As Director of Communications and founding member of Women SPEAK, Anna Sugiura ’16 knows how to open the floor for productive conversation. At this year’s summit of the Clinton Global Initiative University, Sugiura not only introduced a keynote speaker, she also created an exhibit space which encouraged dialogue about SPEAK’s dearest issues: fighting gender inequality, sexist stereotypes and sexual assault on college campuses. Even more recently, Sugiura and SPEAK have commanded the attention of Chelsea Clinton, Jessica Alba, and the considerable notice of USA Today, which ran a feature of about their work.
Sugiura’s plan for SPEAK is deceptively simple: stimulate conversation in healthy relationships that educate and contribute to the well-being of women. In practice this looks like a host of unique programs, from mentorships to an ambassador program to weekly blogs and webinars. The April 2015 webinar was about art and activism to a once-yearly community summit.
Along with her work at SPEAK, Sugiura is an active member of Sursum Corda, an LMU organization that raises awareness about global and local hunger. She was also a participant in the Spring 2014 Ignacio Companions Program trip to El Salvador, which researched the complicated interrelations between poverty, education, and women’s rights. Additionally, she has worked as an assistant in the Rains Research Assistant Program. At the end of the day, Sugiura sees all her research and volunteering as deeply intertwined, “What matters,” she says, “is giving people a safe place to find their voices.”
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