I was fortunate to select positions throughout my career that highlighted my communications degree from the University of Washington. I started working at KOMO TV/Radio immediately after college. Then I continued my media career at KJR Radio and lastly, I worked at Clear Channel Outdoor. In each role, I gained strength in techniques and developed my self-esteem every level. I was extremely shy so I had to find ways where I could comfortably find myself breaking down this negative barrier. I knew that this was not a great leadership skill. So, I decided to work on networking. I loved being with people and found strength in networking where I was confident in interacting with others.
After my extensive years in the media/communications field, I have decided to move into the healthcare field. I am currently the Regional Director for Multicultural Initiatives at the American Heart Association. I work with organizations with a goal to improve cardiovascular health of all Americans and decrease deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020.
My duties will include working with high risk communities by focusing in the areas of hypertension, nutrition, obesity and physical activity. In addition, I will work on health equity strategies that focus on development, advocacy and marketing/communications opportunities. My role will include serving as internal consultant to the region/territory on all diversity-related initiatives. The emphasis will be on diverse communities.
Throughout my career, I had high expectations in my performance, which led to the development of strong ethics and leadership skills that came along the way. However, I had failures along the way and they helped me realize how I can make or do things better.
In my earlier years, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful mentor that portrayed the charisma in great leadership. He knew how to communicate and network with people. I would watch him meet people in a room, and he was great in displaying leadership skills that I wanted to adapt to my personality. He allowed people to show or work on their leadership skills. That person was EDI’s founder – Ted Yamamura. I joined the former NAAAP (previously known as Asian Management Business Association). Ted helped me to grow and develop my leadership skills, and always made me feel like I could be a leader in anything I did. When he started the EDI program in 1994, I volunteered my time with him in developing the program that has cultivated so many emerging diverse leaders since then.
Ted always surrounded himself with wonderful leaders on his team. In this respect, I also made sure that I surrounded myself with people who I appreciated and admired. Ted taught me to not hesitate to ask for help or ask for referral.
When I went through the EDI program in 1996, I was very fortunate to have many people who helped/mentored/inspired me along the way. Even now, I am always inspired by my alum family. I looked up to my EDI alums that includes many friends: Char Grinolds, Vanna Novak, Mae Numata, Marci Nakano, Tommy Leong, Marie Chow, Darryl Hue, Dom Amor and Ador Yano. In addition, I had my wonderful family and boyfriend who always supported me in both my professional and personal life.
The most inspiring person to me is my young mentee, Julie Pham, who I decided to mentor many years ago. She has since become a graduate of EDI in 2010. Julie wanted advice on how to succeed and network with community leaders. I helped, guided, and inspired her along the way, but I think I was inspired by her. I watched as she worked hard on whatever she wanted to accomplish. However, I was the lucky one since as the mentee, she really helped her mentor. When I needed help to start a LinkedIn profile, she did not hesitate to help me. When I sought assistance on finding my next career path, she was sending me referrals and providing inspiration to me. As a mentor, this is the proudest moment because I am thankful that I was able to inspire and help her to succeed in whatever ways I could. Julie was there when I needed guidance and social media assistance. To this date, we are still both helping each other professionally and personally.
My advice for others is to ALWAYS think positive and surround yourself with good friends who can help inspire, mentor or help you when times are difficult. Remember that it is a two way street – you need to return the favor.
Also, network, network… and work on networking early than later. When I made my career switch to the non-profit sector, my networking techniques really helped me to find my position. I asked for help among my colleges so I could discover my next passion, which is now at the American Heart Association.
It's also important to find or discover a non-profit organization where you can be passionate about. The EDI program gives you an opportunity to work with a non-profit organization for your team project. I find that volunteering at non-profits will often strengthen your potential leadership skills.
I am always motivated when I can mentor inspiring fellow Asian Pacific Islanders. I want to share what I've learned with people who need help developing their leadership skills!