Spotlight: Vanessa Ellison, Fukushima

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Relying solely on unpaid volunteers to manage the day-to-day operations of the shelter, the Japan Cat Network sees an ever-changing leadership team. Vanessa Ellison, a graduate student from Texas working toward a master’s degree in International Sustainable Tourism, recently stepped into the role of Shelter Manager. As part of her graduate program’s international internship component, Vanessa is spending four months with JCN to work to improve the organization’s sustainability; both from financial and environmental perspectives. Vanessa hopes to build upon JCN’s international partnerships, and to create new marketing and fundraising plans, a volunteer manual, an inventory list of JCN’s assets, and a list of ongoing extended projects for interested volunteers.


“Green, in all aspects of the word,” Vanessa jokes, as she works to advance the shelter beyond basic animal socialization. “There is more good to do here, but we can’t do it by ourselves. “We have to reach out to more people. We are on the map. We get emails from people from all over the world, but that’s why I’m here…to try to solidify partnerships, and to make sure things are sustainable beyond my time here.”