Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation
June Sugiyama is the director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation. Sugiyama has been in the Foundation’s leadership role for the past 11 years. In that role, she developed various community support and partnership strategies. Most recently, she led the Foundation’s transition to support technology related programs, a strategy to better align with Vodafone’s expertise in technology and innovation. Innovating in Field of Work: June is the mastermind behind the Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project. The Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project seeks to identify and fund the best innovations using wireless related technology to address critical social issues around the world. June gives out close to $600,000 each year, and then mentors the finalists and winner to scale their projects for maximum impact. Impact: June served on the board of Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and participates in the Arts Loan Fund and the Emergency Loan Fund of the organization. She also serves on the advisory board of the Foundation Center in San Francisco, the advisory committee of the Vodafone Group Foundation & United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership. She has also served on the board of the National Japanese American Historical Society, the Business Arts Council in San Francisco and Nobiru-kai, a Japanese newcomers association. Role Model: • June is the consummate mentor. She reaches out to young women and connects them to opportunities, to each other, and to events and workshops that will help their careers. She is active in the Northern California Grantmakers group and often promotes younger women’s work to the group. • She is the child of a Manzinar camp survivor. She raised two beautiful young adults as a single mom, and supports her mother (the camp survivor). She has held onto Japanese traditions in a way that are beautiful and meaningful to the next generation. In addition, she works in the male-dominated corporate field of mobile technology, and is constantly disrupting the system of making money to do good. Reinvention / Risk / Momentum: VAF just completed a 5-year scholarship program in the United States to advance wireless engineering. During the program, Sugiyama visited many universities, and discovered that great innovations were taking place, but they seemed siloed in departments and not getting out to organizations and causes that could use these innovations. Sugiyama and her colleagues started thinking, “how can people we know on the outside of these institutions, like NGOs, get their hands on the innovations?” As a consequence, the competition is structured to encourage collaboration, talking across sectors and interdisciplinary styles.