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Sandra Fujiyama, executive director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business, has been named a 2024 Power Leader by Pacific Business News (PBN).

The Power Leaders awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated not only significant accomplishments, but also show incredible potential for what they will do in the future.

As PACE’s executive director, Fujiyama is responsible for leading UH’s innovation and entrepreneurship efforts, including strengthening ties with community stakeholders and driving student success by equipping our students with the skills and mindset necessary to adapt and thrive as they enter the workforce. She, along with her dedicated team and board, were instrumental in the creation of the Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE), a state-of-the-art live-work-learn facility at the site of the old Atherton YMCA that combines an innovation center with housing for up to 374 students.

RISE is fully funded with private, non-taxpayer money under a public-private partnership (P3) between UH, UH Foundation and Hunt Development Group Hawaiʻi, and was completed on time. PACE runs the innovation and entrepreneurship center at RISE, offering more than 15 programs to foster Hawaiʻi’s next generation of problem-solvers, game-changers and leaders.

Most recently, Walter Dods, Jr., former First Hawaiian Bank chairman and CEO and a longtime supporter of UH, donated $5 million to RISE and PACE. To recognize the monumental contribution, the facility is now named the Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center.

Sandra’s visionary leadership, proactive initiative, and steadfast commitment to PACE, the Shidler College, and the wider UH community are evident in every aspect of her work.
—Vance Roley, dean of Shidler College of Business

“Sandra’s visionary leadership, proactive initiative, and steadfast commitment to PACE, the Shidler College, and the wider UH community are evident in every aspect of her work,” said Vance Roley, dean of Shidler College and First Hawaiian Bank Chair of Leadership and Management. “We celebrate her accomplishments in elevating innovation and entrepreneurship to new levels, exemplified by the successful launch of the Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center. Her selection as a 2024 Power Leader underscores her extraordinary contributions to our institution and the broader community.”

Previously, Fujiyama served as innovation and business development officer at UH’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization where she conducted technology and marketing assessments of inventions, protected and marketed technologies in UH’s IP portfolio, and helped secure funding for the development and commercialization of UH-based inventions.

Fujiyama spent nearly 15 years specializing in intellectual property law in Los Angeles, where she prosecuted patent and trademark applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, litigated intellectual property matters, and provided intellectual property strategy and counseling to a range of clients. Before returning to Hawaiʻi, she was a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC.

While in Los Angeles, Fujiyama was also involved in a number of organizations, including serving on the boards of the California Bar Foundation, the Japanese American Bar Association Educational Foundation and the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance. She was recognized by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association as a “Best Lawyer Under 40.” Prior to joining UH, Fujiyama worked for Dentons U.S. LLP in Honolulu, with clients in the local technology and startup market.

PBN’s Power Leaders will be recognized at an event at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, on January 25, 2024.

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