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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 literatures. With Wendy Fischman, she co-developed the GoodWork Toolkit, designed to help develop a common language that school communities and other institutions can use to define their work and identify their goals. Lynn leads workshops and presentations on The Good Project and The Family Dinner Project, and has taught courses in literature and film, English and American literature, and expository writing.

Mike Peng

Co-Managing Director & Co-Founder

IDEO Tokyo

Mike Peng is a Partner, co-managing director and co-founder of IDEO Tokyo. In his role, Mike works with colleagues to set the strategic direction of the business in Japan, mentor designers, create new offerings, and lead client relationships and projects in Asia. Prior to Tokyo, Mike helped start-up IDEO’s New York office and lead its design research discipline. Mike has taught at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID). He’s also a visiting lecturer at University of Tokyo, Keio University, and Kyushu University.

Mike graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Cognitive Science and an emphasis in neuroscience.

Mimi Takano

Instructional Assistant

The American School in Japan

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Mimi is a third culture kid who loves sharing her culture and embraces diversity to the fullest. After graduating from New York University in 2014, she joined an immigration firm where she utilized her strong writing skills to draft immigration documents for corporate and individual clients. In 2017, she obtained her Master’s in Early Childhood Education at the University of Texas, Arlington and moved from New York to Japan to start her career as a teacher. Currently, Mimi is an Instructional Assistant for the Grade 1 team at the American School in Japan. She has obtained her teacher’s license and aims to help lead the next generation of students into being passionate, inquisitive global learners and citizens. When she is not working, Mimi is passionate about baking, which she loves to share with anyone with a sweet tooth. She is also an avid bookworm and enjoys bouldering with her friends.

Nathan Paterson

Senior Design Lead

IDEO Tokyo

Nathan is a Senior Design Lead at IDEO Tokyo. He is passionate about helping clients and collaborators unlock new opportunities with curious inquiry and creative exploration. Prior to joining IDEO, Nathan led the research and design team at Disney Labs, crafting immersive experiences with emerging technologies for Disney Guests around the world. Previously, he built a design studio in Tokyo and co-founded an online education startup.

Sari Samakie


Georgetown University

GCI Ambassador 2016

Sari is a 23-year-old rising junior at Georgetown University. He was born in Canada to a Syrian family, and later moved back to Syria and spent his days there until late 2013. After finishing ninth grade in Syria, he stopped school for three years, during which, he worked in several fields, practiced photography, and became an activist during the Syrian revolution. After leaving Syria, he moved to Jordan where he worked with the entrepreneurial community, finished his high school diploma, and started an education based NGO for urban refugees. He also does public speaking events about his experience in Syria, and has spoken at over 45 places around the world. One can often catch him trying to put a smile on someone’s face, contemplating life, or pushing others to think outside the box.

Dr. Seung Kim

Director of the Stanford Diabetes Research Center

Stanford University

Dr. Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to America. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College, then received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. He trained in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston and in oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He and his wife Dr. Nancy Plauth have four children. Dr. Kim has been a faculty member at Stanford since 1998, and is a professor in the Departments of Developmental Biology and Medicine. He co-directed or directed the Stanford MD/PhD program from 2001 to 2013. He also teaches science at Commack High School in New York and at Exeter. Dr. Kim’s laboratory at Stanford has discovered new approaches to create and regenerate pancreatic islets, and to detect pancreatic cancer. They envision that this work will be useful for generating novel therapies for diabetes and cancer. In addition to other honors, Dr. Kim was chosen to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2008, and received the Ho-Am Prize in Medicine in 2013. He is a recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the Excellence in Mentoring and Service Award from the Stanford Biosciences Program.

Stuart Miller

Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific

Google for Education

Stuart Miller was born and raised in Utah, USA. He started using computers in school from 1st grade. Miller graduated from University of Chicago in 2000 with a degree in East Asian Studies and started work in Shizuoka, Japan as a teacher and curriculum developer. He completed his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business in 2006 with a concentration in Analytical Marketing Strategies and started work at Bank of America as a Marketing Analyst. Miller joined Google in 2013 as Sales Strategy and Operations Manager. In January 2018, he joined Google for Education as Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific. Miller is a father of three children ages 11, 8, and 3.

Tadashi Yanai

Chairman, President and CEO

Fast Retailing Co., Ltd

Tadashi Yanai is Chairman, President & CEO of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., the leading Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under six main brands worldwide. UNIQLO is the largest of the brands, the others being GU, J Brand, Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, and Princesse tam.tam.

Fast Retailing is one of the world’s largest apparel retail companies, with global sales of approximately 2.13 trillion yen (US$19.17 billion) in fiscal year 2018 and UNIQLO is Japan’s leading specialty retailer. With a corporate statement committed to “Changing clothes. Changing conventional wisdom. Change the world,” Fast Retailing is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere.

Mr. Yanai started with a single UNIQLO store in Hiroshima in 1984, building this Chairman, President , CEo to more than 2,000 stores in 21 markets including, in alphabetical order: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. and U.S. In addition, UNIQLO established a social business in Bangladesh together with Grameen in 2010, and today there are several Grameen-UNIQLO stores in Dhaka.

In 2017, Mr. Yanai was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Business Minds. In 2014, UNIQLO was awarded Retailer of the Year Award by the World Retail Congress, and Mr. Yanai was ranked among the Best Performing CEOs in the World by Harvard Business Review. He has been named in TIME magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World and has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from CNBC. Since June 2001, Mr. Yanai has also been an external director of Softbank Corp., a Japanese listed company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) that is engaged in the telecommunications and Internet business.

Born February 7, 1949 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Mr. Yanai graduated from Tokyo’s Waseda University in March 1971 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics. Mr. Yanai is married, with two grown children.

Teddy Zmrhal

Senior Managing Director of Strategic Innovation


Teddy Zmrhal has co-founded several startups, built teams within global organizations, and advised numerous startups. He is currently Senior Managing Director of Strategic Innovation at Salesforce, and just prior a Director at the IDEO Singapore Studio. Teddy has taught at the Haas School of Business, the Kellogg School of Management, the National University of Singapore, and Nanyang Technological University, among others. He was the Associate Chair of the Design MBA program at the California College of the Arts. Teddy earned a BA from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Masters from Northwestern, and MBAs from Columbia and London Business Schools. He sits on the Board of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, and on two Boards for the Aspen Institute.

He is most proud of his curious and thoughtful 5 year old son, Edison.

Todd Porter


EDGEof, Inc.

Focusing on large scale systems change through collaborative entrepreneurship, Todd and five other impact driven entrepreneurs, investors and creators recently joined together to co-found EDGEof. From an 8-story building in the heart of Tokyo, they are forming local and global dream teams and joint ventures to go after big opportunities in core societal areas such the United Nation SDGs.

Previously he helped launch maker platform FabCafe Global, ecosystem platform Impact Foundation Japan, the TEDx movement as co-founder of TEDxTokyo and a Founding TEDx Ambassador—and worked as the Venture Catalyst for media entrepreneur Chris Anderson who runs innovation conference TED. During his first year at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Todd co-founded a company with Professor Michael Ray, the creator of the pioneering Creativity in Business program. Before graduate school, Todd was a Fellow at early online social networks, TMN; won a multi-million dollar national scaling grant for Public Allies; worked with the first global fellowship for social entrepreneurs, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; and won a full-four year scholarship, studying in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, graduating from Duke University.

Ambassador William Hagerty

U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Ambassador Hagerty was nominated by President Trump on March 27, 2017 and sworn in as the 30th Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan on July 27, 2017.

Prior to his nomination, Mr. Hagerty served as Director of Presidential Appointments for the 2016 Trump Presidential Transition Team while on a leave of absence from Hagerty Peterson & Company, a private equity investment firm of which he was a founder and Managing Director. When he assumed his official role, Mr. Hagerty resigned from the boards of three publicly-traded companies as well as from his role as co-founder of the committee that is bidding to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Nashville. Mr. Hagerty began his professional career at global management consultancy Boston Consulting Group, including three years in Tokyo, Japan. He subsequently served as CEO and board member of companies with extensive operations in Asia and Europe.

In addition to his private sector experience, Mr. Hagerty has been a public servant at both the federal and state levels. As a member of President George H.W. Bush’s staff, he served on the President’s Council on Competitiveness with a portfolio that included international trade. From 2011-2015, Mr. Hagerty was a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development for the State of Tennessee. He was also responsible for the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission and helped bring the television series, “Nashville” to his home state.

Mr. Hagerty graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1981. In 1984, he received a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was an Associate Editor of the Law Review and a Wilson Scholar. He has worked extensively on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America, including as Chairman of the Executive Board of the National Capital Council and Board member of the Far East Council when he lived in Japan previously. He presently serves as honorary (Chairman) of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and as honorary (President) of the Tokyo American Club. He is married to Chrissy Hagerty, and they have four children.


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