I first connected with Tim Tsujii during my search for a temporary job. As the Early Voting Director for the Guilford County Board of Elections, Tsujii had an opening for “Early Voting Poll Worker” listed on Spartan Careers (http://csc.dept.uncg.edu/spartancareers/). I applied for the position and he responded almost immediately. When I was asked to write this post for UNCG’s Graduate School blog, I recognized Tsujii’s name and sent him an email requesting an interview. Once again, he got back to me quickly and was enthusiastic to talk about his experiences in Greensboro and with UNCG.
Tim Tsujii has always been interested in local government and public service. Growing up in Greensboro, he often heard local officials talk about their role in public service and its importance. “I always enjoyed politics in high school and I knew I wanted to study in that field.” Tim graduated from George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2002 with a degree in political science. “I went to George Washington University so I could see government in action in our nation’s capital” he said. When Tsujii returned to Greensboro, he began working at the Board of Elections office, with the goal to go back to school for his MPA. “I wanted my Master’s degree and I knew that UNCG had a Public Affairs program (http://www.uncg.edu/psc/mpa/ ). I heard it was great and knew immediately I was going to apply. When I came back home I was coming home for good,” he explained. Tsujii has a wife of seven years and young daughter and knew that he wanted to stay in Greensboro for his family.
While he was in D.C., Tsujii enjoyed participating in sporting activities with an organization for young professionals. Upon returning to Greensboro he realized a similar organization for young adults was needed. “The closest thing I found was a group called synerG so I met with one of their representatives to discuss adding a sports initiative,” he explained. Soon Tsujii was encouraging and promoting different recreational activities in Greensboro through synerG’s YP Sports (http://synerg.org/index.php/initiatives/yp_sports/). Thanks to Tim and his colleagues at synerG, active participation in kickball, softball, dodge ball, bowling, and other recreation leagues has greatly increased in Greensboro. SynerG is a Greensboro organization that promotes networking and professional development through its mission to attract, engage, and connect young professionals in the city.
SynerG was first organized in 2004 after a study found out that many young professionals in the Greensboro area were in need of more networking opportunities. “There are six colleges and universities here and a lot of graduates leave the area after graduation. We needed a way to attract and retain young people in Greensboro. You are going to stay here if you can find a good job — that’s where organizations like the Greensboro Partnership and Action Greensboro can help,” Tsujii said. For the last two years, Tsujii has worked as a Council Co-Chair in synerG to promote networking and leadership and professional development opportunities. SynerG plays a huge role in getting young professionals involved with local government. “We need to show the young people here that the quality of life in Greensboro is amazing…they just need to know where to look for opportunities.” Making Connections Around the Table is a synerG networking event that provides members the opportunity to connect with Greensboro’s movers-and-shakers and to hear great speakers such as local CEOs, mayors, university administrators, non-profit and political leaders too. http://synerg.org/index.php/initiatives/making_connections/
Although this is his last year as Co-chair at synerG, Tsujii plans to continue his involvement with the organization. His next plan is to become involved in other community organizations and take on a bigger role such as the civic engagement task force for The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. This organization awards grants to different community initiatives and is currently working on their next strategic plan. “Of course, synerG is my main focus right now. When I first joined synerG the sports piece was huge to me because I wanted people to see the fun side of Greensboro. I soon realized it was also an issue of jobs — four years after students come here to go to school they are gone. What are ways to get them to stay?”
Tsujii gives advice for students looking to network and become involved in the community. “There are so many organizations in Greensboro that promote getting involved: United Way Young Leaders, Action Greensboro, the Greensboro Jaycees, and synerG,” he said. He even suggested setting up a lunch date with local officials. “If you want to get on a board in Greensboro, set up a coffee or lunch meeting with officials and they can get you connected. It may be a scary thing to do but it’s not that hard to ask. You’ll rarely meet someone who will say no to you here,” he said. Tim Tsujii has become an integral part of keeping new graduates in Greensboro. His work with Action Greensboro, synerG and beyond will continue to open up new doors for Greensboro and its citizens.