A Letter from the Kushi Foundation Board of Directors
As the weather turns toward the crisp days of Autumn, reflections on the past year and the challenges and opportunities ahead provide substantial food for thought. From the multicolored palette of the Berkshires in October, to the parched hills of the California coastal range, the beauty that surrounds us provides inspiration for the promise of the future.
In recent weeks, the Kushi Institute, and the non-profit Kushi Foundation under which it operates, has made major changes to position itself for future success. The Kushi Institute has been the worldwide leader in macrobiotic education since its founding in 1978. The first class of students who enrolled in the Kushi Institute that year included men and women from around the world, coming from Europe, North and South America, and elsewhere. The vision of macrobiotics that is the Kushi Institute continues to this day, with people from Japan, Saudi Arabia, South America, and throughout the US and elsewhere drawn to its programs.
Even so, the Kushi Institute has confronted some of its most challenging times in the past two years. It lost the physical and intellectual guidance of its founder and leader, Michio Kushi, when he passed away at the end of 2014. The vision expressed by Michio, and his wife, Aveline, still provide the inspiration and cornerstone of the mission of the Kushi Institute. As the Kushi Institute has had to navigate the uncertainty that comes from such a monumental change, several key changes have been instituted that we believe positions the Kushi Institute to achieve its potential.
We need your involvement and your financial contributions
We are reaching out to invite you to be part of the foundation during this transition to create a thriving Kushi Institute. We ask that you reflect on the role of the Kushi Institute and macrobiotics in your lives, and donate whatever you can that is commensurate with the impact that macrobiotics and the teachings of Michio and Aveline Kushi have had in your lives. Your contributions will help the Kushi Institute make it through this time of transition. Every little bit will help.
Initially, any funds donated will go toward addressing outstanding obligations, critical maintenance, and stabilizing the financial status of the Kushi Institute. Once that has been achieved, we will work toward the long-term success of the Kushi Institute.
We believe that the Kushi Institute can rise up once again to be the world leader in macrobiotic education. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with you to make that happen. Please join us in this great endeavor.
The Current Situation and Future Vision
The Kushi Institute is facing enormous challenges. Current program enrollments, while reasonably stable, are substantially below historical levels. The teaching staff, the core of the Kushi Institute, is stretched thin. Ongoing commitments to ensure that the Kushi Institute can continue to operate, including utility bills and maintenance, are deferred as often as not. The staff of the Kushi Institute remains committed to and dedicated to the mission of the Kushi Institute. Yet without assurance of financial stability through decreasing obligations and increasing revenue, we may be confronted with turnover of Kushi Institute staff as they need to identify ways to support themselves.
If the Kushi Institute can stabilize its revenue stream so that it is able to meet its obligations and grow its programs, the Kushi Foundation Board will seek to establish a more permanent solution for ongoing activities of the Kushi Institute. We will conduct a worldwide search for a new Executive Director who can lead the Kushi Institute into the future. We envision a revitalized faculty featuring the leading macrobiotic educators in the world, on a permanent or rotating basis. We imagine creating internships or production opportunities in natural approaches to food cultivation, and the creation of artisanal food products, partnering with local businesses that have been inspired by macrobiotics and Michio and Aveline Kushi. We see the Kushi Institute being recognized as providing the leading educational programs, not just in macrobiotic philosophy, counseling, and culinary arts, but as the leading programs in the areas of natural health and wellness. We see the Kushi Institute as being the nexus of creative thinking in the application of personal choices and self-reflection to result in profound societal change.
But none of this will be realized without your help!
The Kushi Institute Leadership
One of the key changes that the Board of Directors made is in the leadership of the Kushi Institute. As of August 19, we appointed Ron Rowland as interim Executive Director, to lead the Kushi Institute through this period of transition. Ron has a background and substantial experience in business management, and has also completed studies through Level III at the Kushi Institute. He was a volunteer at the Kushi Institute and was willing to help out in whatever manner was necessary; he has agreed to apply his talents to putting the Kushi Institute on a more solid footing, working in partnership with the Kushi Foundation Board of Directors.
At the same time, we invited Amber Maisano, Kushi Institute faculty member, counselor, and former Kitchen Manager, to take on the role of interim General Manager of the Kushi Institute. Having worked at the Kushi Institute in different capacities for ten years, she is well-positioned to provide oversight and insight into its day-to-day operations.
Ron and Amber, along with the rest of the outstanding staff and faculty of the Kushi Institute, are examining organizational structure, policies, procedures and the general atmosphere of the Kushi Institute to streamline and improve its operations so that they best serve the needs and mission of the Kushi Institute.
We are grateful to Alex Jack and Ed Esko, who provided leadership for the Kushi Institute through the time and transition that spanned Michio’s passing. They continue on the faculty and counseling staff of the Kushi Institute and provide their longstanding knowledge and experience as a bridge from the Kushi Institute’s past to its future. They are fully supportive of the changes in management of the Kushi Institute, and expressed this support to the staff of the Kushi Institute in August when these changes were announced.
The Kushi Foundation Board of Directors
Perhaps not apparent to many, the Kushi Foundation has itself been reorganized. It has a reconstituted interim Board of Directors that is now playing an active oversight role in the ongoing operations of the Kushi Institute. The Board includes four members: Ken Courage, who has been on the Board for many years and is a former hospital and health care CEO; Angelica Kushi, an aerial performer, yoga teacher, stunt woman, and granddaughter of Michio and Aveline Kushi; Haruo Kushi, also known as Larry, an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente and the second son of Michio and Aveline Kushi; and Michael Potter, President and CEO of Eden Foods.
Also in close communication with the Kushi Foundation Board of Directors and a Special Advisor to the Board is Hisao Kushi, fourth son of Michio and Aveline Kushi, a lawyer who has been in-house counsel for a number of well-known Internet companies, and is currently General Counsel and co-founder of Peloton Cycle. Until recently, Midori Kushi, Michio Kushi’s widow and his partner in the last dozen years of his life, served as a member of the Board, but stepped down in order to allow the Board to better respond to its ongoing needs. Midori continues to play a central role overseeing Michio Kushi’s interests in Japan.
All Board members are committed to the success of the Kushi Institute, and in recent weeks and months have invested substantial time and effort toward effecting changes to position the Kushi Institute for future success. A brief description of the backgrounds of the members of Kushi Foundation Board of Directors is below.
With humility and excitement for the future,
On behalf of the Kushi Foundation Board of Directors:
Ken Courage, Angelica Kushi, Michael Potter
The Kushi Foundation
198 Leland Road
Becket MA 01223
1.413.623.5741 Ext. 0