OUR SPEAKERS FOR MICROSUMMIT 2022
SAM USHIO, CHIEF IKIGAI OFFICER, CONNECT3X
Sam Ushio is the Chief Ikigai Officer at Connect3x, a tech-enabled people platform that integrates total well-being with workplace performance to support a culture of engaged, thriving employees. Sam fuses a powerful blend of Ikigai philosophy, strengths-based psychology, and change management to lead Connect3x’s mission to “capitalize the Human experience.”
For nearly a decade, Sam was Director of Practice Management at Russell Investments, where he led a nationwide team that coached and consulted ~1,000 financial advisors annually. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and InvestmentNews. Sam earned an MBA from Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Nebraska in Marketing and Finance with an emphasis
in psychology. He is also a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach.
Sam is also the founder of Ikigai Lab, a Purpose Incubator that delivers insights, experiences
and solutions rooted in the Japanese concept of Ikigai. On his quest to evolve the definition of “growth”, Sam blends the old school ancient wisdom tradition of ikigai with new school research in positive psychology. He is dedicated to purpose-driven solutions for stakeholder-focused organizations and visionary leaders, including total well-being, strengths-based culture, humancentered design, emotional intelligence, systems thinking, and life/career transitions.
An energetic, compassionate leader, Sam is committed to understanding an individual’s journey and finding a bridge to relate. A popular speaker on the concept of Ikigai, Sam also develops Ikigai curriculum and hosts the Ikigai Stories podcast. Sam serves on the advisory board of the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska and enjoys an active lifestyle with his wife and three children.
COMPASSION @ WORK
DR. KIRA SCHABRAM, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Dr. Kira Schabram is an Assistant Professor of Management & Organization at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Her two primary topics of inquiry are meaningful work and employee sustainability. Her research examines how to support employees who want to make a positive difference through their work in ways big and small, ranging from employees who view work as a calling‒ i.e. work as not just a paycheck but as a source of personal, social, or moral significance‒ to those engaging in everyday acts of helping, kindness, and compassion.
Specifically, she studies the challenges that impede such activities to determine how employees can conduct their work more sustainably. She is particularly interested in how interpersonal relationships and high-quality connections can be leveraged to accomplish employee sustainability. Dr. Schabram’s work has been published in her field’s top academic outlets including the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. Her insights have been disseminated via the Harvard Business Review including their global editions, and been featured in outlets such as the BBC, CNN, Forbes, the Financial Times, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Schabram has taught students ranging from incoming undergraduates to global executive MBAs. Her exceptional teaching has earned her the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest honor available to faculty, and led her to be named among Poets & Quants “Favorite Business Professors”. She has experience leading targeted seminars for a variety of private, public, and non-profit organizations. Dr. Schabram is originally from Germany but has lived in Europe, Africa, and North America as well as traveled extensively. In line with this background, her teaching has been celebrated for its focus on diversity and global implications.
PANEL DISCUSION: DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
FACILITATOR: APARNA RAE
Aparna Rae [linkedin.com]is a multi-startup founder, working at the intersection of Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity (DEI). As an award winning entrepreneur, Aparna understands the complexities for small and medium businesses working to have a positive impact on the world.
She’s the Founder of Moving Beyond, a startup building solutions to solve complex DE&I and People challenges using real-time Employee Voice & Impact data, experiential e-learning and an innovative lab approach grounded in human-centered design.
Prior to Moving Beyond, she grew Firki, India’s first online teacher education platform supporting teachers in 10 states, and in 2019 she launched Future for Us, a platform to advance women of color at work and grew a professional community of 11,000.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
PANEL: AMELIA RANSOM
Amelia Ransom, SPHR is Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Smartsheet. She is responsible for driving strategy and initiatives that impact, solidify and improve company culture. She also leads Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for the organization. Amelia has over 30 years of experience building and executing strategy within Human Resources and Business Operations in a world class and customer-centric organization. In addition to DEI, her areas of expertise include leadership development, millennial engagement and executive level mentorship and advisement.
Before joining Smartsheet, Amelia was the Sr. Director of Engagement and Diversity at Avalara. She created the company’s first DEI strategy and was responsible for improving company engagement scores each year. Prior to that, she held multiple regional and company-wide leadership positions at Nordstrom including store management, Diversity and Inclusion and Learning and Development
Amelia serves on the boards of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington, The YWCA Seattle, King and Snohomish and The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
PANEL: AHMAD CORNER
Ahmad Corner is the Founder and Principal at YPGroup, a digital and experiential growth agency responsible for bridging the gap between companies and the communities they serve; Managing Partner at Access2, a diversity forward staffing agency focused on placing resources at the intersection between opportunity and need and; an Advisor and Board Member to several companies and organizations.
As the former Director of BizDev at Startup Week Seattle and current Advisory Committee member at Washington Technology Industry Association, Ahmad remains an active mentor in the Seattle startup community, often donating his time to help champion the growth of the local startup ecosystem.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
PANEL: JERI ANDREWS
Jeri Andrews is the CEO and Co-Founder of XOBC Cellars, one of the fastest growing
direct to consumer wineries in the industry. XOBC Cellars is a collaboration with
multiple Grammy Award winning artist Brandi Carlile and originated with an
activist business model. XOBC Cellars is making a difference in much needed areas
of global conflict and support for women and children in need.
As a business owner and a high-performance coach for C-level executives, business
founders, owners, professional athletes, philanthropists and world-class
entertainers, Jeri works with her clients to excavate and achieve their personal and
professional goals. She has been an executive leader in several world-class financial
services and technology firms and most recently, as an executive committee
member, helped GQG Partners grow from $10B in managed assets to over $100B in
less than 24 months. She has also worked with Bill Gates backed Intellectual
Ventures and led the London based team for Russell Investments. She began her
career at Xerox Corporation, where she spent a decade building high performance
sales teams. With a 30 year track record in finance and technology, Jeri has worked
in Seattle, LA, Chicago, New York, London and Milan on a variety of complex
transactions and helped her clients develop leadership skills, manage crises,
transition businesses, restructure management teams, and create new business
A graduate of Boston University, Jeri holds her Series 7, 63 and 65 licenses. Jeri is on
several advisory boards including the Looking Out Foundation, the Third Door
Coalition and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation Board.
When not in Seattle, Jeri can be found with her wife, Amy, in Walla Walla or in
Champagne enjoying the lifestyle, culture, wine and history.
BELONGING + TEAM EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
BELONGING + TEAM EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
DR. VANESSA DRUSKAT, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE (VIRTUAL)
Vanessa Druskat is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of New Hampshire. She is an applied social psychologist who uses her deep knowledge of social systems to help answer real-world questions facing organizations like: How should self-managing teams lead themselves? How should a leader lead a self-managing team? How does team environment influence prosocial behavior in teams?
She has twice received awards for papers deemed both rigorous and practical from the Center for Creative Leadership. Her Harvard Business Review (HBR) article (with S. Wolff) on emotionally intelligent teams was selected as an HBR Breakthrough Idea and has been re-printed four-times in collections of HBR’s most popular articles. She is an award-winning teacher who consults with leaders and teams in organizations ranging Fortune 50 corporations to non-profits around the world. She is currently working on a book that combines her theory on the socio-emotional conditions that strengthen team collaboration with cases from her coaching and consulting work.
PANEL DISCUSSION: IMPACT
FACILITATOR: JAYLENE HOWARD, CFA
Jaylene is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with institutional investment consulting firms in the western US. In her role, she partners with institutional consultants, building awareness of Parametric’s capabilities in investment management and implementation services. Prior to joining Parametric in 2018, Jaylene worked at Canterbury Consulting as a consultant providing strategic investment advice to endowments, foundations, corporations, and ultra-high-net-worth families. Before that, she worked as a consulting director at Russell Investments, where she was responsible for delivering market and economic insights and portfolio strategy advice to investment professionals and individual investors. She earned a BA in economics and history from Gonzaga University. A CFA charterholder and a CAIA charterholder, Jaylene is a member of the CFA Society of Seattle. Jaylene currently serves on the board of Seattle Preparatory School.
PANEL: BETTI FUJIKADO
Betti creates spaces for voices from historically underrepresented communities. A Japanese American woman who navigated executive leadership roles and as an entrepreneur, Betti is passionate about applying her professional and personal experiences in her current work. She is the co-founder of Success Cohorts, a coaching and community-building company serving early career, first-generation college graduates. Through a six-month program, Success Cohorts supports members to define and achieve their individual views of success through resources, tools, networking, and mentoring.
In late 2020, she co-developed Seattle Unite’s Democracy Cup that gathered the Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Storm, and OL Reign in a grassroots effort to reach communities of color to complete the 2020 Census and vote. In May 2021, Betti, along with four other Seattle-based Asian women business leaders, created Our Stories Are Your Stories for AANHPI Heritage Month. The campaign highlighted stories from individuals including Dr. Vin Gupta, Hollis Wong-Wear, Doug Baldwin, and Gary Locke.
Happily married at 40. Graced with twin daughters at 41. At 42, Betti co-founded Copacino Fujikado, a Seattle advertising agency. Clients included Seattle Mariners, Seattle Children’s, Premera Blue Cross, Symetra, Seattle Aquarium, REI, and Chateau Ste. Michelle.
Betti has been a Trustee at Western Washington University and a long-time MBA mentor at the University of Washington. She has been a PSBJ Woman of Influence, AAF WA Silver Medalist, Junior Achievement Washington Hall of Fame Laureate, and AABDC 50 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business. As the daughter of Japanese American parents incarcerated during World War II, Betti uses her voice to promote diversity in the Seattle business community.
PANEL: DRAGOS AXINTE
Dragos was born and raised in communist Romania, where he studied science and learned to live within adversity. After moving to the U.S. with a handbag and a smile, he earned a Phi Beta Kappa degree in English from the University of Washington, worked in finance, and launched his first consumer product venture, ColdHeat. Within three years, he led this company to 64% brand awareness, $120 million in retail sales, and a four-continent supply chain. As the founder of Novo Fogo, the world’s first carbon-negative distilled spirits company, Dragos seeks to make the world a better place through organic Brazilian cachaça, enlightening cocktails, rainforest preservation, and yoga for bartenders. He holds dozens of patents, is a published author of fiction and non-fiction, and was named on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” business leadership list at the age of 34.
PANEL: SHELLY KURTZ
Shelly Kurtz is the Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Giving Tech Labs, an innovation center for Technology for Public Interest (#Tech4PI). Recipient of over 50 industry awards, Shelly has led over 200 global campaigns in the tech, media, social impact and entertainment industries. She is an experienced Sales & Marketing Executive for Tech Startups and Fortune 500 companies, including NBCUniversal, Comcast, Make.TV (acquired by LTN Global), Giving Compass and VidaNyx.
Most recently, Shelly built X4Impact, a market intelligence platform she co-founded to support social innovators, recently recognized by Fast Company as a World Changing Idea. She is on the board of directors of VidaNyx, Inc., a company she co-founded in 2018 to protect child survivors of abuse. Today, it is the leading digital evidence management system in use by 8,500 agencies across the US protecting over 127,000 survivors. Shelly is also an advisor to entrepreneurs, a career coach and a mentor to young people. She is currently researching a book on the tech for good movement. She is a proud graduate of Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Gig Harbor, WA, with her husband and two children.