Sharyn Yoshida

Becoming an entrepreneur is many people’s idea of the American Dream. Being an entrepreneur and an active advocate for civil rights is more than many do in a lifetime, yet Sharyn Yoshida has done that and more. She has done everything from serving as a private school multicultural studies teacher to a jeweler. She has owned a software company and is a member of the Kaiser Permanente Advisory Council. She is the definition of multi-faceted.

Her inspiration to help others and to advocate for health began upon learning her family’s history. In high school, Sharyn learned about the anti-Japanese prejudice in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombings that vaulted the country into World War II. She brought her lesson home to her parents and discovered their secret: they were both held in Japanese internment camps during the War. When Sharyn questioned her father about his reluctance to share this information with her and her siblings, he said he was afraid that they would face the same discrimination that he did if they showed any fear. This sense of helplessness and desperation that she felt from her family pushed her to help others and advocate for civil rights.

Sharyn worked at the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), where she helped ensure minority students would receive equal access to equipment, facilities, and resources within the public school districts. Sharyn also worked in the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, helping to implement Title IX - a federal statute prohibiting discrimination by sex and mandating that boys and girls receive the same amount of opportunities in and out of the classroom - in schools across California, Arizona and Nevada. It’s safe to say she has made an impact in her fight for equal rights.

Sharyn’s next steps in life were starting her own businesses. She began an interior design company called Habitat Designs which specialized in small to medium-sized business offices. In between contracts, Sharyn would design and create her own jewelry and sold her creations to 52 boutiques and stores across the country. She was even asked by Geoffrey Beene, a famous American fashion designer, to design jewelry for his shows. As if that wasn’t enough for one lifetime, Sharyn also started a software start-up company, Design Automation Systems Corporation (DASC), which developed the first cutting-edge computer-aided engineering software for PC. This technology was previously available only for mainframe computers and was costly. She sold the company to Strategic Software Technology in San Jose.

Sharyn has achieved a lot through her life, and is still going strong. She currently serves as a member of the Kaiser Permanente Senior Advisory Council, is a facilitator and instructor for the Healthier Living program developed by the Stanford University School of Medicine, and became a consultant to families with caregiving issues after her mother passed away from Alzheimer’s. She goes to the gym every week and rows; she practices Chinese Kenpo twice a week, plays chess, the keyboard, and even makes origami kusudama’s.

Sharyn Yoshida has been wildly successful in everything she has attempted and epitomizes the “Renaissance Woman.”