Alan Sugiyama

Marci's Column - December 2017


This year started off with unfortunate events and many challenges. In January, we lost community activist and former EDI Executive Director, Alan Sugiyama. In February, when we closed our applications for 2017, we found ourselves with our lowest enrollment since the recession, having to put our Leadership Navigation program on hold. 

The strength of our EDI community helped us turn our challenges into opportunities. We know that in order to ensure EDI’s growth, we can no longer continue doing what we’ve always done. We must think outside the box, get creative, embrace change, and step out of what’s comfortable for us. These are all the elements of leadership that we emphasize to our participants in our programs and this is what we embraced and implemented at an organizational level this year. After all, we must practice what we preach!

As I look back on 2017, I’m amazed at how much we were able to accomplish! We took so many ideas that have sat on paper for a long time and brought them to life. Here are a few examples:

  • Creating our Alumni Ambassador Board in Puget Sound & Portland and launching our Network @ Nite events.
  • Elevating our fundraising efforts through GiveBig & Inclusion Fusion: With the help of the EDI Board and the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation we were able to get donations matched and raised more money than we ever have.
  • Getting more savvy on social media: more videos, more content and going live on Facebook!  If you haven’t tuned into Mind Hack Live, check it out here. You’ll find amazing live interviews from leaders around the Pacific Northwest.
  • New sponsors & partnerships: Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Thrivent Financial, Zillow, Business & Professional Women (BPW) network and much more!

These are just a few highlights and we have exciting things on the horizon for 2018 that we can’t wait to share with you. This includes new offices, new program offerings, and new partnerships. We will unveil these in January/February next year, so keep an eye out for that.

Of course, the sustainability of EDI is centered on our core leadership programs. As of today we are 65% to our enrollment goal for 2018. We ask for your help in getting in applications by December 31st. We are confident that all of our programs will be up & running again next year. Thank you to everyone who has referred candidates. Keep them coming!

We are so grateful to all of YOU for your support. You stepped up in ways that we couldn’t even imagine and helped make this year a truly successful one. THANK YOU! We look forward to celebrating 25 years of EDI with you in 2018. Here’s to building a community of #DiverseGlobalLeaders.

Happy holidays!

Marci's Column - October 2016

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

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

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

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

See you at graduation! 

Featured: Al's Update

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

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

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

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

Marci's Column - September 2015

We are now entering our busiest time at EDI with the 2015 classes coming to a close, Inclusion Fusion just around the corner, graduation celebrations in November and 2016 recruitment!  It’s an exciting time and we look forward to all of you being a part of it.

Last month, we held our 3rd Annual Hispanic Alumni reunion.  From the photos, you can see that it was a fun time reconnecting with alumni and meeting new faces, too. Special thanks to former State Representative Phyllis Kenney for delivering an inspiring message to our guests and our very own George Alabi (Discovery Class of 2004 & Navigation Class of 2014), for being our MC.

Our annual fundraiser, Inclusion Fusion, is only a week away!!  It’s definitely an event you don’t want to miss.  We have lots of new auction items and activities that we can’t wait to share with you.  From our “secret ingredient” for our chef appetizers, mystery room, wine toss, heads or tails, pot of gold and live auction card draw, it promises to be a fun night.  It’s not too late to register, so click here to join the festivities.

The past few weeks we’ve been actively recruiting for our 2016 programs.  We ask for your help in referring candidates to our program so we can make 2016 our biggest class to date.  Please contact us at if you have anyone that is interested in enrolling in the program. 

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to our Executive Director Emeritus, Alan Sugiyama.  Hopefully you all read his update in our last newsletter and will join in on the appreciation event being held in his honor this Sunday.  Al has been very supportive and continues to assist EDI in any way that he can.  Thank you, Al and we look forward to celebrating with you on Sunday. 

Message from Executive Director Emeritus: Alan Sugiyama

Accompanied by his two daughters, Alysa (left) and Mari (right), Al leaves his latest doctor's appointment with good news that his cancer is shrinking.

Accompanied by his two daughters, Alysa (left) and Mari (right), Al leaves his latest doctor's appointment with good news that his cancer is shrinking.

Hi everyone,

"As promised, I wanted to provide you with an update of my condition. First of all, I want to thank all of you for the emails, cards, gifts, flowers, food, lunches, dinners, and hot chocolate! A special thank you to all of you who prayed, chanted, and sent positive thoughts my way. I appreciate it very much, but more importantly it has had a positive effect on my treatment. Another special shout-out goes to Marci, Vivian, Chan, and the entire EDI Board of Directors for their support and covering up for me.

On October 17, 2014, after five tests and numerous doctor visits, I was diagnosed with two types of cancer: pancreas and esophagus. Immediately, I went into chemotherapy and continued to work half-time, until I officially retired on February 28, 2015. As of now, I'm extremely happy to report that:

  • Further tests show I only have esophagus cancer that actually spread to the pancreas. This is wonderful news as it opens up additional options for me.
  • The cancer in both areas continue to shrink. In fact, the cancer on the pancreas is at baseline or a '1'. The cancer in the esophagus went from a size '19' to a '3'.

Currently, I am continuing my chemotherapy. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I know with your continued support and love, I will live into my 90's! Once again, thank you all. As usual, feel free to email me at home at and let me know how you are doing."


Please join Al for 'Al Appreciation Day' on September 13, 2015 from 3:00 PM -5:30 PM at Blaine Methodist Church. No cost, no gifts, and it's open to all. 

For more information, please email

Click the flyer to download a PDF version.

Marci’s Column – March 2015


March 24, 2005 is the day that I first “met” EDI.  It was at kick-off and I was a participant in the Class of 2005. I had no idea then how much my EDI journey would influence me both professionally and personally. It’s hard to believe ten years later, I’m writing to you my first column as EDI’s Executive Director.

I started working for EDI in 2006 and over the past nine years here, I’ve watched us develop and grow as an organization. We expanded our program offerings and now have over 800 alumni. I have had the unique opportunity to see EDI through different lenses – as a participant in the program, as an alumna, as the Program & Events Director and now I get to add another lens as Executive Director. Combining all of these experiences is extremely exciting and I look forward to what lies ahead for EDI.    

This month we kicked off our 2015 Discovery and Navigation programs with 74 participants.  The photos in our newsletter tell the story of this year’s class – they are committed, engaged, eager to learn and most importantly ready to have lots of fun!  Many thanks to our facilitators and program chairs for the time they put into making kick-off a success.

I’d like to thank the EDI Board and EDI’s past Executive Directors Starr Macdonald and Al Sugiyama. They have advanced EDI’s mission and vision forward with passion and dedication.  I’ve learned so much from their leadership and they have helped to get me to where I am today. I also look forward to working with Al in his role as Executive Director Emeritus. 

Lastly, we are having a “Meet & Greet” event on April 20th at Four Seas Restaurant and I hope to see all of you there.  I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone in the community and to celebrate 22 years of EDI. 

Announcement: Executive Development Institute appoints Marci Nakano as its new Executive Director

Left to Right : Marci Nakano will be EDI's new Executive Director after Alan Sugiyama's departure late February.

Left to Right: Marci Nakano will be EDI's new Executive Director after Alan Sugiyama's departure late February.

Executive Development Institute (EDI) announced on Friday, February 13 that its Board of Directors appointed Marci Nakano as EDI’s Executive Director. EDI is the only Pacific Northwest non-profit organization that focuses on leadership training for multiethnic professionals. Nakano will transition to Executive Director on March 1, 2015. EDI’s current Executive Director, Alan Sugiyama, is retiring on February 28, 2015 for health reasons and will remain connected to EDI as Executive Director Emeritus. In this new role, he will mentor and transition Nakano to her new role and continue to represent EDI in the community.

“I am appreciative to the Board and Al for their trust, confidence, and support as I take on this new role,” Nakano said. “As an EDI alumna, I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead an organization that has influenced my own leadership journey and look forward to continuing to strengthen and grow EDI’s programs.”

Nakano is currently the Director of Programs and Events for EDI and has been with the organization for nine years. She is a graduate of EDI’s 2005 Leadership Discovery program. Prior to EDI, Nakano was a manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP, responsible for financial statement and internal control audits for manufacturing, construction, and utility companies.

“The EDI Board of Directors is pleased that Marci has accepted the Executive Director position,” said Mae Numata, co-chair EDI Board of Directors and Class of 1994. “She has the ability, knowledge, experience, and most of all the passion to lead EDI. It is special to us that we are able to promote an alumna of our Leadership Discovery Program. We are also pleased that Al has accepted the Executive Director Emeritus position. He has made significant contributions to our organization and we wish him only the best as he continues to focus on his health.”

EDI collaborates with over 50 Pacific Northwest corporations to provide business relevant, culturally tailored leadership training for Asian Pacific Islander and Hispanic participants. The leadership institute has built a community of over 800 alumni and is currently recruiting for its 2015 programs.

Al’s Column – February 2015

Above : EDI's Executive Director, Alan Sugiyama, gives an acceptance speech at the 2015 OCA dinner.

Above: EDI's Executive Director, Alan Sugiyama, gives an acceptance speech at the 2015 OCA dinner.

I guess all wonderful things must come to an end! Due to health reasons, I will be leaving my position at EDI as Executive Director, effective February 28th. However, I will remain connected to EDI as ‘the Executive Director Emeritus.’ In my new role, I will mentor our new Executive Director and current Programs & Events Manager, MARCI NAKANO. At the same time, I will also continue to represent EDI at special events in the community. I want to personally thank all the board members who hired me a little over two years ago. I knew I would like the job, but I didn't know I would absolutely love it! I totally embraced EDI’s mission and goals, but I fell in love with the board, staff, volunteers, program chairs, partners, trainers, and most of all, our PARTICIPANTS. In my two years at EDI, I’ve had the opportunity to serve 158 emerging leaders. All of them are bright, capable, and sincere people, who will become extraordinary leaders at their workplace and in the greater community. I don't need to say "good luck" to any them as they are so talented and gifted. I only ask that they use their position and talents to help others. 



I want to say a special THANK YOU to the current EDI Board of Directors for all their love and support. For the past four months, I wasn't able to work anywhere near full-time, but they were flexible and allowed me to work whenever I could, always there to assist me. Thank you, you have all become my second family. To the rest of my EDI family, as I continue my battle with cancer, which I know I will beat, I hope to update you in a future newsletter if appropriate. Finally, if anyone wants to reach me directly after March 1st, please email me at