Prefectural Advisor

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The Prefectural Advisor (PA) System was originally created in 1991 to help better support the participants of the JET Program. In Japanese, they are referred to as 取りまとめ団体アドバイザー (torimatome dantai adobaizā).

The PA cohort works together to provide resources and support the Akita JET Program community. PAs have experience and knowledge of Japanese culture, language, workplaces, and education that you can draw on to make decisions and address problems. Their contact details are below.

Please feel free to contact any of your PAs anytime, regardless of their proximity to you in the prefecture.

Prefectural Advisor
Current PAs & Quick Contact Information
International Affairs Division CIR/PA
Name:Alex Hennen
Prefectural Education Center / ALT/ PA
Name:Stephen Fischer
ALT/Block PA (North)
Name:Julia Wheelehan
ALT/Block PA (Capital)
Name:Mikalia Morris
ALT/Block PA (Yuri)
Name:Alyssa Elliott
ALT/Block PA (South)
Name:Charles (Charlie) VanBourgondien
International Affairs Division JPA
Name:Kentaro Kato

Kinds of PAs in Akita

  • JET Prefectural Advisors: JET-PAs, for short, JET-PAs are JET participants who also serve as PAs for Akita Prefecture. The PAs are also the primary organizers of Akita JET Conferences. They are, first and foremost, JETs but have additional responsibilities incorporated into their ALT/CIR jobs as PAs.
    • The English CIR at the International Affairs Division (IAD) and the ALT at the Education Center are automatically made PAs by their title.
    • The remaining JET-PAs are all Block PAs (BPA), who are selected via a written application process, where their applications are reviewed by the incumbent PAs and members of the Akita Prefectural Government that are involved in JET affairs.
  • Japanese Prefectural Advisor - The Japanese Prefectural Advisor (JPA) is primarily in charge of the CIR aspects of our JET Conferences. The JPA is also in charge of communicating with your BOEs regarding conferences and other important announcements from CLAIR, MEXT, the Akita International Affairs Division, and the Akita Prefectural Board of Education. The JPA and the PAs work closely throughout the year.

What do PAs do?

Akita's Prefectural Advisors provide a variety of services for JETs, the most important of which are listed below.

Conference Planning

The PAs are in charge of planning the many conferences that take place in the prefecture. Together with the JPA, they are in charge of proposing workshops, drafting conference schedules, and arranging presenters, as well as running the show the day of.


Living and working as a foreigner in Akita can be extremely stressful at times. Problems can be furthered by culture shock, language difficulties, and Akita's harsh winters.

Your PAs can offer basic consultation services to help you overcome these difficulties if and when they arise. Depending on the situation, you may need to consult your contracting organization before contacting a PA, and PAs will not provide counseling for mental health issues; in such cases, they will refer JET participants to the JET Online Counseling System, support hotlines, or other mental health resources.

Confidentiality is strictly upheld in all consultation situations. The only exception to this is if a JET poses an imminent threat to themselves or others. It's important to note, however, that PAs are not professional counselors. In a case where a PA feels the situation requires more expertise, the PA will, with your consent, help arrange for a referral to an appropriate professional.


If you face a dispute with another party, for example, a fellow JET or a supervisor, your PAs can offer mediation services to ensure effective communication and dialog to help address the problem. We can also offer a listening ear and advice on approaching the problem. If all parties agree, we can sometimes offer our services in person to the parties involved or arrange for an appropriate mediator. This would involve identifying common and individual needs and then ways to achieve as many of them as possible. During mediation, PAs represent all parties involved and, therefore, cannot assure confidentiality.

Crisis Response and Management

Although it is best to contact us during normal working hours or schedule an appointment, if a crisis situation or emergency occurs, you can contact us immediately and at any time. Such situations could include medical emergencies, crime incidents, bereavement, natural disasters, physical or mental trauma, and personal crises, including suicidal or violent thoughts. We will try to help you manage and deal with any such crises.

Interpretation Support

We can sometimes provide interpretation assistance within work hours if you need language assistance for medical treatment, driver's license interviews, legal processes, etc. Please contact us at the Akita Mailing List for further information.

Other PA Activities

  • Although anyone can edit this wiki, the PAs, in particular, try to keep pertinent information up to date. Akita's wiki is a treasure chest of useful information regarding local information, important documents, travel, language, and more!

What PAs don't do

There are some common misconceptions about what a PA is supposed to do for JETs and what authority they hold. Here are a few things to keep in mind about what PAs have no jurisdiction over and are not responsible for.

Pro JET or CO Advocacy

PAs do not advocate for JETs, JTEs, or COs in disputes. If a consultation occurs between a JET and a JTE or CO, as instructed, the PAs are to remain neutral and offer advice to mitigate and rectify the situation regardless of personal bias.

Work Evaluation

PAs don't officially evaluate JETs' work performance. All performance evaluations fall under the jurisdiction of the JETs Contracting Organization (CO).

Financial Consultation

PAs are not experts in financing. Therefore, they cannot offer in-depth financial advice or tell you what to do with your money. However, its always a good idea to save some money for emergencies.

Prefectural Arbiters

PAs cannot tell or command JETs or COs what to do. They can only offer advice if requested, and it is up to the affected parties to decide the best course of action.

Personal Aid

It is ultimately the responsibility of the individual, not the PA, to resolve all issues regarding daily life and work. PAs are here to offer assistance but not do the work for others.

Current PAs & Full Contact Information

Alex Hennen

Stephen Fischer

Julia Wheelehan

Mikalia Morris

Alyssa Elliott

Charles (Charlie) VanBourgondien

Current International Affairs Division Akita JET Program Advisor

Kentaro Kato (加藤 健太郎)

Current and Historical Prefectural Advisors

Block PA System (2019~)

Int'l Affairs Division Education
Center PA
Block PAs (April-Mar)
Japanese PA JET-CIR PA North Capital South Yuri
2024-2025 Kentaro Kato (加藤 健太郎) Alex Hennen (Aug 19~24) Stephen Fischer (Aug 22~) Julia Weelehan Mikalia Morris Charlie VanBourgondien Alyssa Elliot
2023-2024 Vanessa Limenyande Maisteo Bakwena Aiya Perrine
2022-2023 June Kim Majesty Zander Suriya Ratnam Christopher Scrafford
2021-2022 Yoshihito Saito (斎藤 由人) Bryce Fowler (Aug 21-22) Jody Frye Stephanie Daugherty Caitlin Wilcox Catherine Johnson
2020-2021 Stephanie Daugherty (Aug 20-21) Aaron Kern Allyson Roberts
2019-2020 Yuusei Ito (伊藤 裕誠) Josephine Chiao (Aug 18-19) Pimms Hubbell (Aug 18-20) Colin Reineberg

Elected PA System (2009-2018)

Int'l Affairs Division Education
Center PA
Elected PAs
Japanese PA JET-CIR PA
2018 Chika Suzuki (鈴木 千賀) Josephine Chiao Pimms Hubbell Aaron Kern Kathryn Ross -
2017 Kaori Akagawa (赤川 香里) Jennifer Campbell Alexander Dao Micheal Aubrey Brianna Hom
2016 Jonathon Morris Lynne Francis Nicholas Asquith
2015 Rachel Youngblood
2014 Kumiko Sato (佐藤 久美子) Randy Umetsu Taylor Fustin Josh Drewry Stephanie Hupp
2013 -
2012 Renaud Davies Derek Lemieux Nikki Zywina
2011 Casey Kuester Anne Smith Kaydene Carty
2010 Rumi Sasaki (佐々木 留美) - -
2009 Mie Ishikawa (石川 未英) Dan Dooher Rob Evans (Asst.) Tapo Mandal (Asst.)

See also

Health / Medical
V • T
Clinics Doctors and dentistsLadies' Health Clinics
(Recommendations by Block: North Block • Capital Block‎ • Yuri Block‎ • South Block)
Medical Health and safety2019 coronavirus disease informationDonating bloodJET Health Insurance from Official JET Website
Counseling JET Online Counseling SystemSupport hotlinesPrefectural Advisor
Lifestyle PA/Support System • Being a Vegetarian in AkitaOrganic lifestyleCulture Shock