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Mary Sue Bissell

Trustee, VP & Exec. Dir.

Mary Sue Bissell is Vice President and Executive Director of the US-Asia Institute. She is also a member of the Institute's Board of Trustees. Ms. Bissell came to the US-Asia Institute in 1979. She worked with co-founders Esther G. Kee and Joji Konoshima as Director of Programs and Publications from 1979-84, and from 1987-90 as Executive Director. While at the Institute, Ms. Bissell planned and implemented international conferences in Washington, D.C., the People's Republic of China, the Philippines and Japan on topics such as international trade, security and telecommunications. She also coordinated government-to-government activities with Pacific-rim nations, including international exchanges with China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Ms. Bissell coordinated Congressional staff trips to China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and organized policy dialogues on issues of concern to the U.S. and Asia. 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. 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 has successfully directed the largest in-school opera education program in the U.S., reaching over 300,000 students each year; planned/implemented marketing strategy for one of the United States' top ten aquariums; directed a regional voting project for youth; served as press officer and public relations manager for U.S. Army concerns in Hawaii; worked as a program assistant for the Asian Affairs Unit of a national political party, writing the U.S.-Asia section of the foreign policy plank of the 1980 party platform; and served in the field office of South Dakota Senator George McGovern. 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, Int'l & Go

Robert F. Jordan was born and raised in Framingham, Massachusetts. He served overseas in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947 and then attended the University of Massachusetts, graduating in 1951. From 1951 to 1956 he was a high school teacher of Algebra and Spanish. He also attended Boston College Graduate School and the University of Mexico in Mexico City. In 1956 he started a 36-year diplomatic career with the U.S. Information Agency, serving 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. He learned four foreign languages. He 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. He 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 chosen several times 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. In 1994-95 he was a senior advisor to the US-Asia Institute where he prepared a brochure on the Institute's history and also accompanied congressional staff delegations to China and Singapore. From 1995 to 2001 he worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency handling the Spanish-speaking media on disasters around the country.

Teresa Vanfleet Barndt

Senior Program Director

Teresa Vanfleet Barndt returned to the US-Asia Institute as Senior Program Director early 2015 after two years spent finishing her M.A. in Asian Studies from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, working in public affairs for an international manufacturing firm in Shanghai, China, and finishing a year-long research fellowship on security and foreign affairs for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Teresa continues to manage the J. Matthew Szymanski Rule of Law Program as she did from 2011-2012. In addition she directs the Institute’s communications and is developing an upcoming line of research and reports. She received a B.A. in International Studies with a Minor in Chinese Language from Utah State University, studied abroad at Northampton University, U.K., and spent eighteen months serving a religious mission in Kaohsiung, Taiwan from 2006-2008.

Lisa Irving Venus

Research Coordinator

Prior to joining the US-Asia Institute, Lisa Irving Venus served for nearly 14 years as Counsel and Analyst on the Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, gaining expertise on a broad range of policy and legislative issues including budget process and enforcement and House and Senate rules and procedures. Ms. Venus obtained a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in both history and psychology from Yale University.

Nicholas Neuteufel

Program Assistant

Nicholas Neuteufel is a Winter/Spring Program Assistant for the Institute. He is a junior Political Science major at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. His studies focus on the interaction of legislative politics and foreign policy. He hopes to know every nook and cranny of the Senate office buildings by April. In his free time, he loves all things NBA and statistics.

Joycelyn Su

Program Assistant

Joycelyn Su is currently a third-year undergraduate student double-majoring in Economics and Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. She was born in Singapore and spent ten years living in Shanghai, China before coming to the U.S. for college. Her experiences living abroad gave her a passion for international affairs, development, and Chinese bilateral relations. She hopes that her time at the USAI will equip her with skills and experiences that will be useful for any career path down the road. After graduating from UNC in 2016, Joycelyn hopes to work for a think tank, government agency, or NGO that focuses on any of the topics mentioned above. In her free time, you can find Joycelyn reading at a coffee shop, test-tasting different restaurants/food trucks around D.C., or stress-cleaning at home.