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GCI Summit and Seminar 2019 Inspirational Speakers

We are honored to share our 16 Inspirational Speakers who will join us to add color and depth to our upcoming Summit and Seminar!

In less than two weeks, our Fellows and Seminar Educators will join us in Tokyo, Japan for the 6th Annual GCI Summit and the 2nd GCI Professional Development Seminar. Each day will feature inspirational speakers to complement the day’s discussions and activities and serve to motivate, encourage, provide reflection, compel action and stimulate creative ideas. Topics covered will include design thinking, social entrepreneurship, leading innovation, storytelling and the importance of finding your passion. In addition, Fellows and Educators will hear from a GCI Ambassador on his own personal journey as a global citizen.

Continue reading to learn more about each Inspirational Speaker and to read their bios.

Dr. David Leheny


Waseda University

David Leheny is Professor in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University. Before moving to Waseda, he was the Henry Wendt III ’55 Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, and before that, assistant and associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of many articles and chapters, as well as of three books published by Cornell University Press: Empire of Hope: The Sentimental Politics of Japanese Decline (2018), Think Global, Fear Local: Sex, Violence, and Anxiety in Contemporary Japan (2006), and The Rules of Play: National Identity and the Shaping of Japanese Leisure (2003).

Ernest Higa

Chairman, President and CEO

Higa Industries Co., Ltd

Mr. Higa is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Higa lndustries Co., Ltd., and is a Director of JC Comsa Corporation and Shinsei Bank. He is a member of Keizai Doyukai, the Board of Councilors of USJC, and the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Business SchooI. In 1990, he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the New Business Conference. In 1998, he received an award from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture for “innovation in the food industry,” and was recognized by Toyo Keizai as one of the top 50 entrepreneurs in Japan. He earned his MBA from Columbia Business School and his B.S. from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.

Keiko Ono

Director and Co-Founder

Social Innovation Japan

Ms. Ono is a Japanese - Papua New Guinean graduate in Politics and Development Studies from SOAS, the University of London, with a background in development and education. Following graduation, she founded a non-profit based in Hawaii supporting young leaders from small island communities around the world. After returning to Japan, she was fortunate to have received the opportunity to volunteer for an NPO while circumnavigating the southern hemisphere by boat promoting the SDGs. As an advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, Ms. Ono currently works at Google in People Operations, where she collates data to inform strategic decisions around hiring that align with Google’s mission, values and corporate culture. Having worked in various organizations ranging in size and sector, she is very passionate about breaking silos between industries, interest groups and demographic backgrounds to foster individual agency and leverage the power of collaboration to create innovative solutions that address contemporary challenges. To do this, she co-founded a platform called Social Innovation Japan. Their goal is to be a social incubator for positive change-makers and movements.

Kyoko Takano

Co-Director of the Japan Center

The American School in Japan

A graduate of Takarazuka Music School and a former actress of the Takarazuka Revue Company, Kyoko Takano is now the Co-Director of the Japan Center at The American School in Japan where she provides authentic Japanese cultural experiences for the entire community. Most notably, she is responsible for supplementing all of the students’ classrooms with experiences such as Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese calligraphy, as well as traditional Japanese dance. She is also involved in supporting the next generation of Japanese youth in a wide range of educational settings such as serving as a TOEIC and English Language Instructor at Japan Times Academy and volunteering with the Working Youth’s Society in Japan. She is also a active member of the College Womens Association of Japan (CWAJ).

Dr. Linda Hill

Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration

Harvard Business School

Dr. Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration and chair of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School. Dr. Hill is regarded as one of the top experts on leadership and is the co-author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, the co-founder of Paradox Strategies, and the co-creator of the Innovation Quotient. Collective Genius was named by Business Insider as one of “The 20 Best Business Books” in 2014 and received the Gold Medal for Leadership, Axiom Business Book Award. She was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world in 2013 and she received the Thinkers50 Innovation Award in 2015. Dr. Hill has addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos and YPO (formerly Young Presidents’ Organization) and has a following from her TED Talk.

As a thought leader on global leadership and innovation, Dr. Hill consults for companies around the world, including major companies in Japan. She has been at the forefront of developing various innovative learning programs for managers, including Breakthrough Leadership - the winner of the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Award for Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology - and award-winning multimedia management development programs such as High Performance Management. Dr. Hill was a guest speaker at World Assembly for Women, an event co-hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Women 20 (W20) group. She is active on numerous philanthropic and public and private corporate boards, including the Board of Directors of Relay Therapeutics, Harvard Business Publishing, Global Citizens Initiative, Inc., Advisory Board of Eight Inc., the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, and the American Repertory Theater. Dr. Hill is a former director of the Eaton Corporation, the Bridgespan Group and State Street Corporation and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund USA.

Dr. Hill completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Harvard Business School and earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences at the University of Chicago. She received her M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Chicago and has a B.A., summa cum laude, in psychology from Bryn Mawr College.

Dr. Lynn Barendsen

Executive Director

Good Project, The Family Dinner

Lynn Barendsen has been a part of the Good Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since 1997. For decades, The Good Project has been investigating themes such as good work and good citizenship. As the world becomes increasingly global and interconnected, Lynn’s current research considers these issues with an eye to transcending cultural and national borders and new technologies. Lynn has authored articles on GoodWork related research, young social and business entrepreneurs and young professionals in theater and business, on African American and regionalist lite