Born and raised in Ecuador, Akiko has had the opportunity to experience the economic conditions in which the Quechua people live in the Andean region. As a teenager, she used to volunteer in a humanitarian clinic where her mother worked as a social worker observing the difficulty that members of those communities had to access basic resources and care for loved ones.
Akiko moved to the US in 1996, attending The University of Montana for her BA in Economics. While in Montana, Akiko worked for state organizations such as Bioeconomics, Inc, doing research and cost benefit analysis on wildlife and environmental conservation issues, and, the Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, preparing reports on the socio-economic status of children living in Montana as well as research papers on the cost of end-of-life care.
After moving to Washington, DC in 2001, Akiko attended John Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), obtaining a MA in International Relations, concentrating in International Development, International Economics, and Conflict Management. In DC, Akiko worked for the Integration and Regional Programs Department of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), focusing on international trade, analysis of free trade agreements and the effects of regional trade integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. She also worked as a consultant doing research on the causes and economic conditions of intractable internal conflict and civil war with the faculty of the Conflict Management Program at SAIS.
Fluent in Spanish, English, and proficient in Portuguese and Japanese, Akiko now lives with her husband, Scott Oncken, and their three children in Sisters, Oregon. While raising her children, she has established herself as a yoga and mindfulness teacher, something that has been a lifelong personal practice. She facilitates therapeutic sessions and workshops in groups and in private. As a teacher, she guides adults and children, committed to making yoga and wellness accessible to the growing Hispanic population in the area by offering bilingual classes. Akiko currently volunteers serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Oregon Youth Orchestra. She loves to hike and travel, is an avid knitter, hand spinner, weaver, and freelance photographer.