Akiko Mikumo: Advocacy, Education and Life Beyond Partnership

I’m Akiko Mikumo. I’m a retired
corporate partner. I spent 35 years at the firm starting in New York, spent 4
years in London, and then 10 years in Hong Kong. I grew up in Japan, and then in the New York Region. I went to college in California and then I went back
to New York for law school at NYU. I joined the firm in 1982 and retired at
the end of 2017. Retirement is not easy. The transition is
not easy because You have a structure at the firm. You’re used to a structure. You have people who are supporting you, enormous support, and you leave that. You don’t have the status, you don’t have the position. Yes, I’m a
retired Weil partner that means a lot, that carries a lot of weight, but
nevertheless, you’re just you. I came to Harvard’s Advanced Leadership
Initiative as a fellow. ALI program is focused on doing something with a social
impact. There were 45 fellows in this program and we meet once a week. I met Nadia, who is a Harvard college student. She started this organization called
Period. What Period does is that it basically
works to get rid of period poverty and also period stigma. They basically
provide free products to the homeless and poor people, but also to convince the
schools to carry free products in all of the bathrooms. So I am working with
them. I’ve joined a few boards, so I’m on the board of a biotech start-up. We invest
in translational research that’s still at the university level because the
federal funding has been cut back severely. We provide funding for that
and I’m also on the board of a media technology company that’s also a startup.
They have technology where if you watch a YouTube video, you can essentially see
something on the YouTube video – it will take you to the site, so it’s like a
Google for videos. I’m on the advisory board of Berkeley. They have
a lot of strategic initiatives and that keeps me busy and I’m probably
going to take on another not-for-profit project in the education
sector about providing education tools to single mothers and immigrant mothers
so that they can spend 20 minutes a day with their children to develop critical
thinking and communication skills, creativity, and social skills. That’s
something I’m very interested in doing and especially expanding that to Asia. It’s the obvious things: balanced life,
outside interests, friends realizing that work is not
everything. You want to have a fulfilling life. I’ve done a lot of traveling. I
went to Birmingham last year. I went to Mongolia this year where there was no
electricity, nothing. Trips like I wouldn’t have been able to take when I
was working full-time because you need to be accessible at all times. I’ve traveled so many places it’s just been fantastic.

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