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

The Maureen Mansfield Trilateral Youth Empowerment Program, as part of the Maureen Mansfield Women’s Empowerment Series, aims to build more inclusive democracies in Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the United States (U.S.). by amplifying youth voices in the policy decision-making process, and empowering young women from these three countries to take a more active role in politics. The program provides a space for college-age women (ages 18-24) to develop their skills and ideas by working with their peers and established experts on current public policy challenges. During the program, participants will also develop intergenerational partnerships through cooperation with their mentors.


Program Period: Feburary 2023 – Present

Rina Hashigasako (she/her)

Rina Hashigasako is a senior undergraduate student at Hitotsubashi University, Japan. Her major is law and international relations, and she is particularly interested in international trade/globalization and their nexus with domestic socioeconomic policies. She grew up in Yokohama, Japan, but lived in Singapore for five years. She also studied abroad for a year at Harvard College. Since coming back from Singapore, she has actively sought opportunities to talk with people from different cultures. She also enjoys using English and participated in parliamentary English debate club in college. In her free time, she likes to dance, watch musicals or comedy shows, talk with new people, and travel. Recently, she became a bandwagon fan of baseball. Her interest in women’s empowerment comes from her belief that every person, regardless of age or gender, should be able to maximize their potential and be rewarded for what they have achieved. She became interested in creating an environment—legal, institutional, social, and economic—that enables this. At Harvard, she did a research project on the gender pay gap in the US and Japan. Realizing how the current society creates unique obstacles for working women, especially mothers, she became passionate about advancing women’s rights in the economic field. She aspires to use her experiences to work as a public servant in the future.


Jungwon Rena Hugh (she/her)

Jungwon Rena Hugh is a junior double-majoring in international studies and business administration at Yonsei University in South Korea. Through her experiences living in various environments, she has developed a keen interest in the intersection of the world of business and real-world policy, particularly in developing countries. She aims to be a policy consultant for the World Bank’s International Development Association and help solve the world’s economic polarization. She is interested in working in the field of consulting and garnering various experiences in numerous industries as she works toward this goal. Thus far, she has participated in research in various fields including synthetic biology applications for agricultural problems and Korean economic history. She is currently serving as the vice president of Social Innovation Creators’ Academia which operates to create innovative solutions to society’s problems. She has participated in pro bono consulting in cooperation with the Korean Social Enterprise Promotion Agency which has sparked an interest in the consulting field for her. She is excited as to where all these experiences will lead her in the future!



Chaehee Kang (she/her)

Chaehee Kang is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history and political science & international relations at Korea University. Studying marginalized histories and historical relationships of power and domination inspired her to start dreaming of a world without inequality where everyone can enjoy their rights regardless of who they are. Her main interest lies in gender and development, and the way inscribed hierarchies such as gender, race, class, and disability interact and shape the experiences of all people. Recently she became interested in the female disposability planted in the internationalization of production, and the mechanisms that allocate women to the peripheral workforce. Previously, she was the president of UNAI ASPIRE Korea of Korea University and organized global citizenship education for teenagers. She also worked as an intern at NGOs that focus on human rights and women empowerment in development cooperation, providing support to implement the vocational training program for women in Indonesia. Aspiring to pursue a career in international cooperation, she is currently trying to develop the skills required in gendered analysis, policy making, and program implementation based on an intersectional lens. By participating in this program, she hopes to expand her knowledge in the field and broaden her horizons to perceive the world.


Yesun Kim (she/her)

Yesun Kim is a junior majoring in International Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. She was born and raised in South Korea but studied abroad during her middle and high school years. Her research interests are North Korean human rights, the U.S.-South Korea alliance, and other security issues in East Asia. She interned at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea  and Seoul National University Asia Center and worked as a research assistant under Professor Leif-Eric Easley at Ewha Womans University. She also wrote a research paper titled “North Korea’s Rhetoric on Women’s Rights: Reputational Defense or Labor Mobilization?” and published articles in the university newspaper Ewha Voice. Her other activities include participation in the United Nations Sustainable Development Group’s 4th Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Youth Summer Camp, MIKTA Young Leaders’ Camp, the Summer Academy Re-Unification Virtual Camp, and the KORGAD Book Contest. Yesun is active in university clubs such as ABSK, VISTA, and Literally Booked where she serves as a social media promotion member, English-teaching volunteer, and coordinator of book club meetings. She also has volunteer experiences in Myanmar, the Republic of Georgia, Armenia, and the U.S. relating to girls’ education and the environment. Yesun hopes to become a think tank researcher who offers helpful policy recommendations for the U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance and human rights in North Korea.


Yesol Lee (she/her)

Yesol Lee is a senior at Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea. She is majoring in English Literature and Political Science, as well as minoring in Education. Previously, she attended Gwacheon Foreign Language High School where she studied Japanese language and culture. In her studies, Yesol is focusing on ROK-United States relations while also furthering her knowledge of US-Asia relations and North Korean politics. Her interest in ROK-US relations began during the spring semester of 2020 when she had the opportunity to study abroad in the US as an exchange student at American University. During that time, she learned about East Asian political order, American politics, and also experienced American culture. Inspired by this international experience, Yesol interned at the US Embassy Seoul in 2021 where she conducted research on the US Customs and Immigration law. She also completed an internship at the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation as a Program Assistant Intern in 2022. She supported US-Japan-ROK trilateral alliance programs and conducted research on the Korean Peninsula. Yesol aspires to pursue a career in international relations and become a diplomat or policy expert in the future. In her free time, Yesol loves to swim, practice Pilates, spend time outside and read. She is also an active volunteer who did more than 300 hours of volunteer teaching.


Rena Mototani (she/her)

Rena Mototani is a fourth year medical student at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). She currently aspires to work as a cardiothoracic surgeon in the United States, and is part of the Cardiovascular Surgery Department at TMDU Hospital. She is also interested in public health research, especially in mental health, and has been researching as a member of the Department of Global Health Promotion. Through mid-summer to fall of 2022, Ms. Mototani researched human flourishing at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, under the guidance of Professor Ichiro Kawachi, chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Having split her adolescent years between Japan and the United States, Ms. Mototani has utilized the knowledge gained from this cross-national experience to build bridges between nations, especially between Japan and the US. She served as one of the Japanese delegates in the 2021 G7 Youth Summit, and negotiated to ensure that mental health was put in that year’s G7 agenda. She was also selected as a member of the Tokyo US Embassy’s Ambassador Youth Council (3rd cohort), and contributed to bringing young Japanese voices directly to US ambassadors. Ms. Mototani hopes that through the Maureen Mansfield Women’s Trilateral Youth Empowerment Program, she can advocate for policies which will increase the number of women working in the male-dominated STEM fields.


Akhila Mullapudi (she/her)

Akhila Mullapudi (she/her/hers) is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is studying economics, focusing on the intersections of development, labor, human rights, and technology. After undergrad, she hopes to go to law school and practice international law. She is involved in her university’s student government as the Government Relations Coordinator and serves as a representative for the University of Michigan for the Collegiate Student Advisory with the Secretary of State for the state of Michigan. As an undergraduate student, her goals in these positions are to connect students with their local leaders and enable them to develop their advocacy skills surrounding their interests. She is passionate about voting rights and access to civics education as well as education policy overall. During her time as a community organizer and activist, she understood the value and importance of education in her local community, which ignited her fascination with nonprofits and investing, and giving back to her community. That manifested in joining a sorority Chi Omega where she serves as the Personnel Chair and works with local foundations on their various grant processes. Through her various passions, she is exploring the intersectionality of economic development and public policy.


Min Ah Nam (she/her)

Min Ah Nam is an International Studies student at the Catholic University of Korea. She was born and raised in South Korea. Growing up in South Korea, She has learned about peace and unification. Due to this, she became interested in international relations and learned the importance of diplomacy. She is interested in security issues and alliances, mainly focusing on relations between the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the United States. She is majoring in law and international studies and has recently developed an interest in digital commerce and labor law.  She likes to participate in activities on various topics, and is trying to develop herself through many experiences. She has experience organizing the National Forum on International Studies for University Students in 2018, with the theme of Sino-America international relationship in World politics. and hosting the National Forum on International Studies for University Students in 2021, with a theme of The start of the Biden Era and the Future of the relationship between Korea and Japan. Now she looks forward to applying her strengths and newly developed knowledge in her future career.


Yui Okamura (she/her)

Yui Okamura is a medical student at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. She is passionate about interdisciplinary research between medicine and new technology, and aspires to be a world-leading physician-scientist who contributes to society through translational research. In partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the International Space Station, she has been actively involved in projects regarding the  influence of microgravity on various homeostatic variations in the body. In addition to her aerospace research activities, she is currently investigating the role of genetic mutations in subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma, a rare type of skin malignancy. For both research projects, she is deeply involved in the analysis of metadata using various statistical computing software and supercomputer technology. She has published five scientific articles in esteemed medical journals with peer review. Besides her research activities, she actively leads and participates in discussions with medical students and doctors from different countries as the president of the Tsukuba International Medical Student Association. Although there are active discussions across many industries regarding gender equality, she believes that there is room for improvement, particularly in the scientific community where women make up just 30% of scientists worldwide. She is committed to developing leadership skills to further incorporate a diversity of opinions regardless of gender, race, or cultural background.


Haruka Satake (she/her)

Haruka Satake is a second year graduate student in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University majoring in Asian studies. She is a Zainichi Korean 4th generation born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. Her research interests include the study of social minorities, history, and security in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, and the US-Asia alliance. She is currently a research fellow of the Sigur Center Taiwan fellowship program which focuses on comfort women and women’s rights in Taiwan. She is also a director of Japan Affairs at the Organization of Asian Studies and organizes various academic seminars and events related to Japan and East Asia. She is also a teaching assistant of Japanese language class at George Washington University. She participated in the Japan-America Student Conference last summer and completed an internship at Asia Policy Point.


Samantha Segeda (she/her)

Samantha Segeda is currently a senior at Washington College, and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a Journalism, Editing, and Publishing minor. She studied abroad at Yonsei University in Spring 2022 and traveled to the Republic of Korea (ROK) once more in 2023 to conduct independent research at the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum. She is particularly interested in studying gender-based violence in East Asia and the Indo-Pacific. Currently, she is writing an honors thesis pertaining to ROK-Japan relations, focusing on the implications of colonization on gender in the ROK. With such interests, she hopes to attend graduate school in the next year or two and in the future, work within efforts to reconcile human rights violations and prevent them in the future. As a team member and mentee of the Mansfield Youth Empowerment Program, she hopes to be working within the topic of women’s empowerment and marginalized groups to further support her passions and career interests.


Angie Sohn (she/her)

Angie Sohn is a student from Fairfax, Virginia and will graduate from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in Government with a minor in East Asian Studies. After receiving a scholarship to visit South Korea for the first time during the summer after high school, she developed a passion for global experiences and cross-cultural exchange. Since then she has sought additional formative experiences, including studying abroad at Korea University in her junior year as well as participating in a program in Hiroshima, Japan where she learned about the history of the atomic bombing and heard testimonies from the hibakusha. Interested in peace efforts and refugee rights, Angie has also volunteered with nonprofits that focus on North Korean refugees and Korean peace issues. Her valuable experiences with volunteering and studying abroad, partaking in cross-cultural exchange, and deep interest in engaging with diverse communities have shaped her aspirations to work in diplomacy. As an aspiring diplomat, Angie intends to contribute to efforts that focus on peacebuilding, empowering marginalized communities, and promoting cross-cultural empathy. Finally, as a proud first-generation student and daughter of immigrants, she hopes to advocate for underrepresented communities and amplify minority voices in order to foster a stronger and more nuanced policy space. In her freetime, she likes to listen to music, daydream about her next trip, and study foreign languages.


Amane Takahashi (she/her)

Amane Takahashi is finishing her senior year at Kansai University where she is studying Sports Sociology with a concentration in Gender Studies. Her interest in gender studies began during the fall semester of 2020 when she started learning English. She has been researching gender issues in Japanese sports clubs with an abiding passion not to bequeath the repressive society towards women and girls in future generations. Her senior thesis won the Outstanding Performance Award. Since 2021, she has also taken part in the leadership program, Ambassador’s Youth Council, run by the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe, Japan. Amane has gained learning from representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Japan on topics relating to the U.S.-Japan Alliance and also has spent time at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Yokota Air Base. Through these experiences, Amane enjoyed the opportunities to discuss with experts in various areas and accumulate knowledge and insights into the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Amane is eager to exchange opinions and collaborate with women of the same generation from the U.S. and South Korea and contribute to this program. In the future, Amane aspires to become a researcher abroad and contribute to gender equality. She will be attending graduate school in April to develop her expertise in gender studies.


Alyssa Taylor (she/her)

Alyssa Taylor is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in government and politics with a concentration in international relations. As well as a minor in Korean studies and certificate in East Asian studies. Her interests include diplomacy, international education, and international relations and comparative politics in East Asia. Alyssa’s topics of interest have developed from her work experience and international experience as well as her love for learning about cultures and languages. She participated in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program at Howard University in Washington D.C. as a Rangel scholar. In addition, Alyssa worked as an education intern for FOREFRONT Charity and worked at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Education Abroad office as a short-term programs student assistant. As well as an English speaking partner for the Maryland English Institute at the University of Mayland, and Liberty in North Korea in Seoul, South Korea. Alyssa is currently  studying abroad at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea for an academic year. Alyssa aspires to be a public diplomacy foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department, or a program officer with the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs or Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


Ava Tiller (she/they)

Ava Tiller is a senior at Pomona College double majoring in Politics with a concentration in International Relations and Chinese Language & Literature. She is from Washington, D.C. and hopes to return after graduation. Ava has been learning Mandarin Chinese for eight years and aspires to use her language skills in her future career. With her long involvement in youth movements focused on climate activism, Ava is interested in researching the impacts of climate change on East Asia and the United States as well as the pathways for international cooperation on sustainable development. She is hoping to get a master’s degree in International Relations with a focus on the East Asia region. She also hopes to work in U.S. foreign diplomacy in a position that allows her to combine her knowledge on international relations and the environment. Ava hopes to be able to pave the path for other first-generation and/or low-income students who are interested in going into politics and diplomacy.