What does it take to be an effective leader in your field?
Being honest and transparent about the state of your organization and your own capacity. Running a nonprofit is not a task for one person—communication based on trust and transparency is a must to garner community support.
Most difficult lesson she’s learned:
Don’t take things personally. People may say things that seem directed at you, but they’re not. People who take the time to tell you what’s on their mind often mean well and want to help you out.
What is your company ethos and how do you ensure it is maintained?
People who join our organization believe in our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. We have a wonderful culture where everyone is willing to help each other achieve that mission by going further than what’s specified in their job description.
Words to live by:
“Act as if it were impossible to fail.” —Dorothea Brande
Favorite quality in a team member?
I appreciate anyone who is willing and excited to be part of our team. Willingness and a positive attitude are almost impossible to teach, but we can impart skills and knowledge to anyone willing to learn. I have a hard time when someone is simply a naysayer without presenting solutions or alternatives.
An accomplishment that isn’t on her CV:
I am proud to be my parents’ daughter. Both of them were brought up in war-torn Japan, and their formal education ended after junior high school. My maternal grandfather was killed in the U.S. bombing of Tokyo in March 1945. My parents had difficult childhoods as young Japanese, but later they were able to support my education both in Japan and America. I became the first in my family to graduate from college. I am very grateful for what my parents have done for me.
Do you think women lead differently than men?
I think it depends more on one’s personality and the style of communication and leadership that they choose for themselves.
I’d say be aware of differences, but don’t place too much attention on them. That could lead you to putting someone in a box before you even get to know them.
What could more women be doing to advance their careers?
Be specific about what you want and how you want to live your life. Be willing to pay your dues and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t apologize for who you are.
Describe yourself in three words.
Tenacious, compassionate, curious