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Portland Japanese Garden Appoints New Executive Director

A photo of Lisa Christy, Executive Director of Portland Japanese Garden
Executive Director Lisa Christy. Photo by Nina Johnson.

PORTLAND, Ore., United States—February 5, 2024—Portland Japanese Garden has announced the appointment of Lisa Christy as Executive Director of the organization. Christy has been with the Garden since 2014 and, for the past five years, served as Chief External Affairs Officer.

Christy, a volunteer member of Japan-America Society of Oregon’s Board of Directors, was initially hired by Portland Japanese Garden as Director of Marketing and Communications in 2014 after having spent nearly a decade guiding award-winning campaigns for the premiere advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy. In 2018, Christy ascended to the role of Chief External Affairs Officer and took on oversight of its membership, marketing, communications, fundraising, and community relations efforts. She has helped drive record-setting admission for the Garden year over year – even in 2016 when the organization had to close as it embarked on an historic expansion of its grounds from 5.5 acres to 12. Christy also helped lead fundraising and communication efforts that gave the organization stability as it navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa Christy talks to a group of people next to Portland Japanese Garden's Welcome Center before they head off on a tour of the Garden.
Executive Director Lisa Christy giving a tour in 2023. Photo by Portland Japanese Garden.

Passionate in her view that the Garden should be accessible to all who hope to visit, Christy led and championed the organization’s community access programs for underserved populations, including the Moon Bridge Membership, which allows families receiving public income-related assistance to purchase annual membership for only $20 and participation in Arts for All, which allows those who receive food stamps to purchase daily admission for $5.

In her role, Christy will incorporate the oversight of day-to-day operations of Portland Japanese Garden into her existing responsibilities. This includes guiding departments responsible for the guest experience, including admissions, retail, café, facilities, and security. She will continue to partner with other members of the organization’s leadership, including Hugo Torii, Garden Curator, who oversees the physical garden’s maintenance, design, and aesthetics and Akihito (Aki) Nakanishi, the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art and Education, who directs the organization’s cultural programming, educational opportunities, and art exhibitions. She will continue to report to Steve Bloom, CEO of Portland Japanese Garden since 2005.

Steve Bloom, CEO of Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute remarks:

“Lisa’s leadership, strategic thinking, and communication skills will help Portland Japanese Garden continue to grow its status as a world-class public garden, cultural institution, and nonprofit organization. In her time here, Lisa has greatly improved our guest experience and outreach and has fostered deep and meaningful ties to our community. With her keen insight and remarkable empathy, Lisa is an instrumental and necessary figure in ensuring the Garden will be able to continue pursuing its mission of inspiring harmony and peace.”

Lisa Christy, Executive Director of Portland Japanese Garden remarks:

“I am honored to take on the role of Executive Director of Portland Japanese Garden. During my 10 years with the organization, I have personally witnessed how much the Garden means to our community. I am grateful to work for an organization that, for more than 60 years, has fostered peace both within and among people and provided a place of serenity, beauty, and comfort for all those who walk through its gates. I am excited to continue working with our incredible staff, volunteers, and Board members to both maintain and expand upon Portland Japanese Garden’s standard of excellence.”

An interview with Executive Director Lisa Christy and Garden Curator Hugo Torii can be read here.

Visual Assets

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Media Contact

Will Lerner | Communications Specialist | (503) 542-9351 (office) |

About Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II. A hallmark in the City of Portland and the state of Oregon, the Garden was founded on the ideals of peace and mutual understanding between peoples and cultures. Portland Japanese Garden is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and among the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in the world. 

About Japan Institute

Japan Institute was established in 2022 as a global cultural initiative of Portland Japanese Garden. This sibling organization is the programmatic arm of Portland Japanese Garden, allowing us to share and expand our cultural programs more broadly around the world, deepen international partnerships, and continue to engage diverse people in shared experiences and conversations about peace, beauty, and connection of nature. Japan Institute consists of three centers: Global Center for Culture and Art, International Exchange Forum, and International Japanese Garden Training Center.

Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute share the mission:

Inspiring Harmony and Peace