Lab work/life coordinator is a ‘Game Changer’


Colin Yamaoka was recognized for thinking outside the box and for going above and beyond to entice prospective employees to LLNL and to increase their engagement.. (Download Image)

Colin Yamaoka, program coordinator for the Livermore Laboratory Employee Services Association (LLESA) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), was recently named as a 2019 Game Changers award winner by Workforce Magazine.

This international award program, now in its ninth year, selects the top human resources practitioners and strategists under the age of 40 dedicated to pushing the profession forward with innovative people-management practices. Workforce Game Changers winners are profiled in the July/August issue of Workforce Magazine and highlighted on For the first time in the program’s history, judges selected 40 Workforce Game Changers from all across the globe.

Yamaoka was recognized with this award for “thinking outside the box and for going above and beyond to entice prospective employees to the Laboratory and to increase engagement with the workforce.” He produced a series of recruitment tools, was part of a team that wrote and produced a video to recruit job candidates and was the lead engineer for a game focused on the behaviors of inclusivity at LLNL.

“While I am honored to receive this recognition, the award really belongs to our entire LLESA team,” Yamaoka said. “To me, this award is validation of the hard work that our team puts in on a daily basis to ensure that we are creating enriching experiences and making a positive impact on the balance in people’s lives.”


Outside of work, Yamaoka, enjoys singing and playing music and spending time with his family.

As the LLESA program coordinator, Yamaoka oversees 36 employee networking groups, manages the LLESA front office team, coordinates the quarterly blood drives and manages several of the special events held on site. Since joining LLNL and the LLESA group just three years ago, he has taken the initiative to expand his role and has participated in recruitment and training/development project teams, developed new engagement events for employees and created a comprehensive guide outlining all of the work-life programs and services offered at LLNL. This new tool is a valuable resource to new employees and serves as a recruiting tool.

“Being passionate about metrics, I’m most proud of seeing the impact LLESA has made on the LLNL employees from both a quantitative and qualitative standpoint,” Yamaoka said. “Since coming onboard, I helped to develop a system that would capture more specifics of our participation. We have the data to show how many people attended our events, but also what areas we still have an opportunity to inspire more participation.”

“Colin’s efforts have enabled us to more accurately measure employee engagement,” said Melissa Sale, general manager of LLESA. “Colin strives to create programs and events that ensure there is something for everyone to take part in and to enjoy.”

“I love being able to create enjoyable experiences for people every day. I also enjoy the challenge to continue to improve and create different and new ways to get people out of their offices to enjoy and connect with one another,” Yamaoka said.

Yamaoka has been inspired by others he has worked with throughout his career. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing leaders,” Yamaoka said. “I worked for Apple for about eight years and my time there helped me develop and understand the importance of managing with vision and purpose; understanding the why behind every decision we make and having it all point back to our organization’s ‘north star,’ our culture and our values. Working with Melissa Sale and the LLESA team has helped me understand the importance of personal connections and relationships and bringing your whole self to work.”

With his job focus on developing programs to support work/life balance, it is not surprising that Yamaoka has many interests outside of work. He enjoys singing and playing music, camping and playing board games with his wife and two young sons. “Work is just work but family and our own personal wellness are what really matter.”

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