Cathy Hughes and Yumi Iwasaki have known each other for a long time. As Cathy points out, their children attended the same high school; both were raised in an Asian culture (Cathy is from Taiwan, Yumi from Japan) that values teamwork—and, as a team, they perform together musically: Yumi sings and Cathy accompanies her.
In fact, it was Cathy who first recruited Yumi to the Meany Center Advisory Board in 2014—two years after then-Provost Ana Mari Cauce invited Cathy to apply for the Board herself. Cathy, who received a Master’s Degree in Performance Study from New York University, had already been involved in local arts organizations for many years, but she was particularly excited by Cauce’s interest in promoting diversity, an area where Cathy felt she could help.
Yumi had already been attending performances at Meany for years before she joined the Board. A dancer herself, she particularly loves the World Dance series and appreciated that it was—and still is!—the only place in the area where she could regularly see the best modern dance performances by artists from all over the world.
“I was initially hesitant when Michelle asked me to take on the role [of president]” Yumi says. “But when Cathy agreed to share the responsibility, I decided, with Cathy as a partner, I would like to do it.”
For Cathy’s part, she’s excited to work with Yumi in this new capacity. “She has great leadership skills! I think it will be a great learning experience for me to work with someone like Yumi.”
They have an ambitious set of goals for this season and beyond, with UW student engagement topping the list. “We would like to work harder and seek new ways to make Meany more visible and an important part of each student’s experience at the UW.”
Strengthening our social media and marketing strategies to attract younger audiences on and off campus is one way; another is to fund an electronic billboard for the exterior of Meany Center, making Meany more visible, literally.
Cathy and Yumi hope to facilitate teamwork among board members working with staff to increase outreach into more local communities off campus and more UW student groups whose constituents might find what we do here relevant.
Finally, our new co-Presidents feel very strongly that a major priority for the Board is helping to promote the fact that Meany Center is not just a presenter, but also an institution that supports creative process and one that is integral to the success and well-being of an R-1 University like the UW. Yumi is particularly passionate on this subject, having received her Ph.D in Computer Science from one well-known R1 University—Carnegie Mellon—and worked as a Senior Research Scientist for almost ten years in the Department of Computer Science at another—Stanford University.
“I am increasingly dismayed by the lack of support for arts and humanities at the University,” Yumi comments. “While my education and professional experience have all been in computer science, I believe in the importance of the arts and humanities to make a whole person. Arts and humanities are what nourish our hearts and souls.”
Together, Cathy Hughes and Yumi Iwasaki are doing their part to support the Arts at UW and Meany Center.