As the Cultural Tourism Director at United Arts of Central Florida, Thali spearheads the development of programs and cross-sector partnerships. She continues to make a profound impact by enhancing the national and international visibility and reach of local arts organizations.
Thali Sugisawa grew up in the south of Brazil as the second-generation of Japanese immigrants. She has a BA in International Relations, a MA in Organizations & Development, and a stellar career that started in the multinational sector of medical devices, working with world-leading companies, such as Fujifilm and Steris.
In Central Florida since 2015, Thali co-founded FusionFest in collaboration with the Orange County Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs – a grassroots project turned into an award-winning nonprofit organization with the mission of celebrating the rich cultural diversity through performing, visual and culinary arts. Under her leadership, FusionFest has grown exponentially with programs reaching thousands of people in over 120 countries. In-person and virtual programs, included a weekly talk show, an annual multicultural community festival for over 20,000 people, monthly immersive dining experiences, a short-film contest, art exhibitions, and multiple collaborative projects with private, public and nonprofit organizations.
Thali is a alumni of Leadership Orlando Class 98, City of Orlando Mayor’s Academy Class 2016 and Rollins Mini-MBA program. She has been featured in Artistry Magazine and has been awarded for her work in advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Central Florida with the following awards:​​
  • Domino Effect Award by SOS Orlando, 2019/2020 ​
  • Women of the Year Honoree by the Orlando Magazine, 2020/2021
  • Diversity in Business Awards Honoree by the Orlando Business Journal, 2022/2023
  • Community Champion for DEIA, Haitian American Art Network, 2024
Thali also serves on the Board of Directors of Creative City Project and Descolonizarte Teatro.
Her personal essays can be found at her publication Life Beyond Instagram
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