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The United States-Japan Foundation announces Jacob M. Schlesinger as new president/CEO


The United States-Japan Foundation announces Jacob M. Schlesinger as new president/CEO

The United States-Japan Foundation (USJF) is delighted to announce the appointment of Jacob M. Schlesinger, a distinguished journalist, author, and leader, as its new president and chief executive officer. USJF is the largest independent American foundation dedicated to fostering closer ties between the two countries, with assets of around $100 million.

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Schlesinger will oversee the organization’s grants and its US-Japan Leadership Program, while working to boost the Foundation’s impact through new initiatives aimed at shaping the debate over the future direction of the bilateral relationship.

Schlesinger has deep professional and personal ties to Japan. He comes to the helm of USJF after a 36-year career at The Wall Street Journal, moving back and forth between Tokyo and Washington, D.C. He most recently lived in Japan from 2010-2015, where he served as the Journal’s Japan editor and Tokyo bureau chief. He will be based in Washington and visit Japan frequently.

Schlesinger was a member of the Journal team winning a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism, and the 2014 recipient of Stanford’s Shorenstein Journalism Award, presented annually to a reporter helping global audiences understand the complexities of the Asia-Pacific region. For the past year, he has been a fellow at Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute studying threats to democracy in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of “Shadow Shoguns: The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Postwar Political Machine,” published by Simon & Schuster and Stanford University Press. Schlesinger serves as a trustee of the Japan Center for International Exchange/USA.

“After an extensive search in both Japan and the United States, the USJF Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome our next president and CEO,” said Lawrence K. Fish, chair of the Foundation’s board. “Jake stood out among many qualified candidates for his deeply rooted appreciation of the U.S.-Japan relationship, his distinguished record of leadership and service, and bold strategic orientation. We cannot wait to see how he will apply his boundless energy and network to fill the Foundation’s ambition for greater impact across and beyond the bilateral relationship.”

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to work with such an esteemed organization that has done so much good over the years to foster better ties across the Pacific, and to succeed a long string of distinguished USJF leaders,” Schlesinger said. “I look forward to consulting in the coming weeks with a wide range of stakeholders to discuss how we can think creatively to update our mission and address the new challenges for the U.S, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific region.”

Since its founding in 1980, the USJF has awarded more than $100 million in grants in Japan and the U.S. for a wide range of causes, from cultural exchange to disaster resilience. The Foundation also runs the US-Japan Leadership Program, which, over the past 23 years, has brought together nearly 500 future leaders from both countries, from politicians and business leaders to artists and writers.

Schlesinger is the Foundation’s sixth president, succeeding Dr. James T. Ulak (2019-2022). Prior presidents were: Amb. Richard W. Petree (1981-1988), Amb. Stephen W. Bosworth (1989-1996), Amb. Julia Chang Bloch (1996-1998), and Dr. George R. Packard (1998-2019).

Schlesinger graduated from Harvard College with a BA in economics. He lives in Washington with his wife, Louisa Rubinfien, who grew up in Tokyo, earned her PhD in Japanese history from Harvard University, and teaches Japanese history at the University of Maryland. Rubinfien is on the board of the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C., and chairs the council for the Japan Bowl, an annual competition for US high-school students studying Japan.

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Source: United States-Japan Foundation