Leadership Navigation

Alumni On The Move - June 2019

Cecille & Florexis Velasco

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2012 & 2011

You’re known at EDI as the family that’s gone through the program (with both of you going through the Leadership Navigation Program & your brother Barney Herrera a graduate as well). What was it that appealed to you to go through the EDI program?

Florexis: I was looking for a leadership program tailored towards minority leaders and also saw the track record of some of the alumni.

Cecille: I noticed positive changes in Florexis' career and he was always talking about how he was applying the training in his career and personal relationships.  The training really helped him elevate his leadership and interpersonal skills.

What was it about EDI that made you think to recommend it to your brother, Barney?

Florexis: I conveyed how much the program helped me in my career and in my business ventures and how it helped me to fine tune and develop my leadership skills further. 

Cecille:  It was easy for me to recommend to Barney because the training helped me so much in having more self awareness and having awareness with others I work with in and outside of Boeing, both professionally and personally.  Plus, the people I've connected with in the program are amazing!  We still meet up every year and are known to be 'the best' class in EDI history (that was self proclaimed lol).

You’ve recently opened a gym! What made you decide to open your own gym?:

Florexis: Both of my Grandfathers were farmers and supported their families by having their own businesses, so I've always had the entrepreneur spirit.  The Anytime Fitness Franchise just made sense for us to dive into because of our passion towards fitness and since turning pro as a competitive bodybuilder and physique competitor.  I've been coaching many clients on nutrition and competition prep and I love helping people reach their health and fitness goals! 

Cecille:   I love doing group fitness and training in large groups to keep me motivated and to make connections with other fitness minded individuals.  Florexis and I researched several businesses and franchises to start and the Anytime Fitness business model made the most sense because we both love to work out and commit to a healthy overall lifestyle which includes training, flexible nutrition (we are both foodies) and sharing this passion with others.

What steps did you take (or goals did you set) to make this happen?:

Florexis: I did a lot of networking and connecting with other Anytime Fitness owners and other gym owners as well to get their feedback on the business model, understanding what it takes to start up, operate and sustain a gym business.  I did a lot of studies on the track record of the company and franchises, demographics, competition, pricing, and development plans of the cities we wanted to purchase our franchise territories in. 

Cecille: I'm very numbers oriented so I did a lot research on the Anytime Fitness' overall past performance and the how the average franchises have performed nationwide and worldwide.  I researched the revenue, expenses and profit averages to help us create our pro forma statements and to help fine tune our business plan and year to year projections.  After more due diligence the numbers and averages just made a lot of sense and we decided to move forward.

How were you able to apply your prior work experience at Boeing to going the entrepreneurial route?

Florexis: I am able to apply a lot of my experience from Boeing into our gym business.  Project management and financial management are key elements, but most importantly being able organize and prioritize what seemed to be an endless list of action items has helped to ensure we have a plan and keep things progressing.  Conflict management and problem resolution has also helped in dealing with overwhelming tasks and difficult people.

Cecille: I am able to apply my customer service and customer management skills into our gym business, especially now so as we are enrolling members and setting up personal training programs.  I also deal with a lot vendors at Boeing and I am able to apply these skills when working with our Anytime Fitness vendors.  We have several vendors we have to work with concurrently and my Boeing experience really comes in handy to stay organized

Have you faced any challenges along the way? If so, what?:

Florexis: This whole business has been a major challenge since it's been our first time setting up a franchise and there are so many steps in opening up a gym.  

Cecille: Not knowing what to expect has been very challenging and there have been many unforeseen events along the way.

How did you overcome those challenges?:

Florexis: Staying organized and knowing who to reach out to for guidance and help has really helped overcome the challenges we've faced.  The franchise has a great support system and I constantly reach to those that have already done this successfully and that have opened up several gyms. 

Cecille: We have franchise business consultant that has helped us overcome challenges but not being afraid of asking the right people for assistance also has helped overcome these challenges.  Leveraging our network and contacts has helped us deal with specific challenges and we continue to build on these relationships knowing that we will need their additional guidance.

What do you hope to accomplish on your new journey?:

Florexis: I hope to launch and operate our first gym and be able to scale all the experience and learnings into our next few gyms.  We want to build an awesome fitness community in our Lynnwood gym and help as many people as we can along their health and fitness journey! 

Cecille: I want to help women and moms find a community in our Lynnwood gym and have a place where they can connect and have fun while training.  Too often I feel like women in general are always putting others first and I want to help them make their physical and mental health a priority, so they can continue to give to others.  We're also aiming to set an example to our 3 kids to live a healthy lifestyle while also building a business you're passionate about...while helping others!  But what I'm most looking forward to is getting my parents in the gym.  With the right support and guidance, I'm ready to see my Dad running around the soccer field with all the grandkids!

Is there anything from your EDI learnings that you’re applying to your current position? (if no, that’s fine!)

Florexis: Emotional intelligence is very critical and being able to adapt to situations that are high pressure and dealing with a diverse set of people.  I am able to be self aware and approach situations with the right leadership style and continue to make progress. 

Cecille:  The skill to adapt in difficult situations and being able to deal with customers is where I apply a lot of my EDI learnings.  We are in the service and people business and having the emotional intelligence and having self awareness and awareness of others styles really helps.

If you could give one piece of advice for the 2019 EDI class what would it be?:

Florexis: Go after your passion and make a career from something you love to do and apply your EDI learnings! 

Cecille: Take a chance on yourself but continue to seek advice and guidance from those that have already accomplished what you are aiming to do.

If you’re interested in more information or applying for a membership to Florexis & Cecille’s gym, we’ve linked to their membership page in the button below.

Alumni On The Move - January 2019

Greena George

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

Working Through Stagnation

Throughout my life, from kindergarten through to high school and then in college, the expectations were clear; study, then graduate. The buildup through the time always had the same crescendo – graduation. The expectation with regards to performance was simply to exceed. As an Indian, exceeding was important, especially since I would be competing with another billion Indians.

That changed once I entered the workforce. I started working in Boeing, and things were different. Set milestones aren’t really what I’m graded on. Excelling didn’t result in clear quantifiable promotions. In the workforce, everything is qualitative and relative to another person. I thought I was doing the right things, and things were going well for a few years, but then I started stagnating. My career was not on the trajectory I expected. I worked incredibly hard, only to get frustrated. My managers and peers kept telling me I was doing all the right things, but to me, my career was stagnating. I was frustrated, miserable and considering quitting my job because I just didn’t feel appreciated. I decided to give it six more months before leaving the company I truly enjoyed.

Then things changed. I decided to do EDI’s Leadership Navigation and the course opened my eyes to the perception my peers and I have of me versus the perception Boeing’s leaders have of me. Fundamentally, my interactions with managers gave them a perception that I wasn’t someone who would do well in advanced opportunities, including management. Hearing that was painful, but seeing it reinforced through 360 survey results was eye-opening. I knew that unless I corrected that perception, I would never have the career projection I wanted.

After multiple coaching sessions with my EDI coach, I had several conversations with key influential individuals in the Boeing Company. I realized by building relationships with these influencers, they would advocate on my behalf. By strengthening the relationships I already had, and by getting several advocates, I changed the perception the leaders had of me. With that change in perception, a leader decided to take a chance on me. Halfway through the EDI program, I received a promotion into management. I’m 100% certain that it wouldn’t have happened unless I had participated in EDI. The conversations I had strengthened my relationship with my managers and leaders and resulted in me not only staying with the company but also earn that much sought after promotion, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Now, I take the lessons I learned in EDI and apply them diligently for myself and my team.

EDI helped me understand this key concept – while there is no clear roadmap in the workforce, with deliberate thought and care, one can have their desired outcome. Thank you, EDI!


Alvin Lai

Leadership Discovery, Class of 2015

I graduated from the EDI Leadership Discovery Program (Class of 2015) and recently transitioned into a finance management role at the Boeing Company. My team of Estimating & Pricing Specialist protects the Enterprise and strives for sustained business growth through business case development and financial analysis.

As I reflect back on my journey as an individual contributor into a formal management role – below are 3 takeaways that I have acquired through EDI and other development avenues that I have found valuable in my career thus far:

1) Intentional Branding: Apple, Tesla, and Uber are viewed by the public as innovative and game-changing. Every company and product has a brand and believe it or not, so do YOU. What’s your brand? Every action that you take or don’t take shapes someone’s perception of you. Your actions can determine the difference between being viewed as smart, influential and inspirational vs. deficient, ill-prepared and average. As a leader, don’t leave those perceptions to chance. Be intentional about your Leadership Brand. Below are a few tips on how.

a. Step #1 (Intentional Brand): Gather an intentional collection of characteristics (start with 3) that describes how you would like to be perceived and always ensure that these characteristics align with your core values (ex. Humble).

b. Step #2 (Develop Plan): Be strategic and determine what you need to do each day to demonstrate your intentional brand (Ex. When supporting individual or team projects I will always compliment and recognize team members for their success)

c. Step #3 (Take Action): Take action and provide the public with evidence of your brand each day. Be intentional with every action that you take and your intentional brand will come across.

2) Being Extraordinary: Every moment, we have an opportunity to generate an experience, reputation, and a better relationship. Becoming extraordinary doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and is something that needs to be tackled one day at a time. Below are a few tips on how.

a. Tip #1 (Generate an Experience): Let others experience what it feels like to work with someone that is extraordinary. When you are given a task, do it well but also do one thing that no one expects you to do. For example - If you’re tasked with answering question XYZ, anticipate follow on questions and answer those as well.

b. Tip #2 (Reputation): Figure out if there are negative perceptions of you due to age, gender, ethnicity, experience, etc. Once you figure out the negative perceptions – prove the audience wrong immediately. For example – if you’re perceived as lazy you could 1) volunteer for a project that no one wants 2) ask others if they need help 3) be the first one in the office and last to leave.

c. Tip #3 (Relationships): Invest in relationships and make friends. Compliment someone who doesn’t expect it and make an effort to connect on more than just work-related items because relationships are important. Why? Keeping everything the same (skill set, experience, etc.) who do you think the Board of Directors will elect as the next CEO - someone they have known for the past 15 years and have a great relationship with or someone they barely know?

3) Be Authentic: Never try to be someone that you’re not because we are not very good at being someone else and will come off as fake. Instead be your authentic self because it’s what we do best. At the same time, be mindful of the perceptions that others have of you and take intentional actions if needed to impact those perceptions.

As we start a new year I am renewing my commitment to being an authentic leader and also being intentional each day. I challenge you to do the same. Happy New Year to the EDI Family – Cheers!!

Alumni On The Move - December 2018

Jacob Gonzalez at a recent planning commission meeting.

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

Authenticity was a concept mentioned early and often throughout the EDI experience. Learning about who we are at our “Authentic Best” had a lasting impact on me as I started a new role just after graduating from the 2018 Leadership Discovery Program.

In September, I began my new role as Senior City Planner for the City of Pasco. Pasco is a mid-sized city that has been one of the state's fastest growing communities for over a decade. This new opportunity will allow me to work on various long-range plans but, I am most excited about the chance to work as a planner for the City I have known my whole life. The EDI program coincided with my job search, from dusting off my resume and searching for jobs to the interview and offer process. The timing was perfect. Engaging with my classmates as we learned from our facilitators helped me throughout the process of identifying specifically what I wanted from my next role, and why. The projects and plans I will be working on will allow me to use my analytical background combined with my passion for public involvement. Working with numbers is fun, however it is important to understand that these numbers represent real people in our community. I accepted the new opportunity with a humble appreciation for the responsibility it brings.

So, who am I at my authentic best? I am a compassionate and enthusiastic believer that our city and community members deserves equitable access to the things that some of the world's most livable cities and neighborhoods have. EDI taught me to channel my passion vocally with clear intent while remaining true to myself. I look forward to utilizing the skills I gained from EDI as our city plans for the future.


Mariam Abarientos

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

“If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley – but be the best little scrub by the side of the rill; be the bush if you can’t be a tree”.

I remember putting this poem up on my wall the very first time I walked into my place of work 22 years ago. At that time, I was young, starting out in my career and happy to be doing what I was doing. I landed a job as an Accounting Assistant for a general contractor in the Pacific Northwest, and I know I must earn my keep. That poem by Douglas Malloch was my guide. I knew I was young, full of potential, yet I understood that I had to start somewhere. At that stage in my life, I gave it my best, worked with excellence and put in 150% of whatever my present task was. I was the youngest employee in the company.

SEASONS

Fast forward 20 years later… I have gone through role changes in my career, and have been continuously promoted to increasing levels of responsibilities. I got promoted from Accounting Assistant to Staff Accountant, to Accounting Supervisor, then to Accounting Manager. I became the co-chair of the company’s Lean Committee. I grew up, got married, started a family. I am no longer that youth from years ago. I am still authentic, and only better. Outside of work, I serve the community as Board Director for both the Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics and the International Community Health Services Clinic boards. In those leadership roles outside of work, I learned a great deal from other leaders – CEOs, CFOs, principals of the Seattle business community and learned best practices from other companies and industries which I can then apply to my professional role. It’s like landing a job in other corporate settings and learning best practices without having to leave my current work. In all these years, there is one common denominator. I have kept that poem, in the original stationery where I printed it 22 years ago, and it served as a reminder for me that at whatever stage I am in my career, I am giving my best and excelling in what I do.

Mariam Abarientos (top right) with the Lease Crutcher Lewis Seattle Accounting Team at the Washington State Fair.

Leadership Navigation, Class of 2018

A TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY

EDI came at a time when I was at the pinnacle of my career and ready for the next step. I have everything that I need, as well as the soft skills, but I needed that final push, that final formula. The EDI Leadership Navigation Program has filled that void and enabled me to take the next step forward and find my voice. The seven-month journey with my cohort and intense training with executives sharing their real-life key moments and leadership journey were invaluable. The seven months with the EDI Leadership Navigation program was very transformative, to say the least. It gave me the exposure to real-time, real-life executive perspective, insights and soft skills that not even an undergraduate degree will prepare me for. The topics discussed are things that are not necessarily taught in business schools, those are the things and knowledge that can only come from experience. I had several key takeaways, and if I have to drill it down to the top three, these are it:

1) Intent vs. Impact – EDI allowed me to become fully self-aware of my blind spots. I realized that even with good intent, my impact, or others’ perception of my actions, may come across differently. EDI helped me to see those blind spots and navigate through it so that my intent is reflective in my impact.

2) Polarity Management – this is about choosing between two good qualities, but conflicting ones. An example is being authentic and effective. As Colleen Yamaguchi shared, this is about finding the balance between the two areas and being intentional and self-aware so that you balance out the qualities without leaning in too much to one at the expense of the other.

3) Leading Change - at this capstone session, we were given the toolkit to successfully navigate through large-scale organizational change. Change is the only thing that will remain constant in any organization and in life in general. My ah-hah moment is the realization that leading others through organizational change will only be effective if you’ve done the background work to prepare the people for it. Without that key step, the highest level of performance won’t happen. If you’ve worked with the people through the process and brought them to the higher level, they can successfully navigate through anything that comes their way.

A wise person once told me: Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why not perfection? Because perfection is a destination. Once you reach it, what would be next? Instead, aim for the relentless pursuit of better. Why? Because it’s a journey, you always innovate, improve and grow, and continuously pursue to be the best of whatever you are.

SUCCESS AHEAD

“There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do… and the task we must do is the near”

I was recently promoted to the role of Seattle Controller of Lease Crutcher Lewis, a regional leader in general construction in the Pacific and I am embarking on a new path in my leadership journey. I bring to this role my diversity of thought, first-hand experience, best practices from other organizations, and my collaborative leadership style. I see my current organization, already high-functioning and effective, and I can only see that it gets better from here! EDI has prepared me for this role, and I can’t wait to pour out the goodness and excellence that lies ahead. I still have that poem on my desk from 22 years ago, and I look forward to the positive impact that I bring which will benefit and contribute to the organization’s success. I wanted to end this by quoting the last lines of Malloch’s poem, “If you can’t be a sun, be a star. It isn’t by size that you win or fail, be the best of whatever you are!”

Alumni On The Move - October 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 - 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 - October 2017

Barney Herrera   Navigation, Class of 2014

Barney Herrera

Navigation, Class of 2014

I've been working at Boeing, but recently took a position with the Seattle Credit Union as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships.

As VP of Strategic Partnerships, my mission is to identify organizations in the community that would make strong partners for Seattle Credit Union – partners like the City of Seattle, El Centro de la Raza, or any of the many other Select Employer Groups the Business Development team has worked hard to cultivate.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union, now known as Seattle Credit Union, has not only gone through a name change but also a shift in mission and vision. The credit union has focused on serving the unbanked and the underserved, which include immigrant communities. The opportunity to not only help the Seattle Credit Union meet its mission and vision but also create positive change in the lives of the people in need was too promising to pass up.  Although I didn’t need to move companies, this job allows me to combine my passion for community development and creative solutions to some very real problems.

My biggest success, thus far, is transitioning from an everyday job to a passion. I was always told that once you find a job loving what you do, you will never work another day in your life.  I honestly believe I have found that here and am ready to build something special. My biggest failure is not finding it sooner! Not to be too cliché, but certainly, believe that everything does happen for a reason and in its own time.

I look forward to getting to know the myriad community and business leaders here in Seattle in an effort to identify and secure new partnerships. I’m especially passionate about supporting our immigrant and refugee communities, as my parents are first-generation immigrants from the Philippines. I watched them overcome many challenges to provide me opportunities – opportunities Seattle Credit Union can help provide to many families. Personally, I am inspired every day by my wife and kids. They push me to be a better person, my wife supports me at every turn and my boys are a joy to be with when they aren't driving us nuts ;)

My advice for those starting out early in their career is to master the transferable skills needed to do your current job and then don’t get comfortable and seek the next challenge. I often see too many young people jump from job-to-job without learning a thing from their previous position. Not taking the time to master those skills that you can take with you, is really doing yourself a disservice. It means that you aren’t growing at a rate that is sustainable. When you claim certain experiences on your resume, future employers will have an expectation of your capabilities. Once you try to fake that, your “Personal Brand” and reputation will suffer and your chances of accelerating and moving up may diminish severely.  So before moving on to a new job, make sure you learn and take important skills from your position in order to add to your toolbox of skills.

Alumni on the Move - May 2017

Ji Li   Navigation, Class of 2016

Ji Li

Navigation, Class of 2016

I recently changed my role at Boeing Portland and became the Production System Transformation Manager. It was an exciting career opportunity I had been thinking about. But when it finally came for me to make a decision, I had some doubt in my mind. It wasn’t a job I had in the past, and it required some good organizational and navigational skills which wasn't necessarily my sweet spot. After careful consideration, I decided to get out of my comfortable zone and take the opportunity. So far, it proves to be the right decision. I am able to apply my strength in strategic thinking to help the organization, accelerate winning, and learn how to see the business at a much higher level and with a broader perspective.

I attribute part of my decision above to what I learned from my EDI Navigation Class, knowing what I want and being intentional. Because I learned so much from my EDI experience, I encouraged one of my employees to apply to EDI, and currently she is in the Portland Asian Discovery Class of 2017.

For people who like career advice, I recommend following your gut. You know what’s right for you; be intentional with your choice and don’t let other unnecessary things get in your way.

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!