Message to JWLI fellow program alumnae in 2010 from Ms Fish (Dec. 2010)
The JWLI fellow program resulted from an inspirational experience and learning I had at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in Boston. MSH serves as leading provider to strengthen public health systems in developing countries. I came to recognize the importance of nonprofit long-term strategy, managerial skills and fundraising when I became involved with starting up a new public health nonprofit organization in Tokyo called HANDS, Health and Development Service in Developing Countries.
Japanese women are well aware of the needs of society but there are few opportunities for them to apply their ability for social change, as they don’t have appropriate skill sets. (and) The nonprofit environment in Japan has not yet fully developed. To work for a nonprofit is still considered volunteer work and not a professional job. My experiences with MSH and HANDS have motivated me to create an opportunity for Japanese women to learn the established model of the American nonprofit sector and to understand how it works.
Business opportunities opened for women in Japan quite some time ago. Unfortunately, truly professional nonprofit opportunities are far less available not only for women but also men in Japan. Recently social needs in Japan have increased rapidly. However, neither the private sector nor the government has the vision or capacity to address these problems properly. Therefore, I see an alternative opportunity for Japanese women to lead and dedicate (the country’s) nonprofit movement and activities for social change.
Japanese women have engaged successfully in many areas compared with after the war II but not in non-profit sector. Now, it is time for them to take initiative in developing effective nonprofit sector. I encourage them to take leadership for social change.
I am hoping that JWLI Fellow Program will provide you an opportunity to learn about American philanthropy and effective management methods through hands on practice with successful nonprofit organizations in Boston. Furthermore, the JWLI Fellow Program emphasizes the need for its alumnae to implement what they have learned when they return to Japan.
Atsuko Toko Fish
Co-founder of JWLI Fellow Program
Trustee of Fish Family Foundation.