Leaders Gather for Regional Women in Leadership Programs in Providence and Cleveland

October 16, 2017 at 12pm - 2pm

Community leaders in Providence, RI and Cleveland, OH recently gathered in their respective cities to discuss how to promote women's leadership. This was part of the Regional Women in Leadership (RWL) series, in which USJC members and supporters organize and attend events in their respective regions, with generous funding from the Embassy of Japan. Akiko Otani, Director of Partnerships & Special Projects at USJC, attended both events.

Spencer Viner, President of the Japan-America Society of Rhode Island, hosted the discussion in Providence on October 16. Participants included politicians, lawyers and entrepreneurs, as well as individuals in civil society, the fashion industry and media. One of the participants, Ineko Stephans, shared her experience of not being able to speak her mind in postwar Japan as a young lady, and how she is now enjoying freedom of speech in the United States.

Mr. Viner (left) led the discussion, and Akiko Otani and Kathleen Connell, former Secretary of State of Rhode Island (right), were among the participants

In Cleveland, the ten participants included a diplomat-turned-artist, an Ikebana Grand Master and the CEO of the Cleveland Council of World Affairs. They had a robust discussion on October 25 about empowering women in Japan, and covered topics from best practices in the military, to changing hiring practices and employment law, to capacity building of women entrepreneurs in Japan. Cleveland has great educational resources for encouraging entrepreneurship and fostering women leaders, in fields as varied as finance and the arts. Suggestions for action items included inviting women from Japan to learn from successful women leaders in Cleveland, and organizing a seminar at the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence about why men need to mentor women. The discussion ended on a very high note with much excitement and enthusiasm to follow up on some of the suggestions.

The Cleveland discussion was hosted by Mikiko Fujita (back row, second from left), wife of Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors

​Many thanks to those who organized and participated in the discussion!​