Risa Shimoda is a daughter of two Americans whose parents immigrated to the United States to pursue opportunity. Dad’s dad escaped a pineapple plantation in Hawaii when he realized he was being forced to sign up for a contract of servitude. He learned how to prepare American food from a pastor who’d hidden him until he could pursue an independent path. He landed a job as a cook for a commercial shipping company and, after raising six children, retired from his job with his company’s blessing.
Mom’s dad traveled to the US to help complete the transcontinental railway in Utah; and suffered from skills in farming, running a clothes cleaning business and personal relationships that left a lot to be desired. However, his picture bride, Grandma Asano, was both smart and wise, and as a consequence their five children and grandkids know survival, hard work and the love of family.
From these familiar paths of immigrants’ experimentation and survival Risa’s awesome parents met and married. Their family started with two boys, Sano and Dori, and last with Risa, raised through high school in Dumont, NJ. She chose a university Sano thought she might like and majored in product design engineering at Stanford University. Her work path has included marketing consumer products at Procter & Gamble, M&M / Mars, and Coca-Cola USA. After discovering and embracing whitewater paddling as a sport, community and lifestyle she worked as the Marketing, Sales, R&D and Customer Service Director for Perception, Inc., before shifting to serve as the Executive Director for American Whitewater. She’s led the engineering development of river parks and today serves as the Executive Director of the River Management Society. An inductee in the International Whitewater Hall of Fame, she has written for or been featured multiple times in the American Whitewater Journal and River Management Society Journal, Canoe & Kayak, Paddler Magazine. Kayak Session, and Blue Ridge Outdoors.
Bob Fleshner is an executive career coach who has spent decades observing and attempting to understand human behavior. Bob spent the majority of the early part of his career as an attorney for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Walt Disney’s World on Ice. During his tenure there, Bob spent hours digesting the amazing stories of those with whom he came in contact. From circus performers who hailed from Central Europe to day laborers trying to stay out of trouble, Bob interacted with characters of all sorts. It was during this time that Bob honed his own story telling skills, which he later put to use as CEO for a division of a Fortune 50 company as well as during his time as the owner and operator of his own small business.
Bob writes a regular business blog and he has been featured in The Washington Post and on WTOP radio in Washington, DC.
Bob grew up in Dumont, NJ and was a frequent visitor to the Shimoda household. He remembers Midori as having been friendly though somewhat reserved.