An interview with Emily Tomita and Pj Bergstrom
We are excited to share stories from our program alumni! The first Agents of Change spotlight comes from Emily Tomita, who participated in our inaugural cohort in Fall 2020.
Firstly, can you introduce yourself and org affiliations?
My name is Emily Tomita (she/her). I’m a mixed Japanese American cisgender woman, and I live in Beacon Hill, Seattle on unceded Duwamish Land. I currently work for two nonprofit organizations. I am the Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at Neighborhood House, and I’ve been in that role for about 4 years. I also work as the Grants Manager for Arms Around You, a small nonprofit serving formerly incarcerated people in reentry.
Can you share one of your favorite parts of AoC?
I loved our weekly meeting rituals. Cassie’s meditations and our group norms made me feel grounded and centered, and I loved bringing that energy into each session.
What were some big takeaways and lessons?
Throughout my time in AOC, I learned to be gentle with myself, and that unlearning is just as important as learning. I would also say learning how to honor both my privilege alongside my experiences of racism and oppression was an important takeaway. Lastly, building confidence, especially regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, allowed me to step into more leadership opportunities at my organization.
Do you have any specific action items that were influenced or inspired by your experience in AoC?
I volunteered to co-facilitate Neighborhood House’s Multiracial affinity group, and I joined the organization’s Antiracism Training Team (ARTT).
Can you share some of impact from those examples within your organization’s culture?
The leaders at Neighborhood House, especially the executive director and the board, were in favor of making changes that supported antiracism and racial equity. We aligned Neighborhood House’s strategic plan with these values, which led to the organization creating more equitable compensation for staff, committing to staff leadership development, and instituting more equitable organizational infrastructure.
What else would you like to add for anyone interested in taking the Agents of Change cohort?
Just remember that you are only one person — there will always be more to do. Leadership can happen in any role and position. And don’t forget to tap into the Agents of Change network!
Thank you so much Emily for your thoughtful responses. If readers want to tap in further with Emily, learn more about her work at Neighborhood House.