Leadership Discovery

Alumni On The Move - March 2019

Hong Chhuor

Puget Sound Leadership Discovery Class of 2016

My very first opera ever was La bohème. Someone from Seattle Opera came to my high school senior literature class to invite us to see a performance of one of Puccini’s most enduring favorites – for free! This last part is important to mention because I would not have been able to go otherwise.

When I was growing up, my parents worked long hours at low-paying jobs to support their five children so we could all become doctors, lawyers or engineers one day. They fled the Khmer Rouge, which means they left their country, families, and dreams behind. In the U.S., they lacked a community where they could celebrate their culture, including dance, art, and other traditions. It should come as no surprise that instilling a love of opera was not a priority for them.

And so it was that through Seattle Opera, I came to learn about an entire world of music, stories, and art beyond Wagner’s magnificent Valkyries, whom I really only knew about because I saw caricatures of them in episodes of Looney Toons as a kid. I don’t remember much about how my first opera went, but I do remember falling asleep in the cool, dark performance hall as I experienced this uniquely western art form for the first time (shhh – don’t tell my employer).

I could never have imagined that one day, I would help lead Seattle Opera’s fundraising team. Prior to my current role as Associate Director of Development, I served as the Marketing and Communications Manager at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), which is a social justice focused health and human services nonprofit that serves immigrant, refugee and native-born Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and others. You may be wondering about my transition from 1) social services to the arts 2) marketing and communications to fundraising and 3) a manager level role to a director-level role. I’ll share my thoughts on each, but to be honest, it was not a path that I could see very clearly while I was walking on it. Hindsight is 20/20, they say.

Firstly, my experience with EDI’s Leadership Discovery program at the same time that I was working at ACRS helped me to connect the dots in terms of my heritage and identity as an Asian American refugee. All of the combined learnings and insights I gained as a result of the program as well as my growth at my job helped me identify what I wanted from my career. I gained clarity about my values, which made it easier to make choices when I found myself at significant crossroads.

I realized that I found fulfillment in connecting people with causes and issues they care about and helping them to invest their time and resources in ways that are meaningful to them.

While I still care very much about advocating for and empowering AAPI immigrants and refugees, moving to Seattle Opera was about recognizing the power of stories, music, and art to change hearts and minds, and helping us find meaning in our lives. Leaving ACRS was very difficult and what helped me with the decision was the realization that I can continue to love ACRS and be a part of its strong community without working there.

My job title at ACRS hid the fact that some of my primary responsibilities included fundraising as well as managing people and processes. I was fortunate to have support from my manager and my organization to build up my professional experience through hands-on learning, formal training, and coaching and mentorship from others in my field. Attending conferences by and for professional fundraisers really helped me to learn what skills I needed and wanted to develop. It also helped me feel like I was part of a community of people with whom I shared a calling.

In more ways than one, the experiences I gained through ACRS and EDI laid the groundwork for my role at Seattle Opera – almost as if the role was written for me. My overarching goal right now is to help people connect with and find meaning and connection through opera and the community around it. This is not so different from helping people connect with their desire to be part of a larger social justice movement. Through managing people and processes (which is a central part of my role at Seattle Opera), I have an appreciation for how doing these things well contributes to the ability of an organization to achieve its mission and vision. And just like ACRS did a few months ago, Seattle Opera is about to get a new leader. That will bring a whole host of change that will need to be thoughtfully navigated. Thanks to ACRS, I have experience with that, too!

I’m excited for the challenges of my new role, which includes an expanded fundraising team doing things I really only have textbook knowledge about (like major giving, capital campaigns and planned giving). I recently earned my Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation and am thrilled to continue my journey as a professional fundraiser – not to mention all of the opera I’ll get to enjoy. Ask me about my friends and family discount – I’d love to welcome you to an upcoming opera.

If I were to leave the 2019 EDI class with some advice, it would be this: push yourself out of your comfort zone and GROW. Don’t let superficial things like job titles limit your dreams. Network, network, network. Find a mentor and serve as a mentor to others.

Hong Chhuor

EDI Class of 2016

Alumni On The Move - February 2019

Urmi Kavi

Puget Sound Leadership Discovery, Class of 2008

I started a new leadership role at Puget Sound Energy when my manager at the time recommended EDI’s Leadership Discovery Program. In 2008, I completed the program. It was an amazing journey of several personal discoveries and insights. Reflecting back on all the things I learned, people I met and how that program has helped me is simply amazing. I acquired skills on how to be a good leader, a good presenter, how to create my own brand, build relationships, and most importantly how to distinguish myself from the rest while still being myself.

I volunteered off and on over the years and in 2018, I led the EDI Alumni Ambassador Board as EDI was celebrating its 25th year in operation. As a group of volunteers, we helped with fundraising, created awareness about EDI offerings, recruited new candidates for the programs, and volunteered at Inclusion Fusion (EDI's benefit dinner and auction). While serving as the President on the EDI Alumni Ambassador Board, I had the opportunity of working closely with the EDI Board of Directors.

During my 2018 experience, I learned that in the entire process I had received more in return than what I gave back. Patience is a key skill that I developed while working with an all-volunteer run group. This is an important skill in today’s world of real-time, all of the time 24x7 availability. Another key skill I developed was being considerate of when people are able to deliver things (since we're all working on projects at different times).

For EDI’s milestone 25th year fundraising campaign I asked alums for contributions and was surprised at the response I personally got back from people thanking me for reminding them about EDI. That was a first for me. In the process, I learned how to ask for money. Initially, I was shy when it came to asking for money. I thought it would come across pushy or something I didn't want to do because I didn't have experience in fundraising.

I also learned how to play well in the sandbox. It was a team effort; no one person could do it all. Understanding each other was critical. We were a virtual team of volunteers and we worked well to accommodate each other's ideas and thoughts. I met new people, networked, and much more.

At the volunteer celebration, EDI co-founder Vanna Novak asked me if I would consider joining the EDI Board of Directors in 2019. I instantly said yes! It is an awesome opportunity.

Why join the EDI Board of Directors? I am a believer in life long continuous learning and by joining the EDI Board I plan to keep improving and growing my skills and promoting EDI as an organization I care for. I am looking forward to a great experience this year by working on the EDI board. It is a win-win opportunity. If anyone is looking for opportunities to grow and improve their talents and skills they will benefit from volunteering on EDI’s Board. We are always recruiting and fundraising so please reach out for more information.

- Urmi Kavi

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In 2019, EDI also welcomed Barney Herrera, Kumi Baruffi, & Gina Walker to the EDI Board of Directors. For a full list of our Board members please visit Our Team page.

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 - November 2018

Jacob Trieu

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Someone once told me, "Keep on doing what you've always done and you won't always get what you’ve always got." Hmm….you might be thinking 'isn't this the meaning of consistency? If repetition doesn't always yield the same results, what does? This is true if all of the given conditions are the same and continue to remain the same, but in life it seldom ever does.

This is especially true for jobs and careers. We can go to work, do our jobs, impact people's lives and go home and repeat. But there is something that changes ever so subtly if not the world around us…ourselves. And because of this nothing is ever truly consistent in life. We need something to help push us to grow, some change to drive us forward.

I recently moved into a Senior Project Manager role at Omron Microscan working on products for industrial automation and verification. Previously at Boeing, I was working as a Senior Project Engineer on aircraft interiors. You might be asking, why change jobs, industry or even career? Each day I would work on cool products that the flying public touches and gets to see, I would collaborate with aviation enthusiasts around the world, and yet there was something more I yearned for. As I reflected internally, I realized I needed to grow in a way that pushed me in ways I can’t think of. All so I can strive to be better than I was yesterday.

My new role at Omron has challenged me every day to learn about new products, finding ways to lead and motivate teams, and provides me new perspectives on how to think and act differently. This environment change I made externally began with the transitioning I began internally. The saying goes, "Change is external, transition is internal."

EDI has had a major impact on where I am and will continue to be a part of my future. EDI has challenged me to take more dynamic risks for a better future. So now I am throwing down a challenge to all of you out there…Challenge yourself today to commit to following through for a better tomorrow.


Anna Kim

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

In my EDI class, one of the most important lessons I learned was to package my life experience as a whole and use it as a strength by presenting my authentic best. Professionally, I was always holding back, suspicious that I might reveal weakness. In EDI I learned that I was going about this the wrong way. There may be vulnerabilities, but also my greatest source of strength.

Throughout the EDI class I took the opportunity to consider not who I am, but why. This journey helped me immensely when I decided to move back to Oregon. I took a job with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon as the energy efficiency specialist. I administer the Energy Trust grant, draft administrative rules, and review utility resource investments.

Anna Kim (center) presents to the Commission while accompanied by her lawyer as her manager observes from the audience.

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2018

In this role, I felt I could use the full breadth of my skills. Here, I use my analytic mind to understand the overarching impacts of decisions, I use poetry to construct my arguments, and I found a place that deserves my loyalty. All of that communication and presentation training sure

helps in this line of work too.

To be honest, this job demands my authentic best. I can’t imagine going back.

You’ll find me outdoors more often than not, enjoying my Oregonian days.

Anna Kim, Korean American. Economist. Poet.

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 - August 2018

Jiangping Gu (bottom right) with fellow EDI alums Andrew Chang, Kyoo Chang Oh 

Portland Discovery, Class of 2013

I was recently promoted to the Director of Engineering for the Large Parts Campus (LPC) of PCC Structurals, Inc. LPC is the world leader in large, complex structural investment castings for aircraft engines, land-based turbines, military armament and other applications. 

I am responsible for the development of engineering, production engineering, process control, tooling and fixture engineering for both Steel and Titanium plants. I am leading a world-class engineering team of about 100 employees dedicated to developing, improving and controlling the investment casting processes of stainless steel, nickel-based superalloys, and titanium alloys. 

I moved to the US in 1995 working for the University of Iowa as a post-doctoral research associate after I graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. I started my career at PCC as a modeling engineer in 1999. I transitioned to the management role in 2011 after I completed my MBA from Cornell University. I was promoted as the Steel Plant Engineering Manager in 2013 while I was attending EDI. I was promoted again in 2016 as the New Product Introduction (NPI) Engineering Manager for both Steel and Ti plants.

To me, EDI essentially is the expanded class of a typical MBA course "Leading and Managing Organizations". EDI is more insightful and yet more practical as all the instructors have tremendous executive experiences. My self-awareness enhanced through EDI classes and the skills I learned from EDI such as presentation, conflict management, and branding have benefitted me tremendously since then and will continue to help my future growth. I am so grateful!


Yanira Ramirez

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since graduating from EDI, I’ve worked on my confidence, being able to speak up and getting out of my comfort zone. This has helped me take on challenging projects.  I became the cost recovery focal at Boeing for the 767, Tanker and 737 programs. I’ve pushed myself to explore and learn more about what interests me, what my strengths are and where I have areas to grow. 

After analyzing this, I decided to return back to school and obtain a master’s degree. At the beginning of the year, I started my first year of graduate school at Arizona State University to pursue a Masters in Global Management. It has been a year of change with new adventures that will help me grow personally and professionally.

Shortly after starting grad school, I was offered an opportunity with Microsoft. After 3.5 years with Boeing as a Financial Analyst, in May I joined the Real Estate and Facilities Team (RE&F) as an Integrated Facilities Management Analyst at Microsoft.  In this role, I will be working with our Tier 1 suppliers in Latin America, US, and Canada. I’ll have the ability to use my bilingual skills as well as a long-time goal of working with international accounts. I’ll also be collaborating with counterparts in Asia, Europe, and India. 

I’m very excited about this new challenge and opportunity to learn a new business. I am collaborating with our partners to strategize in order to deliver the best experience to our customers. 

In this new role, I also get the opportunity to travel. I attended a year-end strategy meeting in Mexico City where we met with our partners to plan for the new year. I also had the opportunity to meet my international colleagues in Paris while sharing best practices between the regions.  Most recently I attended a working meeting in Medellin, Colombia. 

It has been a very busy year, but also a year of growth. I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring! 

Alumni On The Move - July 2018

Diana Wong (in the blue cap) with her Dragon Boat team

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

Since my journey of the Leadership Discovery Program, a lot of knowledge I learned through EDI has stuck with me. Two things that have been of focus for me are taking risks and embracing change. Growing up, I always heard about climbing the “corporate ladder” and being in management. After EDI, I’ve come to understand that it is about climbing my own ladder and being a leader for both myself and others. Leadership no longer means a title or a level of management to me. It’s about being able to make a difference, whether small or big. I have been fortunate enough to have many great people share their wisdom and experience with me, which has helped contribute to who I am. It is other’s influence, inspiration, and motivation that drive me and I want to be able to do the same for others. Being a more timid individual, EDI’s “Nothing Risked, Nothing Gained” session still resonates with me as it’s about taking risks. Along with taking risks, comes change, which I have learned to embrace. A leader has to embrace change, be willing to take risks, and learn from failures as a progression. 

After being in the same Finance function for most of my career, I finally found the courage to take a leap and make a change. I recently decided to pursue a different Finance position in Supply Chain, which is also a new division experience for me. It has completely taken me out of my comfort zone having to learn about the Supply Chain aspect. To feel like I'm starting over is a great challenge, but one that is refreshing as I learn to embrace change. As I continue to learn, I also hope that I can share and contribute knowledge I’ve gained from my previous teams.

Outside of work, I have also taken another challenge by taking a coaching role on a Dragon Boat community team. Dragon Boat is a sport promoting teamwork, communication, and health. This sport brings people of all backgrounds to come and learn to work together as one. It truly brings diversity together and teaches us how to become one team through synchronicity, focus, and teamwork. To be able to inspire, motivate, and encourage a group to work together is both challenging and rewarding. The coaching experience has not only taken me out of my comfort zone and challenged me, but also shown me where I have failed to my expectations. As I have taken the risk to take on this challenge, I have learned to embrace the failures and am currently reminding myself to use those learnings as development and growth.

I hope to pay it forward, share knowledge, and bring out the best in others. From EDI, within challenge is change, so continue to challenge and change yourself and others. Thank You, EDI!

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 - May 2018

Katherine Tsai Martinez (2nd from left) with the Matt Griffin YMCA Board

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2017

Since graduating from the 2017 Leadership Discovery Program, I have been busy holding myself accountable on defining what my authentic best is and practicing it daily. One of the major takeaways from the program was, the longer I continued to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do, I will never be the authentic leader that I want to be.

Being inspired to take chances, I successfully transitioned into a new finance role a few months before graduating from the Discovery Program. After being in Supplier Management at Boeing for two years, I accepted a role at Boeing Capital as a Treasury and Risk Analyst. I have never been one to not push myself to excel in the workplace but through EDI’s Leadership Discovery Program, I realized that I wanted to be a strong contributor at work, whom not only performs at their job functions but leads and inspires others as a diverse leader. In addition, I have become more active in Boeing’s Asian Professionals Association where I am currently the Co-Chair for their 2018 LEAD program. The LEAD program is an 8-month leadership program focused on developing diverse Boeing Professionals within the company.

The Discovery Program's community service project inspired me to be active again in the community. For our team project, we chose to support the Matt Griffin YMCA and held a fundraising event which generated more than $2,000 for their after-school programs. Seeing the impact of our fundraiser, I was compelled to join the Matt Griffin Board. 

I’m so appreciative of everything that I learned from EDI. I have made some great relationships from the program, it is so nice to have a genuine network. I am proud of where I am at both professionally and personally. Thanks to EDI, I can confidently say that I am a leader that graciously welcomes new challenges and refuses to create boundaries and limits on what I can and cannot do.


Jacob Esparza

Puget Sound Discovery, Class of 2015

I recently accepted an amazing opportunity at Facebook as a Program Manager.  I am working on a team called Business Integrity New Products where I am a central point leading cross-functional teams in identifying risks to new product launches.  My role is responsible for assessing risks, influencing policy creation, creating review processes, and facilitating the setup of KPIs to track success.  This role was a huge opportunity for me after I made the jump from aerospace into tech last year.

EDI has played a huge part in my successes since graduating. The EDI lessons that stuck with me were the importance of not only networking but using my network to help build my confidence to make big moves through being self-aware and to always push myself. The ability to continuously use the tools that EDI helped fill my toolbox with is a priceless gift that I am very thankful to have received.

I am extremely honored by this new adventure and am also excited to start using one of the other things that EDI taught me, which is giving back.  My husband and I are partnering with the rescue that we adopted one of our dogs from to throw a fundraising event to support their efforts in rescuing dogs, cats and horses from Mexico and finding them homes.  We are huge dog lovers and are looking forward to giving back to an organization that means a lot to us!