Japan Society notes with sadness the loss of Betty Borden, our dear and long-time colleague and an important voice in the U.S.-Japan space, on February 23, 2023.
During her 23 years at Japan Society, among other things, Betty oversaw and directed the Innovator’s Network, which was launched as a Centennial project to provide opportunities for leaders and innovators from the U.S. and Japan to come together, share knowledge and insight, and catalyze positive social change. Her thoughtfulness and warmth were matched by her professionalism, hard work, and commitment to a cause much bigger than herself.
Through the Innovator’s Network, Betty created exchange programs from scratch that resulted in tangible outcomes in a range of topics from community revitalization to post-disaster crisis management. Betty shone when it came to identifying, engaging, and working with changemakers. She initiated partnerships and professional relationships with a vast network of people and organizations all over Japan and the United States, taking leaders from Japan to Louisiana, West Virginia, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, and many other locations as part of the exchange programs. One of the last projects she worked on at Japan Society was an exchange program between rural leaders in the U.S. and Japan that resulted in the book Kuni: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection.
Just as significantly, Betty managed the dispersal of the Society’s $14 million Japan Earthquake Relief Fund over the years, using her insight and connections from an Innovators project on post-disaster management to advocate for long-term support in the recovery process. Her singular voice had a profound impact on how the fund was used to support the recovery of Tohoku after 3.11. So many people have reason to be grateful for her work on their behalf.
We extend our sympathies to Betty’s immediate family, including her husband Jon, and her daughter Sophie.