Joe Darza

Alumni On The Move - October 2019

Joe Darza

Puget Sound Leadership Discovery, Class of 2014

EDI: Hey Joe! CONGRATULATIONS on your new job AND your recent move across the country. Tell us more about it.

Joe:  I recently took a new role within my current company as an Enterprise Account Manager with BlackLine, where we sell Month-End Close Automation software. In my new role, I manage our Fortune 500 companies located in the New York area which necessitated the move to be closer to them.

EDI: How did this opportunity present itself?

Joe:  I restarted my career at BlackLine and took an entry-level role in the business development team in 2017 in order to break through into sales. One thing I learned at EDI was that your career is never a straight line, and when I saw opportunities, I took them (e.g. Being onsite with clients and experienced executives, cold calling CFOs to set up business meetings, etc..). I went to every company networking event I could and introduced myself to every single C-Suite at the company.

The natural progression of someone in business development would be to work in Inside Sales, but when this role opened (typically reserved for someone 10+ years of sales experience) my mentors advocated to senior leadership to look at me for the position.  

EDI: From the short amount of time since going through the EDI program in 2014, you’ve moved around (geographically) quite a bit. What were the driving forces that led you to these opportunities?

Joe:  When I graduated from EDI in 2014 – My biggest takeaway was to take control of my career. Having spent about 7 years of my career in Finance and Accounting roles, I came to the realization that I wanted to work in sales. My opportunity to pivot came when a chance happy hour with a friend who worked at BlackLine, a FinTech Company.

The driving force for me was realizing that in order to drive significant change in my career trajectory I had to do things that felt uncomfortable and reorient my thought process. These moves have really helped me continue to grow and think as a professional.

EDI: You’ve stayed engaged in the Seattle community (even though you moved to Cali a couple of years ago) and we noticed that you came back to Seattle and helped out with supporting Summer Search. Why is that important to you?

Joe: Organizations like EDI and Summer Search mean a lot to me because they have shaped the way I think about things personally and professionally. They’ve opened up doors that I might not have seen for myself, and I want others from my community, whether that’s ethnic, socio-economic, etc… to be afforded the same opportunities.

EDI: Is there anything from your EDI learnings that you’ve been applying to your new job?

Joe: Something I find myself quoting a lot to my colleagues is Vanna’s Speak to Persuade™ class. Vanna’s main message was that every SINGLE conversation, no matter how small, should be a persuasive one. In sales, a lot of people think of making a sale as this singular event. In reality, it’s the culmination of many discussions with various stakeholders that lead you to the sale. When the time comes to ask for the order, 95% of the work should already be done. I think about this even in simple emails back and forth with clients.

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

Joe: Take chances and take control of your career. It really is about defining your brand and deciding where you want to go which just so happens to be two of the classes in the discovery program. In the end, if you make a mistake you can always pivot. But, if you don’t decide, and just allow events to guide your career, you’ll find that others are more than happy to define your trajectory for you.  

EDI: Thank you, Joe! We love seeing your adventures in Cali and can’t wait to see what you end up doing in New York!

Joe: Thanks! I enjoy seeing what all the alums are up to and going to events like Inclusion Fusion always reminds me why I continue to be involved.


We are proud of our alums and the impact they are making around the world. Each month we feature an alum that we have heard is making waves in their company or in their communities on our Alumni On The Move series. If you’re an alum or know one that is really making a positive impact for those around them let us know! We feature anything from alums starting their own companies or side hustles, receiving a promotion, taking a risk and trying a new industry or organization within their own company, joining non-profit committees and Boards, or winning awards! Contact us at to be featured!!

Marci's Column - June 2015

AboveOn May 18th, over 40 people attended the Portland Meet & Greet in welcoming Marci Nakano as EDI’s new Executive Director.

I’m now into my 4th month as EDI’s Executive Director (time is flying fast!) and there is one word/topic that is at the forefront of every conversation and that is….

ALUMNI!  Did you know that with this year’s class we now have close to 900 EDI alums?  It’s truly amazing to know that there are 900 of us out there in companies and communities that all share this common thread of participating in the EDI program.  

The greatest pleasure in working for EDI is connecting with and hearing from the alums.  I want to give a shout out to all of the alumni that have been sharing with us your stories and to say please keep the stories coming.  We can feel the momentum growing with each newsletter.  In fact last month after the newsletter went out, we got an overwhelming response of alums submitting their stories to us.  We love that! 

Recently, Marci attended an alumni dinner.

Back: Sandy Hedington (EDI Board Member), Marie Chow, Joe Darza, Char Grinolds (EDI Co-Chair), Darryl Hue, and Ador Yano.

Front: Marci Nakano (EDI Executive Director), Elaine Kitamura, and Vanna Novak (EDI Board Member/Co-Founder)

As you’ll see in this month’s newsletter, we are hosting an “Alumni Open House” at our EDI office in Bellevue.  There’s no agenda or program, just a means to open our doors to all of you and to see & hear from you.  We’ll have food, prizes and you can be the first to sign our “EDI wall”.  If you don’t know what that is – you’ll just have to come and find out.

In the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to have coffee, lunch, dinners with alums and I’m so incredibly excited about all the things I’ve been hearing.   Want to meet up to share ideas, provide feedback, or just catch up?  Please email me and let’s get together! 

Marci's Column - May 2015

Above : Over 100 people attended Marci's Meet & Greet in Seattle last month.

Above: Over 100 people attended Marci's Meet & Greet in Seattle last month.

CELEBRATE!!  That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking about all that has happened in the last few months. 

We CELEBRATE the successes of all our alumni who are out there influencing and making a positive impact in their companies and in the community. The “Alumni on the Move” section of our newsletters showcase promotions, career successes, awards and also highlight how alumni stay connected and engage in the community. We have lots of photos to share this month and we hope to highlight much more throughout the year. Thank you to our alums who have shared photos and stories with us.  Please keep them coming, we love to hear from you!

We had the opportunity to CELEBRATE leadership & diversity at the Portland General Electric Diversity Summit on April 7th. Thanks to Navigation alum, Lorena Juarez, for inviting EDI to participate. There were close to a 1000 attendees and it was great to connect with leaders in the Portland community and reunite with some of our Portland alumni. Special thanks to 2010 alum, Natasha Siores, for helping staff our EDI booth.

On May 3rd we CELEBRATED Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the annual event led by the Asian Pacific Director’s Coalition at Seattle Center. Special thanks to EDI Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Vivian Huang, and Class of 2013 alum, May de los Reyes for staffing the EDI booth. The spotlight was on Class of 2014 alums Joe Darza and Winny Chao who MC’d the event and Kyle Theptee who MC’d the Hum Bow eating competition. Michael Liam and May de los Reyes were the judges. It was great to see alums in the crowd and was a fun way to kick-off API Heritage month.

May 5th was The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG day. In the office this week we CELEBRATED our GiveBIG success with cupcakes! Thanks to your support we were able to raise over $4,700 which is the most we’ve raised since we started participating in this event.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who attended the meet & greet event on April 20th at Four Seas.   We had about 100 attendees and it was great to see so many Executive Directors, community leaders, EDI Board members, alumni and future participants coming together to CELEBRATE EDI. I’m looking forward to the Portland meet & greet on May 18th!