Susan grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. After attending Stanford University, she returned to Hawaii for nine years and worked for projects focused on international education and college access. From 2000-05, Susan served as the founding director of GEAR UP Hawaii, a statewide program focused on early college awareness and preparation for low-income middle and high school students. She returned to the Bay Area in 2005 to work at Stanford in the School of Education and the Center for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business. In 2008, Susan transitioned to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where she helped launch the tenure of Carnegie’s ninth president, Anthony S. Bryk. She held a number of different titles at Carnegie, including Chief of Operations and Manager of Grants and Special Projects. Before launching Yuen Designs, Susan served two years as the Grants Program Manager at the Junior Statesmen Foundation.
As a consultant, Susan hopes to use her knowledge and experiences to empower nonprofits and educational organizations. Her expertise covers a wide range of topics, including fundraising with a specialty in grants, process improvement, financial analysis and sustainability, organizational strategy and team-building. An adept facilitator and trainer, Susan has also helped nonprofits through the process of filing for 501(c)3 status.
Susan was introduced to design thinking in 2009 during a 2-day custom workshop put on by the Hasso Platner Institute of Design at Stanford (the d.school). Over the years, she’s used design thinking principles and applied them to such diverse topics as re-designing conferences, launching nonprofits, appreciating teachers, rethinking on-boarding processes and composing taiko songs. She enjoys finding real-world applications for design thinking and sharing the core principles to enhance the creative capacity of organizations.
A self-proclaimed “accidental techie,” Susan has a mixed bag of skills that are useful for emerging nonprofits and small enterprises. Entirely self-taught, she can assist organizations with databases, websites, low-cost branding and graphic design. Her most recent interest is helping nonprofits take advantage of the Salesforce.com Foundation’s Power of Us program. By consulting with clients on their CRM needs, she can set up and migrate existing data, customize workflow processes and train staff on use and maintenance.
For Susan, taiko (Japanese drumming) is more than just a pastime. It’s something that’s deeply imbedded in her cultural identity as a Japanese-American. Above all, taiko is at the core of her social network and friendships for over 20 years. She was a charter member of Stanford Taiko and a performing member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble. Upon her return to the Bay Area, she became a founding member of her current group, Jun Daiko. In addition to practicing and performing, she teaches taiko classes at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple. In 2013, Susan joined the board of the Taiko Community Alliance, a new nonprofit formed to support the ever-growing taiko community in North America. She currently serves as the TCA Treasurer and Fundraising Chairperson, blending her work and taiko lives.