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2018 JETAA Chicago Election Platforms

The polls are open! Hypothetically speaking of course.

At the bottom of this post are the platforms for those running to serve on the 2018-2019 JETAA Chicago board.


This year we will be voting for our Vice President! Are you asking yourself how you can vote? Voting is open to all JETAA Chicago members and will occur during our monthly member meeting Monday, October 1, 2018 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at Chicago Sister Cities International - 177 N State Street Suite 700 (7th Floor) Chicago, IL 60601.

Cast your vote in person OR call in during the meeting.

Reach out to to call in.



Ella McCann

I am running for my third term as President because I believe I have demonstrated that I know what the organization is capable of and would like to continue to push it in that direction.

During my tenure, JETAA Chicago has done more outreach to the Japan community in Chicago, supported more Japan-related events, and made a positive impact while doing so. This has been one of my goals from the beginning and I hope to continue this effort.

I envision that I will continue to support the work of the officers on the board who have been able to engage alumni going out and coming back, attend events on behalf of JETAA Chicago, and promote our mission. I also want us to work on engaging our subchapters and the other chapters near us in the Midwest to prove that the Japan community is just as strong here as it is in on the coasts.

I envision that we will achieve the goals we set out for the next year including: engaging more alumni, building out our new website, interacting with the Japan-community and hosting the National Conference. I envision that JETAA Chicago will become a stronger presence in Chicago and that we will have more active alumni by the end of my third year.

Vice President

Tom Collins

When I first moved to Chicago, I joined JETAA Chicago to find an active group of fun JET alumni who were dedicated to engaging the Chicagoland and Midwest communities in Japanese cultural activities. During my very first meeting, 5 years ago, I volunteered to take on the role of Secretary, which was instrumental for me in feeling like Chicago was home. Over the next two years, I then became Vice President and President. Having taken a two-year break to complete a masters degree in International Education, I’d like to return to the board as I’d always planned to.

Now I come to you as a candidate for Vice President of the board of JETAA Chicago, returning to a role I am very familiar with. In addition to supporting our incumbent president and other board members to achieve their goals, I intend to:

  • Expand the ways we are enable recent returnees to settle into their non-expat lives

  • Seek ways to re-engage JETs that have been back for 10+ years

  • Begin audio records of meetings to share with members who can’t attend

  • Invite virtual guests from other JETAA chapters to join us in our meetings to learn from each other beyond the National Conference

  • Liaise more closely with JETAA USA, USJETAA, and national AJET so that JETs currently on placement know to look us up when they return

  • Implement a system of reflection and evaluation for events to encourage personal growth and ensure we’re holding the best possible events for our membership

I’m uniquely qualified for the role of Vice President. Having formerly served as both VP and President, I have a clear understanding of what support is most helpful for the President, fellow officers, and alumni. As we go into hosting the 2019 National Conference, my experience on the board and knowledge of the US-Japan community in Chicago can be especially useful.

In addition, I’m excited to bring my new experiences to the board. Through the role of VP I can support the continuation of already successful initiatives, and expand out new opportunities to engage less active members. I know I can impact our membership through coaching, supporting cross-cultural events, developing others, and connecting with JETAA chapters, to help keep our organization buoyed among the top JETAA chapters in the USA.


  • As Secretary, I doubled webletter readership from ~15% to 30%.

  • As Vice President, I trialed a review and reflection for board members with the intention of celebrating successes, supporting each other, and developing meaningful accountability.

  • As President, I worked to expand our partnerships with local organizations, increased the transparency of board meetings, and started to break down the barriers between general members and the board.

  • As a general member, I coached a former colleague to re-energize the Austin subchapter of JETAA Texoma.

  • In my International Education Masters program, I researched second language acquisition, expatriate leadership, and motivations for individuals to remain in an international post beyond their initial contract, identifying ways to support them.

Lara (Zara) Espinoza

I am a strong candidate for Vice President because of my demonstrated history of service, my vision to build infrastructure and longevity within the organization and my long-term commitment to the success of JETAA Chicago. Over the past 5 years as Outreach Coordinator, I have focused my efforts on not only bringing new people into the organization but also re-engaging alumni from Chicagoland and surrounding states. Most substantially, I have led the creation, management and execution of the largest undertaking of our chapter: onboarding outgoing JETs in the Survival Series. This led to me presenting as an expert in membership engagement at the JETAA National Convention/JET 30th Anniversary, which gave nationwide recognition to our half-decade-long efforts. I have also built and maintained a strong relationship with the Consulate JET Coordinators, as I have consistently worked with them every year to recruit with school visits, present at conventions and at JET events.

As Vice President, I will expand the efforts I began as Outreach Coordinator and use my proven ability to build and grow relationships that empower alumni to become active and invest their time. I want to foster stronger alumni connections by:

  • Engaging recent returnees, similar to our success with outgoing JETs

  • Encouraging further inclusivity in our diverse Chicago alumni base and sub-chapters

  • Maintaining and strengthening our relationships with the JET/Japanese community locally and in the Midwest

Similar to my outreach work, I plan on improving infrastructure and our organizational life span by streamlining internal communication through:

  • The creation of officer manuals to clarify and encourage leadership efforts

  • Supporting fellow board members in their duties and fulfilling short and long term goals

  • Increased education on JET topics through promoting accessibility with our website, social media and information from our Consulate and community partners.

My Vice Presidency will empower people to take ownership of and have agency to make active contributions and grow as leaders. My goal is to leave a legacy focused on membership engagement that will secure the future of JETAA Chicago. My own long-term plan is to take my experience as JETAA Chicago's Vice President and step up into higher leadership roles as President and US Country Representative, where I can work to establish JETAA Chicago as the premier JETAA chapter in the US and worldwide.

Marketing Coordinator

Patrick Finn

Having spent two years as the Marketing Coordinator, I genuinely enjoy the work I have done and the people I have gotten to know. It can be challenging at times, but seeing the turnout to an event, participation on social media, and feedback to things like the newsletter make it all worthwhile. That is why I want to run again.

My goal the first year as Marketing Coordinator was to rebrand and strengthen JETAA Chicago’s visual identity across all platforms. The second year I focused on rebuilding the website and our social media presence. With those two accomplishments behind me, I want to make JETAA Chicago a platform for everyone to connect and share information.

The question I often ask myself when thinking of the upcoming term is, how can JETAA Chicago become more accessible to the public?

There has been talk of spreading our reach further in the suburbs and neighboring chapters. I want to make getting information out about activities and encouraging volunteers as easy as possible. Already in place are some forms on the website to help aid in community involvement. However, I want to establish stronger processes for them and make our community more aware that the tools they need to get an idea off the ground are available. The community is the greatest source of ideas we have and I envision the Marketing Coordinator as a facilitator.

Connectivity and community are my themes for the 2018-2019 term, with all officers working together to make them realities. We have the social infrastructure to reach out more than ever, so let us make the most of it!

Networking Coordinator

Julianne Medrano

I am the current networking coordinator and I would like to run again to continue to meet new alumni and work with Japanese organizations such as the Japan America Societies and the consulate to create new opportunities for alumni. This year I'm hoping to organize more networking events such as the upcoming meishi exchange in October.

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