U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation Hires First Full-Time Executive Director: Builds Capacity to Grow More NextGen Global Leaders

September 23, 2020 

The Board of Directors of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Thomas J. Mason Jr., PhD as its next Executive Director.

Dr. Mason joins the Bridging Foundation as its first full-time Executive Director beginning on October 1, 2020. He will work in partnership with the board to set strategic direction and develop enduring relationships with the Bridging Foundation’s supporters, partners, and scholarship alumni to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship through cultural and educational exchange.

“I am delighted to welcome Tom to the Bridging Foundation,” said Thierry Porté, Chairman of the Bridging Foundation’s Board of Directors and Managing Director of J.C. Flowers & Co, an American private equity firm. “As a social entrepreneur, Tom brings a valuable commitment to organizational excellence as we approach a new chapter for the Bridging Foundation. We greatly value his expertise in U.S.-Japan educational exchange as we support future American students studying in Japan. I extend my sincere appreciation for my Bridging Foundation search committee colleagues whose thoughtful insights steered this process. I also appreciate the dedication of Paige Cottingham-Streater, who ably led the Bridging Foundation for the past nine years in conjunction with her role as the Executive Director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with Paige via the Friendship Commission and the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON).”

“I am honored to be joining the Bridging Foundation at this important moment,” said Dr. Mason. “As the world reexamines study abroad during the pandemic, the Bridging Foundation’s long-term commitment to supporting Japanese study abroad experiences for American students is critical to maintaining strong relations between these two countries. I know firsthand that study abroad changes lives and can alters someone’s career trajectory. My own high school scholarship to study in Japan led to my career in international education. The Bridging Foundation has an accomplished and storied legacy that I look forward to building upon in the years to come.”

Dr. Mason’s appointment concludes a nine-month global search led by Good Insight, a Washington, D.C.-based executive search firm and governance consultancy for the social sector.

About Dr. Thomas J. Mason Jr.

Dr. Mason comes to the Bridging Foundation from the Alliance for Language Learning and Educational Exchange (ALLEX), which he founded in 2003. Under Tom’s leadership as Executive Director, ALLEX has contributed to the growth and development of Asian language programs at more than 230 universities across the United States. ALLEX has trained over a thousand Japanese, Chinese, and Korean graduate students in Asian language pedagogy so that they can serve as lecturers while they pursue graduate degrees at partner institutions. ALLEX has facilitated scholarships totaling more than $30 million for ALLEX scholars since 2003.

Tom brings rich experiences in Japan-focused educational exchange. Between 2014 and 2015, he served as the Interim Director of Columbia University’s Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. Early in his career he coordinated the Full-year Asian Language Concentration (FALCON) program at Cornell University. He is a co-author of “Action! Japan,” a textbook for American students studying abroad in Japan published by Routledge Press. He has lectured at numerous institutions in the U.S. and Japan.

A scholarship to study abroad in high school sparked Tom’s lifelong interest in Japan and Asian languages. He has professional working proficiency in Japanese and speaks and reads Mandarin. Tom received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Asian Studies from Cornell University and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University with a focus on Japanese language pedagogy. His dissertation examined trends of American students studying abroad in Japan.

About the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation

Founded in 1998, the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation strengthens the U.S.-Japan relationship through the Bridging Scholars program, which grants hundreds of scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad for a semester or academic year. Each year, the Bridging Scholars program awards approximately 100 scholarships to support cultural and educational exchange that advances a growing global workforce with experience in trade, security, and cultural, educational, and governmental relations between Japan and the U.S.

More information about the Bridging Foundation can be found at www.bridgingfoundation.org.