JETAA Chicago officer elections are coming up on March 1st! In light of this, we wanted to take the time to shine a spotlight on our current officers (election term from November 2019 - March 2021) in order to get to know the people behind the headshots, and to learn more about what they do in their roles as officers. This will be an 8 part "Get to Know Our Officers" series in which we will highlight each officer leading up to the elections and come to know their motivations, values and legacy.
First in the series we would like to introduce our Treasurer, Tyler Blaz (he/him), who was placed in Miyagi Prefecture from 2015-2017!
Tell us more about your JET experience.
I was placed in Ishinomaki-shi, Miyagi-ken as an ALT at 5 Elementary and 2 Middle schools. My JET experience was life-changing in the absolute best way possible. It was a tremendous personal and professional growth experience and it infected me with a persistent travel bug!
When did you join/how long have you been on the JETAA Board? What positions have you held?
Secretary 2018 - 2019
Treasurer 2019 - 2021
What inspired you to step up as a leader and join the JETAA Chicago Board?
I knew that we had leadership standing down who had been on the board for several years. I was intent on keeping JETAA Chicago fun and welcoming, and I actively wanted to help shape that environment for returning JET alumni (recent or not so recent).
Describe your officer duties and what you have enjoyed about said duties.
As Secretary, I was mostly interested in getting familiarized with the board officer's duties and understanding how we made decisions, worked through issues, planned for events, etc. As Treasurer, I was more interested in taking on a more involved and serious role in the board, hoping to contribute more of my personal time towards helping the chapter. I've enjoyed working closely with CLAIR when submitting our annual budget and rectifying our out-of-date status with the state of Illinois.
What could be a healthy and/or needed culture add to JETAA Chicago?
I think we need to continue to strive for inclusivity and compassion between all JETAA Chicago members, including all board members. It is important to make sure we always remember why we are serving on the board - to benefit JET alumni and to enrich Japan-US relations at a grassroots level.
What is one highlight, accomplishment, and/or something you're proud to have been a part of during your time serving as an officer?
As Treasurer, I worked with Gabe and Lara to rectify our non-for-profit inactive status with the state of Illinois. It took nearly 20 years of records to be filed and submitted, but ultimately was a success in 2020.
For you, what sparks joy?
Beautiful hikes, Star Wars, video games, board games, and a good book
What is your favorite Japanese "thing" near where you live now (and/or in the Midwest)?
Mitsuwa Marketplace in the Illinois Suburb of Arlington Heights (near Chicago!)