2004 National Conference

2004 US Conference / Washington, DC
The 2004 conference was hosted by the Washington chapter along with the Embassy of Japan, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the US.
Sam Shepard, President of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, was the keynote speaker. He spoke on the impact of the JET Programme in both Japan and the US, and on how Japan has been changing (and not changing) over the post-war period and into the last few years.
Paige Cottingham-Streater, Deputy Director of the Mike & Maureen Mansfield Foundation and one of the original JETs (ALT, Mie, ‘87-’88), and Laurel Lukaszewski, Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC (ALT, Kagoshima, ’90-’92), spoke on Staying Connected. They gave the original objectives / mission of the alumni associations as being:

  1. Establish a network of former JET participants to support their activities in job hunting and career development, and to give them a place to go to share stories of their time in Japan.
  2. Support the Japanese government in administering the JET Programme through helping publicize it and recruit new participants.
  3. Serve as an informal ambassador for Japan in their local communities.

After this, they had the conference participants talk about what their chapters do to engage the local Japanese community, work with their consulates and the embassy on administering the program, and serve their members’ needs.
A national logo was chosen after delegates voted on several proposed designs. One minor adjustment agreed to was that “JETAA US” should become “JETAA USA”.
This was followed by a discussion about the need for creating a set of national bylaws, to build upon the previous year’s mission statement and including guidelines for election and voting procedures, and whatever provisions might be felt necessary regarding the eventual achievement of non-profit status. A bylaw subcommittee was formed and asked to write up a draft.
Then, following a unanimous vote to move forward on creating a national website, a website (database) subcommittee was formed, headed by Scott Norman, and asked to develop a list of possible functions and any information they could get on how to actually build the site.
A major session on non-profit status was held on the second day. Dr. Pervaze Sheikh, a Natural Resources Policy Analyst with the Congressional Research Service, was the guest speaker, along with Ms. Stacia Falat and the facilitator, Ms.Terri Anderson, from the Washington chapter. They spoke about the experiences of the Boren Forum (www.borenforum.org/), an alumni association for participants in an international study scholarship program, which had recently acquired NPO status. After discussing the pros and cons of seeking NPO status, along with lessons learned, they detailed how a couple of dedicated alumni worked for about two years to make the association a legally registered non-profit entity in Maryland.
Then, each chapter was polled on whether they: 1. Had an Employer Identification Number (EIN); 2. Were legally incorporated at the state level; 3. Had 501(c)(3) status. It was agreed that each chapter rep was to make sure, upon returning home, that their chapter had an EIN and was incorporated in their state, and that one member responsible for or assisting with these tasks would send an update on their progress. The bylaw subcommittee was also aware that they would have to make allowances for the possibility of a chapter or national level NPO arrangement and any requirements this might entail. Chapters were reminded that federal and state NPO status are separate, and require separate application processes.
In the Plenary Session, a proposal was passed giving one country rep one vote per chapter to elect JETAAi Executive Officers [the details of this proposal are unclear in existing notes - mwg]. Delegates also agreed to look into the Japan-America Teacher Exchange Program, and discussed the possibility of using video-conferencing or conference calls for some meetings. A conference call had been held some time before with about 15 people to discuss incorporating as a non-profit organization, led by Bruce Jaffe of Northern California. The question was raised of who would fund any database / online resource initiative, but no one could answer that.
Finally, country reps were elected, and the conference was brought to a close.

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