Emerging Leaders Program: Kaiwa Series featuring Kristi Yamaguchi

The ELP Kaiwa Series is a new initiative to connect USJC’s U40 (under 40) ELP community with established leaders from USJC through meaningful conversations. The goal of these conversations is to foster next generation leadership in the Japanese American community through shared insights, skill development, and new connections. 

This summer, the Emerging Leaders Program alumni kicked off the ELP Kaiwa Series with a guest speaker that has had a profound impact on so many of us: Olympic figure skating champion, Kristi Yamaguchi. 

For our inaugural event, we believe that no speaker would fit the bill quite like Kristi – a unique figure in our community who has been a cross-generational role model for 3 decades and who has faced triumphs and challenges relevant to younger leaders in our community. We learned about her mindset and preparation for competition, her career transition to founding the nonprofit Always Dream, and her thoughts on the recent rise of Anti-Asian sentiment.  

USJC Associate Evelyn Tokuyama, 2015 ELP alum and former competitive figure skater herself, moderated a lively and heartfelt session with Kristi. Evelyn currently works in media relations for UCLA Health, was previously the chair of the ELP steering committee, and continues to serve as an integral member of the ELP alumni community. We were thrilled that over half of ELP alumni RSVP’d for the event!

In the final question to Kristi, Evelyn asked: “What is your best advice for our generation?” Kristi passed along advice that she received from her coach, “Don’t be afraid of hard work. There’s no secret to success.” Fun fact: Kristi’s favorite food is “anything matcha!”

This event would not have been possible without the strong support of USJC leadership and staff, ELP advisors, the mentorship of USJC Legacy Council Member Jan Yanehiro, Kristi’s support team and so many others. 

Thank you!

-ELP Steering Committee