Diversity, Engagement, and Inclusion

Personal Diversity Background

I am a bilingual, biracial, and bicultural person who grew up in Japan from the 1970s to the 1990s. During that time, being as different as I am was well outside of the norm and created conflict. Just 15 to 20 years prior to my birth and shortly after World War II, it was the norm for mixed raced babies to be given up to orphanages that specialized in finding families for them overseas. In such a sociocultural context, I quickly learned to navigate through legal systems, cultural norms, institutional policies, and both explicit and implicit biases to create a safe space for myself to become educated and a contributing member of society.

Once I moved to the United States as an adult, I learned that as a female person of color, I experienced very similar issues to when I lived in Japan. These experiences have given me the skills to be able to reframe difficult and challenging situations from multiple perspectives. When I encounter a challenging situation, or when I am mediating a difficult situation, I engage in problem reframing with the goal of seeing the problem from the perspective of all individuals involved. By reframing a problem, and examining it from multiple viewpoints, I am able to communicate my ideas clearly to diverse groups.

Professional Diversity, Engagment, and Inclusion Experiences

During my employment at the University of Tennessee (UT), I have engaged in diversity, engagement, and inclusion activities by communicating our diversity mission to various groups through my membership in Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) and Commission for Women. STRIDE is mandatory training for all members of faculty search committees at UT designed for participants to become aware of what role implicit biases take in a search process. During the STRIDE traning, participants are also introduced to strategies they could use in their search process to minimize potentially biased decisions. My greatest contribution to STRIDE has been leading the facilitation of Zoom videoconference STRIDE training for faculty who hold offices outside of the Knoxville area and are unable to be present on campus.

After an internal search process druing spring 2019, in May of the same year, I was appointed as the University Ombudsperson at UT. I currently provide ombuds services to faculty, staff, and graduate students following the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. In this role, I work with the Provost's Office, Human Resources, Office of Equity and Diversity, and General Counsel to ensure fauclty, staff, and graduate student complaints are being addressed in the best manner possible following university policy, procedures, and community practices. Shortly after my appointment as the Ombudsperson, I took part in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualifying Seminar and I am now a licensed IDI Qualified Administrator.