a lifelong student of how differing backgrounds shape people’s values, beliefs, and world views. She has translated documents and books from Japanese to English for 30 years. A great portion of that work was related to the atomic bombings of Japan, their short- and long-term effects, and their meaning in the world and for the future. Elizabeth is committed to PCV's development because of the urgency of the need to live in harmony with the Earth and to shift from talk to BEING the change.

Toshihide Mori
Board Member

Mori-san hails from Osaka prefecture. He is the head priest at a Jodo Buddhist temple called Shomyoji. After learning about the peace philosophy of Hideki Yukawa, he became dedicated to organizing around nuclear weapons abolition, especially organizing people of faith. He currently supports PCV as a board member and facilitates studies and tours to Fukushima and Aomori Prefectures.

Michiko Shimamura
Auditor

Machiko, a native of Hiroshima, is the secretary for the Article 9 Society of Hiroshima. She is also a member of the United Church of Christ in Japan and attends Ushita Church. 

In addition to the staff and board, Peace Culture Village is currently supported by 10 PCV members. 

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