The 25th Class of Mansfield Fellows arrived in Japan on July 1, 2021, following a one-year delay due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Ahead of their deployments, each fellow was asked to briefly introduce themself and their goals for their fellowship year.
Ms. Marla Borkson
General Attorney (Tax), IRS Office of Chief Counsel, Department of Treasury
In my current position as a tax attorney with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, Passthroughs and Special Industries Division, I work on a range of U.S. income taxation issues including those involving the tax treatment of partnerships, S corporations, and their owners; international taxation; and income taxation of trusts and estates. My agency interprets statutes passed by Congress and my division implements the partnership-specific portions through regulations. I work on drafting these regulations. I lecture on complex tax topics to attorneys and work with other divisions in the U.S. where our subject matters intercept.
My primary objective during the Mansfield Fellowship Program is to develop an understanding of the ways in which Japanese Tax Authorities deal with passthrough entities including their auditing regimes, entity classification opportunities, and different tax status from other entities such as corporations. I also plan to learn how the Japanese Tax Authorities create new statutory law and regulatory language and how U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) partnership provisions are being interpreted by Japanese Tax Authorities. In turn, I hope to assist Japanese counterparts in understanding the nuances of U.S. partnership tax law, especially the U.S. entity classification regulations and the regulations implementing TCJA that apply to partnerships and passthrough entities. I plan to also assist Japanese colleagues with trainings on U.S. partnership and passthrough law topics. I look forward to this incredible opportunity and hope to be in Japan soon.
Mr. Fred Carl
Attorney Advisor – Trademarks, Trademark Classification Policy & Practice, United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Department of Commerce
I work at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (U.S.P.T.O.), in Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Examination Policy. My group implements certain international trademark treaties, handling the standards and policies for the identification and classification of goods and services for trademark applications. Throughout the world, trademark owners must identify the goods or services to which their trademark rights attach. This makes the identification of the goods and services, as they relate to any trademark, a vitally important aspect of trademark law. In our global economy, trademark owners need to protect their rights across national borders. Part of my job is to ensure that U.S. trademark identification practice conforms with practice around the world. The U.S. and Japan are members of international treaties and working groups that require us to work together to conform practice that makes it possible for businesses to operate smoothly across borders.
As part of my current responsibilities, I regularly attend meetings with our counterparts from the Japan Patent Office (J.P.O.) where we work toward harmonizing practice between our countries and others. However, those meetings have time limits and strict agendas that require us to focus on specific tasks. During my fellowship year in Japan, I anticipate having the flexibility to learn, in-depth, how the J.P.O. approaches identification and classification issues. I hope to see how the J.P.O. works within the framework of treaties and compare it to how the U.S. approaches these same issues. I also look forward to learning firsthand how trademark examination policies and practices in Japan are consistent with ours at the U.S.P.T.O. Additionally, I am interested in building better and stronger relationships with my counterparts at the J.P.O. so that we can continue to work together to support our shared interests that contribute to a robust global economy.
I lived in Japan for five years, at the end of the 1990s. I was married there and two of our three daughters were born in Japan. Our lives have changed so much since we last lived there and we are very much looking forward to the adventure of being there with grown daughters.
Mr. Craig Elliott
Trade Policy Officer (Foreign Agricultural Service Officer Trainee), Asia Pacific Division, United States Department of Agriculture
I am a Foreign Agricultural Service Trainee currently assigned to the Asia-Pacific Division as a Trade Policy Officer covering Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Mongolia. My work primarily focuses on increasing exports of American agricultural products to the aforementioned markets, in addition to other training to become a Foreign Agricultural Service Officer.
Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration in various roles, most recently as a Southeast Asia Desk Officer in the Asia office. I also worked on the Indo-Pacific Commercial Coordination team to advance the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. In addition, I spent time in the Trade Advocacy Center office, assisting American companies to win foreign government tenders in Central Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North Africa. Other professional experience includes professional baseball sales and operations, Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan, small business management, and nonprofit sector.
My aim during the Mansfield Fellowship is to develop an in-depth understanding of how the Government of Japan formulates and implements agriculture policy for imports and exports. Robust agricultural trade is an important component of the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship, which I hope to further strengthen as a 25th Class Mansfield Fellow. I previously lived in Japan for more than three years, and I am greatly looking forward to the next opportunity as a Mansfield Fellow.
Lieutenant Commander Veronica Kennedy
Foreign Area Officer, United States Navy
Currently, I serve on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development as a Strategic Warfighting Innovation Cell fellow, responsible for analysis and solution-development of high-priority key operational problems for the U.S. Navy. I have worked at the Pentagon since 2018, first as a desk officer responsible for spearheading the Chief of Naval Operations’ critical international engagements, specifically in direct support of building allies and partners with Japan, Australia, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.
I lived in both Sasebo and Yokosuka during separate assignments within the Navy. While stationed onboard the USS TORTUGA (LSD 46) in Sasebo, our ship was called upon during Operation TOMODACHI to assist with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts following the devastating March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Accordingly, I published my 2018 Master’s thesis on the relationship between military humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations on civil-military relations, with the example of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense force during Operation TOMODACHI at the crux of my research and publication.
As a Mansfield Fellow, I look forward to exploring ways to enhance Security Cooperation between Japan and the United States. Understanding Japan’s perspective in our relationship is key to ensuring we remain great partners. Additionally, given the already robust defense engagement between Japan and the U.S., I hope to also gain more insight into Japan’s bilateral relationships around the globe, both in the context of security and beyond, in order to strengthen our network of allies and partners. Finally, I will gather key lessons and new contacts during my Fellowship that may mutually improve the Department of Defense’s approach to humanitarian relief operations, both independently and together with the Self-Defense Forces.
Mr. Jeremy Krizek
Sanctions Enforcement Officer, Enforcement Division, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury
I work as a Sanctions Enforcement Officer in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. I am responsible for conducting civil administrative investigations into U.S. persons who may be in violation of U.S. sanctions laws, and to promote compliance with these regulations.
As a Sanctions Enforcement Officer, I have learned that the governments of the United States and Japan dedicate significant resources to designing, implementing, and enforcing domestic and international economic and trade regulations aimed at fostering economic growth and protecting national security interests. In recent years, both nations, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations, have utilized economic and trade sanctions as a tool of foreign policy and national security in an effort to deter and combat illicit behavior, international terrorism, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, and rogue regimes such as North Korea.
Both anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance tools are key to strong national monetary policy in Japan and the U.S. At OFAC, we actively work to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system from nefarious actors. I hope to learn more about Japan’s domestic efforts, and its interaction with the U.S. financial system to support compliance with correspondent banking, policies, and procedures.
My interest in Japan started at a young age while growing up in Montana. During my junior year in high school, I had the opportunity to participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program where I spent a year living with a host family and attending high school in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, Japan. I hope to build on and further my understanding of the Japanese language, culture, and its rich history.
Upon completion of the Mansfield Fellowship, I hope to help provide OFAC with critical insights on Japanese trade promotion that will help to further mutual priorities and interests. I hope to foster a strong bilateral relationship between OFAC and the Government of Japan. I plan to share best practices with my Japanese counterparts on U.S. sanctions and compliance to ensure the free flow of international trade, while isolating nefarious actors who seek to exploit it. This fellowship is an opportunity to return to Japan to make new connections with the people of Japan and bridge the unique cultural aspects of both the United States and Japan. I am excited about the opportunity to marry these ambitions by participating in the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program and contributing to a stronger U.S.-Japanese relationship.
Dr. Jared Lane K. Maeda
Principal Analyst, Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division, Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Congress
In my position at the Congressional Budget Office, I have worked on various projects related to expansions of health insurance coverage, single-payer systems, and health care prices. My motivation for participating in the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program is to learn firsthand about Japan’s national health care system and how it has been able to achieve universal coverage and control rising health care costs through its statutory insurance. The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country, yet its health outcomes are worse than those of peer countries, and a significant portion of the population remains uninsured. By comparison, Japan achieved universal coverage more than 50 years ago and it has one of the lowest health care expenditures per capita and longest life expectancies. As Members of Congress consider different approaches to expand coverage and reduce health care costs, the Mansfield Fellowship will help to facilitate the exchange of policy ideas.
I am also interested in learning more about how Japan is responding to the challenges it is facing within its own health care system, such as the overutilization of services, rising drug prices, and caring for its rapidly aging population—an issue that the United States will soon confront with the “baby boomers.”
As a yonsei, born and raised in Maui, Hawaii, I hope to be an ambassador of aloha and build stronger Japan-U.S. relations through the fellowship program. I look forward to participating in the Mansfield Fellowship, which will provide me with an unparalleled opportunity to live in and work in Japan.
Ms. Sara Trettin
Education Program Specialist, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education
I am a senior policy advisor in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. I have worked at the Department for the past six years, including an extended rotation in 2015 with the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Prior to joining the Department, I worked as a teacher, a college librarian, and as the national Teacher in Residence at the U.S. Library of Congress.
Within the Office of Educational Technology, I lead coverage of U.S. K-12 educational technology issues, working to identify and share approaches for the effective implementation of technology to support teaching and learning. I lead the Department’s work on broadband Internet access and represents the Department on the federal interagency American Broadband Initiative. I regularly work in close collaboration with an extensive network of leaders from across the U.S. federal government, State Education Agencies, school districts, and non-profit and academic organizations.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden shift to remote learning has magnified the importance of access to affordable, high-speed Internet access for students at home. This can be particularly challenging in rural communities that may have limited broadband infrastructure and low-income communities where the high cost of Internet access is a barrier for students and their families. Equally important is ensuring that teachers have training to use the technology effectively to support learning. Over the past several months, I and my team in the Office of Educational Technology have focused on supporting students and families, teachers, and school leaders by sharing best practices, identifying policy flexibilities, and contributing to the development of new programs and the distribution of emergency funding to States and schools to support the transition to online learning.
During the Mansfield Fellowship, I plan to study Japan’s efforts to increase the use of technology in education through recent policies like the Law to Promote the Computerization of Education (2019). I am is also interested in learning what impact the coronavirus pandemic, school closures, and shift to online learning has had or will have on the use of technology in Japanese schools. Specifically, I am interested in studying how Japan uses evidence to inform educational technology policy development and implementation, how Japanese educators are being prepared to use new technologies, and how these reforms are being implemented in rural schools.
I recently moved to Japan with my husband who is a Foreign Service Officer assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. I will continue teleworking for the U.S. Department of Education until the start of the Mansfield Fellowship in 2021. I am taking advantage of my early arrival to continue building my Japanese language skills and knowledge of the key education issues in Japan. I am is also using this time to explore Tokyo and the beautiful hiking trails outside of the city.
Major Reinier Troy Villanueva
C-17 Pilot, U.S. Air Force
Prior to the start of the Mansfield Fellowship Program, I was transferred from the U.S. to Japan in July. I currently live in Tokyo, studying Japanese, and taking care of my newborn son, Theo, born on 2 October! My wife and I have genuinely enjoyed our time and experiences so far.
COVID-19 has made our move out here challenging, but thankfully we were allowed to come out as scheduled and use the extra time before the Fellowship year starts to focus on Japanese language and culture immersion.
During the Fellowship, I want to learn as much as I can about the Japanese way of life and long- term goals to bring back to my home agency and do my part to strengthen the American- Japanese bilateral relationship.
Ms. Phyllisina Vinson
Attorney-Advisor (Oil and Gas, Minerals), Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mineral Resources, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
So many people have asked me what, exactly, does the Department of the Interior (DOI) do in the Federal government? I understand why they have asked this question, since the word “Interior” doesn’t fully describe DOI’s programs. Well, DOI seeks to conserve and manage the United States’ natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit of the American people, provide scientific and other helpful information concerning natural resources and natural hazards, and honor the United States’ trust responsibilities for American Indians, Alaska natives and affiliated island communities through activities that are designed to help these communities prosper. See DOI’s Mission Statement.
My DOI practice area focuses on mineral resource activities. As evidenced by DOI’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022, DOI’s vision for natural resource development is twofold: 1) to “promote energy security and critical minerals development” and “protect itself from “violent political developments overseas” by “providing additional energy security to allies via surplus domestic supply” and 2) to “ enhance conservation stewardship “between all levels of government to achieve shared natural resources goals.”
In my current position as an oil, gas and minerals attorney with DOI’s Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mineral Resources, I work extensively on Federal decommissioning (i.e. permanent plugging and abandonment of Federal wells and reclamation) and bonding issues, as well as fossil fuel bankruptcy cases. Additionally, I have worked with DOI’s onshore and offshore minerals and mineral energy-focused bureaus on many of their procedural policy documents, geothermal issues, underground gas storage agreements, legal questions concerning the privatization of the Federal Helium System, as well as rulemaking review and drafting.
As one of the United States’ strongest allies, Japan plays a crucial role in energy security, for it presumably shares the same devoted interest in enacting statutes and promulgating regulations to bolster its economic energy independence, as does the United States. My interest in learning more about Japan’s potential programs and activities that foster energy development independence, which do so with a focus on conservation stewardship, is a primary reason for my desire to embark upon my Mansfield Fellowship Program experience next year.
During my Mansfield Fellowship Program experience, I desire to gain an in-depth understanding of Japan’s laws and policies that promote energy development independence while quantifying the inherent risks associated with this development, with a special focus on fossil fuel development such as oil, natural gas and coal. I desire to understand and identify the best practices the United States and Japan may undertake to maximize the conservation and economic recovery of these resources while fostering an environment that is conducive to natural resource stewardship. As the number of orphaned oil and gas wells in the United States is on the rise, DOI is always seeking ways to minimize the risk of improper well abandonment. I am hopeful that my work with my Japanese counterparts to explore Japan’s presumably equal focus on programs and activities that foster energy independence through the lens of conservation stewardship would greatly assist me when I return to DOI to work on these issues.
It is important that nations foster responsible stewardship of our world’s finite resources and that requires innovation and vision, borne of exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking. Through my work with my Japanese counterparts on the United States’ and Japan’s anticipated focus on the potential relationship between ongoing fossil fuel development and renewable energy advances, I am hopeful that my work and experiences will lead to continued responsible energy development and greater energy resource stewardship globally.