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JETAANY Board Candidate Platforms

Created 10th October 2009 @ 15:26
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The candidates for the JETAANY Board are:
Katrina Barnas
Kia Cheleen
Randall David Cook
Patrick Dwyer
Steven Horowitz
Ben T. Myers
Clara Solomon
Shannan Spisak

Please scroll down to view their bios.

Katrina Barnas: As a participant, executive board vice president, and most recently a member of the Board of Directors, I have been an active member of JETAA since I returned from Japan in 2005. From the very beginning of my involvement with JETAA, I have been struck by the potential of the network. I began going to JETAA events in order to connect with people who had a similar love of Japan, but I stayed involved because I enjoyed meeting the many interesting and varied alumni.

During my two years on the executive committee, I helped plan and execute quarterly meetings, happy hours, pre-departure orientation, related cultural activities, and the career forum. One of the highlights for me was launching our relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York in the form of Japan-a-mania, a day of introducing kids to Japanese culture and a reminder of bunkasai from my time in Japan.

As one of the inaugural members of the Board of Directors, I have had the opportunity to work with a dedicated team of volunteers. I am a firm believer that the creation of the Board is an important step for JETAA as an organization as it allows for us to think of the strategic direction of the group. I am most interested in tapping into the potential for networking with JETAA NY.

While many of us came to Japan with different backgrounds, whether education, business, law, the arts, or Asian studies, we all share a similar bond as well as a sense of adventure which propelled us to move half way across the world. I bring to the board not only a sense of dedication, as evidenced by my continued participation with JETAA, but also related work experience and studies.

Last May, I completed my Masters in Public Policy and Administration at Columbia\’s School of International and Public Affairs where I studied non-profit management. In addition, for the past 5 years I have worked in international education at Columbia Business School where I play an active role in discussing the strategic direction of the Chazen Institute of International Business. In particular my work with alumni relations at the business school is of relevance to developing the JETAA community network. Over the past two years as an official non-profit, JETAA New York has gotten our feet wet and it has been a great learning experience. I am eager to continue playing a role in the future direction of an organization that I feel deeply about, in particular as we further develop our network. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions.

Kia Cheleen: My involvement with the JET Program spans over more than a decade. I was a small-town CIR in Aichi-ken from 1996-1998. Then I decided that I wanted to experience “the other side” of the JET Program and spent my last year on the JET Program as an ALT from 1998-1999. Upon my completion of the JET Program, I joined the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), JET Program Management Department. From 1999-2001, I was in charge of all ALT-related matters, developed the Japanese language courses, and worked to improve the JET Program overall. Even after leaving CLAIR, I am still closely involved with the JET Program and CLAIR. I have continued to support JET-related events, which include speaking at JET and JETAA International conferences. In addition, I have interviewed more than 400 JET Program applicants between London and New York. Because of my experience in working at CLAIR, I have a unique insight into the successes and difficulties JETs encounter throughout their tenure on the Program and hope to select the most appropriate candidates for the post.

I lived in Japan for a total of nine years and have continued to work at Japan-related organizations. In 2006, I left my job at the United Nations in Tokyo and have since worked at the Japan Foundation-New York (a Japanese government grant-giving organization) and Shiseido Cosmetics in international marketing. I am currently the Assistant Director at the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, where I organize Japan-related events which are free and open to the public. Event topics include Japanese literature, religion, art, economy, language and other topics. My work also involves administering fellowships, working with students studying about Japan and Japanese language, researching fundraising opportunities, and working with other Japan-related organizations on and off the Columbia University campus. I am also a regular writer for “Chopsticks NY” magazine and a freelance Japanese-English interpreter and translator.

What I can contribute to the JETAANY Board of Directors: (1) Strong ties to Japan-related organizations in the New York City area, including (but not limited to): Japanese Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Japan Local Government Center (CLAIR-New York), Japan Foundation-New York, JETRO, Nichibei Exchange, Kintetsu, Shiseido, Japan Society, Chopsticks NY, Consulate General of Japan; (2) Fundraising experience, including fundraising training at the Foundation Center-New York, and a proven track record in fundraising in both the public and private sector; (3) Extensive experience organizing large-scale and high-profile events; (4) High organizational skills and leadership skills; (5) Access to a plethora of Japan-related resources both at Columbia University and in the NYC community; (6) A strong desire to serve the JET Alumni community and a passion for the JET Program! Thank you for your consideration.

Randall David Cook: JET\’org now has Board, Eight meet, plan and strategize with eyes facing forward’. I started with a haiku because few things in life are more succinct than a haiku, and also because if I am selected for the Board, I will likely bring a different perspective than my esteemed colleagues, one that may be valuable to the Board now that it’s an established non-profit organization.

How shall I be different? Let me count the ways: (1)I am old. Or at least older than you. I am 40, and I participated in the JET Program from 1991-1993 in Fukui-ken during the glorious early days of the program when phones weren’t mobile and mail was delivered by an actual living, breathing postal worker who had to decipher the handwriting on an envelope lovingly prepared by friends and family from home. But with age has come much experience, some of which is even valuable; (2) A few months ago, I spent a full day working with Liza Minnelli. I survived and today still maintain an admirable level of sobriety; (3) I don’t think “out of the box”. When I get creative, there’s no bloody box to begin with; (4) Unlike many an artistic type, I know how to play well with others. The Board has to function well as a group, and I’m prepared to be an active participant in a larger unit. Theater is a very collaborative art form, one that I love, and whatever success I’ve had in that arena has been largely because I was raised in South Carolina to be charming in the face of even the most regrettable of horrors. Also, having a Southern accent helps when saying rude things. And wit doesn\’t hurt either. (It should also be noted that at B-school ((yeah, I went…ah, crazy days of youth!)), everything, and I mean everything, was done in groups. Groups don’t scare me, unless they involve hooded white robes and burning crosses.)

I’ve been an active alum of the JET program since I moved to NYC in 1996. I’ve been interviewing potential JET candidates each winter for more than 10 years, as I take the future of the JET program very seriously. The past two years I’ve been the keynote speaker at the annual Departure Seminar for those fortunate candidates selected for the program, and I also recently served as moderator for the JETANNY author forum. And finally, my first Off-Broadway play, “Sake with the Haiku Geisha”, created an awareness of JET among an audience that would likely have never heard of the program. And that’s what the Board of JETAANY needs to make as one of its goals: greater awareness of JETAANY and the JET Program. Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Patrick Dwyer: I was a JET ALT in Mie-ken, home of the longest roller coaster in the world and Japan’s most important shrine, from 1993 to 1995, back when email was quite uncommon and blogs yet unimagined! I served as president of JETAANY in 1997 and 1998 and have remained actively involved over the years, participating in pre-departure and career events as well as many other activities, missing very few opportunities.

I currently work at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where I manage a staff involved in monitoring financial market conditions and providing short-term funding to financial institutions. I would be honored to serve on JETAANY’s Board of Directors and would hope my long involvement with the group offers me a good perspective to support and guide the Executives in extending JETAANY’s trajectory towards bigger and better things. Specifically, I have thoughts on expanding the scope of the group’s orientation to more fully serve our maturing membership.

Steven Horowitz: My goal in seeking to serve on the JETAA NY Board of Directors is to continue my efforts to help the JET alumni community continue to grow in numbers as well as stature. I began originally pursuing this goal in my role as the JETAA NY Quarterly Newsletter Editor. The Newsletter served as a base to reach out to the JET alumni community in New York and beyond to get more alumni involved and feeling connected to JETAA. It also provided me with the opportunity to attend the JETAA International Conference in Japan in 2005 and the JETAA USA Conference in Seattle in 2008, and ultimately a good sense of the JET alumni community\’s strengths as well as opportunities for improvement and growth. As a result, I\’ve created a number of JET alumni interest groups such as the JETAA Law Group and the JET Alumni Writers Interpreters and Translators (WIT) Group which have helped fellow alums find work opportunities, connect with each other and grow increasingly aware of JET alums established in various fields. The WIT Group led me to create the JetWit website to continue my outreach to the JET alumni community in New York, across the US and internationally as well.

The combination of activities and connections also led me to come up with the \”Learning to Blog Workshop\” series as well as the first ever JET Alumni Author Showcase, which was held in March and proved to be a big success, bringing in established JET alum authors Roland Kelts, James Kennedy and Rob Weston along with playwright Randall David Cook to discuss their writing experiences for the benefit of the JET alumni community. I look forward to the opportunity to continue contributing to JETAA NY as a member of the JETAA NY Board of Directors. I hope my fellow alums will support me with their vote in my effort to continue to serve the JET alumni community in New York. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Ben T. Myers: I consider the time I spent on JET to be the most valuable two years of my life in many ways and I grew a great deal while living and teaching in Japan. Perhaps the two most significant things I came away from my experience on JET with were the realization of the value to me of community and a desire to build more understanding, compassion, and open-mindedness throughout the world. In my time since returning from Japan I have worked to build these things in my life here.

I believe that some of the core values of the JETAANY organization align very much with my own values and I see the opportunity to be a member of the JETAANY board of directors as an unequaled opportunity to help strengthen and grow JETAANY as an organization as well as further those values in the world. While living in Japan I discovered the value of community like never before, both in terms of the community of the village in which I lived and also the community of JETs and other expatriates living in Japan. I believe the JET alumni community to be equally as valuable here as those communities were in Japan and I would love to help build a stronger, more active and vibrant community for all JET alumni that functions as a resource to grow the goals we have in our lives as well as a social and enjoyable community where we can relate with each other in ways that we can’t in other communities in our lives simply because of the shared experiences we have all built.

Through the existing and growing JETAA community there is a great opportunity to continue the development here in the states of what I’d call internationalization, which I believe to be best expressed as understanding and open-mindedness. The ongoing events with local, non-JET organizations are a beautiful exemplification of this opportunity and I would like to help build and spread these values as well as best I can.

I believe my post-JET experience is of greatest value to the organization as a board member. I’ve been entrepreneur since returning and have build a software company from the ground up in the five years since returning and I’ve also worked extensively with an executive training organization, experiences which I think lend themselves to the role of board member. Additionally, living outside Albany rather than in New York City limits the amount of time I can participate in events and I think the board of directors offers a great opportunity to contribute a great amount given the limitations of my current location and responsibilities that I’ve taken on elsewhere in my life. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Clara Solomon: As a member of JETAA NY since 2001, and a former executive committee member, I have a strong interest in the continued success of this organization. With the JET program entering its third decade, the network of JET alumni in New York and around the world grows stronger and more impressive. JETAA NY is the ideal platform from which we can harness the talent, initiative, and creativity of these alumni, not only for individual benefits, but also to take an active voice in the JET community worldwide. JETAA NY is already a key component in the successful re-entry of JETs from Japan to New York, as well as the transition of those JETs landing in the Big Apple later in their career, and there is more we can do to develop this role.

As the Director of Counseling and Career Development at one of the country’s leading professional schools, I am keenly aware of the important role that a network like JETAANY can make in an individual’s life – not just personally, but also professionally. In the current economic climate, the importance of this organization will continue to grow. It is important for JETAA NY to be guided by a group of professionals committed to continuing to expand our organization’s reach both within New York, and as a leader in the global JET community. I have a proven record of strategic thinking, both during my prior term as the Secretary of JETAA NY, when I helped to introduce new programming, and to organize the international JETAA conference in New York, and also in my professional as a career counselor and university administrator. I am confident that my dedication to this community, along with my personal and professional experiences, will enable me to contribute to the leadership and growth of JETAA NY for the long term.

Shannan Spisak: I am looking forward to serving JETAANY’s Board of Directors for my second term as a member. After leading the NY Chapter for 3 years as our President, then serving 2 years at the JETAA National level as a USA Country Representative, I have a long and dedicated history with our organization. I am pleased to have been involved in multiple initiatives that have increased the growth of not only our chapter, but our national and international alumni network.

As one of the handful of officers who followed our organization through receiving its official 501c3 status, I carry the organizational knowledge and a depth of experience that is helpful in advising the chapter’s direction as our membership numbers grow and our professional reputation increases. Although we have come a long way over the past 2 decades, there are always ways to innovate and improve our services to our members and community. My goals for serving a second term include becoming more involved with our officers to implement initiatives such as an established mentoring network, and supporting the execution of the JETAA USA 2010 National Conference here in NYC, as well as determining fundraising opportunities for the organization and fostering deeper relations with Japanese community collaborators.

I am excited to continue my support for our dynamic organization as a Board Member for the 2009-11 term and ask for your vote in support of my intentions. Bio: In her role as Country Representative, Shannan coordinated communication between 19 US Chapters and has strengthened the support network for smaller chapters / sub-chapters while also reviving the Kintetsu Annual Essay Contest (themed to represent the 20th Anniversary of the JET Programme), which resulted in a special publication for promotion of the JET Programme. At both the National and International levels, Shannan planned and participated in total of 10 JETAA Conferences. She was invited as the U.S. representative to speak at the Returning JETs Conference in Yokohama in March 2005, and as guest speaker at the 2008 JETAA Canada National Conference. She is a member of the original team of JETAA NY officers to establish 501c3 status for the organization and has served as the Database Manager since 2005. Shannan earned an M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.F.A. in dance performance from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She currently works for the Institute of International Education and lives in Harlem with her long-time Significant Other, Todd, and their rescued cat, Percy.

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