James (Jim) Kelly

I grew up in Boston and graduated from Georgetown University with degrees in Marketing and International Management. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines and worked on a Central Bank of the Philippines loan program. Based in a regional office in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, I did feasibility studies for loans in cottage and agro industries for countryside, low income borrowers. After the Philippines, I spent two years in Japan to learn to speak Japanese and began a lifetime relationship with Japan and the Japanese people. After Japan I moved to Los Angeles and opened, developed, and operated six retail travel agency locations in Southern California for over 25 years. The offices serviced the Japanese speaking market from Japan, as well as the travel needs of the local Japanese population living in the USA. I have been to 35 countries and believe and understand the importance of face-to-face cross-cultural communications.  After the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake, I travelled to Japan with my son and did hands-on volunteer relief work in the tsunami-devastated city of Ishinomaki, Japan. On the same trip, I visited Bangladesh orphanages and schools, and with the help of BRAC Bank, also met with microfinance borrowers in the slums of Dhaka, as well as far-flung countryside villages.   I am currently on the Board of Governors with SOCAL Sister Cities International chapter.  I hope my personal volunteer experiences and business background can bring value to SCI and I look forward to being a part of the organization.

Statement of Interest

I was introduced to Sister Cities International in Southern California.  As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and with other international volunteer work I have personally done over the years, I truly understand and believe in the mission of SCI  “To promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation—one individual, one community at a time.”  Since learning about SCI and engaging with the organization at the national level, at the annual conference, and locally, I have seen organization from different angles and perspectives and want to contribute to SCI’s efforts.

I want to parlay my strong business background along with my international volunteer activities to bring a new light on how to move SCI into the future.

With my volunteer experience I want to focus my attention on human needs.  Human needs can vary significantly from country to country.  As an example, more developed nation’s human needs could focus on environmental and clean energy while lesser developed nations could focus on health, clean water, and education.

I see a great future for SCI and want to be a part of it.

Skills and Assets

25 years plus of business ownership dealing with Japan and the Japanese people.

Volunteer experience with Peace Corps and other personal volunteer activities.

Strong interpersonal/people skills.

Well traveled to over 35 countries.