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December 31, 2016

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Esther G. Kee

Co-Founder, President

Esther G. Kee has a long history of community, political and international service and leadership. With the late Joji Konoshima, Mrs. Kee participated in the official White House ceremonies welcoming Deng Xiao Ping on his historic visit to the United States. Additionally, she coordinated his trip throughout the United States, and accompanied the delegation to various U.S. cities. More recently, she was a guest at the White House welcoming ceremony and luncheon honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao on his visit to the United States.

In 1979, Mrs. Kee and Mr. Konoshima founded the US-Asia Institute to work more closely with Asian nations and to open an informal dialogue between government and private sector leaders within these countries, especially China. In the mid-1980s, Mrs. Kee worked with the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs to establish the Congressional staff delegations to the People’s Republic of China. To date, 106 of these trips have been organized to China, 11 to Japan and 10 to ASEAN.

Mrs. Kee has been active in a variety of community activities in New York City including the Chinatown Planning Council, the Chinatown YMCA, the YMCA Camp Council of Greater New York and other civic organizations. She served on the Presidential Ambassadorial Selection Board, the Selection Board of the State Department, the Advisory Board for Channel 13, the Board of Directors of the Community Service Society of New York and the Executive Committee for the Democratic National Committee. She has raised millions of dollars for local, state and national organizations, candidates and causes. She also organized the Asian/Pacific American Women’s delegation to the International Women’s Year conference in Houston, Texas and is active in numerous Asian American and women’s groups.


Mary Sue Bissell

Trustee, VP & Executive Director

Mary Sue Bissell came to the US-Asia Institute in 1979 and worked with co-founders Esther G. Kee and Joji Konoshima as Director of Programs and Publications from 1979-84. From 1987-90, she served as USAI’s Executive Director. While at the Institute, she sought to strengthen relations between the United States and Asia through organizing high-level conferences and policy dialogues, managing government-to-government exchange programs, and coordinating congressional staff trips to various Asian countries.

Ms. Bissell has over 30 years of experience in nonprofit management, conference planning, volunteer coordination, grant-writing, editing, strategic planning, marketing, education and fundraising. She edited conference proceedings from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th National Leadership Conferences, and a publication on U.S. immigration policy toward Asia. She also provided oversight to the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange for 2.5 years. She has received numerous local, state and national awards and recognition for writing, public speaking and community service.

Ms. Bissell is a graduate of the University of South Dakota. She is married with two daughters.


Robert Jordan

Senior Advisor, VP, International & Government Affairs

Robert F. Jordan started a 36-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Information Agency in 1956. He served as the Public Affairs Officer and director of the United States Information Service in 11 countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America with responsibility for all U.S. government press and cultural exchange programs.

Mr. Jordan was president of the Fulbright Commission in several countries and was also president of the Government of Ireland’s scholarship board. While on a Washington tour he was assigned to USIA’s inspection corps and conducted policy and public diplomacy inspections of American embassies in some 40 countries worldwide.

Mr. Jordan is the recipient of several meritorious and superior honor awards and performance pay awards from USIA, the Department of Defense and the Department of State. He also received the Order of Merit from the Government of Portugal. He was frequently selected to organize press facilities for the White House Press Corps for overseas visits of U.S. presidents. Following retirement in 1992 he was called back by both USIA and the Department of State to conduct policy inspections of some 20 embassies worldwide. From 1995 to 2001, he worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency handling the Spanish-speaking media on disasters around the country.

Mr. Jordan served overseas in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947 and then attended the University of Massachusetts, graduating in 1951. He also attended Boston College Graduate School and the University of Mexico in Mexico City.


Joycelyn Su

Program Director

Joycelyn Su was a program assistant with the US-Asia Institute in Spring 2015 before she took the position as Program Director in May 2016.

Prior to joining USAI, she was a researcher with the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based bipartisan think tank. She has also held various other research and program management internships with institutions like the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and New York University in Shanghai.

While at UNC, she served as Deputy Director of Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit, the premier Southern undergraduate conference in US-China relations. In Fall 2015, Joycelyn appeared in China Hands Magazine as one of “25 Under 25: Rising Stars in US-China Relations.”

Joycelyn received a B.A. in Economics and Global Studies with Highest Distinction and Highest Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Singapore native, spent over a decade in China, and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.


Clara Lee

Program Assistant

Clara Sung Min Lee is originally from South Korea and is a China-Asia Pacific Studies and Government double major at Cornell University. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and English and hopes to use her language skills professionally after graduation.

After she receives her diploma in May 2018, Clara plans to pursue a graduate degree in International Relationships or begin working in the field of diplomacy and foreign affairs.


Gaofan Zhang

Program Assistant

Gaofan Zhang is a Chinese native currently studying International Affairs and Journalism and Mass Communication at George Washington University. With an Asia concentration, she is especially interested in U.S.-China relations and Asia Pacific cooperation. She is also a research assistant at Center for China and Globalization, a top think tank in China, and a member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP).

She hopes to gain more experience in foreign affairs area and become a bridge connecting the U.S. and Asia.


Yuou Wu

Program Assistant

Yuou Wu is from Beijing, China majoring in International Political Economy and pursuing a certificate in International Development at School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. She is particularly interested in sustainable development and China’s economic investment in developing and underdeveloped countries overseas.

She believes in the importance of U.S-China relations because there are much room for the U.S and China to collaborate in area of sustainable development as well as to mutually understand each other’s involvement in different areas in the world.