JETs at the Japan Society

by Ryan Chan and Steven Horowitz

Did you realize that there are now five JET Alums working for the Japan Society?  And that one of them, Kendall Hubert (1989-90), is the Executive Vice President, i.e., number two in the organization?

It’s certainly a bit of a different place than when Michelle Andrews (Miyagi-ken, 1998-2000), Assistant Director of Membership for the Japan Society for the past five years, first entered the building on 47th Street for her pre-departure orientation.  (Back then, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter didn’t live in the building right next door.)

And more significantly, as the JET Program ages, JET Alums are moving up the ladder and reaching positions of authority.

Now, in addition to Kendall and Michelle, there is Christy Jones (Nagasaki-ken, 1995-98), Special Events Manager, Christopher Poston (Okinawa-ken, 1989-90), Senior Program Officer, Corporate Programs, and Harper Alexander (Hokkaido, 2002-04), Program Associate, Global Affairs.

JETAA NY Newsletter was fortunate enough to have the chance to stop by the Japan Society for lunch with Christy and Michelle the other day.  And what a fun lunch it was.  Pachinko machines and large-scale anime sculptures in the lobby, a lively office lunch room, a co-ed onsen on the fifth floor…. (ok, I’m kidding about the onsen.)  And a nice walk around the lobby and offices which allowed for a short run-in with a busy Harper, who was organizing a lunch meeting for the Society’s Innovators Project, and a brief stop by Chris’ desk where he was preparing for the next day’s corporate event involving a discussion of the US-Japan-China Power Triangle.

We didn’t get a chance to meet Kendall on our field trip, but after a post-JET career that has included stops at CNN, Carnegie Hall, a cultural sponsorship consulting firm in London, a Japanese ad agency, and the Guggenheim Museum, where she served for the past 5 years as Director of Corporate Development, it’s good to know her energy and multi-disciplinary skills are now benefitting the Japan Society and, indirectly, the JETAA community.

But wait.  What exactly is the Japan Society?  And what does it have to do with JETAA other than the fact that they both have the word “Japan” in their titles?

According to their website, the Japan Society is a “private, nonprofit, nonpolitical institution offering programs in the arts, business, education and public affairs.”  But more interestingly is that the Japan Society was founded in 1907 and that 2007 will mark it’s 100th anniversary.  And contrary to popular belief, John D. Rockefeller III did not found the Japan Society.  During World War II, it more or less ceased activities for political reasons, and it was Rockefeller in the post-War era who revived it.

Nowadays, at least from the JET Alumni perspective, the Japan Society serves alternatively as a refuge from reverse culture shock and way to keep a toe in the culture many of us left behind when we finished the JET Program.  A number of JETs have take the Japanese language courses at the highly regarded Toyota Language Center.  And the cultural events such as regular film screenings, the current neo-pop art exhibition curated by Takashi Murakami, and Zensations networking nights have attracted additional JET Alums into the building, as have the Global Affairs events which have brought in speakers on political and economic topics including former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, former SEC Chairman William McDonough, Japanese baseball author Robert Whiting, and Ripplewood Holdings CEO Tim Collins.

All of these fit in with the Japan Society’s move towards unique and creative events to attract new supporters, including a younger audience.

At the same time, as the JET Alumni community reaches nearly 20 years of existence, it has begun seeking new and more
sophisticated ways of staying connected with Japanese culture and community.

As the common interests among JETAA and the Japan Society grow, you can probably expect to see increasing connections in the two communities, as reflected in the number of JET Alums now working for the Japan Society.  Stay tuned for more collaborations between these organizations!

Want to be a Japan Society member?  Go to

leave a reply

Page Rank