(Left to right) Moderator Dr. Nancy Walker, Panelists Dr. Sachiko Kuno, Irene Hirano Inouye and Leona Hiraoka
On March 23, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye, Council Member Leona Hiraoka, and Dr. Sachiko Kuno, Co-Founder, President and CEO of the S&R Foundation, spoke on a panel as part of the U.S. visit by the 38 participants of the 2014-15 TOMODACHI MetLife Women's Leadership Program (TMWLP). The panel was moderated by Dr. Nancy Walker, former Founder and Director of AfricaNet. In addition to sharing personal stories of their career paths, the panelists spoke on topics of women in leadership, work-life balance, mentorship and how non-profit or volunteer work plays a role in their professional lives. The TMWLP women posed a number of questions to the panelists, and said they were inspired and encouraged by their advice and accomplishments. A reception attended by USJC Members (Yuuki Shinomiya, Martin Iguchi, Sach Takayasu, John Tobe, Atsuko Fish, and Weston Konishi), staff and local DC professionals followed the panel.
Program participants with (center, back row) Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (Photo Courtesy of Cultural Vistas)
This event was part of the participants' ten-day visit to Washington, DC and New York City from March 20 to 30. While in DC, the women met with individuals like Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2) and leaders of a number of organizations, including the U.S. Department of State and the American Association of University Women. USJC Members Rima Matsumoto, Edson Mori, Janet Nuzum, Mark Uyeda and Amy Yamashiro hosted the women for hospitality dinners, providing them an opportunity for in-depth discussions over a home-cooked meal. Board Member Atsuko Fish came down from Boston to share with them her personal journey. The participants also toured DC with alumni of the JET program and visited local universities, where they were hosted by members of the TOMODACHI DC network of young people. The DC program also premiered "Couples Coffee," an opportunity for the participants to meet professionals and their spouses to discuss topics such as work-life balance and how careers work with a partner, spouse or family.
A scene from "Couples Coffee" (Photo courtesy of Cultural Vistas)
After DC, the group traveled to New York City, where they met with organizations led by women like Council Members Patricia Kozu and Julie Azuma. The visit culminated with final presentations by the participants in front of leaders and supporters at the MetLife headquarters. Several USJC Members and TOMODACHI scholars also came to see the presentations.