JQ Magazine: JQ&A with JETAA Country Representative Megan Miller Yoo


By Renay Loper (Iwate-ken, 2006-07) for JQ magazine.  Renay is a freelance writer and international education professional currently seeking FT opportunities. Visit her blog at Atlas in Her Hand.

Philadelphia native and current Long Island City, NY resident (by way of Hyogo-ken and Washington, D.C.),Megan Miller-Yoo (Hyogo-ken ALT, 2000-02) is the outgoing president of JETAANY (2008-11) and newJETAA USA Country Representative (CR). During her time as an ALT, Megan demonstrated her commitment to the JET Program via her creation of the Volunteer Special Interest Group (VSIG) for AJET.

Since returning to the U.S., Megan has been involved in the Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York chapters of JETAA. Megan also served on the Board of Directors for JETAANY. She recently graduated from NYU with her MBA, currently works as an engineering underwriter, AVP with Swiss Re and lives in Long Island City with her husband.

Megan recently spoke with us to share more about her time as JETAANY president, and her new role of CR.

Where did you spend your JET years?

I was an ALT in Hyogo-ken from 2000-02.  I worked in the suburbs of Akashi (home of the world’s longest suspension bridge and famous for its tako), which is along the coast between Kobe and Himeji.

You recently finished your third term as JETAANY’s president. How did you get involved with JETAANY?

I moved to New York in November 2005, on the day of the New York City Marathon, which made navigating my U-Haul truck through the city pretty awful. After a year in the city I still did not have a strong network, so I researched JETAANY and showed up at a quarterly meeting being held at Two Boots pizza in early 2007. I was hooked right away and with impending officer elections, Kat Barnas convinced me that very night to take over her spot as vice president. I served as VP from 2007-08 and then moved into the president role for the next three years.

During your tenure, what brought you the most joy?

I can’t ever say this enough, but working with the JETAANY executive committee has been an amazing experience. We have such a great team of dedicated volunteers who really want to see the organization succeed and will go to great lengths to make sure that happens. When you consider that we all have full-time jobs but everyone finds time to make JETAANY events the same caliber as something you’d pay to have done, you start to understand the impact that Japan had on us and how eager we are to give back.

What do you hope your JETAANY legacy will be?

During my tenure I strove to ensure that we delivered high caliber events and benefits to our member base. From the upgraded format of the e-mail announcements and website to the diversity and quality of events, I encouraged everyone involved in the organization to really give it their all and do the best job they could. I believe that people have started to realize what JET alums are capable of and what the value of our network is to Japan, to our home countries, and also to us as members of the network. We are a group of diverse, talented professionals who can really make an impact wherever we choose to focus our efforts, and my goal was to showcase that in everything we did.

How did you go about becoming a CR?  What made you make the switch?

In order to become a CR you need to have been an officer in a local chapter, the chapter must agree to sponsor you, you must submit a platform during the election period, and then, of course get voted in by the 19 chapters. As my four years as a JETAANY officer came to an end, becoming a CR felt like a natural next step, and fortunately I was elected! As you may know, JETAANY hosted the National Conference last August, which was a great learning experience and a very rewarding undertaking.  That was the third conference I had attended, and with each successive conference I began to understand the network on a broader level and saw the potential for accomplishing great things through national and international collaboration.

What was your platform for the CR election period?

My platform focused on my experience with JETAANY running the national conference, as well as my non-profit experience to help manage the national fund. I started a small non-profit, Charity Chic, about eight years ago and over that time have raised more than $65,000.

What exactly does a CR do? How many are there?

The main duties of a CR are to assist with the National Conference, help chapters with Grant in Aid (GiA) funding requirements, provide support to chapters as needed and help them collaborate, and interface with CLAIR, current JETs, and JETAA International. This year we are also undertaking a major fundraising effort for Japan earthquake relief, and the CRs are helping to manage that fund. In the U.S., there is one country rep for every nine chapters. Since we have 19 chapters, we have three country reps. In every other country there are fewer than nine alumni chapters, so all the other countries with JETAA chapters have just one CR each.

How long is the CR term?  What chapters are you responsible for?

One year. JETAA D.C.JETAANYJETAA New EnglandJETAA Southeast (Atlanta)JETAA Mid-South (NOLA)JETAA Florida, and JETAA Great Lakes.

What are your goals and ideas for your time as CR?

My main goal is to support the chapters that I am responsible for and to encourage them to produce high quality content as we do in New York. I also am looking forward to helping with the National Conference in D.C. in July and assisting with the distribution of the proceeds we’ve raised and will continue to raise through the JETAA USA Fund.  In addition, JETAANY has been undertaking a large database project that we ultimately hope to roll out to all JET Alumni, and I’m looking forward to seeing that come to fruition.  My (non-JET) husband has taken on the challenge of finishing the database programming, so I have a vested interest in his completing it!

What direction is JETAA moving with regard to its recent charity work and relief fund?

The chapters have voted for the JETAA USA Fund to be used for local and community projects. I think everyone wants to see some tangible and meaningful results come from our collective fundraising efforts. We are well positioned to work with local entities in Japan to provide real relief to those in need. To date we have raised over $40,000, which I think is very impressive. I’m proud to know that JETAANY alone raised over a quarter of that total. The next step is finding opportunities where we can help and figuring out how to get the funds where they are needed most.

For more information on Megan, visit www.jetaausa.com/featured-posts/megan-miller-yoo-2011-12-cr.