Marci's Column

Marci's Column - January 2018

Save-the-Date_ EDI 25th Anniversary.png

This year, we celebrate 25 years of EDI!  Mark your calendars now for our 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, October 6, 2018. It will be an event you won’t want to miss.

You’ll see in this newsletter that 2018 is starting off with lots of changes for EDI. Our first major announcement is that we are moving our office from Bellevue into Seattle. Our lease ends this month and we spent the last year, exploring spaces and evaluating what options would be best for taking EDI in the direction we want. We decided on WeWork in South Lake Union. WeWork is a co-sharing space, located all around the world, and as a member, we become part of a broader network. A focus of ours has always been to build brand awareness and expand our reach of individuals and companies that know about EDI’s programs. Being in an environment that fosters creativity and networking, is something that we are looking forward to. We’d love the chance to show you the new space.  Stop by and say hello, especially all of our South Lake Union alums!!!

Our next announcement is Vivian Huang, our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, is leaving. Vivian was hired in October 2014 when she was a junior at the University of Washington. EDI has grown in so many ways because of her commitment, dedication and task-oriented mindset! Much of the social media posts, newsletter and website have been managed by Vivian and our online presence is stronger because of all that she has contributed. I want to keep her forever, but she is ready to take on a full-time position and share her talents with the rest of the world. Thank you, Vivian! We wish you the best of luck and we maybe we’ll see you as a Leadership Discovery participant in the near future.

With that being said, we are currently looking to fill a part-time Office Coordinator position.  We ask for your help in referring candidates to us.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has helped in our recruitment efforts. All of our programs will run this year.  We are 11 participants away from reaching our goal, so keep the applications coming, we’re so close!!  

We have more announcements to come in the next few months, stay tuned.

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 - February 2017

Last chance! This is our last call for applications to enroll in our 2017 Leadership Discovery Programs. If you thought it was too late, it’s not! We will take applications until February 28th. Thank you to our entire EDI network for your referrals and for spreading the word about our programs. We are looking forward to meeting the Class of 2017 at our upcoming Jumpstart events.

Aside from our programs launching in March, there are many other events and initiatives that we are excited about and will be sharing with you throughout the year. 

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 10th. This is Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG day.  This will be our 4th year participating and once again we are doubling our goal to $20,000. It’s one of the only times you can “stretch” your dollars. The more money EDI raises the higher percentage of matching funds we receive from the Seattle Foundation.  We encourage everyone to donate on May 10th and help us raise more money in one day than ever before!  I know that you are all up for this challenge.

We are also in the process of launching our Ambassador Boards (A-Board) in both Puget Sound and Portland. These are alumni boards that will help EDI with alumni engagement, recruitment and hosting events.  We look forward to introducing our A-Board members soon!

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! 

Marci's Column - July 2016

Left to Right : Marci Nakano, Brittany Ryerson, Poe Wongpa (Class of 2015), Tomo Nakano, Vivian Huang, & Kelly Verbicky (Class of 2016) enjoy tasty Thai food at Poe's restaurant in Auburn, Gor Gai Thai.

Left to Right: Marci Nakano, Brittany Ryerson, Poe Wongpa (Class of 2015), Tomo Nakano, Vivian Huang, & Kelly Verbicky (Class of 2016) enjoy tasty Thai food at Poe's restaurant in Auburn, Gor Gai Thai.

July is the time of year for EDI where everything intersects. We have our current programs starting to wind down; we are actively recruiting for our 2017 programs; we are in the midst of preparing for Inclusion Fusion; and starting to plan for graduation. Although it’s the busiest time of year for us, it’s also the most exciting.  

So much has happened since I last wrote in April, I wanted to highlight some of the significant things we have going on right now at EDI. 


INCLUSION FUSION – It’s just around the corner. This year’s event will be like no other as the alumni will be the focus throughout the evening. We’ll have alumni stations where alums will be sampling some of their own products and sharing with you their leadership stories.   There are several new twists that we will have that will incorporate our theme, “Let Your Leadership Fly” so you’ll have to attend to find out what they are! You don’t want to miss this.


In last month’s newsletter, we introduced you to Tomo, our new intern from Bellevue College.  He’s on a one year exchange program from Japan and is spending 10 weeks with us. Thank you to EDI Alum, Mark Watanabe, for referring Tomo to us. He’s eager to build his leadership skills and has been attending our program sessions. As someone new to EDI, he’s been providing us valuable feedback that we will use to improve the quality of our programs and the participant experience. 

I’d also like to congratulate our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Vivian Huang, on her graduation from UW in June. Vivian has been with EDI since October 2014 working part-time. After a month long vacation to Europe, Vivian is now back and transitioning into a more full-time role.  We’re grateful she decided to stay on at EDI as she’s the hub of all the communication points for us.    


Be sure to watch this month’s Alumni on the Move video with Poe Wongpa. Our alums are constantly inspiring and amazing us with all they do in their careers and in the community.  Poe just opened his very own Thai restaurant, Gor Gai Thai, in Auburn. He made his dream a reality and we are so proud and excited for him. I admire his courage, ambition and energy. I’ve already been to his restaurant three times, plus he’s catered lunch for all our program sessions in the last month. It’s the best Thai food you’ll find in the area (and I’m not just saying that because he’s an alum).

For those alumni who want to stay connected and/or help out with EDI – here’s an opportunity for YOU!  We have a new initiative that’s in its beginning stages called the EDI Ambassador Board. This is a board of EDI alums that has been formed to help put strategies in place for alumni engagement, fundraising and recruitment. We have a core group of alums already enlisted and soon they will be reaching out to recruit more members.  If you are interested in being part of this initiative, please email me at                       


We are recruiting for our 2017 programs and our goal is to have 90 participants enrolled before the end of the year. If you know of anyone that has interest in the program, please send them our way. If you want us to come to your company to do an information session or need us to meet with someone one on one, let us know.  

Hope to see all of you at Inclusion Fusion!  #DiverseGlobalLeaders

Marci's Column - April 2016

Above: At Kick-Off, the "bridge-building" activity was a great way for the class to bond with each other! Click for more pictures: Puget Sound, Navigation, Portland

Welcome to EDI’s Class of 2016! In March we kicked off our Leadership Discovery and Navigation programs with 64 participants.  The photos and posts in Twitter and Facebook tell the story of this year’s class.  They are dynamic, motivated, ready for any challenge, and most importantly they know how to have fun.  Continue to follow the participants on their eight month journey by joining our Twitter Thursday conversations (Fridays for Navigation).  We’re providing a rare opportunity to get an inside glimpse of the EDI experience so don’t miss this! #DiverseGlobalLeaders #EDIMythBusters #LosGranOcho #EDILevitate #AIWallbreakers #Navigation

It’s a team effort to launch the programs each year from recruitment to kick-off so we thank ALL of you for your support.  A special shout out to our facilitators, Marisa Rivera, JD Hokoyama and John Chen, who build the foundation for the participants each year and also to our volunteer program chairs for their dedication, time and commitment.  Next month, we’ll be opening up the application process for our 2017 programs, so start thinking about candidates to enroll for next year’s class.

GiveBIG to EDI on May 3rd!  I wanted to do a special call out for this since this is an important day for EDI’s contributors.  This will be our 3rd year participating and we are doubling our goal to $10,000!  It’s one of the only times you can “stretch” your dollars.  The more money EDI raises the higher percentage of matching funds we receive from the Seattle Foundation. Why donate to EDI? Our programs are tuition based and currently tuition only covers 60% of the total operating cost for the programs.  We rely on contributions for the remaining 40%.  We do our best to keep our tuition rates competitive to ensure that we can accommodate as many people as possible in our programs. YOU keep our programs going. We ask for your support on this important day of giving and help us reach our $10,000 goal.  Every dollar counts and together we can make an impact.

May is Asian Pacific Islander Month and the first celebration will take place on Sunday, May 1st at the Seattle Center. The event is led by the Asian Pacific Director’s Coalition (APDC).  It’s a free, family event with entertainment, community booths and the celebrity Hum Bow contest.  That’s what I’m looking forward to the most!  Plus, it will be an EDI reunion as we have a lot of alumni that will be volunteering. You can also visit the EDI booth. We’d love to see you. 

In my last column I mentioned that this year would be all about leadership stories to showcase the power and inspiration of our EDI community.  We hope you’ve been reading the “Alumni on the Move” section of our newsletters.  We have more stories to unveil over the next few months so keep them coming!!

There’s so much more on the horizon for EDI so keep an eye out for more announcements.



Marci's Column - January 2016

Above:  EDI's Portland Alumni Reunion.

Above: EDI's Portland Alumni Reunion.

"I started my own company. 

"I wrote a book."

"I joined a non-profit board."

"I got promoted. "

These are all accomplishments of EDI alumni that we’ve learned about over the past few months. Behind these statements are personal leadership stories that compel, inspire and motivate.  In 2016, we’re taking our “Alumni on the Move” section of our newsletter to the next level.  We are bringing to life these important stories and will showcase them in different ways. It won’t stop at alumni, we will involve everyone from board members to managers to sponsors and coaches.  We want you to feel the power and support of the EDI community. 

This month, we start with Cesar’s story.  If you haven’t already done so, take a look at his video interview.  Cesar has been an integral part of the EDI family since he participated in the program in 2012.  We’re so proud, intrigued and inspired by what he’s built with his new company, MX180, and can’t wait to see it all unfold.  I’ve had the opportunity to get an inside glimpse of what he’s been doing including trying his MX180 meals.  It’s all amazing stuff so check out his website when it launches today!

The Class of 2016 is gearing up to start their EDI journeys and we look forward to meeting them.  They will join over 900 alumni and we can’t wait to hear their stories, too!  For those that thought it’s too late to enroll, you still have time.  We will continue accepting applications through the end of February. We are committed to reaching our participant goal and currently sit at 75% to our goal.  We need your help with one last push to the finish line!  The great news is that we do have a few scholarships available so anyone out there that is interested, we encourage you to apply.  Thank you to everyone that has assisted with our recruitment efforts. 

We are excited for all that lies ahead in 2016. There will be more alumni events, similar to the one that you see in the photo above.  This is from our alumni reunion last December which was the first time we did this in Portland.  We had a great turnout and it was fun reconnecting with everyone. Stay tuned for more updates on events and initiatives in the coming months.  Until then, we encourage all of you to think about your own leadership stories. Please share them with us as we’d love to hear from all of you.  #DiverseGlobalLeaders

Marci's Column - November 2015

Above : 2015 Navigation graduate,  Christine Sakamoto  (middle) presents flowers on behalf of her class to Navigation Program Director,  Colleen Yamaguchi  (left) and EDI's Executive Director,  Marci Nakano  (right).

Above: 2015 Navigation graduate, Christine Sakamoto (middle) presents flowers on behalf of her class to Navigation Program Director, Colleen Yamaguchi (left) and EDI's Executive Director, Marci Nakano (right).

Our 2015 programs came to an end this month with our graduation celebrations in Puget Sound and Portland.  We are so proud of the 2015 graduates and are excited to see what lies ahead for them.  We wish them the best as they continue on their leadership journeys and will look forward to showcasing them in our “Alumni on the Move”.  Congratulations, Class of 2015! 

Thank you to everyone in the EDI community for your support of the 2015 program and participants.  Special thanks to our 2015 program chairs, facilitators, executive mentors, executive coaches and sponsors.  We couldn’t have done it without you. 

Now we focus on 2016!  Our goal is 83 participants and we need everyone’s help to reach this goal.  Our initial application deadline is November 30th, but we will keep the application process open until all classes are filled.  All applicants must be enrolled prior to the kick-off sessions in March.  Remind your friends, colleagues and others in your network to get their applications in soon.  If you have interested candidates that would like to learn more about our 2016 programs, please contact the EDI staff at  We’re happy to do informational sessions or meet with individuals one on one.  

Marci's Column - October 2015

This past Friday I attended the NW Asian Weekly’s Visionary Award dinner which celebrated the achievements of the many “dreamers” that are out there. Those who are not afraid to dream big, turn their ideas into a vision and then make it a reality. We are so proud of EDI Alum, Lorraine Yu, for being honored with one of the Visionary awards this year!!

This got me thinking about how EDI began and that it took so many “dreamers” to push forward the notion that a program like EDI was needed.  Thank you to our co-founders, Ted and Vanna, and the many others who believed in EDI and helped to make sure that it kept going strong!!  Because of your tenacity, courage and inspiration, we continue to grow and are now over 800 alumni strong.

Our 2015 program year is coming to an end and it has been an incredible journey for all of our 71 graduates.  It has been a rewarding experience to learn from them, watch them in action and see them grow over the past eight months.  We’ll celebrate all of their accomplishments at our Graduation Celebrations in November.  Please join us and help to cheer them on.

As we get ready for our 2016 programs, I’d like to thank everyone who supported our annual fundraising event, Inclusion Fusion, in September.  As our only fundraiser of the year, this is an important event as the proceeds raised help to cover at least 30% of the costs it takes to run our programs.  Your support enables us to continue to offer our programs in 2016 and beyond. 

I look forward to seeing everyone at graduation!

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.