The Operation 2000 Cherry Tree Project Committee

Bob Taft
Honorary Chairperson

67th Governor
State of Ohio

Bob Taft was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 8, 1942. Bob Taft began his career in public service as a volunteer teacher for the Peace Corps in East Africa. He has served Ohioans as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, as a Hamilton County Commissioner and as Ohio’s Secretary of State. He was sworn in as Ohio’s 67th Governor on January 11, 1999 and was elected to his second term as Governor in November 2002. He graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government in 1963, received his Master’s degree in government from Princeton University in 1967 and earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati Law School in 1976. Governor Taft’s father and grandfather both served in the United States Senate, and his great-grandfather, William Howard Taft, served as the 27th President of the United States and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Taft is joined the University of Dayton in August 2007 as a distinguished research associate for educational excellence. In November 2008, he joined the Board of Directors of the Alliance for The Great Lakes to help advance Great Lakes education and policy initiatives.

N Alex Hara
Chairperson

Vice President, Foreign Multinational Group
JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Born and raised in the City of Yokohama, Alex used to go fishing at the main pier of Port of Yokohama during his middle school years. While fishing he saw boats coming and going and nurtured a dream of going to America someday. He went onto Chuo University. After graduating with BA in Law, he had a job for a while but resigned and went to America on a boat from the pier he used to fish. Upon arrival at Chicago, he secured a menial job while having fear of getting caught by immigration office and he went to a community college to learn English. He went onto Roosevelt University and enrolled in Business Administration. After completing the prerequisites, he advanced to graduate school and earned an MBA. After graduation he held a job in Chicago but resigned and started his own business. Later he started importing portable kerosene heaters from Japan. The business grew very fast and almost afforded him an American Dream. Unfortunately a historically warm winter hit in 1982 and devastated the entire industry. He started an international consulting business. While he was a consultant, he tried to start a new business again but failed. An opportunity came to join Bank One, which later acquired by JPMorgan. .Currently Vice President of JPMorgan Chase Bank, Commercial Banking Group responsible for providing best banking solutions to Japanese owned business in Ohio and Michigan.

collinsErik Collins
Vice Chairperson

Economic Development Director
Montgomery County

Erik Collins is the Economic Development Director for Montgomery County, Ohio – the state’s fourth largest county. He manages the Economic Development Division and is responsible for business attraction, retention and the county’s incentive programs. Under his tenure, Mr. Collins developed Montgomery County’s Linked Deposit Program in partnership with the Montgomery County Treasurer; the Linked Deposit program is a $20 million program designed to buy-down interest rates for businesses. He was also Instrumental in developing, and is now responsible for managing in conjunction with communities, nationally recognized business retention and expansion initiative known as Business First! For a Greater Dayton Region. Away from his city responsibilities, Mr. Collins also has significant experience serving on Board’s of Directors for various organizations – Ohio Economic Development Association, Regional Economic Development Organizations and Rotary International -Southwest Ohio. In 2000, he was named a Dayton Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Recipient – an award recognizing Future Leaders in the Dayton Region.

Phil Parker
Committee Member

President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Phil Parker has been with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce for 31 years, 26 of those serving as its CEO. But that’s only one piece of Parker’s illustrious service to the Dayton community and beyond. Born and raised in Florida, he received his BA in political science from Florida Atlantic University, He later moved to Dayton, OH and worked in the private sector while achieving his MBA from the University of Dayton.

Parker has been active in the community practically since the day he arrived, serving as President of the Greater Dayton Jaycees, President of The Presidents Club of Dayton, Chair of the Board of the American Red Cross, Chair of the United Way Campaign, as well as serving on about 50 other community, state and national boards since 1974. Parker was recognized as the community’s outstanding volunteer in 2016 as the recipient of the Citizen Legion of Honor Award.

John L. Woods
Committee Member

Writer/Editor/Trainer
Civic Advocate, Miamisburg, OH

John Woods’ civic involvement includes active membership in the Miamisburg Citizens Urban Forestry Advisory Board. He has been instrumental in planting over 1200 seedling trees in city parks since 2010. This participation has been fundamental in the city receiving Tree City USA designation from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division for nearly 20 years. Woods is a member of the board of trustees with the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame (Dayton Engineers Club) helping to manage editing and curating board documents. In the past, he has served with Rotary International as president of Miamisburg Rotary, as Assistant District Governor – District 6670, and as Group Study Exchange (GSE) 2007 team leader to Japan for a month-long vocational exchange to cities and towns in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Woods earned his Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition at University of Dayton, and served on the adjunct faculty there for twelve years in the English department and four years in the Health and Sports Science department.