Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations


The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation today announced the first five members of the eighteenth group of Mansfield Fellows.  The Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program, established by Congress in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. government officials with substantial Japan expertise, has been restructured for the upcoming year to allow ten Fellows to participate in a one-year program in Japan.  Additional members of the eighteenth group will be selected next month, and all members of the group will begin their year in Japan this July.  The first five U.S. government officials selected for the eighteenth group include:

Phillip Dobberfuhl, Major, United States Air Force
Wikrom Kitchaiya, Captain, United States Air Force
Catherine Lee, Scientific Data Analyst, United States Food and Drug Administration
Robert Sheldon, Senior Policy Analyst, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Jonathan Thompson, Senior Advisor for East Asia and Global Defense Sales, United States Department of State

Members of the eighteenth group of Fellows will participate in a seven-week homestay and intensive Japanese language program in Ishikawa Prefecture followed by ten months of placements in the Japanese government.  In their placements, the Fellows will work full-time with their Japanese colleagues on issues relevant to their professional expertise. The placements will allow the Fellows to gain an in-depth understanding of Japan’s government and to establish relationships with their government counterparts as well as with the Japanese business, professional and academic communities.

“For more than eighteen years, the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program has deepened Japan expertise in the U.S. government by providing opportunities for U.S. government officials to work side-by-side with their counterparts in Japan’s ministries and agencies, National Diet and non-governmental organizations,” said Gordon Flake, executive director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.  “This year those opportunities are available to a larger group of Fellows, expanding the reach of a program that provides unprecedented access to Japan’s government and a unique understanding of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Through a better understanding of the alliance, the core of U.S. engagement in Asia, the new Fellows will be better prepared to support the United States’ strategic rebalancing toward the region. Through sharing and strengthening their expertise in areas ranging from missile defense and space operations to pediatric health and maritime matters, they will be better prepared to contribute to their agencies’ work on Japan programs and policies.”

One hundred and five Fellows, representing twenty-three agencies, commissions and departments of the U.S. government, have entered the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program since its establishment.  The program is administered by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation through an annual congressional appropriation, with the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as grantor.