UUA Appoints Shige Sakurai as Director of Equity, Belonging and Change

The Unitarian Universalist Association is very pleased to announce the appointment of Shige Sakurai as Director of Equity, Belonging and Change, effective February 7, 2022. The Director is a senior executive role focused on system leadership for equity and inclusion. Located in the Office of the President, the Director works closely with all senior elected and appointed UUA leaders to guide, coordinate, and align efforts within the Association to create an anti-oppressive, fully inclusive faith community. The Director will be particularly focused on leading the UUA’s internal workplace Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) team, and on shaping organizational and cultural change efforts towards implementing the 2020 recommendations from the UUA Commission on Institutional Change.

'headshot' image of Shiga Sakurai including their head, neck and shoulders

Shige Sakurai, UUA Director of Equity, Belonging and Change

“I am thrilled to have Shige Sakurai join our leadership team,” said UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray. “For the past four years we have been engaged in deep work to transform our organization and our Association to be a faith community where people of all backgrounds and identities can thrive. Shige brings the experience, commitment and spiritual grounding we need to advance our work to the next phase.”

Shige Sakurai (they/them) has over two decades of experience in equity, diversity, and inclusion work, and is a leader for intersectional social justice. They currently serve as acting director of the LGBTQ+ Equity Center at University of Maryland, College Park; adjunct professor for American University’s International Training and Education Program; executive education faculty for University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center; and Editorial Board member for Including Disability, an international peer-reviewed journal. They have been the inaugural Anti-Racism Chair for their national professional association and have co-founded several Asian/Pacific Islander and BIPOC organizations. Shige is the founder of International Pronouns Day and the author of MyPronouns.org.

Shige is a Unitarian Universalist with atheist, Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian heritages, and involvement in Druidry. They are a member of Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries and Transgender Religious professional UUs Together, as well as the Church of the Larger Fellowship and All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, where they live. Shige is a Deacon in a nature spirituality church and has received a Health Minister Certificate from Wesley Theological Seminary. They have studied religion and spirituality through various institutions, including Cherry Hill Seminary, Candler School of Theology, and University of Oxford.

“I view my role as a caretaker of an ecosystem. Equity, inclusion, and change are about culture shift and engagement— everyone has a role in the process. As a caretaker, I help to weave the web of connections, develop strategies, deepen roots, identify gaps and opportunities for healing, nourish sustainability and growth, catalyze positive change, and promote flourishing.”

Shige succeeds Taquiena Boston in the role, who retired in December 2021 after over two decades of service on UUA staff.