Professional Development Professional Development
The Leadership Program Team The Leadership Program Team

Meet the staff that works on the East-West Center's Leadership Program team!

Gretchen Alther, Nathan Lancaster, Cheryl Tokita, Kris Wee

Gretchen Alther

Senior Manager
Gretchen Alther leads the East-West Center’s Leadership Program team, which builds programs that strengthen individual and community leadership for a more peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific region. She is expanding the East-West Center’s leadership programs for women, and creating in-person and on-line programs that respond to the unique needs and opportunities of a constantly changing world. Ms. Alther directs the Center’s flagship residential course, the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, and leads other short- and long-term trainings both in Hawai`i and across the region. She designs and delivers curricula that support experiential learning and strategic thinking across a range of topic areas. With over 15 years of experience as an international educator and humanitarian, Ms. Alther infuses her program design with a commitment to equity and to grassroots communities. Ms. Alther has also worked with Human Rights Education Associates, for which she has designed and delivered e-learning courses for senior international humanitarian and development professionals. As an occasional consultant with the EarthWatch Institute, she facilitates sustainability leadership programs around the world for global corporations. Previously, Ms. Alther designed and managed multimillion-dollar programs to support disaster relief, conflict zone aid, and resilience in marginalized communities in the US, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, Gaza, Colombia, Haiti, and beyond. Ms. Alther is the chair of the board for the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security, and is an advisor to the Institute for Climate and Peace. She earned an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, a postgraduate certificate from the East-West Center, and a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Natural Resources Management from Texas A&M University. Ms. Alther was a 2018 Rotary Peace Fellow and earned a professional certificate in peace and conflict resolution at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.


Nathan Lancaster

Senior Program Officer
Nathan Lancaster has over 15 years’ experience facilitating programs and outreach in the fields of international exchange, public affairs and higher education. As part of the East-West Center’s Professional Development Program, he manages awards and coordinates logistics for the Center’s Leadership Program participants. He has extensive and growing experience with the Asia-Pacific region, and has lived, studied and worked in China, Japan and Korea.

Nathan was Assistant Director for Academic Programming at the East Asian Studies Center at The Ohio State University, served as a Program Assistant in the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and worked as a marketing manager for the Korea Tourism Organization, South Korea’s national tourism body. Nathan has BAs in both Asian Studies and Japanese from the University of Utah and completed coursework for an MA in East Asian Film from the Korea National University of Arts. He speaks Korean and Japanese.


Cheryl Tokita

Program Assistant
Cheryl Tokita serves as Program Assistant in the Professional Development Program's Leadership Program, mainly working on the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) and virtual engagements with the administration and logistical side of program-related activities. In addition, she serves as supervisor to the Leadership Program student assistants, aids with website maintenance, data visualization, designing and updating marketing and program materials. Prior to joining the Leadership Program, Cheryl served as Project Assistant with the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership (APHERP) and Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) and was an Education Program student assistant. She earned a dual-focus history and East Asian Language & Literature (EALL) B.A. in Asian Studies with a minor in Korean (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. Her Masters research was split between two elements of Korean popular culture: the penetration of Korean pop culture into the domestic-oriented Japanese music market, and the effectiveness of Korean national branding through the creation and longevity of soft power resources.


Kris Wee

Program Assistant
Kris Wee is a Program Assistant within the Professional Development Program (PDP) at East-West Center.  He has provided administrative, logistic and technical support for multiple teams in PDP, and now resides with the Leadership Program.

Prior to East-West Center, he was part of a small Hawaii-based consulting team, assisting in leading and managing sustainability projects and organizational change efforts within public and private sectors.  Kris spent nine years on active duty in the US Navy as an Operations Specialist.  He holds an MA in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development from Hawaii Pacific University and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Trinity College.

Meet the staff that works on the East-West Center's Leadership Program team!

Gretchen Alther, Nathan Lancaster, Cheryl Tokita, Kris Wee

Gretchen Alther

Senior Manager
Gretchen Alther leads the East-West Center’s Leadership Program team, which builds programs that strengthen individual and community leadership for a more peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific region. She is expanding the East-West Center’s leadership programs for women, and creating in-person and on-line programs that respond to the unique needs and opportunities of a constantly changing world. Ms. Alther directs the Center’s flagship residential course, the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, and leads other short- and long-term trainings both in Hawai`i and across the region. She designs and delivers curricula that support experiential learning and strategic thinking across a range of topic areas. With over 15 years of experience as an international educator and humanitarian, Ms. Alther infuses her program design with a commitment to equity and to grassroots communities. Ms. Alther has also worked with Human Rights Education Associates, for which she has designed and delivered e-learning courses for senior international humanitarian and development professionals. As an occasional consultant with the EarthWatch Institute, she facilitates sustainability leadership programs around the world for global corporations. Previously, Ms. Alther designed and managed multimillion-dollar programs to support disaster relief, conflict zone aid, and resilience in marginalized communities in the US, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, Gaza, Colombia, Haiti, and beyond. Ms. Alther is the chair of the board for the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security, and is an advisor to the Institute for Climate and Peace. She earned an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, a postgraduate certificate from the East-West Center, and a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Natural Resources Management from Texas A&M University. Ms. Alther was a 2018 Rotary Peace Fellow and earned a professional certificate in peace and conflict resolution at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.


Nathan Lancaster

Senior Program Officer
Nathan Lancaster has over 15 years’ experience facilitating programs and outreach in the fields of international exchange, public affairs and higher education. As part of the East-West Center’s Professional Development Program, he manages awards and coordinates logistics for the Center’s Leadership Program participants. He has extensive and growing experience with the Asia-Pacific region, and has lived, studied and worked in China, Japan and Korea.

Nathan was Assistant Director for Academic Programming at the East Asian Studies Center at The Ohio State University, served as a Program Assistant in the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and worked as a marketing manager for the Korea Tourism Organization, South Korea’s national tourism body. Nathan has BAs in both Asian Studies and Japanese from the University of Utah and completed coursework for an MA in East Asian Film from the Korea National University of Arts. He speaks Korean and Japanese.


Cheryl Tokita

Program Assistant
Cheryl Tokita serves as Program Assistant in the Professional Development Program's Leadership Program, mainly working on the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) and virtual engagements with the administration and logistical side of program-related activities. In addition, she serves as supervisor to the Leadership Program student assistants, aids with website maintenance, data visualization, designing and updating marketing and program materials. Prior to joining the Leadership Program, Cheryl served as Project Assistant with the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership (APHERP) and Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) and was an Education Program student assistant. She earned a dual-focus history and East Asian Language & Literature (EALL) B.A. in Asian Studies with a minor in Korean (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. Her Masters research was split between two elements of Korean popular culture: the penetration of Korean pop culture into the domestic-oriented Japanese music market, and the effectiveness of Korean national branding through the creation and longevity of soft power resources.


Kris Wee

Program Assistant
Kris Wee is a Program Assistant within the Professional Development Program (PDP) at East-West Center.  He has provided administrative, logistic and technical support for multiple teams in PDP, and now resides with the Leadership Program.

Prior to East-West Center, he was part of a small Hawaii-based consulting team, assisting in leading and managing sustainability projects and organizational change efforts within public and private sectors.  Kris spent nine years on active duty in the US Navy as an Operations Specialist.  He holds an MA in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development from Hawaii Pacific University and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Trinity College.