New England - Japan Exchange: Nadya Okamoto Interview
Much like how the Japan Government has given the spotlight to changemakers on its social media channels, the Consulate General of Japan in Boston would also like to build upon that premise and bring more attention to those doing great work in the New England area. (If you would like to nominate someone for an interview, please contact our Public Relations Department.)
We hope that this feature will be the first of many!
In this interview, we are joined by Nadya Okamoto.
Named as one of Bloomberg's 50 "One-to-Watch" and one of "Forbes 30 under 30", Nadya advocates for women's health through her non-profit PERIOD. She juggles her responsibilities as Founder and Executive Director on top of being a Harvard undergrad.
Looking back at 2019, what were some of the toughest challenges you faced?
2019 was a big year for us — We held the first ever National Period Day, a national call to action and day of awareness around menstrual equity and policy advocacy, which resulted in rallies in every state and a few outside of the US too, plus endorsement from 5 presidential candidates! We put out a public PSA with the help of some of our strategic partners and gained a lot of media attention and traction because of these efforts. We went from having around 400 chapters to over 600, and by the end of the year, we served nearly a million periods (950,000 and counting!).
The challenge with all of these successes was having the resources and person-power to get it done. We couldn’t have done it without the hard work from every chapter, and I personally couldn’t have done it without my mentors, which is the biggest difference from when I started the organization and now. Mentors have been a core part of why I have been able to lead PERIOD effectively -- our Board of Directors is filled with experts in various areas who I look up to as board members and role models.
As such a huge advocate for health and self-care, how are you able to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I have learned what I need and what kinds of self care are important and effective for me in my life. You have to make sure you are making time to give your body what it needs. This can be as simple as getting enough sleep and making sure you eat good food. For me, a big part of my self care routine is working out. I feel better when I am making sure I find time to exercise on a regular basis. It’s all about balance.
How is 2020 shaping up for you so far?
For the next year, PERIOD’s strategic plan has included plans to empower young leaders in the Menstrual Movement, galvanize the movement, and fight for menstrual equity via period policy. With our service goal of trying to empower our chapters to do more work in their local communities to distribute period products to people in need, we need to more powerfully motivate and communicate with them to do so (the best way to do this being through our digital channels). To continue garnering support from brands and corporate sponsors (the largest opportunity for support being from femcare partners who are wanting to get support our service program) we need to keep growing our digital platform and presence, which is what they are looking to be featured in as an exchange for their product and monetary sponsorships.
With our educational programs, our strategic plan now includes a focus on digital content as a way to change the pattern of how people think, talk, and learn about periods. Our education goal is to redefine the culture around periods and get people to talk about them – and so we need to build a strategy and story behind how we do that, one way being through a stronger and more continuous media campaign. Lastly, our fastest-growing pillar in the strategic plan is advocacy – which is where our policy efforts are outlined. The two goals are raising awareness about period poverty at the national level with a unified effort to also mobilize chapters on the ground, and to fight period poverty in schools.
You’re very active on social media and have been able to capitalize on it. Do you have any tips for other movers and shakers to make better use of these platforms?
Social media is a necessary tool to get your message our there. Use it to connect with people, amplify your voice and your opinions, and amplify the voices of others, too! You are stronger with a strong network of allies doing the work without. Don’t forget to connect with people in real life and support those relationships with strong support across your Platforms — these are fundamental tools for success in the modern age.
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