Reflection from Jaime Sugino (ELP ’17)
To start, I want to extend my deep gratitude to Irene Hirano Inouye, Kaz Maniwa, Allison Murata and all of the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) sponsors for creating, guiding and supporting the Program. Your generous involvement is the foundation that makes this program so wonderful, special and unique. It is an incredible honor and privilege to be part of the 2017 ELP Class, or, as we say, our 2017 ELP Family!
I have been a USJC Associate since 2011 and have attended every USJC Annual Conference. In the early years, USJC was always inspiring, but at times a challenging fit for me as a young person. Fortunately, over the years, I watched ELP grow in size and impact, and that helped change that perception for me. It also inspired me to apply.
Still, I didn’t realize how profound an experience ELP would be. The official program is less than a day-and-a-half, but in that short time I made unbelievably strong bonds and friendships. It’s a true support system, and one I’ve been very lucky to have this year. My position at Institutional Investor requires a substantial amount of travel, which is often tiring and solitary. But this year, I saw many of my ELP classmates in various cities. In January, I had a last-minute business trip to San Francisco, and managed to go bouldering with Kevin Otsuka and attend the NorCal ELP alumni Shinnenkai. In February, I grabbed dinner with Kyla Kitamura in DC. In March, I ate my way through a farmers market in Hawaii with Lea Okudara and other alumni. In May, I spent quality time with Danielle Higa and Yuko Watanabe and her family in Seattle. And my experience is not unique to me; I have heard countless stories like this from other ELP alumni.
Here in New York, ELP inspired me to be a more active leader in my community. This summer, I used my event planning experience to help Sakura Yagi (ELP ‘16) organize the NYC U40 Mixer. In August, I volunteered for a Japan Flood Relief Fundraiser and helped recruit an event sponsor, Sanrio. Earlier this year, I leveraged my web development startup, Bulb Rocket, to help develop a new ELP alumni homepage. And I have tried to be a connector for younger JA community members in New York, planning several meals, outings and celebrations.
I am honored and grateful to be a member of the 2017 ELP Class, and to constantly grow and benefit from my experience.
Congratulations to the 2018 Class! Looking forward to meeting you all in Tokyo, and welcoming you to the ELP Family!