Participants of the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America Welcomed in Washington, DC

October 19, 2016 at 6pm - October 20, 2016
Washington, DC


Dinner with Northrop Grumman’s Diversity and Inclusion Team

From October 19 to 20, three young women participating in the TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program in America visited the DC region, meeting leaders of Northrop Grumman Corporation as well as local community leaders.

The TOMODACHI Disability Leadership Program, generously supported by Northrop Grumman, is implemented by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston. The three Japanese women are taking part in a five-month internship program in Boston, which is designed to support their future careers in disability leadership. Yui Awai, a student at Waseda University, is exploring how students with disabilities in the United States access college and how they advocate for themselves. Toshiko Kudo, a former peer counselor at the Tachikawa Independent Living Center in Tokyo, studies public transportation systems that are accessible to a diverse groups of users, including people with a range of disabilities. Tomomi Takata, a network engineer at Avinton Japan in Tokyo, examines the practical application of universal design to make public physical spaces accessible to all.

Ms. Gilkey gives a tour of the museum as Ms. Awai (left) and Dr. Boeltzig-Brown (right) look on 

The DC trip was made possible by Northrop Grumman, which invited the young women to their Colshire Office in northern Virginia, in conjunction with a visit by the Disability Rights Museum on Wheels. Heike Boeltzig-Brown and Miwa Tanabe, Program Director and Program Coordinator at ICI, respectively, accompanied them. The women attended a DC Metro Business Leadership Network (DCBLN) meeting, where they shared their experience and heard from community leaders who are also committed to supporting disability leadership. They then participated in the event celebrating the Disability Rights Museum, which began with remarks by Sandra Evers-Manly, Vice President of Global Corporate Responsibility at Northrop Grumman; Teri Marconi, Mission Systems Vice President and executive lead for the Victory Over Impairment and Challenge Enterprise employee resource group; and Jill Houghton, USBLN CEO and President. The women then toured the Disability Rights Museum, and with the guidance of Eric Neudel and his wife Alison Gilkey, the curators of the museum who also produced the documentary Lives Worth Living, learned about the fight for disability rights in the United States.

Ms. Takata (right) chats with Keri Gray (left), an alumna of the TOMODACHI LEAD ON! Tour Japan Series Program 2016, who also attended the event on October 20

Other events that the women took part in included a dinner on October 19 with Northrop Grumman’s Diversity and Inclusion team, and a meeting with Embassy of Japan officials on October 20, where they learned about the Japanese government’s priorities and community activities in the DC region.

Visit to the Embassy of Japan