AAPI Heritage Month Employee Feature: Dave Stogdill, Manager of Literacy Programs

by Sam Perley

Throughout the month of May, Hornets.com will be highlighting employees across different departments within the organization in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Describe what you do with the Charlotte Hornets organization.

“I am the Manager of Literacy Programs for the Charlotte Hornets and work in the Corporate Social Responsibility department. Being the Manager of Literacy programs, I run our Book Bus and Pick-and-Read programs. Anything related to education, I work on or help out with along with other initiatives in our CSR department.”
What experience has had the most significant impact on your career in sports?
“Prior to coming into the CSR department, I worked in Event Presentation and I was hired by the organization as the mascot. I performed as Rufus Lynx when our organization was the Charlotte Bobcats. In that role, I was able to perform during games and out in the community. Making people smile, making their day better, encouraging students to read and being a character that had so much influence on the kids, that was the thing that made the biggest impact on me, personally.”

“I have my degree in Elementary Education, so working with students and kids has always been my passion. With my unique role as a performer, I was able to affect students’ lives in a different way than teaching in a classroom. Those are the types of things that have had the most impact on my career working in professional sports.”

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

“It may sound strange, but most people don’t know I’m a member of this community. I’m half Japanese, my mom is full Japanese and my dad was mostly of German and Irish descent. He was a soldier stationed in Okinawa when he met my mom. I was born in Okinawa and come to the United States when I was two. Studying Japanese and the AAPI community is a way for me to understand who I am and that there’s other people like me. It helps me learn about other Asian cultures and know that we all fit in this world.”

How do you see yourself as an example in the AAPI community?

“I’ve been able to work with the Hornets’ AAPI Employee Resource Group, and within that group, it’s allowed me to help bring awareness of Asian culture and the recent anti-Asian hate and injustices to our employees and fans in the community. We’ve also been able to highlight some of the NBA’s non-profit organizations to advance justice in the Asian-American community, as well.”

Who are the most influential AAPI role models in your life?

“My mother, Hideko, and I are both from Okinawa, which is the southern-most island in Japan. The Okinawan culture is a little bit distinct from Japanese culture as a whole. Okinawa is considered a ‘blue zone,’ where they have one of the world’s highest populations of centenarians, or people living beyond 100 years. The lifestyle in Okinawa is proud of that. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I feel like my mother has instilled an Okinawan saying and a reason for being called ‘Ikigai.’ It’s a Japanese concept and it’s referring to direction, purpose or meaning in your life. It’s a distinct concept that’s helped with the secret of longevity in Okinawan people.”
“Through my mother, even though she didn’t specifically tell me this definition, the way I was brought up and her personality rubbed off on me. I truly live my life the Ikigai way to where every single day, I try to do something to make myself better. I feel like my purpose in life is working with kids and instilling their love of reading.”

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