For EDI, the people who make running the programs possible, are the Program Chairs, past and present! They are truly EDI's Champions! EDI's Program Chairs are past alumni, who volunteer their time back (for up to two years) to EDI simply because they love the programs so much.
One of the returning Program Chairs, Mark Kawabata, says, "The best part about EDI is the energy and excitement that flows through the participants. There are many classes that address leadership in business, but to be a part of a program tailored to incorporate personal cultural values elevates it to a higher level." An added benefit for Mark is also working closely with EDI's Executive Director, Marci Nakano, to make sure the programs are running smoothly.
Q & A with the 2015 Program Chairs:
"Why did you become a Program Chair?"
Pha Mom: I enjoy watching people grow throughout the year and it's great to know that I took part in that growth.
Nicole Ngonevolalath: I want to work on my skill set and go through the program again as a refresher because if we don't use it, we lose it.
Ryan Truair: There was a need for someone to step into a leadership role, and I took it as an opportunity to apply and exercise what I learned as a program participant.
Claire Mak: I want to give back to the EDI community, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and help other Asians become better leaders. I also enjoy meeting new people, and there's no better way to network with other Asian professionals than being part of EDI.
"What do you enjoy most about being a Program Chair?"
Pha Mom: I love meeting new people and learning their story!
Nicole Ngonevolalath: Meeting and learning about the new participants, but also having the chance to get to know the trainers on a different level! And of course, the FOOD!
Claire Mak: I love sharing my experiences and lessons that I learned with the EDI class. Mentoring other Asian professionals makes me feel proud :)
Colleen Yamaguchi: It's a fabulous opportunity to create an environment where people can learn, share and grow together, and to see that come alive. In all the programs, each participant has a wealth of experience and perspective to contribute, so the peer dynamic is rich and a critical component of learning. Tapping into the wisdom of the group as new concepts and tools are introduced generates an upward synergy of insights and leader development that is exciting to see. I learn a lot too!
Advice for someone thinking about becoming a Program Chair:
Pha Mom: If you want to grow, give back. Giving back is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others.
Nicole Ngonevolalath: DO IT! It's an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and embrace the challenge.
Ryan Truair: Go for it. You will not regret your decision.
Claire Mak: There's nothing better than giving back to your community, learning new skills, re-living the EDI experience with new friends, and helping improve the EDI program!