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Susan Kaneshiro

Associate Director of Human Resources, Biola University

Focus Area: Accountability

La Mirada, California
Office Representing: Human Resources

Over her nearly 27-year career as a human resources professional within higher education, Susan Kaneshiro has served in many different roles. She began as the secretary and receptionist for the human resources department and now serves in the ninth progressive position that the university has created for her. In her current role, she oversees recruiting, training and development, the talent management suite, the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and reporting, large HR employee events, and a variety of employee recognition awards. Though she spends the majority of her time on employee relations for faculty and staff and investigating and adjudicating cases in her role as a Title IX deputy coordinator, she is also certified in emotional intelligence assessment, which she uses for leadership and executive coaching. In addition, she serves on various cross-functional committees related to sexual assault prevention and adjudication, advancing women, equity and inclusion, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) maximization.

How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?

"I first got interested in higher education issues for two reasons," Kaneshiro said. "Firstly, I saw the difference a college education made in my own life. I was an adult learner, going back for my undergraduate degree almost 20 years into my career, then completing my MBA three years later. I have seen the difference in the options and opportunities that a degree provides, in addition it provided me with the confidence and credibility to step into those opportunities. On a larger scale, I believe everyone should have access to the education they desire. I work for a faith-based institution in California and we go to great lengths to make our institution as affordable as possible, yet laws and regulations continually get passed and compliance gets more complicated, which in turn raises costs. This limits who can attend or how much debt burdens our students as they graduate."

Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?

"I was honored to apply and thrilled to be chosen to participate in the Forward50 because it is a dream opportunity to collaborate with such a wide-range of higher education professionals to think innovatively around the topics of affordability, access, transparency and accountability," Kaneshiro said. "These are all areas of passion for me and so closely tied to issues which I have made my life's work. My bigger dream is that this work will be so groundbreaking it can be used to make education available to people all over the world, so that anyone could have the education they desire. When people are denied an education or have to get educated in secret and can only talk about the education they are receiving in the shadows and with their voice disguised, that bothers me to my core and I want to do what I can to change that, which again makes this a prime opportunity."

Leadership roles with professional associations:

  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Southern California Chapter: Past President

Membership(s) held with other professional associations:

  • Women in Leadership in Higher Education