Our People


Margaret Conley
Margaret Conley
Executive Director

Margaret Conley, a Bay Area native, is the Executive Director of Asia Society Northern California. Her non-profit experience includes the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where she developed and launched 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 Television in Shanghai. Her interviews include Howard Schultz, Richard Branson, Ban Ki-Moon, LeBron James and Beyoncé. 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. 

Palarp Jumpasut
Senior Manager, Membership and Corporate Partnership

Palarp Jumpasut is Senior Manager, Membership and Corporate Partnership. Prior to working at Asia Society Northern California, Palarp was working at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. as part of the Doing Business report, working with key global contributors to the report including KPMG, PwC, and White & Case. She also worked within financial and private sector development as a Learning Specialist helping to organize high profile events including at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group. Most recently she served as Director of Administration and Operations at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. She has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Manchester and an M.S. in Financial Markets from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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.  

James Gale
Program Manager

James "Jamie" Gale previously worked in Washington DC as an International Policy Manager in UPS’ Global Public Affairs organization, managing business development and policy initiatives to expand UPS’s global footprint. He also worked as a Development and Communications Associate at the International Student House. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he helped launch a new U.S.-Japan travel and tourism initiative and coordinated cross-cultural conferences. James participated in the Japanese Government’s Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program, serving for two years as an Assistant Language Teacher in rural Hokkaido. James also worked at Asia Society's Washington office where he developed programs on North Korea and Human Rights. James holds a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) degree from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service and a Bachelor's degree in International Relations/Modern Languages from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He has studied abroad at East China Normal University in Shanghai and International Christian University in Tokyo and speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish.