Our People


Margaret Conley
Margaret Conley
Executive Director

Margaret Conley is the Executive Director of Asia Society Northern California. She was previously Assistant Executive Director. Her non-profit experience includes the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where she was primarily responsible for developing an inaugural Future of Asia conference, and the Berggruen Institute, where she helped build a new Philosophy + Culture Institute with a focus on the US and China. Margaret was based in Asia for several years as a television news correspondent with ABC News in Jakarta and Tokyo and with Bloomberg TV in Shanghai. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Hong Kong, which specializes in coverage of Asia. 

Chris Hirano
Director of Development

As a native San Franciscan, Chris brings a strong network of community partners and supporters to Asia Society.  He’s worked his entire career in the nonprofit arena including development positions at Stanford University, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, and most recently with the Exploratorium. He’s a graduate of Cal State University, Los Angeles and completed The Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. 

Matthew Rowett
Senior Program Manager - Innovation

Matthew Rowett is Senior Program Manager of Innovation. Before joining Asia Society, Matthew served as the Director of Admissions for CRCC Asia, an international exchange program that has brought over 6,000 students to China to complete professional internships in over 600 host companies in Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen. Matthew also volunteers with the China-US Entrepreneurship Club in San Francisco. He has been quoted in Forbes articles about China’s economy, as well as featured in articles on China’s growing consumer demand in such publications like The Street. Prior to joining CRCC Asia, Matthew was a visiting lecturer at Yunnan University in Kunming, teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Languages. He has a BA from Whitman College in Asian Studies, focusing on contemporary Chinese history and politics, and studied at The National Politics University in Taipei, Taiwan. 

Melissa La Bouff
Program Manager

Melissa La Bouff attained her Master’s in Pacific and International Affairs in 2015 from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Her regional focus was Japan, and during the summer of 2014 she was the Cultural Affairs Intern in the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Her primary focus during her internship and graduate school was ‘womenomics’ and women’s empowerment in Japan. Prior to graduate school, Melissa resided in the prefecture of Miyazaki and taught English for four years as an Assistant Language Teacher on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. Before working in Japan, Melissa held professional managerial positions as an Events Coordinator and Program Coordinator at UCSD in various international departments. She holds her Bachelor’s in Political Science/Public Law with minors in French Literature and Film Studies from Eleanor Roosevelt College at UCSD.  

Alexander Kwok
Office Manager

Alexander Kwok is the Office Manager for the Asia Society's Northern California Center. He was previously Development Operations Associate and has been with the Asia Society in various roles since September 2015. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in International Studies, focusing on the role that historical memory and civic education play in Hong Kong and Cyprus. Alex has also completed internships with both the Seattle Municipal Archives and the National Archives and Records Administration, Boston.