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U.S.-Japan Council President is keynote speaker for Women's Leadership Conference

The president of the U.S.-Japan Council is the featured speaker at the U.S.-Japan Women’s Leadership Conference set for September 26.

Irene Hirano Inouye, president of the Washington D.C.-based organization, headlines the program which focuses on women who hold leadership positions. It is sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council and hosted by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

“We are honored to host Irene Hirano Inouye for this important leadership event and excited about our partnership with the U.S.-Japan Council,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “This is a singular opportunity to hear from Mrs. Inouye and others in leadership positions and learn first-hand how they advanced in their professions.”

The conference will be held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. There is no charge to attend but advance registration is required at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com. A light lunch is included. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The U.S.-Japan Council is a non-profit educational organization that contributes to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations by bringing together diverse leadership, engaging stakeholders and exploring issues that benefit communities, businesses and governments on both sides of the Pacific. Japan-based companies have significant investment in Oakland County, owning more than a quarter of the nearly 1,100 international firms in the county.

Inouye, who founded the council in 2008, also administers the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the government of Japan that invests in young Japanese and Americans through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs. She is former president and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, a position she held for 20 years.

Inouye is the widow of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and World War II hero. He represented Hawaii in Congress for more than 50 years and was the first Japanese-American elected to serve in both the House and the Senate. He died in 2012 at age 88.

The conference includes panel discussions that highlight women in leadership positions in Oakland County government and the paths Japanese American women have taken to become leaders.

The Oakland County government panel includes:
  • Irene Spanos, director of economic development and community affairs
  • Jordie Kramer, director of human resources
  • Kathy Forzley, director of health and human services

The Japanese American panel includes:
  • Yuki Sakai, deputy Counsel General of Japan, Detroit
  • Izumi Suzuki, president of Suzuki, Myers & Associates, Novi
  • Motoko Tabuse, professor, Eastern Michigan University
  • Yuka Sato, former world champion figure skater and U.S. Women’s Figure Skating coach

Both panel discussions will be moderated by Laurie Van Pelt, director of management and budget for Oakland County.

Other sessions include:
  • A presentation from Mary Kamidoi, treasurer of the Detroit Chapter of the Japanese American
  • Citizens League, entitled “What Doesn’t Break You Makes You Stronger”
  • A leadership training workshop led by Deputy County Executive Phil Bertolini entitled, “You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello: The Art of Communicating”
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