Leadership Colloquium challenges women: ‘Be your own hero’
At 25, Cosmo Fujiyama was at a crossroads, stalled between an internship and grad school. She’d had a long day at a professional conference, and she was feeling tired and drained. The last place she wanted to go was to a group dinner at P.F. Chang’s.
“It turned out to be an incredible opportunity,” Fujiyama told a roomful of women at UMW’s Stafford Campus, thanks to five words from the young man she sat down beside: “What’s bringing you joy lately?”
The question was pivotal for Fujiyama, now 34, who runs a Brooklyn-based consulting firm dedicated to bringing joy and emotional intelligence to the places people work and learn. She repeated the words Thursday in her keynote address at the 26th annual Women’s Leadership Colloquium @ UMW.
Designed to foster the connectivity of professional women and inspire them toward a lifetime of leadership, the colloquium attracts managers, administrators, educators, business owners and representatives from the public and private sectors each year. Today’s event – brimming with breakout workshops; networking opportunities; and a colloquium-first, one-on-one career coaching sessions – revolved around the theme “Be Your Own Hero.”
“This room is packed with energy,” Fujiyama told today’s crowd. “Do you feel it?”
The granddaughter of educators, she grew up a first-generation Japanese American in suburban Virginia with parents who immigrated to the United States. She was an undergrad at the College of William & Mary when she co-founded Students Helping Honduras, a nonprofit improving the quality of education in the Central American country, with brother Shin Fujiyama ’07, then a student at UMW.
“I am so proud to say that it has impacted thousands of lives both in Honduras and here in America,” said Cosmo Fujiyama, who also has held leadership positions at The Future Project’s Dream Academy, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy, and Ashoka, the world’s largest association of social innovators.
Seminars throughout the day – led by women who’ve built successful careers all over the Fredericksburg area – aimed to help participants learn how to channel their inner strengths as influencers, form leadership strategies, support each other’s professional journeys, and live bolder, fuller lives. New this year, private career coaching sessions centered on time management, work-life balance, and finding your voice as a woman.
UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson, who coordinates the Colloquium and pinch-hit for a seminar presenter with a last-minute family emergency, won the Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award. The honor is presented each year at the Colloquium to someone who’s demonstrated leadership in her field, personal and professional integrity, and a commitment to community service.
Richardson’s accomplishments put her “far above and beyond these basic criteria by mentoring, teaching, supporting, publishing and leading …” said last year’s Metzger-winner, Central Rappahannock Regional Library Director Martha Hutzel, who noted that Richardson – totally unaware of the honor – had received a precedent-setting 19 nominations. In presenting the award to Richardson, Hutzel described Richardson as her friend and as someone who “holds a leadership position in a male-dominated field.”
Fujiyama, whose career has revolved around coaching, facilitating and managing, told the crowd about her father’s enduring love of skiing, a passion he passed on to her. She challenged participants to learn to recognize life’s “lift moments,” which she compared to being on a ski lift, where you can take it all in, sit back and reflect.
“My parents taught my siblings and me that anything is possible if and when we lead with compassion, view things with a sense of awe, and stay committed to what we love,” according to her personal bio. “I deeply believe that learning is love made visible.”