ELP/U40 Plenary Feature – Dare to be Different: Leading a More Diverse Future

The following is the summary of a session that was part of the 2018 Annual Conference.



  • David Kenji Chang, Portfolio Manager, Tyvor Capital, LLC
  • Mana Nakagawa, Strategy & Operations Lead, Diversity & Inclusion, Facebook
  • Nicole Velasco, Business Development Lead, NORESCO


Ms. Nakagawa began by questioning how individuals define diversity. She explained that Facebook’s fundamental mission is to connect the world, and that they work hard on a cognitively diverse mindset. Touching on how to advance diversity in the work place, Ms. Nakagawa explained that companies and organizations are developing new programs for diversity. However, the programs are limited because diversity and inclusion is changed through people’s own will and desires. Ms. Nakagawa emphasized that traditions are important and valuable, but it is also important to consider that traditions may not be the best options for a sustainable future.

Mr. Chang first explained his background in order to put some context into his speech. He emphasized that he felt isolated as an Asian-looking 4th generation American. He mentioned that the Emerging Leaders Program has made him feel included and belonging. Since he has felt disconnected, USJC has comforted, inspired, and empowered him to build more connections with like-minded peers. Mr. Chang explained that this has strengthened him to fight for diversity. He mentioned that USJC is a fantastic model of how to enhance diversity by creating safe spaces and opportunities for marginalized people.

Ms. Velasco began her speech by describing the sense of community and uniqueness of Hawaii, her home state. She added that the idea that diversity and inclusion is a practice in which we invite what makes us unique, and it can be channeled into building strong relationships, connections, and bonds. Ms. Velasco asked the speakers to elaborate on new models for success in the home. Ms. Nakagawa answered that alternative models need to be explored. There are female and male models of tradition, and society should move past them in order to improve roles to be better partners. Mr. Chang said that helping people understand that diversity can mean many different views, such as political and socioeconomic, is something that should be done. In addition, Mr. Chang explained that people’s experience of diversity and roles in society are relative to each one’s experiences. An effective way to understand diversity is by putting in effort to discuss diversity, find out the stories of who and what other people are, and discussing where people feel vulnerable and excluded. Ms. Velasco mentioned that, in order to bring differences together to create something positive, it is essential to keep focused on your purpose because that will lead to success in the long term.


Click here to see the video of the session.