Members in Chicago Discuss Diversity and Inclusion

Many thanks to USJC Associate and ELP ’19 Ryota Sekine for the following article and photos!

On October 24, USJC members in Chicago organized their 3rd Bento Talk, titled “On Diversity & Inclusion at Work,” at the 1871 Tech Incubator in the Merchandise Mart. The event gathered 48 people from all walks of life, including academia, legal practice, arts & culture, government and entrepreneurship.

Bento Talk speakers and guests engaged in discussion over dinner. Counter-clockwise from left: Speakers Christopher Deutsch and Susan Conger-Austin, USJC Board Member Tomoko Kizawa, USJC Associate Kai Mitsushio, and guests Emmanuel Ndifor and Max Ibata-Arens.

Guests enjoyed a traditional bento box dinner catered by Kamehachi, a multigenerational Japanese American women-owned restaurant, while they engaged in networking and roundtable dialogues on diversity, equity and inclusion. Tomoko Kizawa, USJC Board Member and Inclusion Leader at Deloitte, served as the moderator. Panel speakers included Susan Conger-Austin (Assistant Dean, International Affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology), Christopher Deutsch (Principal at Lofty Ventures), Ella McCann (USJC Associate and International Program Manager at Chicago Sister Cities International), Justin Gainer (Customer Success Manager at Cubii), and Linda Keane (Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago). The speakers each shared their own vision for more inclusion in their respective fields. USJC Associates Anna Ninoyu, Ryota Sekine (ELP ’19) and Council Leader Marion Friebus-Flaman organized the event.

(L-R): Ryota Sekine, Justin Gainer, Linda Keane, Christopher Deutsch, Ella McCann, Susan Conger-Austin, Tomoko Kizawa and Anna Ninoyu

If fellow USJC regions are interested in organizing their own Bento Talks, please reach out to the Chicago region. The mission of Bento Talks is to gather USJC members and the wider community to inspire strong people-to-people diplomacy through a shared meal and conversations on topics that we all care about, including diversity & inclusion, food, design, education and tourism.