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Introducing our 2024-2025 Officers - Philanthropy Lead, Sara Brown

Updated: Jun 20

We would like to introduce you to your JETAA Chicago Leadership Team for the 2024-2025 term! This series of officer profiles will give you a closer look at each officer's role responsibilities, motivations for pursuing a leadership role in JETAA Chicago, goals for this year, insights into their personalities, and more.

New this year, our Philanthropy Lead, Sara Brown (she/her), was an ALT in Nagano from 2015-2017.

Tell us more about your JET experience.

In a mountain-encircled valley in Nagano, I was an ALT teaching at one mega middle school, with nearly 700 students, and two smaller elementary schools per week where I built the English curriculum for 5th & 6th graders with creative ownership of the classroom.

JET was a transformative and challenging experience in this beautiful, isolated area. I poured myself into developing unique lessons and materials like original games and songs, crafts, and other activities for my students. Also, I worked to motivate and build confidence in co-teachers by leading lesson prep sessions for them in Japanese.

JET was a steppingstone towards longer-term goals that I was able to achieve of strengthening my language abilities and entering the corporate world in Tokyo, and it taught me how to find my inner strength and push through tough situations.

When did you join/how long have you been on the JETAA Chicago Leadership Board? If applicable: what positions have you held and when? 

I joined as the Philanthropy Lead in March 2024.

What skills and experience do you bring to the JETAA Chicago leadership team?

I bring experience in public relations, communications, event/project management, translation and interpretation. Skills include interpersonal relations, Japanese language, and Irish dancing.

What inspired you to step up as a leader and join the JETAA Chicago Board?

I'm newer to Chicago and wanted to find a community with other globally minded folks. Additionally, my challenging time on JET fueled my desire to support other JETs and alumni.

What is the essence/purpose of your role? (if you're a new officer, tell us more about what you are looking forward to in your officer role on the JETAA Chicago board)

As a new officer, my goal as the philanthropy lead for JETAA Chicago is to be a pillar of support for JETs, alumni, and local Japanese organizations. I'm looking forward to helping set up fun, informative, and meaningful events in-person and virtually.

Since our officers must embody and practice our Community Conduct and Agreements, which principle do you think is the most important, and/or which one resonated with you the most?

Each point together builds a healthy foundation. But if I had to shine a light on one, I'd choose: Staying respectful, along with acting/speaking with kindness or neutrality towards each other, as it creates essential crossroads for any group/ organization and helps us work together. "Peace and LOVE!" -Vash the Stampede

What is something you want to accomplish and/or focus on in your role as an officer?

I hope to help make members feel welcomed, and to provide opportunities to give back to the community and have meaningful experiences.

For you, what sparks joy?

  • Big hugs to big dogs

  • M&M cookies

  • Eating a lot after hiking abroad <- peak joy

  • Everything about Halloween

  • Roller coasters

What is your favorite Japanese "thing" near where you live now (and/or in the Midwest)?

I love my little takoyaki grill, and the sashimi at H-Mart downtown Chicago is so good :9

Connect with Sara via Linkedin!

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