Meet the Villagers



Steven Leeper

Steve has spent about half of his 70 years in Japan. In both countries he has worked as a counselor (10 years), management consultant (14 years), translator (30 years) and peace activist (18 years). He suspects that he has translated, edited and interpreted more atomic bomb victim testimonies than anyone in the world, other than his wife, Elizabeth. From 2002 to 2007, he was the US representative for Mayors for Peace. From 2007-2013 he was chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the peace and international relations arm of the city of Hiroshima. He is a visiting professor at Hiroshima Jogakuin University and Nagasaki University. He has a Master's degree in clinical psychology from West Georgia University. His books include Hiroshima Resolution (in Japanese and English), Nihon ga Sekai wo Suku and Amerikajin ga tsutaeru Hiroshima (both in Japanese only). 


Mary PopeoDSC_0261_(1).jpg
Executive Director

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.


20180613_191339_(1).jpgConnor Morton
Facilities Director

Connor attended University of Kansas where he studied Applied Behavioral Science with a concentration in Community Health and Development. His interest has always been in child development and nonviolence. While in college, he was able to work with youth in multiple community organizations and has volunteered with the Boy Scouts of American and the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence, Kansas. After graduating, Connor moved to Boston where he worked as a customer service representative. It wasn't until came to Japan in the summer of 2018 that Connor learned about PCV and decided to visit. He came away from the experience excited to come aboard as a staff member.


Sage PanterSage_Professional_Image_(1).jpg
Chief Administrator, Conflict Manager

A recent graduate of Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Sage completed a Master’s thesis on the subject of cultural memory and the memorialization of mass atrocities. This work was originally inspired by her year-long stay in Hiroshima where she conducted research on hibakusha (a-bomb survivors) testimonies. More recently, Sage expanded her work in an internship with Wings of Hope, a non-profit in Sarajevo, where she participated in inter-cultural peace work for the survivors of the Bosnian war. From contextualizing hibakusha experiences to participating in the 3-day Srebrenica Peace March, Sage is dedicated to making the world a more accepting and peaceful place by bringing attention to the dangers of nuclear weapons and other atrocities still plaguing the world.


Matt_Professional_Image_(1).jpgMatthew Thome
English Programs Director

Matthew is a Language Arts teacher originally from Cleveland, Ohio with experience teaching in both the U.S and Japan. He double majored in English Education and Asian Studies at Bowling Green State University where he focused on secondary education alongside Japanese language and cultural studies. His interest and background in education and Japanese studies only deepened with a year studying abroad at Nanzan University of Nagoya, as well as participation in the 71st annual Peace Seminar in Hiroshima. Both experiences gave Matt the basis for a thorough understanding of American and Japanese cross-cultural communication and peace education. Matt has two papers published on these subjects respectively, the first available here and the second here. He hopes to build a peaceful future by playing an active role in the education of the people, young and old, that make that future possible.


Ken-ichi NarikawaNari-san.jpg
Farm Manager

Nari-san worked in the Aircraft Maintenance Division of the Japan Self Defense Forces for 27 years. After quitting, he became a representative for Veterans for Peace Japan and has since sailed on the Peace Boat to relay his experiences and his doubts about the SDF. He recently moved to Konu, where he aims to become a jack-of-all-trades of country living. He is especially interested in natural agriculture, permaculture, forestry, and carpentry.


DSC_0031.jpgGary Thompson
Downtown Programs Manager

Gary used to be a kindergarten teacher in Japan and has a lot experience teaching. He loves teaching children and creating new fun approaches to classes. When Gary first came to Japan he worked for a landscape gardening company for over 5 years, learning the traditional techniques and styles of Japanese contemporary gardens. He hopes that during his time with PCV he can share his knowledge in Japanese gardens and bring communities together through the use of English.


Miwako Sawada!Miwako_Chris_10-3_birthday_cruise2.jpg

Chief Financial Officer

Working as translator for 30 years, interpreter for 27 years, Miwako has served for atomic bomb survivors, Hiroshima Mayors, A-bomb Museum Directors and Hiroshima City Guests. While telling Hiroshima’s experience to foreign visitors, keenly felt the deep meaning of Hiroshima for them. It’s her mission to convey Hiroshima overseas. Translated books are: Hiroshima Resolution, Hiroshima - August 6, 1945, Nagasaki – August 9, 1945, HIBAKUSHA, Okinawa – 1944-1945 etc.



DSC_0369_(2).jpgTamiko Nishijima
Board Member

Tamiko lives in Tokyo, where she is an active campaigner for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for genuine world peace. She met Steve in 2006 and serves as Steve's strong and trustworthy assistant in Tokyo. She participated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review in 2010, where she was inspired by hibakusha and activists. She is a hibakusha international signature campaigner and ICAN supporter. 



Ryoichi KondoDSC_0299_(1)_(1).jpg
Board Member

Originally from Hiratsuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Ryo moved to Tokyo for college. While volunteering and interning at international NPOs as a college student, he became interested in developing countries and international cooperation.After graduating, he took a job in the Systems Corporate Sales Department of Hewlett-Packard.  In 2015, he quit his job and spent a year as a volunteer at Asian Rural Institute in Nasu-shiobara, Tochigi Prefecture. Communal life at Asian Rural Institute centered around the motto "That we may live together," and living and farming together with people from over 20 countries farmed inspired Ryo. From April 2016 to March 2018, Ryo worked as Program Director and Facilities manager at Peace Culture Village. He is now studying natural farming practices in Okayama Prefecture. 


DSC_0400_(1)_(1).jpgElizabeth Baldwin
Board Member

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 Mori2017_(1)_(1).jpg
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.



DSC_1748_(1)_(1).jpgMachiko Shimamura

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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