Alumni on the Move - April 2017

Hang Chen Asian Discovery, Class of 2008

Hang Chen

Asian Discovery, Class of 2008

Hang Chen recently became a logistics engineer in product support of commercial derivative aircraft programs at The Boeing Company. The career transition presents an excellent opportunity for Hang to bring his technical and leadership skills in a diverse talented team in a growing business. Hang is currently leading a process development effort in his new team and looks forward to working with his new manager and team.  Hang previously was a structural analysis engineer at Boeing, where he supported and led projects and teams in aircraft development, testing, production, and sustainment.

Throughout his career, Hang credits his managers, mentors, peers, EDI, NAAAP-Seattle, Boeing's Emerging Leaders Development Program, BAAPA, and Boeing's 6 Step Group Mentoring Program in providing him the training, networks, and experiences to grow his career and to help others. Hang thanks the late Ted Yamamura, BAAPA Puget Sound past-President Michael Vu, and other mentors and role models who provided him encouragement, opportunities, and mentorship.

For career development advice, Hang recommends the following three items: Be a continuous learner, try new things, and help others grow. A great vehicle to facilitate all three is to take on and to lead side projects. Side projects can lead to Nobel Prizes (like James Watson and Francis Crick's DNA double helix model); improve ways of doing things (like Gmail thanks to Google's 20 Percent Time); revolutionize new business (like Bill Boeing's passion for aviation that led to The Boeing Company); or can open new career opportunities. As a side project, Hang led a team/project to improve first time quality in aircraft production, and the side project helped his getting the new job. So take a risk and create a future for yourself and others!

Cynthia Tuan Asian Discovery, Class of 2014

Cynthia Tuan

Asian Discovery, Class of 2014

I was part of the EDI 2014 Portland class. Since graduating, I’m still working at the same design agency as before, Tether. What I enjoyed most about EDI was how each class gave insight and practical tools that you could incorporate into everyday life. About a year and half ago, I earned a promotion and am now Associate Creative Director for their Portland studio. Often and at random moments, learnings from EDI comes up. But the most valuable thing I learned, is the importance of speaking up. Especially in today’s political and social climate, it’s become ever more important to stand for who you are, be able and willing to talk about race and stand for equality.

PechaKucha was founded in 2003 by a multi-lingual architecture company in Tokyo. They wanted to create a fun but succinct format for presenting. A PechaKucha is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. You talk along with the images, but the trick is that the images advance automatically (whether you’re ready for it or not!)

PechaKucha Nights brings people together and allows them to informally share stories. Since its origin, it has grown to over 900 cities around the world. Last fall, I was invited to share my story at PechaKucha Night in Portland. I hadn’t spoken in front of an audience since representing my EDI classmates at graduation so I jumped at the chance.

Each PechaKucha Night has its own theme. That night, ours was around “Voyages.” I shared what it was like growing up bi-cultural, my journey, and what that looked like for me. It took about a week to put the presentation together, it entailed multiple text messages asking my dad for this photo or that. Leading up to the night, I practiced several days before. It was crucial to time the content well and be concise because the slides advance automatically!

There were ten people lined up to speak that night. A week or so before the event, the PechaKucha organizers sent out an email regarding presentation order; if anyone had preferences on when they’d like to go up. I immediately volunteered to be one of the first, I wanted to get it out of the way! I knew with my nerves, going later would mean it’d be nearly impossible to enjoy anyone else’s presentations. That morning, I got an email saying due to a scheduling mishap I was slated to go second-to-last. Just before panic set in completely, they wrote back, all was righted and I ended up being the first to go!

My advice to others is to always test the A/V beforehand. An inopportune time to find out the microphone you’re speaking from needs to be held really, really close is when you’re already live, in front of audience, giving an auto-advancing presentation, there’s no pause button!

Marci's Column - February 2017

Last chance! This is our last call for applications to enroll in our 2017 Leadership Discovery Programs. If you thought it was too late, it’s not! We will take applications until February 28th. Thank you to our entire EDI network for your referrals and for spreading the word about our programs. We are looking forward to meeting the Class of 2017 at our upcoming Jumpstart events.

Aside from our programs launching in March, there are many other events and initiatives that we are excited about and will be sharing with you throughout the year. 

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 10th. This is Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG day.  This will be our 4th year participating and once again we are doubling our goal to $20,000. It’s one of the only times you can “stretch” your dollars. The more money EDI raises the higher percentage of matching funds we receive from the Seattle Foundation.  We encourage everyone to donate on May 10th and help us raise more money in one day than ever before!  I know that you are all up for this challenge.

We are also in the process of launching our Ambassador Boards (A-Board) in both Puget Sound and Portland. These are alumni boards that will help EDI with alumni engagement, recruitment and hosting events.  We look forward to introducing our A-Board members soon!

Alumni on the Move - January 2016

Amber Waisanen Asian Discovery, Class of 2010

Amber Waisanen

Asian Discovery, Class of 2010

Amber recently joined Microsoft as a Senior Business Manager, Office RoB, with the Office Marketing Business Operations team.

Looking back over my career to date, I’ve always been in the marketing field, as I’ve enjoyed the creativity and innovation I’m able to bring to the table. I’ve worked in a variety of different industries and have been fortunate enough to continually be exposed to new cultures, experiences and leadership. A few years ago, I found myself working in the healthcare industry. I’ll openly admit this industry wasn’t my favorite, nor was it my passion, but it taught me a great deal about marketing in a heavily regulated industry and gave me a new found appreciation of the industry. As with any organization, there was a period of a tremendous amount of change, not only in leadership within marketing, but the organizational structure, team dynamics, and my role and responsibilities. At this same time, a former EDI colleague reached out to me (thanks, Julie Pham!) to share a consulting opportunity to do Microsoft...and in Xbox. I thought to myself, this is the perfect combination: I love marketing, I’ve been wanting to work at a large organization and in the tech space, and I’m a Xbox gamer at that. I figured what’s the worst that can happen, I apply, maybe they don’t think I’m the right fit, maybe I’m not what they’re looking for, but I knew I would face a bigger loss never knowing and not trying. Next thing I know, I’m invited in for an interview with the team, meet the hiring manager and then before I know it, I’m working at Microsoft. From there, I worked on two huge launches for the company, Xbox One and Windows 10. I had incredible opportunities to travel the world, participate in awesome industry events such as E3 and PAX, meet some smart and talented people across the company, and really make an impact with the work I was doing. You would think my career couldn’t get any better...but it could and I was anxiously awaiting to see what opportunity would present itself.

Fast forward to today, I started another consulting opportunity at Microsoft back in spring 2016, joining what I didn’t realize would be my full-time team down the road. However, this time, it wasn’t in was business operations. Now business operations isn’t totally unfamiliar to me having gone to the UW Business School, however, I’d never been in a role or even on a team that was purely focused on business operations. Let’s be real, business operations isn’t sexy, it’s not fun and no one gets excited about implementing processes and operational infrastructure in to the organization. I was determined to make the most of it though, so I utilized it as a learning opportunity that pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop new skills. I learned that our team was the heartbeat of the organization, and we helped every team operate more efficiently and seamlessly as ever. As I continued working with the team, I realized I was in a unique position of learning how business gets done in a large organization such as Microsoft and what could be more valuable to someone who’s looking to become CEO of an organization one day. In addition, I was a part of an amazing team with great leadership in place and knowing that at the end of the day, my work was making a difference. Several months in to my new role, I was approached on considering full-time opportunities within Microsoft and happened to find an opportunity available on our team. I knew this was the opportunity I was waiting for, so I applied for the role, interviewed with the team, played the fun waiting game and well, the rest is history.

Reflecting back over my decision, although it was ultimately me who had to take the first step in showing interest and applying, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wealth of mentors in my life that have helped me progress to where I am now. Every new journey I’ve embarked up in life, has been because of the tremendous support I have around me. The support comes from people who believe in my abilities to do great things and encourage me to take on challenging roles. These are people I am thankful to call my mentors, squad, A team, friends, and family, and best of all, part of my EDI family!

Here’s my advice to you, the person who is reading this, who may be looking for some words of encouragement, a sliver of hope, a little motivation to get you out of your comfort zone, and just knowing someone supports you.

  • First off, remember you’re never alone. There is always someone in your corner, rooting for you, cheering you on and supporting you every step of the way (hint: your EDI family). The decisions and actions you take, reflect on yourself and impact those around you.
  • Second, never settle. If you find yourself feeling comfortable and stagnant, do something, anything. Challenge yourself to be better than the person you were yesterday. Know that you as a single individual can help contribute to making an impact and influencing change. Keep in mind that change doesn’t always have to be big, sometimes it’s the little things that help you on the right path to lead to bigger opportunities.
  • Third (and the most important), live life intentionally because our time on Earth is shorter than we think. Your only regret in life will be wishing you had done something or thinking you had more time, because the reality is you don’t always get a second chance and time doesn’t last forever. Take advantage of the opportunities that come before you and don’t be afraid to embark in to the unknown, sometimes the most exciting part is discovering something we never knew existed or creating a solution that we didn’t think was possible.

Most importantly, have fun and take risks. Every day will bring a new challenge and a new opportunity to continuously improve and innovate yourself, your team and your organization.

Alumni on the Move - November 2016

Claire Mak Asian Discovery, Class of 2013

Claire Mak

Asian Discovery, Class of 2013

Claire Mak was recently promoted to Manager of Prototype Development, Product Validation Engineering at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Asian Resource Network, one of the many Employee Resource Groups at DTNA. She also hosts the monthly PMI Roundtable discussion at DTNA.

I am attributing my success to the “can-do” attitude my parents instilled in me. It wasn't until EDI that I discovered that my “ability to speak up in meetings”, “questioning status quo” and “don’t take no for an answer” attitude wasn't normal for Asians. My biggest A-HA moments from EDI are self-awareness and personal branding. I have been working on improving “my brand” since April 2013. The fact that I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses and able to articulate to the interview panels what I have done to improve myself has definitely set me apart from my competitors.

I have always known that I want to move into management. EDI has given me the tools, tips and tricks, and showed me the path to get there. Last year, when I was given a troubled project, I was able to use all the skills that EDI has taught me. I had to perform under intense pressure, effectively communicate to all levels of management, resolve conflicts , leverage my network, and frequently present to CEO levels. I am happy to say because of my EDI training, I came away with flying colors. Upper Management took notice of my abilities, and then it was a matter of time for the right job to become available for me to move into management.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the mentors that I have met through EDI, and to Marci for giving me the opportunity to be the Program Chair for the 2015 and 2016 Portland Asian Leadership Discovery Program. I am now a better leader, manager, mentor, mother, and friend because of EDI.

Nyle Miyamoto Asian Discovery, Class of 2002

Nyle Miyamoto

Asian Discovery, Class of 2002

Congratulations to Nyle Miyamoto for receiving the 2016 Achievement in Leadership Excellence and Nobel Impact (ALENI) Award from NAAAP-Seattle! In his acceptance speech, he shared his formula for developing one's leadership potential where,'LP = ExRxR', where one's Leadership Potential is determined by one's Experience, Relationship Experience, and Reptuation. At the end of his speech, he asks the audience, "Are you pudwater or Fiji water?" What are you?

Alumni on the Move - October 2016

Todd Kubo Navigation, Class of 2016

Todd Kubo

Navigation, Class of 2016

Todd Kubo has recently transitioned into the role of Project Lead at Spacelabs Healthcare. 

EDI is responsible for my move into the management structure within my organization. We are looking to develop new leaders. The combination of my previous career experience running creative teams and the Leadership Navigation Program have served me well. Within our organization, a new shift has forced us to look for new ways to be more responsive to our internal and external customers. It was the natural evolution of my abilities and experience within the Operations Engineering group that identified me for this opportunity.

My personal advice to the next crop of leaders to come is that with any position there are always stumbling blocks along the way. The best thing to do is not to lose focus, and also remember to reflect on yourself. Trust that you have the right information (hopefully), the right tools to make decisions, and the confidence to make the tough calls. At the end of the day, breathe, leave what you can within the workplace, and enjoy life!

Marci's Column - October 2016

Congratulations to the EDI Class of 2016! Thank you for taking us on this incredible eight month leadership journey with you and we can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments on November 10th & November 17th. We invite everyone to join us at graduation to cheer on the graduates. We have some exciting things planned that you won’t want to miss!!! 

We are now in the midst of filling our classes for 2017. This is going to be a milestone year as we will surpass the 1000 mark of participants that have been through the EDI program. What started as a class of 11 people in 1994, will now be over 1000 alums strong. That is truly amazing. Help us keep this momentum going by enrolling individuals into our 2017 program.  Application deadline is November 30th.

The last few months have been event season here in the Puget Sound area. In September we held our annual Inclusion Fusion fundraiser in which we surpassed our goals and raised over $110,000. We were overwhelmed by all the support and are already looking forward to planning 2017. We had the opportunity to attend many other galas including, Densho, ACRS, El Centro de la Raza, NW Asian Weekly and many more. We are extremely grateful to be part of this larger community and we love running into so many EDI alumni wherever we go! 

In Portland, our Executive Director Emeritus, Alan Sugiyama, put together a happy hour event and it’s great to see our Portland EDI community growing. We had over 25 in attendance including Board members, community and corporate leaders and Portland alums from the 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes. You can read more about this event and how Al has been doing in this newsletter. We hope to do more events like this in both Puget Sound and Portland.

See you at graduation! 

Featured: Al's Update

Hey, what's up my EDI family and friends? Many of you have asked for an update on my health. Thank you for your concern and ongoing support. It's hard to believe it's been two years since I was diagnosed with cancer and 1.5 years since I retired from EDI. Needless to say, I miss all of you. I'm extremely disappointed I wasn't able to know the last two or three classes very well 😩.

The good news is the chemotherapy is working and the cancer continues to shrink 😀. Since I'm in treatment every other week, I have not been able to attend very many classes or graduation, but believe me, I sure miss it. Marci and the staff always tell me how special and talented all of you are.

For those who I've had the opportunity to know over the past few years, feel free to contact me so we can have coffee or just chat about your career. For those who I didn't meet, I also want you to feel free to contact me at, so I can offer any help as you navigate your career.

Once again, thank you for all your love and concern. I appreciate it very much. Good luck on your career and I expect greatness from each of you. 

Alumni on the Move - September 2016

Andrea Cortes-Beltran Hispanic Discovery, Class of 2013

Andrea Cortes-Beltran

Hispanic Discovery, Class of 2013

Andrea Cortes-Beltran has been recently promoted to lead her team of core industrial engineers of Lab Test Value Stream, and is currently serving as President for the local chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers.

Opportunities have always been knocking at the door. My mom has always told me not to let opportunities go because they may never come back again and I may regret.

I used to think that by doing a great job my efforts would be noticed by others or higher levels hence I would be asked to be part of leadership teams or take leadership positions. This was valid in my culture. However, thanks to EDI, I learned how to use my cultural skills on my favor to be a successful leader.

My advice for others is to avoid blaming others for being unable to accomplish your goals. Trust yourself and think positively. Most importantly, do not compare yourself to other people. You are and will always be unique for just being yourself.

Marci's Column - July 2016

Left to Right: Marci Nakano, Brittany Ryerson, Poe Wongpa (Class of 2015), Tomo Nakano, Vivian Huang, & Kelly Verbicky (Class of 2016) enjoy tasty Thai food at Poe's restaurant in Auburn, Gor Gai Thai.

Left to Right: Marci Nakano, Brittany Ryerson, Poe Wongpa (Class of 2015), Tomo Nakano, Vivian Huang, & Kelly Verbicky (Class of 2016) enjoy tasty Thai food at Poe's restaurant in Auburn, Gor Gai Thai.

July is the time of year for EDI where everything intersects. We have our current programs starting to wind down; we are actively recruiting for our 2017 programs; we are in the midst of preparing for Inclusion Fusion; and starting to plan for graduation. Although it’s the busiest time of year for us, it’s also the most exciting.  

So much has happened since I last wrote in April, I wanted to highlight some of the significant things we have going on right now at EDI. 


INCLUSION FUSION – It’s just around the corner. This year’s event will be like no other as the alumni will be the focus throughout the evening. We’ll have alumni stations where alums will be sampling some of their own products and sharing with you their leadership stories.   There are several new twists that we will have that will incorporate our theme, “Let Your Leadership Fly” so you’ll have to attend to find out what they are! You don’t want to miss this.


In last month’s newsletter, we introduced you to Tomo, our new intern from Bellevue College.  He’s on a one year exchange program from Japan and is spending 10 weeks with us. Thank you to EDI Alum, Mark Watanabe, for referring Tomo to us. He’s eager to build his leadership skills and has been attending our program sessions. As someone new to EDI, he’s been providing us valuable feedback that we will use to improve the quality of our programs and the participant experience. 

I’d also like to congratulate our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Vivian Huang, on her graduation from UW in June. Vivian has been with EDI since October 2014 working part-time. After a month long vacation to Europe, Vivian is now back and transitioning into a more full-time role.  We’re grateful she decided to stay on at EDI as she’s the hub of all the communication points for us.    


Be sure to watch this month’s Alumni on the Move video with Poe Wongpa. Our alums are constantly inspiring and amazing us with all they do in their careers and in the community.  Poe just opened his very own Thai restaurant, Gor Gai Thai, in Auburn. He made his dream a reality and we are so proud and excited for him. I admire his courage, ambition and energy. I’ve already been to his restaurant three times, plus he’s catered lunch for all our program sessions in the last month. It’s the best Thai food you’ll find in the area (and I’m not just saying that because he’s an alum).

For those alumni who want to stay connected and/or help out with EDI – here’s an opportunity for YOU!  We have a new initiative that’s in its beginning stages called the EDI Ambassador Board. This is a board of EDI alums that has been formed to help put strategies in place for alumni engagement, fundraising and recruitment. We have a core group of alums already enlisted and soon they will be reaching out to recruit more members.  If you are interested in being part of this initiative, please email me at                       


We are recruiting for our 2017 programs and our goal is to have 90 participants enrolled before the end of the year. If you know of anyone that has interest in the program, please send them our way. If you want us to come to your company to do an information session or need us to meet with someone one on one, let us know.  

Hope to see all of you at Inclusion Fusion!  #DiverseGlobalLeaders