JWLI Fellows Program Mission and Goals


The Japanese Women's Leadership Initiative (JWLI) empowers Japanese women to become leaders and to make positive social change.


JWLI offers a unique hands-on training with successful Boston based nonprofit organizations, tutorials in the areas of nonprofit management, and training in Strategic Leadership for Women.

The program teaches the best practices of successful nonprofit management in the United States and prepares the Fellows to lead nonprofit organizations for social change in Japan.

The program fosters more active participation and empowerment of women in the civil and social sectors in Japanese society.

The program develops leadership skills and empowers current and future generations of Japanese women.

Goals of the JWLI Fellows Program:

  • Develop their own visions and inner strength to take initiative and make dreams come true.
  • Create an "action plan for social change in Japan" by the end of the program.
  • Learn the important role of nonprofit organizations in American society and how they initiate social change.
  • Study the management skills and fundraising methods to run successful nonprofit organizations.
  • Support the JWLI alumnae to play an important role in Japan.
  • Encourage other Japanese women in becoming leaders for social change in Japanese society.

Biography: Atsuko Toko Fish

Atsuko Toko Fish retired as a U.S.-Japan Cross-Cultural consultant, and is currently involved with various social innovative movements as a philanthropist. She is a Trustee of the Fish Family Foundation.

In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Northeastern Japan in March 2011, Ms. Fish established the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund — Boston (JDRFB) with The Boston Foundation (TBF) and the Japan Society Boston (JSB) to support immediate and mid-term recovery in the affected region in Tohoku. Ms. Fish visited Tohoku several times after the disaster to assess and evaluate the needs of the people and community. By completing its activities in March 2013, JDRFB raised approximately $1 million and distributed 24 grants to 19 organizations and projects working directly in the affected Tohoku area.

She founded the Japanese Women Leadership Initiative (JWLI) in 2006, a fellowship program through which Japanese women learn leadership and NGO management. She also served as a chair emeritus at the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), a Boston-based organization she is involved over 10 years. Ms. Fish currently serves as a trustee of The Boston Foundation (TBF), the Japan Society New York (JSNY), Simmons College and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA).

In recognition of the above achievements to promote mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan awarded Ms. Fish with the Foreign Minister's Commendation in September 2012. The Consul General of Japan in Boston hosted a ceremony in September 2012 where the consul general presented the award to her.

Also in May 2013, The White House named Atsuko Fish a recipient of the Asian American Pacific Islander women "Champion of Change" award. This award is part of President Obama's "Winning the Future Initiative" and recognized her accomplishments for empowering women in both the U.S. and Japan. 15 recipients, including Ms. Fish, were chosen from several hundred nominations.

Center for Gender in Organizations - Simmons School of Management
300 The Fenway - Boston, MA 02115

Phone: 617.521.3824

Email: cgo@simmons.edu