Alumni On The Move - October 2018

  Irini Dimitriou   Portland Leadership Discovery, Class of 2018

Irini Dimitriou

Portland Leadership Discovery, Class of 2018

My favorite poem is “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy: It’s a reminder that the journey is more important than the destination. Looking back a year ago, I think of the amazing year I had. It was not easy, it made me uncomfortable, but it had so much impact on my growth and self-awareness.

I was traditionally trained in Fashion and Footwear design and lived in 5 different countries. I received an MA in Design Management and I'm considered a technical expert in my field.

Irini’s Nike ‘Just Do It’ Award

I was always holding back sharing with people my vision, values, and aspirations. My expectation was that people will see my hard work and it will shine, and it did up to a point … EDI helped me voice these thoughts, build connections, be kind to myself, and make the extra effort not only for me but for the team I represent.

This year was the year of awakening at a personal as well as professional level. It was a big surprise when I was nominated for being a recipient of an inaugural Nike Just Do It Award.

Selected by our teams’ leaders, I was one of only 52 honorees from all over the world representing the best of Nike – the embodiment of the ideals that live in the Nike Maxims:

  • Serve Athletes * (if you have a body you are an athlete”)

  • Create the future of Sport

  • Be on the offense always

  • Do the right thing

  • Win as a team

I am really excited about the future and looking to pay it forward. EDI gave me the tools and mindset to believe that anything is possible, just do it….

Here is the poem, “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy:

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.

May there be many summer mornings when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn't have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


Valerie Dawson

Leadership Discovery & Leadership Navigation, Class of 2012 & 2015 (respectively)

I have worked for The Boeing Company for 12 years. During the course of my career, I have had very supportive leadership teams that have sponsored me for amazing leadership programs. I’m proud to be an alumni of both EDI Discovery and EDI Navigation. The best part of the programs were my fellow classmates and the amazing instructors and facilitators. Both programs acted as a catalyst for my success. After graduation from EDI Discovery, I moved to several other teams to expand my breath as a manager. Plus my husband and I started our family. Since EDI Navigation, we now have two sons and earlier this year I was promoted to Senior Engineering Manager and it has been a great ride. I constantly feel challenged and learn something significant every day. The EDI programs helped me see this type of environment as the best place to develop and evolve my leadership competencies.

EDI helped connect my cultural background to my leadership style and provided me the tools and self-awareness for growth. In an industry that continues to evolve, we must evolve our skills with it. Thank you, EDI for recognizing the need for developing strong global and diverse leaders. Thank you for the opportunity to share and thank you to my fellow alumni for sharing your inspiring stories as well.

Alumni On The Move - September 2018

Heidi Wolfe (middle) with her London Business School study group

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

Herman Von Keyserling said that “the shortest path to oneself leads around the world.”

If I had come across this quote in my youth I likely would not have understood how truly profound it was. I used to think living abroad was an opportunity to reinvent myself - a way to escape from everything I knew (and everyone that knew me) into the chrysalis of another world and emerge transformed. But it has been over 15 years since my first experience living abroad, and I like to think that I am both a bit older and a bit wiser now. I stumbled upon the words of Von Keyserling a few months ago – as I prepared for yet another international move – and at this point in my life, the simplicity of the quote resonated with me.

I have learned from my past experiences (a study abroad in Hiroshima, Japan and a two-year work assignment in Naples, Italy) that immersing myself in another culture enabled personal growth. But rather than see it as a way to redefine who I am, today I see it as an evolution and part of the journey to discover my true authentic self. Exposure to new ideas forces me to question what I already know and challenge my view of the world; and while some things, particularly those that were normalized by the environment around me, may evolve and change through this experiences, there are many aspects of who I am that remain constant. My core identity is unchanged; the fundamental values that are integral to I who am will remain intact, if not be strengthened, by the experience of living abroad.

I am someone who believes that these types of dramatic changes are necessary for personal growth. And so, after 10 years at the same company and a career in aerospace that has spanned even longer, I finally decided to take off my training wheels and throw myself out into the world. Last month I left my job (as well as my friends, my family, and the comforts of home) behind to pursue an MBA at London Business School (LBS). Change is good, but the uncertainty that accompanies this magnitude of change is simultaneously terrifying.

Heidi Wolfe (white hat) with her London Business School study group

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

After a few weeks of exploring the area, I launched into my coursework at full-speed. A week-long orientation provided inspiration, practical advice, and an opportunity to connect with my classmates. LBS organizes students into “streams” - groups of 80 students who complete all courses together for the first two terms - and “study groups.” Both try to serve as representative examples of the diversity that exists within the class, mixing people from various cultural and career backgrounds. My study group is no exception, and consists of Ege (a Turkish consultant), Tom (a British analyst), Elva (a Chinese banker) and Ashu (an Indian who worked in tech) – we will complete all group projects together for the next two terms. To jump-start our relationship in the first week, we were bussed an hour outside of London to participate in a full day of team building exercises - and true to the area’s reputation, it poured the whole time. After the second week of immersive courses on leadership, ethics and management theory, including a full-day simulation “running” a company with my study group, I am finally settling into a new normal.

So far, it has been an amazing experience and nothing could have prepared me better for this adventure than EDI. Although I was sad to leave my class early, I truly appreciate the opportunity EDI gave me to develop a foundational understanding of who I am - as a leader, a team member, and an individual. EDI taught me the value of vulnerability and opening up about who I am, rather than trying to be someone that I am not simply because it “fits” some people’s view of what a good leader is.

EDI allowed me to step into this experience with the aim of improving upon my authentic self, rather than trying to reinvent myself. It has taken me a long time to distinguish between the two, but I think that I am finally there. In a way, I am hoping that my experiences at London Business School have the same impact on my professional identity. I hope that as I am exposed to new industries, concepts, and ideas that I am able to evolve and expand my horizons, while simultaneously identifying the fundamental values that are important to me in my career. I don’t know where this journey will lead me, but EDI has given me the tools to succeed no matter what the next step is.


Todd Kubo

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2016

After 11 years at two medical device manufacturers where I held multiple roles from Communications, Marketing, Operations, and Leadership – I'm moving forward in my career. I accepted a position as the Labelling Specialist at Natus Medical in Georgetown, south of Seattle. I'll be helping drive improvement and compliance with medical device regulatory and industry changes that continue to evolve. A lot of these efforts will require a paradigm shift within the organization that has been in place for years, so there will be plenty of challenges ahead.

As many of those currently attending EDI or the ones that have graduated from the EDI programs, we all know what I've just stated truly means. A change will be required. New processes and procedures will need to be implemented. I'll be the "new guy" shaking the tree, going against "the way we used to do things", and questioning "how we did it before."

After a career in Advertising and Marketing (leading creative teams), I'll be transitioning to the client-side and medical devices was a welcome change. Skills and training from the years of high-stress, fast-paced creative teams, were valuable tools to have to go to an industry and a side of the business I had not been exposed to.

Todd Kubo

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2016

Attending EDI Navigation in 2016 brought new tools for me to employ, as well as a great reinforcement of the skills I had developed over the years.

The individualized coaching is one of the best benefits of the program that I actually continue today. Having a coach that checks in with you, providing feedback and helping to reinforce the training is huge. Running through EQ scenarios, being aware of yourself (and your authenticity) and commenting on your responses with your coach is always a learning experience. EDI Navigation reminded me to pause (shout-out to Vanna), always take the time to collect your thoughts, to acknowledge the types of individuals you are dealing with, and how best (and sometimes when) to communicate with each individual.

During my career, I've been fortunate to have good mentors, who have supported and encouraged my growth. These people helped instill in me a desire to "pay it forward", as I grew into each leadership position I held. EDI Navigation strengthened my belief that you don't need to be titled a leader to be one.

Alumni On The Move - August 2018

Jiangping Gu (bottom right) with fellow EDI alums Andrew Chang, Kyoo Chang Oh 

Portland Discovery, Class of 2013

I was recently promoted to the Director of Engineering for the Large Parts Campus (LPC) of PCC Structurals, Inc. LPC is the world leader in large, complex structural investment castings for aircraft engines, land-based turbines, military armament and other applications. 

I am responsible for the development of engineering, production engineering, process control, tooling and fixture engineering for both Steel and Titanium plants. I am leading a world-class engineering team of about 100 employees dedicated to developing, improving and controlling the investment casting processes of stainless steel, nickel-based superalloys, and titanium alloys. 

I moved to the US in 1995 working for the University of Iowa as a post-doctoral research associate after I graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. I started my career at PCC as a modeling engineer in 1999. I transitioned to the management role in 2011 after I completed my MBA from Cornell University. I was promoted as the Steel Plant Engineering Manager in 2013 while I was attending EDI. I was promoted again in 2016 as the New Product Introduction (NPI) Engineering Manager for both Steel and Ti plants.

To me, EDI essentially is the expanded class of a typical MBA course "Leading and Managing Organizations". EDI is more insightful and yet more practical as all the instructors have tremendous executive experiences. My self-awareness enhanced through EDI classes and the skills I learned from EDI such as presentation, conflict management, and branding have benefitted me tremendously since then and will continue to help my future growth. I am so grateful!


Yanira Ramirez

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since graduating from EDI, I’ve worked on my confidence, being able to speak up and getting out of my comfort zone. This has helped me take on challenging projects.  I became the cost recovery focal at Boeing for the 767, Tanker and 737 programs. I’ve pushed myself to explore and learn more about what interests me, what my strengths are and where I have areas to grow. 

After analyzing this, I decided to return back to school and obtain a master’s degree. At the beginning of the year, I started my first year of graduate school at Arizona State University to pursue a Masters in Global Management. It has been a year of change with new adventures that will help me grow personally and professionally.

Shortly after starting grad school, I was offered an opportunity with Microsoft. After 3.5 years with Boeing as a Financial Analyst, in May I joined the Real Estate and Facilities Team (RE&F) as an Integrated Facilities Management Analyst at Microsoft.  In this role, I will be working with our Tier 1 suppliers in Latin America, US, and Canada. I’ll have the ability to use my bilingual skills as well as a long-time goal of working with international accounts. I’ll also be collaborating with counterparts in Asia, Europe, and India. 

I’m very excited about this new challenge and opportunity to learn a new business. I am collaborating with our partners to strategize in order to deliver the best experience to our customers. 

In this new role, I also get the opportunity to travel. I attended a year-end strategy meeting in Mexico City where we met with our partners to plan for the new year. I also had the opportunity to meet my international colleagues in Paris while sharing best practices between the regions.  Most recently I attended a working meeting in Medellin, Colombia. 

It has been a very busy year, but also a year of growth. I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring! 

Alumni On The Move - July 2018

Diana Wong (in the blue cap) with her Dragon Boat team

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since my journey of the Leadership Discovery Program, a lot of knowledge I learned through EDI has stuck with me. Two things that have been of focus for me are taking risks and embracing change. Growing up, I always heard about climbing the “corporate ladder” and being in management. After EDI, I’ve come to understand that it is about climbing my own ladder and being a leader for both myself and others. Leadership no longer means a title or a level of management to me. It’s about being able to make a difference, whether small or big. I have been fortunate enough to have many great people share their wisdom and experience with me, which has helped contribute to who I am. It is other’s influence, inspiration, and motivation that drive me and I want to be able to do the same for others. Being a more timid individual, EDI’s “Nothing Risked, Nothing Gained” session still resonates with me as it’s about taking risks. Along with taking risks, comes change, which I have learned to embrace. A leader has to embrace change, be willing to take risks, and learn from failures as a progression. 

After being in the same Finance function for most of my career, I finally found the courage to take a leap and make a change. I recently decided to pursue a different Finance position in Supply Chain, which is also a new division experience for me. It has completely taken me out of my comfort zone having to learn about the Supply Chain aspect. To feel like I'm starting over is a great challenge, but one that is refreshing as I learn to embrace change. As I continue to learn, I also hope that I can share and contribute knowledge I’ve gained from my previous teams.

Outside of work, I have also taken another challenge by taking a coaching role on a Dragon Boat community team. Dragon Boat is a sport promoting teamwork, communication, and health. This sport brings people of all backgrounds to come and learn to work together as one. It truly brings diversity together and teaches us how to become one team through synchronicity, focus, and teamwork. To be able to inspire, motivate, and encourage a group to work together is both challenging and rewarding. The coaching experience has not only taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged me, but also shown me where I have failed to my expectations. As I have taken the risk to take on this challenge, I have learned to embrace the failures and am currently reminding myself to use those learnings as development and growth.

I hope to pay it forward, share knowledge, and bring out the best in others. From EDI, within challenge is change, so continue to challenge and change yourself and others. Thank You, EDI!

Behind The Scenes - July 2018

BTS - July (1).png

EDI wouldn't be what it is today without the amazing support network that we have. In the Behind The Scenes blog series, we pull back the curtain to give you a sneak peek behind the scenes to let our greatest supporters truly shine. These are the facilitators, program chairs, coaches, Board members, Alumni Ambassador Board members, and all supporters that make EDI happen. Without further ado, meet Anh Vo.

"Did you know Asians make up only 5% of all executives in the US?  Does this statistic shock you?  It does me. We hold many professional jobs and we are the one group with the fastest hiring rate.  In Silicon Valley, 47% of professionals are Asian.  When I look at Microsoft and Amazon, I extrapolate that percentage and it certainly seems true in Seattle.  So, it seems like we are hirable but not promotable, at least to the very top.  Why is this?

This topic is why I am so excited to share my thoughts with you.  Even as the numbers tell us that we have work to do to climb the corporate ladder, I am grateful for organizations like EDI and all the facilitators, coaches, alums and staff who work tirelessly to tip the balance in our favor.  That is one of the reasons why I love being associated with EDI.  I know that through my work either coaching in the Leadership Navigation Program or facilitating a training in the Puget Sound Leadership Discovery Program; I am doing my little part to help get us ahead.  I truly believe that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. It opens the door for all of us. 

As an executive coach and organizational development practitioner; leadership development is my calling.  How many of us equate our work experience whether good or bad with the quality of our manager?  AND we need our managers to support our career growth.  That is why I love my job.  I love helping leaders learn about themselves and how they can be better leaders.  For me, I look at every coaching exchange as a teaching and learning opportunity for the both of us.  I too am continuously learning about how to be a better leader.  Maybe that is the beauty of it all, we help each other grow.  

EDI helps us grow and in turn, we help EDI grow.  Each year, I am inspired by the new cohort of leaders and the learning opportunities.  Many of you feel the same way.  Somehow in this wonderful learning environment, where we don’t have to do the math of how many Asians are in the room, we not only get to be who we are but grow into who we want to become.  I am grateful for EDI. I am blessed to have been a part of EDI.  And as it is in the circle of life, I do my best to give back to EDI.  As I started this post with a question, it seems fitting that I end with a question.  A question that I invite all of us to ponder.  I wonder what else I can do to help further EDI and our Asian community?"

- Anh Vo

Alumni On The Move - June 2018

An Hoang

Portland Discovery, Class of 2014

I moved to Minnesota in 2016 for family reasons, after spending more than a decade in Portland. I brought with me great memories with family, friends and work. I started my new work as the Senior Project Engineer position at Phillips and Temro Industries. I was responsible for the Heavy Duty OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) engine heater design, focusing both on maintaining the North America customer base and winning new business with the European OEM. After almost 2 years, I was promoted as the first Project Manager in the company. I’m responsible for leading strategic projects, developing electric vehicle battery heating technologies, and establishing the production footprint in Asia. My new company has literally taken me around the world and I’m excited for the next journey to unfold.

I’m grateful for my learning with EDI. It has helped me greatly in discovering my strengths, in self-reflecting and finding clarity on what I want to achieve with my career. EDI helped me to become more courageous in fighting for what I want and paving my own path. Being the first Project Manager in my current company is an example of that.

The lessons I learned from EDI, and especially the tutoring from my late mentor, Alan Sugiyama, not only help me in my professional life but also my personal life.  I now make an effort to give back to my communities, whether it’s volunteering with my PMP chapter, my Vietnamese community, or just to be more of a big brother in my soccer team.

I miss my classmates at EDI. They were my great support and I follow their journey cheering for their success. I hope my story would play its small part in keeping the EDI community strong, just as how the EDI shared stories have been motivating me to be better person.


May Leong

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2011

I recently became Deputy Director of the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco and I’m thrilled to be part of an arts nonprofit whose mission is dedicated to elevating underserved communities and giving voice to equality through education and contemporary art.

In my current role, I focus on developing fundraising strategies that include Board engagement and support, while working closely with a senior leadership team to grow individual, corporate, and earned revenue funding. I’m also designing an impactful Donor cultivation and stewardship program to strengthen and leverage the CCC brand. Learning more about the arts has been gratifying and a long-term personal goal of mine, so working in this new field is an exciting new experience.

EDI has played a huge part in my success since graduating from the Navigation program. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with my classmates and in fact joined the Board of Spreeha Foundation (spreeha.org), a nonprofit founded by fellow EDI classmate, Tazin Shadid.

Spreeha provides healthcare, education, and career training for residents in the slums of Bangladesh and has served an exponential number of poor children and their families since its humble beginnings. Today it is one of the few nonprofits serving the displaced Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, by providing essential things like toilets, wells for clean water, and healthcare. The sheer scale of the crisis is mind-blowing. I’m so proud of the staff, volunteers, and donors who work so hard to help break the cycle of poverty and serve this population.

A few years ago, my family and I moved back to the San Francisco Bay area and said goodbye to our home of 14 years in Seattle. From 2013 – 2017 I served as Executive Director at Donaldina Cameron House, a faith-based nonprofit where I got to work with an amazing staff to provide social services and youth leadership programs in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

My EDI classmates will be happy to hear I finally finished my first novel, a Young Adult Fantasy adventure about a mom and her daughter who save our world, separately. Currently I’m sending out query letters to find an agent and publisher. I actually look forward to seeing how many rejections it takes to get a positive reply! JK Rowling received 12 rejections and Dr. Seuss received 27. So I’ll either beat these odds by getting more or less.

Throughout these years I’ve also consulted by providing workshop trainings for emerging leaders and nonprofit Boards in the area of fund development and leadership. The lessons I learned from EDI about emotional intelligence and authenticity are skills and tools that I savor and use each day.

I have enjoyed building my career in a way that aligns perfectly with my life’s mission of building community and global citizens, one local person at a time.  

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sailor by heart and I’m pleased to report that my husband and I are the proud owners of a 1986 41-foot Hans Christian sailboat, named Taiko. Whenever we have some free time we try to go sailing on the Bay.

If any EDI alumni are down in the SF Bay area please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always open to connecting and helping to elevate and support the next generation of young and/or experienced leaders.

Alumni On The Move - May 2018

Katherine Tsai Martinez (2nd from left) with the Matt Griffin YMCA Board

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

Since graduating from the 2017 Leadership Discovery Program, I have been busy holding myself accountable on defining what my authentic best is and practicing it daily. One of the major takeaways from the program was, the longer I continued to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do, I will never be the authentic leader that I want to be.

Being inspired to take chances, I successfully transitioned into a new finance role a few months before graduating from the Discovery Program. After being in Supplier Management at Boeing for two years, I accepted a role at Boeing Capital as a Treasury and Risk Analyst. I have never been one to not push myself to excel in the workplace but through EDI’s Leadership Discovery Program, I realized that I wanted to be a strong contributor at work, whom not only performs at their job functions but leads and inspires others as a diverse leader. In addition, I have become more active in Boeing’s Asian Professionals Association where I am currently the Co-Chair for their 2018 LEAD program. The LEAD program is an 8-month leadership program focused on developing diverse Boeing Professionals within the company.

The Discovery Program's community service project inspired me to be active again in the community. For our team project, we chose to support the Matt Griffin YMCA and held a fundraising event which generated more than $2,000 for their after-school programs. Seeing the impact of our fundraiser, I was compelled to join the Matt Griffin Board. 

I’m so appreciative of everything that I learned from EDI. I have made some great relationships from the program, it is so nice to have a genuine network. I am proud of where I am at both professionally and personally. Thanks to EDI, I can confidently say that I am a leader that graciously welcomes new challenges and refuses to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do.


Jacob Esparza

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

I recently accepted an amazing opportunity at Facebook as a Program Manager.  I am working on a team called Business Integrity New Products where I am a central point leading cross-functional teams in identifying risks to new product launches.  My role is responsible for assessing risks, influencing policy creation, creating review processes, and facilitating the setup of KPIs to track success.  This role was a huge opportunity for me after I made the jump from aerospace into tech last year.

EDI has played a huge part in my successes since graduating. The EDI lessons that stuck with me were the importance of not only networking but using my network to help build my confidence to make big moves through being self-aware and to always push myself. The ability to continuously use the tools that EDI helped fill my toolbox with is a priceless gift that I am very thankful to have received.

I am extremely honored by this new adventure and am also excited to start using one of the other things that EDI taught me, which is giving back.  My husband and I are partnering with the rescue that we adopted one of our dogs from to throw a fundraising event to support their efforts in rescuing dogs, cats and horses from Mexico and finding them homes.  We are huge dog lovers and are looking forward to giving back to an organization that means a lot to us!

Alumni on the Move - April 2018

  Mellissa Nguon    Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2016   

Mellissa Nguon

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2016 

I was recently promoted to Business Manager for the Boeing Global Services, Supply Chain Execution Commercial Fulfillment organization.  In my new role, I will be using my leadership and project management skills to support executive reviews, business requirements, special initiatives, and process improvements.  I also represent as one of the leaders for the Supply Chain LEAN Operational Excellence Team with a mission to help empower and enable my team members to be excellent by promoting a people-centered and customer-focused culture.

Additionally, I’ve stepped up to serve as the new Co-Chair of the Introduction to Boeing New Models and Derivatives Committee for the International Airlines Technical Pool (IATP). I'll have the opportunity to deliver presentations, meet with airline customers and leaders of the Aviation industry, and travel to different international destinations twice a year. 

Last but not least, I was recently elected to Chair the Boeing Global Services Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Renton site, to help strengthen the business and achieve world-class results by leveraging diverse perspectives to promote a culture of inclusion, engagement, and personal accountability as well as developing and empowering employees through education, values, and experiences and engagement with our Leaders. 

I’m grateful for these opportunities, but success does require on-going commitment, hard work, and patience.  For me, it’s been a continuous journey toward growth and development, and it’s especially important to celebrate small or big successes along the way, like recently obtaining my Project Management Professional (PMP) credential.  Currently, I’m an MBA candidate with Syracuse University and targeting to receive my MBA degree with a concentration in Data Analytics by June of 2019. 

I’m always working to improve on myself whether it is in my personal or professional life.  I’m also a community volunteer for NW Harvest and help organize and execute volunteer events at the Kent Warehouse to collect, sort, and package items to distribute to food banks across the Puget Sound.  As an EDI Alumni, I realized that completing the program produced many positive outcomes, such as giving me that extra boost to jumpstart my career and the confidence to succeed and be a mentally stronger, more authentic leader.  I enjoy what I do every day as I get to tap into my fullest potential and have the opportunity to travel domestically and internationally.  I believe that if you work hard enough and persistently pursue your goals, you will get to where you want to be in time.  Throughout my career with The Boeing Company, I have had a chance to see the world by supporting business trips in Montreal, Canada; Penang, Malaysia; Okinawa, Japan; Dublin, Ireland, and most recently, Riga, Latvia.  If you are interested in following me on my global adventures, you can add me on Instagram @globetrotter_melly.

**Photo Credit: Ainsley DS Photography**


  April Tomlinson  (in red) poses with fellow EDI Alums Tommy Sisa-at, Carmen Marttila, and Joann Miranda  Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

April Tomlinson (in red) poses with fellow EDI Alums Tommy Sisa-at, Carmen Marttila, and Joann Miranda

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

EDI! The program helped me feel more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and asking for feedback. I consulted business partners and leaders in my organization and through those conversations, I decided to take a leap outside of retail banking after nearly 10 years. I applied and was hired as a Merchant Service Advisor for KeyBank.

In my new role, I partner with over 30 branches in south Puget Sound and work with local business owners to grow and succeed in their communities. This position challenges me in leadership, organization and networking but I am loving every moment of it.

I am thrilled to say that I’ve also recently accepted a role aside Carmen Marttila as the Vice President of our Hispanic Latino Keybank Impact Networking Group. EDI has helped renew my passion around community involvement and I look forward to sharing our activities and how we’ve partnered with organizations like El Centro de la Raza throughout the year to make a difference! EDI helped me to embrace my authentic best self and i’m leading with energy, enthusiasm and passion both in my daily work activities and in my community.

EDI helped me to grow so much that I decided to stay involved and join the Alumni Board as the Vice President. Partnering with the other alums and being able to sit in on the executive board retreat has already been a fantastic experience. I am excited to share EDI with the community and want to see them grow and succeed.

Welcome, Class of 2018!

March is always a busy time at the EDI office. Each week this month, we launched one of our programs and had the opportunity to get to know the amazing class of 2018! 

Each team comes up with their own team name and establishes the team culture that they want to embody and be known for throughout the year. Without further ado, we'd like to introduce to you this year's classes. 

VUCA MASTERS - Leadership navigation

VUCA Masters and EDI Staff - Dining at Bai Pai in North Seattle

The VUCA* Masters started off their EDI experience with a 3-day Kick-off event. First, they met with Executive Mentors, Wallace Greene (President and CEO of FINAO), Mitika Gupta (Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Lyfboat.com and Founding Director of the Seattle Female Founders Alliance), and Marlene Yamashita (Director of Global Sales Contracts Boeing Commercial Airplanes at The Boeing Company) as they shared some of their most life-changing moments. 

Next, the VUCA Masters ran around in teams at the Talaris Conference Center attempting to "save the world" with our fabulous facilitator (and EDI Navigation alum), John Chen, and his company, Geoteaming. To round off the 3 days, the team had George Myers of the Effectiveness Institute WOW them with his energy and passion for effective communication through Behavior Styles. This team is dedicated, passionate, and ready to dive in!

*VUCA is a leadership acronym used to describe/reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of situations. The catchall phrase is, "Hey, it's crazy out there!"

 

Protos - Leadership Discovery, Portland

PROTOS does a team cheer before saying their goodbyes from the 2-day Kickoff.

Team PROTOS* started off their 2-day Kick-off event learning about what it means to be an Authentic Best Leader™. Our facilitator (and EDI alum from the inaugural class of 1994), Colleen Yamaguchi, lead them on a journey to begin self-discovery over the course of the 2 days. They dove head in to learn about perceptions, behaviors, and values. 

In true Portland fashion, we then took them to the new food pod in Beaverton, BG's Food Cartel. They were tasked with ordering a menu item that had meaning to them. We then gathered together and shared our stories of the food we chose. At the close of day 2, we had alumni panelists join us and give their wise words of wisdom to the class. We'd like to thank Jerome Torres (Applications Specialist at NW Natural), Claire Mak (Manager of Prototype Development at Daimler Trucks North America), and Gina Walker (CFO at TEC Equipment). This team is dynamic, inquisitive, and ready to learn!

*The PROTOS team established their name because in Greek it means "first" (almost like first place). 

 

Mi Gente - Hispanic Leadership Discovery

The Mi Gente team gathers together for a dancing energizer in Bellevue!

The Mi Gente* team kicks off as EDI's largest Hispanic Leadership Discovery class! Our facilitator, Marisa Rivera, leads the class through a 2-day workshop of, "Our Culture, Valuing Diversity & Leadership." At the end of day 1, the team was immersed into the community with their visit to El Centro de la Raza and given a tour by Executive Director, Estela Ortega. They concluded their day by opening up and sharing with each other a personal story around a cultural item that has significance to them. 

On day 2, they continued their learning with Marisa and then joined up with the AWA (Asian Leadership Discovery) team to discuss perceptions and what behaviors or values may attribute to those perceptions. We'd like to thank our alumni panel that joined the AWA & Mi Gente teams that shared their greatest insights. On the panel we had Cesar Amaral (Founder & Chief Believe Officer of MX360), Doreen Ramsuta (Senior Proposal Project Manager of Boeing Global Services at The Boeing Company), and Nigel Lo (CEO at Kin On and Retired Chief of Staff and Chief Strategist to the VP/GM of the Airborne Battle Management within Boeing Military Aircraft division in the Puget Sound area of The Boeing Company). This team is thoughtful, team-focused, and ready to lean in!

*Mi Gente means my people or loosely "my peeps." 

 

AWA - Asian Leadership Discovery, Puget Sound

The AWA team poses with Assunta Ng of the NW Asian Weekly before they're lead around the International District learning about the community and its' history.

The AWA* team started off their 2-day Kick-off event with high energy. We brought back our facilitator (and EDI alum) Colleen Yamaguchi to help the team with their self-discovery through her workshop on Authentic Best Leadership™. In the afternoon, AWA went into the International District and were lead on a tour of the community by Tomio Moriguchi (retired CEO of Uwajimaya and President of The North American Post) and Assunta Ng (Founder of the Seattle Chinese Post and NW Asian Weekly). To end the day, the team scattered around the International District to find some delicious food to come back and share pot-luck style. 

Day 2 they deepened their learning through Authentic Best Leadership™ and learned about perceptions, behaviors, and values with Colleen Yamaguchi.  The AWA and Mi Gente teams then came together for cultural sharing to discuss perceptions of their cultures and where those perceptions may come from through behaviors and values. They also engaged in the alumni panel (as mentioned above in the Mi Gente team section). This team is fly, engaged, and ready to jump right in!

*AWA is an acronym the class came up with for Asians With Attitude.

An Interview with EDI’s Co-Founders

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2013 Q&A with co-founders, Ted Yamamura & Vanna Novak

How did you two meet?

T: I met Vanna at a meeting at which she was speaking on making effective presentations. I thought she would be a good person to collaborate with for EDI. Vanna wanted to give back to the Asian American community so we started discussing collaboration on EDI.

V: If I remember correctly, Ted saw me speak at a conference for the JACL. And actually, back then, I had no connection to our Asian community. It was because of Ted, that I agreed to get involved. I had no idea that it was going to be just the beginning of a long, but fulfilling journey. I owe a lot to Ted.

Why did the two of you want to create EDI?

T: EDI originally started as a special interest group under the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce. It was created to provide leadership training specifically for Japanese Americans, then it evolved to include all Asian Americans and now Hispanic Americans. Vanna agreed to be a co-founder to develop curriculum for leadership training. We wanted to also provide role models, mentors and create a network for career development.

V: Ted recognized that there was a big gap between the numbers of highly qualified, competent, Asians within American corporations vs. Asian Americans in the executive ranks, and felt the need to do something about it. It was really his grasp of the situation and his vision, that launched plans to build a program like EDI. I happened to have the background to design our initial curriculum so when Ted asked me if I’d help to get EDI off the ground, I said yes. And the rest, as they say, is history. But people should know that EDI was Ted’s vision.

What was your vision when it first started?

T: My vision was to elevate Asian Americans into leadership positions at corporations, government, and non-profit organizations. I wanted Asian Americans to have the same opportunities as Caucasians and to level the playing field for leadership positions. I also wanted to have role models, mentors, networks, in place to provide support and encouragement to Asian Americans striving for leadership positions.

V: I would say that that’s still our vision today and we now are working toward that same goal or vision with our Hispanic program. We still have a long, long way to go.

How has its actual progress been compared to that vision?

T: There have been many improvements and an increase in role models as leaders, yet there are still no top Asian American executives at companies like Boeing. The ultimate goal is to have more people of color in executive positions. I want them to have the same opportunities to excel and have a level playing field.

V: I think that my initial vision was very narrow. What I’ve learned through having had the chance to work directly with all of our program participants over the years is that “progress” can be defined in many ways. So while we’re still far behind in seeing a significant number of Asians or Hispanics in executive positions, what I do see is our participants gaining clarity about what it takes to move into the senior ranks and making clear decisions as to whether they’re willing to do what it takes to move up. Or sometimes I see them becoming leaders within the community at large. I think that’s progress. And when their managers begin to gain an awareness and appreciation for programs like EDI and as a result, they begin to send more of their employees to our programs, well, that’s progress too.

What was the biggest obstacle you felt you had to face during your path to establish EDI? How did you overcome it?

T: The main hindrance I would say is just the administrative details of orchestrating EDI as I was doing it on the side as a service while working at Boeing. The first class was in 1994. Eleven participants registered. It was advertised by word of mouth through the JACC. It was originally for Japanese Americans but we are expanding it to all people of color as we all have the same issues.

V: It was and is 2-fold for me. One of our biggest challenges, which continues to some extent, was convincing people that this was not just another leadership program. There are hundreds of different leadership programs offered to business professionals in our area. What makes EDI different, is that our programs are culturally tailored specifically for Asians and Hispanics. The other challenge we continue to face is one that almost every non-profit faces, and that is, finding and keeping volunteers actively and meaningfully engaged and involved. Just like they say, “It takes a village.”

What would you like to see happen with EDI in the future?

T: I would like to see EDI become a preeminent leadership organization in the future. I would like to see it create connections to top leaders, celebrate achievement in the community, and help all people of color reach leadership positions.

V: Ditto! And in my wildest of dreams, I would love to see EDI do the work that it does so well, that we begin to have a global impact. I would also like to see us expanding our offerings. So maybe we’d offer our programs in different formats. More than anything, I would love to see us develop programs for other groups of color who are underrepresented.

What do you feel is the biggest change in our participants after they leave the program?

T: I see that graduates have more confidence. They are generally more strategic in developing their careers. They give back more to the community and have stronger networking skills.

V: Honestly, I have witnessed profound changes in participants’ sense of themselves. For many, there is a huge leap in their level of confidence and a greater appreciation for their own potential and self-worth. I get to do the class at the front end of their EDI experience that deals with public speaking skills which can be so revealing in terms of one’s self esteem. So I get a pretty good sense of each participant’s confidence level coming into the program. Then I get to see them at graduation, and for some, the transformation in them can bring me to tears. They find the power within themselves that they’ve had all along and just wasn’t aware of. It becomes the tipping point at which they begin to take more risks and more responsibility to build stronger organizations and healthier, happier communities. It’s not magic. It’s a process that they work hard at throughout their EDI experience.