2017–2018 Executive Platforms

2017-2018 Executive Platforms – Click here for Japanese version

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Chair 会長

Christopher Olivares

Christopher A. Olivares

The JET Programme experience is multifaceted—JET is a job, an adventure, a network, a lifestyle, and an opportunity. In my time as an ALT in Fukui Prefecture, I’ve learned that living JET life to the fullest is easiest in the presence of compassionate support and detailed information. If elected chairperson of the Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching, I will work tirelessly to establish receptiveness and efficacy as fundamental themes of AJET’s leadership structure and to pilot a campaign to standardize the information JETs receive about their living and working arrangements.

Meticulous organizational expertise, strong communication skills, and an analytical approach are among the characteristics I would bring to the chairpersonship. Throughout my professional experiences, I have relied on these strengths to find success. At the end of March, for instance, I will hold an event to discuss the prospect of studying abroad in the United States with middle and high school students. The project, supported by the U.S. Embassy Tokyo with funding from the U.S. JET Alumni Association, has been months in the making. From designing flyers, to securing guest speakers, and making a RSVP questionnaire through Google Forms, the project would have struggled if not for the help of others. By specifying the project’s needs, I have been able to engage with people willing to lend their time and skills. Thanks to their volunteerism, the project is better positioned to reach its target audience. These responsibilities have demanded the kind of careful organization I would bring to the role of AJET chairperson.

One of my top priorities, if elected chairperson, will be to work with AJET leaders to establish new standards for describing the living and working situations of JET participants. These details should be at the core of the information incoming ALTs, CIRs, and SEAs receive. Instead, petitions for these details are commonly dismissed by a recitation of the axiom every situation is different. No JET participant, current or incoming, should go uninformed of their rights and responsibilities, particularly as they pertain to their living and employment environments. If elected, I will lead a campaign to establish nationwide benchmarks for housing and employment arrangements.

As chairperson, I will promote receptiveness and efficacy as guiding principles of AJET’s leadership structure. In doing so, block leaders and prefectural presidents can count on receiving the support they need in order to best support the JET participants they serve.

CJ Fischer

CJ Fischer

Haisai! My name is CJ Fischer and I am a 2nd year Elementary School ALT in Nakijin, Okinawa. I am from Wisconsin in the United States where I studied Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Technical Japanese. While I have given up my winter boots for snorkeling fins, I wouldn’t change a thing about my placement. During my time in the JET program I have established myself as a leader by volunteering with Okinawa AJET and by serving as Block 11 Representative for the 2016-2017 term. Due to these experiences, and the people I’ve shared them with, I am running for AJET Chair.  

While serving as Chair, I want to connect more JETs on a national level and improve the CLAIR Opinion Exchange. I had the chance to help with the 2016 Winter Tokyo Opinion Exchange Survey as Block 11 Representative and I learned a lot in the process. We sifted through the hundreds of survey submissions and organized the information to present to CLAIR and I was fascinated by the many stories shared that both mirrored and completely differed from my experiences. JET Participation in the survey was good but I believe it can be better. I will work with the AJET council to stimulate interest in national JET affairs such as the National Survey, block events, and the Connect Magazine.

In my time as Block 11 Representative I have improved my communication and interpersonal skills by organizing discussions regarding life and work in Japan on our Facebook page. I also worked closely with the AJET organizations in Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa to plan and advertise events such as the Okinawan Cherry Blossom Viewing and the All Kyushu Hanami. Working with the 2016-2017 National Council I learned the behind-the-scenes of National AJET’s workings which will help me achieve my goals as Chair. Volunteering with a local U.S. Consulate-sponsored Adult Conversational English class and managing the grants I’ve received has also improved my organizational skills.
Overall I believe my experiences in the AJET and in my community have provided me the skills necessary to successfully increase the impact of National AJET while working with JETs from all over the world. I look forward to serving you in the upcoming year!

Stephen DiTomasso

Stephen DiTomasso

My name is Stephen DiTomasso and I am running for a second term as the Chair on AJET.

I am a second year CIR in Kanoya City, Kagoshima and the current 2016-2017 Chair of AJET. I am from Arizona in the USA and I graduated from Arizona State University in 2014 with a degree in Business and Global Leadership as well as a minor in Japanese. During my time there I studied abroad for a year at Hiroshima Shudo University in Hiroshima City.

I originally became interested in Japan and Japanese through the food and from watching old Jidaigeki films. I love going out to eat and going to hot springs as well as listening to music and watching films. I also love going out to karaoke and snacks.

I am applying for this position again so I can continue the work I started this past year in getting AJET back on track financially and making sure the 30th Anniversary celebrations this year are successful. I want to continue to make sure all of the JETs who come here, whether they are in the middle of Tokyo, or in a small village in the middle of nowhere, have opportunities to get involved and immersed in Japanese culture as well as the various events and projects set up by AJET. I also want to continue to make sure JETs get the counseling and job support they need and are properly represented to CLAIR and the ministries of Japan.

While I was in Hiroshima I lived in the Hiroshima City International House near Hiroshima Station. Four months into my year I was voted in as chairman of the International House where I would lead and help set up events such as ski trips and cultural outings for the residents.

I have leadership experience working as a guest services supervisor at a resort in Arizona where I was also involved in auditing and accounting. In my position now as a CIR in Kanoya I am heavily involved in planning, setting up, and leading international events for the city. I have plenty of experience in public speaking in English and Japanese from the business school at ASU and being a guest speaker at various gathering in Hiroshima and Kanoya. Personality-wise I can get along with virtually anyone and am always positive and forward thinking. I like to get to the point and keep things simple and straightforward.
I believe my leadership experience and experience being the Chair of AJET has set me up as an exceptional candidate for another year and to help finish what the Executive Council started.

Zach Krause

Zachary Krause

My name is Zachary Krause and I am running for the position of National AJET Chair.

After studying abroad in Beppu, Oita Prefecture in the summer of 2012 and graduating from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Economics and Management in 2013, I began my journey on the JET Programme. This is my fourth year as a CIR on JET and it is my first year as the PA for Chiba Prefecture.

I am applying for the position of Chair because I believe National AJET plays an important role in supporting the JET community, but the methods in which National AJET connects to that community need improvement. In order to reach out to and better connect with the national community of JETs, AJET support services like the Peer Support Group (PSG), informative services like the Connect Magazine, and community building services like Tatami Timeshare need to be better publicized through more regional outlets such as the local AJET Chapters.

More importance should be placed on the support of local chapters by facilitating the sharing of information such as career opportunities, teaching resources, and living information across AJET’s national blocks.

In terms of relevant experience, I have had the opportunity to practice leadership skills in several volunteer organizations. As President of my university’s Japan Student Association, I developed event coordination skills through the planning of yearly cultural exchange events (2012-2013). As a Volunteer Program Coordinator for the Minneapolis based ‘Students Today Leaders Forever’ organization, I honed leadership and project management skills when I helped to organize a 9-day cross-country volunteering tour for university students in 2013. Moreover, as the 2014-2015 National AJET project manager, I carried out projects proposed by the national council and deepened my understanding of the responsibilities that national AJET has to the JET community.

As National AJET’s Chair, I will take an active role in supporting the community that has so graciously accepted me these last four years. With my sincerest regards, I ask for your vote and support so that together we may make the JET experience a more positive experience for all.


Vice Chair 副会長

Mackenzie Richardson

Mack Richardson

Hello there! My name is Mackenzie Richardson (though you can call me Mack). I am currently on my second year of the JET programme living in the lovely town of Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture. I intend to run for the position of Vice Chair of National AJET for the 2017 – 2018 fiscal year.

About Me

Before JET, I studied Integrated Sciences in Canada with a minor in Pedagogy. Since coming to Japan, I’ve tried to do as many new and exciting things as possible (including appearing naked on national television). My main hobbies are ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and studying Japanese, though I still find time to game and hang out with my friends. I am the current president of the Okayama chapter of AJET, a position I did not expect to hold. This position has brought me a great deal of personal satisfaction, as I get to make connect with my local community, plan and host events for everyone to enjoy, and ensure that people don’t feel so isolated. I am having a great time so far in Japan, and feel fortunate every day to have had the chance to participate in the JET programme.


If successful in being elected as vice chair, my goals for next year are to more fully integrate the JET community that extends across Japan. At present, it often feels like JETs are isolated to the immediate prefectures they live in. From my experience as Okayama AJET president, AJET is failing at creating a sense of community for JETs on a larger level. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to travel to any town in Japan, and have someone there to talk with? Someone who could guide you and show you the true heart of that village, the best secret drinking spots, the things that really make a place unique?

Additionally, I want to make sure that JETs have the representation they need and deserve when it comes time to talk with the National Councils – CLAIR, MEXT, and MOFA. Having been a JET for 2 years, I feel confident that I can effect the changes JETs want and need.


My experience with Okayama AJET has given me the skills I need to excel at the position of vice chair. I have planned many events for the Okayama community, and tried my best to ensure that the resources the JETs need are there. I believe that being the Vice Chair for the executive council will be a great chance to give back to the AJET community, whether it be helping JETs feel connected and less lonely, or representing the interests of JETs the best I can in front of the National Councils. My hope and dream is that every JET get the most out of their time in Japan.

Rachel Boellstorff

Rachel Boellstorff


I am a first year JET from Nebraska, and hoping to be your next Vice Chair. I work and live in beautiful Maniwa in Okayama Prefecture. In 2013, I obtained my Bachelor’s in Political Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University, focusing on international politics.

After graduation, I spent a few years working in the private sector, with an insurance company. In this job I worked to comfort people in times of devastating loss and help them to work out a way forward, using the policies and resources at my disposal. I also volunteered at this time with a local organization teaching English to immigrants, refugees, and asylees.


Due to both the JET Programme`s commitment to increasing our numbers, and the changing world events being shaped by many of our home countries, I believe that AJET can and should be a strong contributing voice to dialogues concerning us and our futures. I would like to represent you and help to ensure that your voices are heard and our concerns are met.

I can also:

Promote channels or surveys for your opinions and concerns

Help to coordinate prefectural and other AJET representatives to give you better access to your resources and support

Evaluate and answer questions on policies, in cooperation with the Chair of AJET.

Represent you at both official events and in communications involving AJET, CLAIR, the respective Ministries, JET alumni, and other organizations that may affect you.

Work with the Chair and Treasurer in regards to issues, information, and budgets that affect you.

Do horrendous amounts of paperwork with extreme efficiency, if that`s important to you at all.

A Few Final Words

I am devoted to putting my personal and professional experience to work for you- to improve the quality of life for JETs across Japan, during and after their tenure here. After looking into the various self development options offered through JET and beginning down that path myself, I decided that I would love to help other people navigate both personal and professional obstacles.

My experiences helped me to learn to work with vast amounts of red tape, complicated situations, and people of all dispositions. My greatest asset, however, is my drive and passion to help people. If I am elected to this position, I will do all in my power to represent our community for the good of us all.

Treasurer 会計

David Winter

David Winter

My name is David Winter, and I am running for the position of Treasurer on AJET. I have already served one term (2016-2017) and I would like to continue for a second term.

I am a second year ALT serving at Fukuchiyama High School in Kyoto. I am from New Jersey, USA and attended university at Vanderbilt University. I have a BA in Neuroscience and a BA in Anthropology. Some of my studies guided my interests towards Asia, and Japan in particular.
I came to Japan to study Japanese culture, history, and language. In doing so, I have gained a greater appreciation for this society and its myriad of contributions to the world. I enjoy working with other JETs in fostering a healthy and strong relationship with the Japanese branches that maintain the JET program and offer aid to its participants.
With the help of this past year’s excellent cabinet members, together we have progressed in our goal of maintaining AJET financially. We have succeeded in reaching milestones towards this goal where past cabinets have proved unsuccessful. I feel that it would be a shame for me to abandon this goal given how much work we have all put into it. I would like to use my second term as an opportunity for establishing the methods of fundraising for future AJET councils. In doing so, AJET will not have to deal with the stress of lacking funds for things ranging from arranging events to reimbursement for its members. Although we have inquired to the appropriate branches about receiving an allowance or funding, there is little promise that such a condition will happen in the near future. This being said, it is the responsibility of the AJET cabinet to keep operations afloat by establishing an effective financially independent state.
I am confident that if I am able to continue working with my fellow AJET members, we will be able to reach our goal in securing AJET’s financial future. My experience on AJET this past year has helped me grow and acclimate to the responsibilities of being an AJET Executive Council member. I hope that I can continue serving the JET community by continuing work in this position during the 2017-2018 JET year.