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Japan Travel Program Fellows 2010

Participant Bios

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Lauren Ackerman

University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Lauren Ackerman plans to receive a Masters in Public and International Affairs with a major in International Political Economy. At GSPIA, Ackerman is a de Zafra leadership fellow, an editor for the Pitt Political Review and active in the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland with a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies and Spanish. She has studied abroad in Thailand, Mexico, Guatemala and Chile. Her professional experience includes work at Johns Hopkins Medicine International in Baltimore, Maryland and Trade Chile, in Santiago, Chile. She is fluent in Spanish and speaks intermediate Portuguese and Thai. Her academic interests include globalization, international trade and emerging markets in the global economy.  

Nathaniel Adler
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Nate Adler is an MPA candidate in International Relations at Princeton University and an M.A. candidate in East Asian Studies at Harvard University. He received a National Security Language Program scholarship from the Dept. of State to study in South Korea and a Next Generation Nuclear Safeguards Initiative grant from the Dept. of Energy in Summer 2009. Nate is currently a non-resident James A. Kelly Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he is also a Project on Nuclear Issues Scholar. Previously, Nate worked at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea as an International Trade Analyst. He is the recipient of a 2005 Fulbright Scholarship to South Korea.

Nicholas Borst
The Johns Hopkins University, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Affairs
Nick Borst is an M.A. candidate concentrating in China Studies with a specialization in emerging markets. He holds a B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Arizona and a certificate in Chinese and American studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Nick also studied Chinese language, foreign policy, and political economy in Beijing and Nanjing. After graduation, Nick moved to China and worked for an American educational services company that helped facilitate study abroad opportunities in the U.S. for Chinese students. Recently, Nick has worked for the Department of Treasury analyzing emerging markets in Southeast Asia. He has also worked as a research assistant for an international consulting firm based in DC that focuses on trade and energy issues. This summer, he will be working at the World Bank in the political risk insurance group (MIGA).

Rachel Carr
University of Minnesota, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Rachel Carr is a Master of Public Policy student focusing on Global Public Policy and has a specific interest in international energy security and nuclear proliferation issues. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Rachel received a B.A. in International Studies and East Asian Studies in 2004. Her junior year was spent at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Outside of coursework and cultural immersion, Rachel taught advanced English conversation at the Sapporo International Women’s Center. She hopes to use the research performed during the Japan Travel Program to inform her final professional paper.   

John Floretta
Tufts University, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
John Floretta is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University pursuing a master’s degree with concentrations in human security and Asian Pacific affairs. Prior to graduate school John served for five years in the United Nations system in China working in the fields of development and humanitarian assistance as the manager of the UN Volunteers and secretary of the UN Disaster Management Team. He is proficient in Mandarin Chinese. John worked this summer with Nike Foundation in his home state of Oregon. He is preparing for a career in diplomacy or international development and is greatly looking forward to learning more about Japan and its global and regional vision.

Erica Grieder
University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
Erica Grieder is a Masters candidate specializing in international affairs and has a particular interest in development. Erica is also the southwest correspondent for The Economist. She writes about politics, policy, the economy and, occasionally, culture. Erica is from Texas, but grew up on Air Force bases around the country and still likes to travel. As an undergraduate she studied philosophy at Columbia University.


Tara Grillos

Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Tara Grillos is a doctoral candidate in Harvard’s Public Policy PhD program and her research focuses on environmental and development economics and policy. Originally from New York City, Tara graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. from the Wharton School. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Tara spent a little more than two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, where she worked with community water organizations and micro-lending groups in rural areas, and with an educational center for at-risk urban youth. During her time in Central America, Tara also formed close ties with her fellow volunteers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which sparked her initial interest in Japanese language and culture.

Sophie Lu
The Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Affairs
Sophie is currently a MA candidate pursuing concentrations in China Studies, energy and resources policy, and international finance. Prior to SAIS, she attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate during which she majored in International Relations, East Asian Studies, and Economics. As a Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellow, she conducted a two year ethnographic study of the Olympic Citizenship Education Campaign to examine emerging socio-economic divides among modern Chinese youth. Sophie has also engaged in a diverse range of professional experiences in various fields; these include working with Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management, the China Center for Economics Research (CCER) at Peking University, anti-trust litigation work with White & Case LLP, and the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors. After graduation, she hopes to pursue field research to examine Asia’s expanding investment activities in Africa.

Brian Mayer
University of Washington, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
Brian Mayer is a Master of Arts Candidate in the Japan Studies Program. Originally from Chicago, IL, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Southern California in 2007. Following graduation, Brian moved to Osaka, Japan and worked as an Assistant Language Teacher in public schools for two years. During this time he was also enrolled as a part-time student at the Shin Osaka Foreign Language Institute, where he studied Japanese. In August, 2009 he moved back to the United States to begin coursework at the University of Washington.

Kent Mullen
Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Kent Mullen is studying international affairs and security (MSFS). His studies focus on the international political economy of Northeast Asia and U.S. policy towards the region. Prior to enrolling at Georgetown, Kent spent two years working for the Tochigi Prefectural Government in Japan as a Coordinator of International Relations. As an undergraduate student he studied at the University of Arizona, receiving a Bachelor's degree in Economics and East Asian Studies. He speaks, reads and writes Japanese. After graduating from Georgetown, he hopes to work in the public or private sector promoting further partnership between the U.S. and Japan.

Linda Nguy
University of Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Linda Nguy just completed her second year in the dual Master in Public Policy and Master in Business Administration (MPP/MBA) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Prior to attending graduate school, she worked in her home state of California for two different nonprofit advocacy organizations on health workforce and higher education issues. Last summer she interned at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the Agriculture Branch and this summer she will be interning at Thrivent Financial as an Internal Consultant. She earned her B.A. in Development Studies at Brown University. She enjoys biking, cooking, eating, and meeting new people.

Rebecca Rose Nolan
University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
Rebecca Rose Nolan is pursuing a master’s in Public Policy at the with a dual specialization in International Security and Economic Policy and International Development. Most recently, Rebecca has interned at the White House in the Office of the Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. There, she has completed research and written briefings for meetings, speaking engagements and events. Much of this research has been on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and has primarily included data analysis. A Graduate Assistant to professor and former USTR Ambassador Susan Schwab, Rebecca performs research on trade practices and policies in preparation for Ambassador Schwab’s speaking engagements and events. From June to December of 2009, Rebecca interned for Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and assisted staff on research related to financial regulatory reform. Prior to her time at the White House, Rebecca spent four years at Morgan Stanley, most recently on the securitized products sales desk. Rebecca graduated from Villanova University in 2005 with a major in Economics.  

Sarah Sieloff
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Sarah is a second year Master of Public Affairs student spending this summer interning with the Millennium Challenge Cooperation, working on monitoring and evaluation component of a road construction project in Vanuatu. Prior to attending graduate school, Sarah worked with a social enterprise in Mumbai, in community mental health in Seattle, and served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at a rural Thai public high school. She graduated from Eckerd College in 2006, where she majored in international Relations and Spanish. Sarah is a longtime fan of the Seattle Mariners and is thrilled to visit the homeland of Seattleite’s favorite Mariner, Ichiro Suzuki. Aside from baseball, Sarah also enjoys cooking and eating exciting foods, hiking, biking, reading good books, and trying to improve her Hindi and Thai.

Mark Skeith
Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Mark Skeith is a Master of Science in Foreign Service graduate student with a concentration in International Development. Originally from Maryland, he graduated from Wake Forest University in 2005 with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Global Trade and Commerce. After graduation, Mark spent two years in Japan teaching English with the JET Program in Iwate Prefecture and with a private company, Altia Central, in Gifu Prefecture. When he returned to the U.S., he spent two years as a political researcher and editor with the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C., covering both the 2008 U.S. presidential race as well as Japanese-U.S. relations. Before entering graduate school last year, he spent a summer visiting grassroots development projects in western Guatemala and writing blog entries for project donors back in the U.S. through a non-profit organization called GlobalGiving. Mark is proficient in both Spanish and Japanese, although it has been a while since he has used either language on a daily basis. His hobbies include soccer, hiking, bowling, photography, and travelling.

Zainabu Williams
American University, School of International Service
Zainabu Williams is pursuing a Master's degree in International Communications with a concentration in international development. After graduating from SIS, she will work as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in the Department of State. Currently, she works at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of International Affairs, Asia Division assisting with the Japan Desk. Zainabu attended Penn State University for her undergraduate studies in Japanese and Management Science and Information Systems (MSIS). After graduating from Penn State, Zainabu taught English in Mitsu Town, Hyogo Prefecture on The Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program for two years. From 2007-2010, Zainabu volunteered with the Japan-America Society of DC as chairwoman of the annual Sakura Matsuri’s Marketplace. In her spare time, she likes to cook, knit and teach kickboxing.

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