Meet our board members
Yoshi Ichijo, President
Yoshi Ichijo graduated from Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo with a BA degree in English literature in 1973. He came to the United States in 1973, and later lived in Korea with his wife and three children from 1982 to 1986
He came back to the United States with his family after he and his wife learned that their son was born with fragile X syndrome. Yoshi and his wife launched a rigorous home-based program to help their son become more functional, under the auspices of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. Moving to a horse farm, he and his wife ran a therapeutic equestrian program for mentally challenged children for five years. Since then he and his wife have devoted themselves to supporting families with disabled children. They initiated the annual summer weekend riding program for the disabled in New York State and have been running it since 2007.
Carol Matsuuchi, Treasurer
Carol Nevin Matsuuchi has an MBA in Banking and Finance from Dowling College and an MS in Accounting from Long Island University. She currently practices as a Certified Public Accountant in East Hampton, NY.
In addition to their three other children, Carol and her husband have a young adult son, Aki, who is severely autistic. Realizing the great importance of giving young adults like her son the opportunities for social interaction and the development of interpersonal skills, which is often absent from the lives of special needs individuals, she has organized a series of workshops in Bridgeport, CT where special needs young adults meet and interact in a creative and safe environment.
Lesa Ellanson is the married mother of four children. She manages New Hope Farms, a renowned equestrian facility in upstate New York; she is a certified instructor with the distinguished American Riding Instructors Association. She is the founder of New Eden Equestrian Academy, Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to ethical horsemanship.
In addition to their three other children, Lesa and her husband have a young adult daughter, who is high-functioning autistic. Lesa has run horseback riding training camp for the past 5 years. The majority of her graduates become volunteers to staff a similar program for special needs children and young adults. Through her efforts, Lesa has enabled dozens of special needs children and young adults to enjoy the benefits of horseback riding and animal care.
Masako Feddema has a BA degree in English from Ryukyu University in Okinawa, Japan. She minored in counseling and psychology. Since living the the US,Masako has served frequently as translator for numerous speakers. She is also very active in her church, both locally and nationally.
Masako and her husband became guardians and caregivers for Kevin Bell, a young man with Down syndrome, when his mother, Beatrice, passed away from cancer 3 years ago. Masako and Beatrice, who was a widow, had been close friends for 18 years, a relationship like that of sisters.
Since becoming Kevin's guardian, Masako has developed a keen interest in the work of the Treasures of Heaven organization. Her main concern and challenge is to create a safe and loving environment for Kevin and other special needs young adults in the future by creating group homes in New Jersey and beyond.
Frances Drayton Ichijo has a degree in Dance and Art from Hamilton College and has been a ballet school director since the 1980s. She founded Hope Garden Ballet Academy in 1997 in Poolesville, MD, and launched the Hope Garden Children's Ballet Theater in 2008. Additionally, Frances grew up participating in equestrian competitions.
In addition to their two other children, Frances and her husband have a young adult son, Kenji, born with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition affecting neurological development. She has been a tireless advocate for giving to neurologically impaired young adults the kinds of opportunities for interpersonal skills and athletic development that neurologically-able kids normally have. She provided Kenji the opportunity to be trained in horseback vaulting and ran a camp for Special Needs every summer at her farm in Maryland from 1994 - 1999.