Noriko Namiki


— By Laura Lott

What We Heard -- Noriko Namiki, CEO of the YWCA Oahu.

Noriko was born in Japan and learned English at a young age from a neighborhood minister.  She was very curious as a child, a trait that she holds onto even today.  She loves learning and her perfect job would be to be a full-time student.   

The curiosity has served her well.  She was the first person in her immediate family to attended university. Graduating from Chaminade and then going on to study Journalism and work at CNN for 5 years and then ABC News.  Choosing journalism was a natural fit as it afforded her the opportunity to travel, meet people and learn about a variety of topics. 

Noriko married a CNN colleague and returned to the US where she earned her Master of Social Work from Columbia University, with a goal of helping marginalized people.  So, it was a perfect fit when in 2012 she was recruited to be the Y's new Communication Director.   

The YWCA's mission of 'Eliminating Racism. Empowering Women' spoke to her and aligned with her priorities.  Just a short while after accepting the position, Noriko called upon again, this time to step into the vacant CEO position on an interim basis.  She did more than keep the lights on, she expanded the Dress for Success program and launched a new Patsy Mink Business Center.  So, it wasn't surprising that nine months later she was named the official YWCA Oahu CEO.

Noriko has a strong focus on several key principles/learnings

·      Don't let others define who I am.   "As I get older, I don't care what others think of me."

·      Don't pretend to know.  "Don't just smile and nod, ask if you need clarification or more details."

·      Nothing goes to waste. "Every skill matters, every experience is useful if you learn from it."

·      Ask for help. "This is hardest for me. But it feels good to help people.  We should help because we can."

·      Be kind to myself. "My goal is to eventually be comfortable in my own skin. Like yourself and appreciate yourself."

While, Noriko may refer to herself as an 'accidental CEO' the YWCA Oahu she is thriving under her leadership.   Some of the accomplishment and projects in the works

YWCA Oahu Locations

·      Laniakea (Richards Street location) - has a bustling array of classes and activities including their renown Dress for Success Program which serves more than 500 women per year

·      Fernhurst - Residential housing for women transitioning from prison

·      Kokokahi - Community Center for educational and recreational activities on the Windward Oahu.

Noriko knows that we all have a gift, a talent, something to share.  Your gift will bring joy to yourself and to others. Look within to find your gift because sharing this gift feels good and helps others.   

Noriko is happy and excited to be part of the Y. She is inspired to be helping women transition.  "When you think you are doing something for someone else you are actually learning and getting even more out of it"