2016 THE FINAL YEAR OF LEARNING WITH PUANANI BURGESS
A sought-after mediator, poet, community organizer, and Zen priest, Pua attributes her abilities as a cultural translator to a personal heritage as varied as her homeland, Hawai’i. She’s Japanese, Chinese, Native Hawai’ian, German, and French, and grew up poor in one of the Islands’ roughest towns. It is fostering that connection—with self, with place, with community—that is the key to her success in bringing people together.
Here is a story she told at the Seattle Green Festival that shows the power of discovering your gift.
One of the processes I use to help people talk to each other I call Building the Beloved Community. There’s an exercise that requires people to tell three stories.
The first is the story of all of your names. The second is the story of your community. The third story I ask them to tell is the story of your gift.
One time, I did this process with a group in our local high school. We went around the circle and we got to this young man, and he told the story of his names well and the story of his community well, but when it came time to tell the story of his gift, he asked, “What, Miss? What kind gift you think I get, eh? I stay in this special ed class and I get a hard time read and I cannot do that math. And why you make me shame for, ask me that kind question? What kind gift you have? If I had gift, you think I be here?”
He just shut down and shut up, and I felt really shamed. In all the time I have ever done that, I have never, never shamed anybody before.
Two weeks later, I am in our local grocery store, and I see him down one of those aisles and I see his back and I’m going down there with my cart and I think “Nope I’m not going there.” So I start to back up as fast as I can and I’m trying to run away from him. And then he turns around and he sees me, and he throws his arms open, and he says, “Aunty! I have been thinking about you, you know. Two weeks I have been thinking: ‘What my gift? What my gift?’ ”
I say “OK bruddah, so what’s your gift?”
He says, “You know, I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking. I cannot do that math stuff and I cannot read so good, but Aunty, when I stay in the ocean, I can call the fish, and the fish he come, every time. Every time I can put food on my family table. Every time. And sometimes when I stay in the ocean and the Shark he come, and he look at me and I look at him and I tell him, ‘Uncle I not going take plenty fish. I just going to take one, two fish, just for my family. All the rest I leave for you.’ And so the Shark he say, ‘Oh, you cool, brother.’ And I tell the Shark, ‘Uncle, you cool.’ And the Shark, he go his way and I go my way.”
And I look at this boy and I know what a genius he is, and I mean, certifiable. But in our society, the way schools are run, he is rubbish. He is totally destroyed, not appreciated at all. So when I talked to his teacher and the principal of the school, I asked them what would his life have been like if this curriculum were gift-based? If we were able to see the gift in each of our children and taught around that gift? What would happen if our community was gift-based? If we could really understand what the gift of each of our communities were, and really began to support that?
So that for me is a very native approach—being able to see the giftedness in every aspect of life.
Kristen Chung-Mei Lensen is a multicultural organizational development consultant that empowers her clients to make long-term change through dialogue, skill building and leadership development. Kristin is passionate about helping businesses businesses improve their businesses performance by better serving their customers, employees and community. She has over 20 years of experience in curriculum development and devlivery, facilitation, conflict resolution, coaching and organizational development. She has worked with clients successfully from the corporate, non profit and public sectors.
Rosie brings her 25 years of experience teaching martial arts to create a true mind, body and sprit experience at APAWLI. She is a Gura Fifth Degree of the Kamatuuran School of Kali. For the past few years she has held the unpopular shift of opening the day with the practice of TaiJi at 7am.
Born on the East Coast of America, she returned to Hawai‘i to start college and a career. Cheryl worked for one of Hawaiʻi’s 20 largest corporations, ran her own business to promote sustainable agriculture, consulted native-led companies, and recently headed the YWCA of Oʻahu.
Hawaiʻi is also where she discovered her cultural roots.
Cheryl founded The Leader Project as a way to tap into the Hawaiian culture as a source for leading. She designs business strategies and leadership systems that stem from native Hawaiian and Western cultures. She works with organizations to recognize the community within as well as the greater community to which they belong.
Some of her communities include Aloha United Way, Girl Scouts, Hawaiʻi State Board of Education, Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima, and the Center for Asian Pacific American Women. She is a graduate of the 2002 National APAWLI class.
FOUNDING WOMAN WARRIOR, KAY IWATA, LEADS A SESSION ON HBDI AND WORKING THROUGH COMPANY POLITICS
Kay Iwata is a nationally recognized and respected diversity consultant with over twenty years of experience in management development and training, marketing, finance and education. She has worked extensively with a wide diversity of organizations to mobilize their commitment and support for diversity into concrete, measurable actions. The Strategic Diversity (5-S) Process model has been widely and successfully used. Ms. Iwata's highly acclaimed Diversity Concepts and Competencies educational programming has been utilized in major corporations across the United States and abroad. An often-requested speaker, Ms. Iwata has keynoted and moderated several discussions on diversity issues. She has presented to numerous professional organizations, including the American Management Association, the National Diversity Conference, The Center for Creative Leadership and the Hartford Graduate Center. Ms. Iwata holds a degree in sociology and history as well as an administrative and teaching credential from San Francisco State University
Peggy founded the consulting firm Peggy Nagae Consulting, in 1988. She has extensive experience and expertise in the fields of organizational change, communication, leadership and team coaching, mediation, cultural competence, team building, workforce diversity, strategic planning, and potentiating the human spirit at work. Her clients include corporations, governmental bodies, non-profit organizations, law firms, and judicial associations throughout the United States.
Ms. Nagae received her A.B., cum laude, from Vassar College in East Asian Studies, a J.D. degree with honors from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, a M.A in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, and a Bachelor of Illumination from the Jwalan Muktikã School for Illumination. Ms. Nagae also holds certificates from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University, the Covey Leadership Center and several dispute resolution centers.
She has practiced law as a criminal and civil trial attorney, worked as director of associates at a Seattle litigation firm, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Oregon School of Law, Affirmative Action Director at Northwestern School of Law, and an adjunct professor in dispute resolution at the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University).
Ms. Nagae has presided as president and is currently co-chair of the Diversity Task Force for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She also served as vice-chair, American Bar Association Commission Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; and president, Asian Bar of Washington. In 1996 she was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Board, where 3.5 million dollars was distributed to individuals and organizations so that the tragedy of the Japanese American incarceration would not be repeated.
Ms. Nagae was the lead attorney in Yasui v. United States, re-opening Mr. Yasui’s Supreme Court case for violating the curfew imposed upon Japanese Americans during World War II. Along with the cases of Korematsu v. United States and Hirabayashi v. United States, this case challenged the constitutionality of such government actions upon private citizens without due process.
She is a former board member of both the Asian American Justice Center and the Center for Asian Pacific American Women, and is co-chair of the Leadership Advisory Council for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Ms. Nagae’s other work is as an author. She is finalizing a book with her co-author LueRachelle Brim-Atkins entitled Heart at Work: Practical Team Rituals that Honor Body, Mind and Spirit.
Peggy has been named as a recipient of the 2017 AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE AWARD