JETAANY is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization overseen by a Board of Directors. To learn more about the role and responsibilities of the Board, please refer to our Bylaws (PDF Download). Learn more about Board members by clicking on their names below.
Susan Hamaker is the founder of JapanCulture•NYC, an English-language website that serves as a resource for all things Japanese in New York City, informing English-speaking Japanophiles of the multitude of New York-based Japanese events and organizations. Her daily life reflects her commitment to connecting people to the culture of Japan through networking and outreach. In addition to her website, she’s involved in a number of organizations related to strengthening the relationship between Japan and the U.S., including serving as a Vice President on the Board of the Japanese American Association of New York; the Vice Chair of the New York region of the U.S.-Japan Council; and as the Executive Director of The Gohan Society, a non-profit dedicated to teaching non-Japanese chefs about Japan’s rich culinary history.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina with a BA in Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures (Read: Communications), Susan writes newsletters for the aforementioned organizations and types graphics for live, televised sporting events such as the New York Yankees games broadcast on the YES Network. When she’s not pursuing all things Japanese in New York City, Susan enjoys reading, correcting everyone’s grammar, and watching cute cat videos on Instagram.
Zach was a CIR in Kochi-ken from 2001 to 2004. He lived in Umaji-mura, a small mountain village, for his first two years and moved to Kochi City to work at City Hall for his third. During his time on JET, Zach learned much about the local culture and dialect, raised money for scholarships with Genki Seinenkai (the Kochi JET musical theater group), and travelled as an interpreter with a delegation from Kochi City to their sister city, Fresno, CA.
Since returning from Japan, Zach has continued to work in education, initially as an ESL teacher at a nonprofit in Cambridge, MA, and later as the center director for a major language school in Manhattan. Currently, Zach is working at St. John’s University Law School and pursuing an MBA in International Business. You’ll often see him at karaoke events and the yukata pub crawl.
Kia Cheleen is a native from Eugene, Oregon. She went to Japan on two separate high school exchanges, where she fell in love with the country and the challenge of learning the Japanese language. She went on JET to Aichi-ken as a CIR from 1996-1998, then switched to ALT for her last year on JET. She then went to work for the Council of Local Authorities of International Relations (CLAIR), where she managed all ALT-related matters and the Japanese language programs. Kia then went on to study international studies and diplomacy at graduate school in the U.K.. Upon completion of her dissertation on international human rights law, she worked as a full-time JET interviewer in London and New York, conducting over 500 JET interviews. She then returned to Japan to work for the United Nations University before moving to New York in 2006. During her career in NYC, Kia has worked for the Japan Foundation New York, Shiseido Cosmetics, and the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University. She attended professional translation an interpreting school in the U.K. and at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In her free time, she is cooking, traveling, playing with her friend’s children, or attempting to learn another language.
Kia spent over 12 years living abroad in Japan, the U.K., and Switzerland. She is currently a professional Japanese/English translator and interpreter based in the NYC area.
Christy Jones is the Director of Special Events at Japan Society, an American nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the people of Japan and the United States closer together through programs in arts & culture, business & policy, and education. Having joined Japan Society nearly 15 years ago as an assistant in the Lectures Program, Christy now plans the Society’s fundraising and cultivation events.While in college, Christy studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka and later spent three years living and working in Nagasaki Prefecture’s Shimabara City as an ALT in The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. She graduated from Duke University with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a certificate in Asian & African Languages & Literature.In her free time Christy enjoys photography, amassing craft materials for future projects, talking about cats, and entertaining in her Brooklyn apartment.
Amber Liang was an ALT in Kochi Prefecture from 2006-2008. Immediately following JET, she sought a leadership role on JETAANY, initially as an event coordinator where she organized the very successful 2009 Author Showcase which featured prominent JET alumni writers, Roland Kelts, James Kennedy, and Robert Weston. She also produced the Sake with the Haiku Geisha Play Reading written by JET alumnus Randall David Cook. In addition to her current role on the Board of Directors, Amber was also the Secretary of JETAANY (2009-2010) and the Peer Mentorship Program Coordinator. Amber has presented at numerous conferences including the Predeparture Conference, the Career Forum, and the Returners’ Conference in Japan. As well, she has contributed to the selection of prospective JETs by interviewing candidates for the Consulate.Amber currently works at the Chazen Institute of International Business at Columbia Business School where she manages the international study tour program for MBA students. Prior to that, she was the Senior Programs Coordinator at International House New York, a non-profit residence and program center for over 700 international students from more than 100 countries across the world where she supervised a team of 50 graduate fellows to plan nearly 200 cultural, educational and social events annually.
Amber graduated with honors from Cornell University with a BA in Pyschology and a minor in East Asian Studies. She is currently completing her Executive Masters in Public Administration at the School of Public and International Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia.
John’s background as a native New Yorker has prepared him for a diverse collection of life experiences from teaching English in Japan to being a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico. Giving into a deep-seated curiosity to explore the world around him John participated on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme for two years. He taught in 3 senior high schools in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture. In order to make a living he has held a wide variety of jobs, from short stints as a NYC tour guide to a decade long career as a marketer in the Fortune 500. He was educated at Amherst College and The University of Michigan.
Justin Tedaldi is a New York native with a lifelong interest in music, travel and world cultures. For the past several years, he’s written arts and entertainment features covering the famous to the yet-to-be-famous for online publications like JQ Magazine and as the New York Japanese Culture Examiner. A veteran of dozens of exclusive interviews with authors, artists, directors, and Grammy- and Tony Award-winners, he always looks forward to the next chat.
Originally from Malibu, California, Monica attended the University of Colorado and has a B.S. in Business Administration with a double emphasis in Marketing and Human Resource Management. After graduating, she decided to trade the Rocky Mountains for the Kanto Plain and participated in the JET Programme. While serving as a high school ALT in Iruma-shi, Saitama-ken from 2002-2004, Monica developed a greater appreciation for Japanese culture and her family heritage. During her time in Japan, Monica performed in several traditional Japanese dance performances, joined the Ikebana club and coached her high school’s girl’s softball team.
Now residing in New York City, Monica is the Research Director at AMG Parade overseeing print and digital consumer insight for Parade Magazine, Relish, Spry Living, Athlon Sports & Life and American Profile’s Community Table.
Monica currently serves as Chairman of the JET Alumni Association in New York Board of Directors. She previously she served as President (2010-2014), Vice President (2008-2010) and Social Chair (2005-2008). She collaborates closely with the Japanese Consulate, Japan Local Government Office and many local organizations to help build a stronger Japanese American Community in New York.
Monica also serves as Vice President of the Alpha Chi Omega Alumni Chapter in NYC. When not busy volunteering with NY Cares doing philanthropic activities you can find her on the softball field or volleyball court and enjoying life in New York.
Lee-Sean Huang is the cofounder and creative director of Foossa, a community-centered design consultancy. As a designer, strategist, and storyteller, he collaborates with communities and organizations across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia to solve social innovation challenges. He also teaches design, social innovation, and futures thinking at the Parsons School of Design, New York University, and the School of Visual Arts.
Lee-Sean’s career in designing participation and building movements began when he was a student at Harvard, where he studied Government and engaged as a community organizer and human rights activist. He later honed his campaigning and organizing skills running online-centered campaigns for Avaaz and Human Rights Watch. Prior to co-founding Foossa, Lee-Sean was the founding member of the design team at Purpose, a public-benefit consultancy that builds movements and new power models to tackle the world’s biggest problems. He has written for publications including GOOD Magazine, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post.
Lee-Sean was born in Taiwan and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating with a degree in Government from Harvard, Lee-Sean worked as an ALT in Nakatsu-shi, Oita-ken from 2003 to 2006. He has been based in New York City since JET, and has also completed a masters in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. He has served as webmaster of of JETAANY since 2006, and joined the JETAANY non-profit board in 2018. He also serves as a board member of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. In his spare time, Lee-Sean enjoys training capoeira, a Brazilian martial art disguised in dance, keeping up with his Nihongo, and playing the ukulele.