Laura Winthrop has been in Tokyo since January 2011 and was working as an adjunct fellow at the American Security Project when the March 11, 2011, earthquake struck Japan. Following the earthquake, she became Japan country representative for All Hands Volunteers, helping to establish relief operations in Iwate Prefecture for survivors of the tsunami. Previously, Ms. Winthrop was a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she worked for Committee Chairman John Kerry covering issues related to international development and education, foreign assistance, the United Nations and the Peace Corps. Before joining the committee staff, she worked on the 2008 Obama Campaign as deputy policy director for Colorado. She also spent five years at Control Risks as vice president for global services, managing political risk consulting projects in dozens of countries across five continents. She holds a BA from Harvard University and MA from Cambridge University.
Ms. Winthrop is spending her fellowship at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, under the direction of the Ambassador and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to develop and strengthen bilateral public-private partnerships to help with disaster recovery and to address longer term reconstruction challenges in the Tohoku region. This initiative is focused on matching the outpouring of goodwill from the international community and the private sector to the overwhelming needs in northern Japan, with a view toward encouraging community recovery, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in the tsunami-affected region.