Introducing the Inaugural Cohort of the Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance

Despite progress on gender equality, women are still significantly underrepresented in top-level management. According to CNN, just 5% of companies have female CEOs and only 16.5% of companies have women as top-level executives. The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership is looking to change that.

With the guidance of the MCBL Advisory Board, YWCA O'ahu is proud to announce a new initiative, the Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance. Susan Utsugi, Senior Vice President & Director of Business Banking at Central Pacific Bank and Chair of the MCBL Leadership Committee, said this 6-month program was created by women for women to enhance their leadership skills and to deal with challenges and opportunities in their career and personal lives.

"We want to make sure that we can continue to have generations of women leaders in Hawaii,” Utsugi said. “I’m so happy that we could come together under the YWCA and the Mink Center for Business & Leadership and create this initiative. I think there’s a real need for this kind of program.”

Many for-profit and non-profit organizations are making gender diversity a priority in the workplace and have sponsored emerging female leaders within their companies. Candidates submitted resumes with two letters of recommendation, committed to attending at least 80% of meetings and events, and completed individual interviews with members of the MCBL Advisory Board in August.

“We were very careful in our selection and wanted to make sure that the cohort was comprised of women that really set the bar high,” Utsugi said. “I hope they’re able to build skills as well as confidence in themselves. I think you can have a lot of tangible skills and we can do a lot of tangible training, but we also want to make sure that deep inside they have that confidence to know they are great leaders.”

The 14 women of the inaugural cohort are:

  • Kristin Alm, Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Human Resources Manager

  • Emi Au, American Savings Bank, First VP, Director of Financial Planning & Analysis

  • Tracy Camuso, Group 70 International, Land Use/Environmental Planner

  • Farrah-Marie Gomes, Ph.D., University of Hawaii, Interim Associate VP for Student Affairs

  • Tiffany Hatchett, Central Pacific Bank, Branch Manager

  • Jennifer Hee, The Salvation Army, Chief Development Officer

  • Chancy Hopper, Maui County Council, Supervising Legislative Analyst

  • Ashlee Kishimoto, Hawaiian Airlines, Senior Director of Investor Relations

  • Beth Kuch, Hawaii Community Foundation, Associate Director, Communications

  • Jessica Munoz, Ho‘ola Na Pua, Founder/President

  • Runjini Murthy, Howard Hughes Corporation, Database Marketing Manager

  • Sarah Pardieck, Kaiser Permanente, Program Manager, Health Care Reform, Exchange Operations & Membership Admin

  • Erinn Tomlinson, Bishop & Company, Executive Recruiter

  • Isla Young, Maui Economic Development Board, Director of K-12 STEM Education, Women in Technology Project

Sherri Okinaga, Vice President of Corporate Training & Development at First Hawaiian Bank, helped design the curriculum for the Leadership Alliance. She believes some of the biggest challenges women face in their careers include making time to invest in a network and overcoming a hesitation to negotiate.

“Women in leadership represent a two-way street. While organizations must change the culture and structure of work to enable women to advance, women must also invest in honing leadership skills that will increase their opportunities for success in the workplace,” Okinaga said.

The curriculum includes coaching from some of the top female business professionals on O‘ahu, and focuses on the topics of leading a collaborative team, strategic planning, financial business acumen, conflict management, negotiation, community service coaching and much more.

Participants will also receive special seating at the Wahine Forum Conference, reserved seating at two Wahine Forum Network luncheons, and networking coaching from Pineapple Tweed Founder & President Piia Aarma at Downtown Uncorked. Okinaga will kick off the program on Sept. 20 with a session on leading authentically and the program will conclude with a graduation ceremony in March 2017.

“The Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance was born out of the need to prepare our community’s women leaders for on-going success,” Okinaga said. “Women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline. It is our hope that through this leadership program, participants will learn to value their own natural talents, become their own best advocates, build their influence, and galvanize change.”