Lara (Zara) Espinoza
Country Representative (USA1)
¡Hola a todos! I’m Zara, my pronouns are she/they and I was an ALT in Shiga Prefecture in 2010 to 2011. After eight years as an active JET leader in the Midwest region of the United States, I’m excited to be elected to serve as a JETAA USA Country Representative.
Upon returning from Japan to the US and moving to Chicago, IL in 2013, I’ve had the honor of being an Officer (Outreach Coordinator and Vice President) in the JETAA Chicago chapter that supports JET alumni in three states: Illinois, Wisconsin & Indiana along with working alongside the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago that serves 10 Midwestern states. I’ve co-founded and led JETAA Chicago’s largest initiative known as the Survival Series for Outgoing JETs and J-Talks Webinar Series that strengthened cross-cultural understanding and action on social issues/impact including #BlackLivesMatter and mixed-race identity. I also led policy and process improvements including helping to establish a code of conduct known as JETAA Chicago’s Community Conduct & Agreements.
My JET experience is a big part of my Wonder Woman origin story, and it made me the human-centric leader I am today. Being a multiracial, multiethnic, queer, femme non-binary, internationally adopted person of color (cultural heritages: Mexican-Asian) – living and working in Japan (during which I continued my dance career in hip-hop, funk styles and breakdancing) was a mix of ups, downs and in-betweens that made everyday an adventure. The skills I gained while on JET have been paramount to my success in working with people from different cultures and life experiences in various industries. My professional career has mainly been in People/Talent & Culture (Human Resources & Operations) teams with Learning & Development initiatives, with a focus on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) strategy primarily in the tech industry. I’ve also been a long time leader in a global LGBTQ+ non-profit known as Out in Tech.
One of my favorite things on the JET Program was meeting people from around the world, so I’m looking forward to working with the global JETAA community. Let’s #JETogether!