Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Colleen Fukui-Sketchley regarded as committed diversity advocate
As an undergraduate in the UW Department of Communication, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley (B.A., 1994) started working as a salesperson at Nordstrom. More than 20 years later, her position has evolved to where she is now the Corporate Center Diversity Affairs Director.
“Nordstrom is a better place because of what she contributes to the company and I can personally say I couldn’t do what I do without her,” said James Thomas, Fukui-Sketchley’s manager at Nordstrom. “Seattle is lucky to have a person that really believes in giving back to the local community and demonstrates that each and every day.”
In her position, Fukui-Sketchley focuses on developing and executing a comprehensive approach to diversity and inclusion by weaving strategic elements into people, product and service initiatives. These efforts include developing meaningful partnerships with national non-profit organizations.
“She’s a shining example I think for what people should aspire to, and being a graduate of the University of Washington’s Communication Department, I can’t think of a better representation of the values of the department and college,” Thomas said. “Not to mention she also has an unwavering love and commitment to the University.”
In 2011, Fukui-Sketchley became the youngest person to be appointed President of the UW’s Alumni Association. Under her tenure, the Board established UW Impact, an independent body dedicated to higher education advocacy in the legislature and increasing awareness of the UW’s role in the state’s and nation’s economy, both fiscal and economic.
For more than 12 years, she has also been an incredible supporter of the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity – which works to increase access to higher education for minority, first generation and low-income students – including on its Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program Board.
“As a volunteer, she was always active and helped make connections by bringing internship opportunities to students and strengthening ties to private industries,” said Sheila Edwards Lange, former UW vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity.
Edwards Lange, now Interim President at Seattle Central Community College, noted that when they called Fukui-Sketchley to tell her that she had won the 2015 Charles E. Odegaard Award that Fukui-Sketchley insisted that others deserved it, focusing on the team effort.
“What stands out the most is her selfless dedication to improving the lives of students,” Edwards Lange said. “She is so humble in her approach to everything she does. She is always about the team, but she provided the leadership and always raised questions at the table to create a common vision and motivated others to get things done.”
Outside of the UW, Fukui-Sketchley serves on the boards of the US Business Leadership Network, the Center for APA Women and the Governor’s Disability Employment Task Force.
“Colleen is an intelligent, courageous, confident, competent, passionate woman, who is very clear about her commitment to build and foster diversity both in business as well as in our community at large,” said Vanna Novak, co-founder of The Executive Development Institute (EDI). “She has not wavered in that commitment in the over 10 years that I’ve known her.”
Fukui-Sketchley participated in the EDI – a leadership development program for Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic professionals – in 2005 and has enthusiastically supported the program ever since. She has also volunteered countless hours to community non-profits such as the Japanese American Citizens League, Nikkei Concerns, Nisei Vets, and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington.
“With the Seattle’s Asian community in particular, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find an active and engaged member of the community who does not know, respect, and appreciate Colleen Fukui-Sketchley,” Novak said. “She leads with not just her head, but also with her heart. And when the head and heart are working in harmony, as they are with Colleen, good and wonderful things happen.”
Fukui-Sketchley is a 2015 inductee to the UW Department of Communication’s Alumni Hall of Fame. To RSVP or learn more about the event, click here.