Melissa was a Hokkaido JET from 2007-2012. She taught at two junior high schools and five elementary schools as the sole ALT in Akabira. Melissa caught the travel bug early, after visiting Ireland with a family friend while in high school. The experience made her realize the importance of pushing her own mental, cultural, and geographical boundaries to develop a better understanding of the world and herself. Melissa went on to participate in two undergraduate exchange programs in Europe through Linfield College and graduated with a BA in History. After returning from JET, she earned her MA in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
In her current role as Director of Operations at VIA Programs, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, Melissa utilizes her international experience and organizational management expertise to further sustainable development and operations of VIA’s cultural exchange programs in the US and Asia. She calls Monterey home and enjoys working 90% remotely while also having frequent opportunities to travel to east and southeast Asia. As a member of the leadership team, Melissa hopes to enhance JETAANC's engagement and support of the JET and Japan-connected communities in the Bay Area.