Commitment to Institutional Change: an Interview with Shige Sakurai

Shige Sakurai began as Director of Equity, Belonging and Change in February 2022. As Director, Shige works closely with all senior elected and appointed UUA leaders to guide, coordinate, and align efforts within the Association to create an anti-oppressive, fully inclusive organization. The Director is focused on leading the UUA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) team, and on shaping organizational and cultural change efforts towards implementing the 2020 recommendations from the UUA Commission on Institutional Change.

Shige Sakurai

Shige Sakurai

“I am thrilled that Shige Sakurai joined our leadership team,” said UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray. “Since the start of my time as UUA President, we have been engaged in deep work to transform our organization and our Association to be a faith community where people of all backgrounds and identities can thrive. When Shige joined our team, they brought experience, commitment and spiritual grounding we need to advance our work to the next phase.”

Shige Sakurai reflects

“I view my role as a caretaker of an ecosystem. Equity, inclusion, and change are about culture shift and engagement— everyone has a role in the process. As a caretaker, I help to weave the web of connections, develop strategies, deepen roots, identify gaps and opportunities for healing, nourish sustainability and growth, catalyze positive change, and promote flourishing.”

Shige Sakurai (they/them) has over two decades of experience in equity, diversity, and inclusion work, and is a leader for intersectional social justice. Shige founded International Pronouns Day, authored, and is the first person in the U.S. to receive an officially nonbinary, X-marker driver’s license. They have received awards from Diversity Abroad, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Mayor of Washington, DC during the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration.

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