In Her Words: Lori Teranishi on the Power of Communication

April 17, 2019
By iQ Staff
Lori and her daughter.

iQ 360’s founder and principal, Lori Teranishi, has been a communicator for more than 25 years. Her passion for the industry was first sparked as a student at the University of Utah, where she built the foundation for her communications career.  

This year, Lori returned to her alma mater to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award and share her belief in the power of communication to a new generation of students.


Aloha and mahalo — thank you very much Tae Kyoung and the Department of Communication for this very special award.

It is humbling to receive this award in the company of these amazing honorees. I would like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way: my husband and two daughters; and my mother, an educator who is here tonight, who taught me to have courage and to persevere, but most importantly, to value the dignity and worth of each person.

I’d also like to thank my eldest daughter, Sydney, who has pursued a career in communications herself, and represents our next generation of communicators. She even taught me a few things about marketing today as we presented to a group of students in Kevin Coe’s class!

Finally, I want to thank the person who had the greatest impact on me at the U: Professor Parry Sorenson. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thanked him on this stage because he took an interest in so many of us. His tough love teaching style scared me for the first two weeks of class, but I soon came to revere him.

Professor Sorenson taught me about the power of communication. Communication can overthrow governments, put people on the moon and launch the next Silicon Valley unicorns. In recent years, we’ve also seen communication be used to demean, obfuscate or gain the upper hand.

So it’s important for all of us, and is certainly something I learned here, to use the power of communication for good — to advance our communities, our economies and our future.

Two years ago, I watched Hawaii business leader Duane Kurisu stand beside two modular homes on a dusty, empty lot as he announced an audacious vision: to build a community for 600 homeless families on Oahu.

Last year, the first homeless families became residents of this first-of-its-kind public-private partnership between city and state governments and more than 200 businesses and nonprofit organizations. When complete, the project will reduce the state’s homeless families by 50 percent.

It was absolutely the power of communication — telling our story — that enabled us to rally the community behind a shared vision to solve homelessness and convince everyone to believe, resulting in significant donations and tens of thousands of volunteer hours.

This is what makes communications so exciting. All of us in this room are believers in the power of communication to change the world, and we can create that change.

Finally, for the students in the room, you are the future leaders who will continue to advance and hone our industry. Thirty years ago, when I was in your shoes, I didn't know I would meet three lifelong friends here, and start a business with one of them, Amy Van Prooyen. I didn't know communication would allow me to travel the world and work with all sorts of people and solve all sorts of problems.

The U gave me friendships, the foundation to launch my career and the confidence to work in an industry I love. I hope that you will find the same fulfillment and gratitude that I have for this school and continue to demonstrate the power of communication as you forge your own paths. Thank you.