Give BIG to Dream BIG Kickoff, Tokyo

More than 65 graduates of iLEAP’s Programs recently gathered in Tokyo to kick off the first annual Global GiveBIG campaign, our new initiative for inspiring grassroots philanthropy across the world. The excitement in the room was tangible: old friends eager to reconnect and the possibility of new friends, united in the pursuit of big dreams and bold change.

iLEAP Executive Director Britt Yamamoto reminded the alumni, emerging and experienced leaders alike, of their capacity to create lasting impact. “During your time at iLEAP, each of you was inspired to go into the world as an authentic, connected, and loving person. You are here today because iLEAP believes in you and your power to drive transformational change in your communities.”

Dreaming BIG: Inspiring examples from iLEAP graduates
Takuya Okamoto opened our time together with his own story of transformation. Having transitioned from the corporate world as a CPA in PricewaterhouseCoopers to CEO of Social Ventures Partners Tokyo, Takuya talked about his valuable time at iLEAP and the lasting impact the program had in renewing his sense of purpose and being.
Additional alumni—Natsumi Mishio, Taiki Ito, Tetuso Kato, Sakino Kawano, Hideo Tamaki and Kimihiko Sato—provided snapshots of their work since graduation, presented in the form of PechaKucha talks (20 slides in 20 seconds). The topics ranged from creating community centers to preserving traditional Japanese music culture, but one theme was clear: iLEAP had impacted each speaker’s perspective and shaped their journey since graduation.

Announcing iLEAP Network, powered by the Global GiveBIG campaign
Our network of graduates–405 alumni in our Japan programs alone–represent iLEAP’s greatest resources in achieving our mission of strengthening communities and reducing human suffering in the world. We recognize the many benefits of learning from one another and sharing our rich diversity, experience, and skills. Therefore, to facilitate more meaningful connection within our graduate community, iLEAP is launching iLEAP Network.

Priti Bhattarai, iLEAP’s program manager, announced a new taskforce of alumni to help design an effective graduate engagement program. “We believe in the power of a community of grassroots leaders, and we want to ensure we provide our graduates with what they need to grow, be more engaged with one another, and have a greater impact in the world.”

The Global GiveBIG campaign jumpstarts this new effort to strengthen our network of graduates, who are at the center of social change in Japan and across the globe.

“The GiveBIG campaign provides critical funding to help iLEAP graduates continue to dream big! We are excited to provide a learning network so our alumni can more effectively share ideas and strategies beyond borders and drive transformational change in their communities,” said Michelle Muri, iLEAP’s Director of External Affairs.

Our goal is to raise $25,000 in three weeks, leading up to the official GiveBIG day on May 10. Learn more and donate on our giving page.

An opportunity to reconnect and reignite

Our event concluded with encouraging words from Britt: “The people in this room today have the power to change the future of Japan.”

Several graduates reflected on how iLEAP, starting with their time in Seattle, provided an important step back from their intense work.

“It is so easy to get caught up in the fast life of Tokyo, and coming here today reminded me of how important it is to make time for myself,” remarked Meina Takayasu.

Misora Ochi agreed: “Working in a social enterprise in Japan is still very challenging, as it is not the norm. I came here today because I needed to get reignited. I hoped to be transported back to my time at iLEAP and after hearing Britt talk, I felt myself get my fire back. I am grateful for iLEAP for creating this space for us.”

Thank you to all our Japan graduates who joined us on April 15! You continue to inspire us with your bold dreams and commitment to positive change. We look forward to more opportunities to connect – in person and through our new iLEAP Network. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.

Please give generously to support iLEAP alumni. We are so grateful for our many supporters in Seattle and around the world.

Priti Bhattarai

Priti Bhattarai