Suzanne Basalla

Chief of Staff, Toyota Research Institute

Suzanne Basalla

Suzanne Basalla is Chief of Staff at the Toyota Research Institute, a Silicon Valley- headquartered subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation that develops automated driving, robotics, and other human amplification technology for Toyota. Suzanne is a former officer of the United States Navy, who resigned in 2004 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Over 13 years, her assignments included duty in Japan, the Pentagon, and Diego Garcia. Following her naval career, Suzanne served as Director for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC. She was then appointed Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, serving at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2010-2012. In that capacity, she supported the Ambassador on the full portfolio of security, economic, political and cultural issues in the U.S.-Japan relationship.

In late 2012, Suzanne joined the U.S.-Japan Council as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She helped lead this educational non-profit dedicated to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations through people-to-people connections, with a focus on investing in next generation leaders through the TOMODACHI Initiative.

In 2017, Suzanne joined the Toyota Research Institute and moved to California, where she lives today. Suzanne is Vice Chair of the National Association of Japan America Societies (NAJAS) and Member, U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) Development Committee. Suzanne graduated from the University of Virginia and received a master’s degree in Asian Studies from George Washington University. In 2008, Suzanne received the inaugural Ryozo Kato Award for service to the U.S.-Japan Alliance.


“I really believe that people are all planted with the seed of I am here to do something great.” – Claudia Rinaldi, Career Girls Role Model

Three things I have learned from Career Girls: “One, that women can do anything, two, never give up and three, we are strong, intelligent and we have the power to change the world by working in the fields that we are passionate about.” – Isobel, Student