As VIA wraps up its surprisingly busy summer programs, we’d like to take a moment to pause and recognize an important milestone. This summer marks five years of transformative leadership by our Executive Director, Kazutoh Ishida. It also happens to be the 30th anniversary of his first VIA program experience, when he joined the American Language & Culture program at Stanford from Keio University in Japan. Based on the eye-opening and transformative experience he had on this program, he started to envision a future career in which he would design and run impactful international education programs.
Kazutoh’s dream came true in 2005 when he had the opportunity to join the VIA team as senior director to manage the programs in Silicon Valley. For 11 years, he has enjoyed directing and supporting the language & culture and healthcare programs, as well as developing newer programs focused on social innovation and leadership.
In 2016, Kazutoh stepped into the Executive Director role at a pivotal time for VIA, taking the lead in launching the VIA2020 strategic plan. He has led VIA through unexpected challenges, unrest at home and abroad, natural disasters, and a global pandemic. Despite these challenges, Kazutoh has always remained committed to working together with staff, board, alumni, and partners in the VIA community. He spearheaded the crafting of VIA’s new strategic plan, focused on cultivating aspiring social impact leaders to address emerging 21st-century challenges and continuing to build an ecosystem that deepens local and global impact through collective action. We are grateful for his humble and empathetic leadership, and look forward to continuing to build VIA’s vision together.
Messages from the VIA Board
“Congratulations to Kazutoh on a successful 5 years as Executive Director of VIA. Kazutoh’s dedication to VIA and its mission is one of the best illustrations of what VIA stands for and the impact it can have on individuals. This last year has been particularly challenging and Kazutoh has been consistent in his steady leadership of this highly treasured organization. Thank you Kazutoh for all that you have done to ensure that VIA grows, thrives and is a place where individuals can positively impact the world around them.” – Steve Hope, Board Chair
“Kudos and warm regards to Kazutoh Ishida on five years of service as Executive Director of VIA. His strategic vision and steadfast guidance have helped our organization navigate the ever-changing landscape of the global pandemic, while maintaining cultural relevance as a social change agent and continuing to advance VIA’s core mission and values. We thank you for serving our global communities and expanding VIA’s impact as an organization. Congratulations Kazutoh!” – Danni Redding Lapuz
“Congratulations to Kazutoh on 5 years as Executive Director of VIA! We are fortunate to have such a forward-thinking and steadfast leader of the organization. Much has been accomplished and, under Kazutoh’s leadership, the coming years promise to take VIA to the next level.” – Tab Bowers, Vice Chair
“Best wishes for Kazutoh on completing 5 years as VIA’s executive director.” – Eugene Gregor
“Bravo to Kazutoh Ishida on five years as Executive Director of VIA! He has successfully built upon his previous years of experience directing VIA programs to guide the entire organization through the rough waters of COVID with integrity and fidelity to the core values of VIA–and the organization has come out stronger and more focused on our mission, but carrying it out in more innovative ways.” – Jackie Schmidt-Posner
“Congratulations to Kazutoh for his service as VIA’s Executive Director for five years! His leadership has been clearly instrumental to the success of this organization as we navigated unprecedented times in VIA’s history from our strategic pivot to the pandemic. Thank you for your work in advancing VIA’s mission, connecting our communities across the globe, and importantly making a lasting impact.” – Will Su
“Congratulations to Kazutoh on a successful 5 years as VIA’s Executive Director! Kazutoh’s exemplary leadership, vision, and strategy has led VIA to successfully navigate the challenges of a global pandemic and lockdown, and come out stronger as an organization that is set up for success. Thank you Kazutoh for your service in advancing VIA’s mission!” – Tanvi Chaturvedi, Treasurer
“Congratulations, Kazutoh, as VIA celebrates five years under your tenure as Executive Director! The past several years have not been without challenges – not least the past one-and-a-half years during the pandemic – but under your leadership VIA has successfully adapted its approach while staying true to its mission. Thanks to your efforts and the strong team you have built, VIA is poised for continued success!” – Steve Ross
In honor of Kazutoh’s five-year anniversary as Executive Director, consider making a $5 donation to support VIA’s work empowering future social impact leaders and changemakers.