Click Here to download this year’s program

SCHEDULE | TOPICS | REGISTRATION | SPEAKERS

Bibiana Am – Bibiana Am serves as a client delivery director within talent acquisition at Travelers Insurance. In her director role, she leads a team of eight that supports the staffing needs of the claims organization of 10,000 employees. Bibiana is a double alumnus from Arizona State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing.   After a career in the auto industry, she returned to Arizona State University to earn her MBA from the WP Carey School of Business. She then pivoted her career to recruitment and human resources. Bibiana previously served as the mentorship committee chair with ACEL and currently volunteers as a task force member at her son’s school. On a personal note, Bibiana is an immigrant from South Korea and has lived in several states, including Arizona, California, Texas and Illinois, working in a variety of industries. Bibiana currently resides in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, son and dog Mochi.

Evelyn Casuga – Evelyn Casuga was elected and currently serves as the District 3 representative of the Central Arizona College Board of Governors. Casuga has been a long-time advocate for economic development in Pinal County and the State of Arizona. She currently serves in various part-time, consulting and volunteer capacities in the areas of economic and community development, education and civic engagement. Casuga retired from APS in December 2014 following a successful 25-year career as general manager of community affairs. After her retirement, she held a part time position as the community relations advisor at Central Arizona College from 2014-2019. Prior to her career with APS, Casuga spent 10 years in municipal government serving as city manager of Eloy and town manager of Marana; and 5 years in non-profit roles as manager of community/client development for the Western Gateway Team.

Casuga is a certified economic developer (CEcD) and serves on the boards of directors for Arizona Town Hall, Business Development Finance Corp., Casa Grande Elementary School Employee Benefits Trust, Filipino American National Historical Society-AZ Chapter, Growth Partners Arizona-chair, Local First Arizona Foundation, and Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth (and past chair including Achieve Pinal subcommittee). She is an advisory committee member to Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders and Arizona Rural Development Council Policy Forum. Casuga has received multiple awards, including the William Lampkin Long Term Excellence in Economic Development Award, Economic Developer of the Year from the Arizona Association for Economic Development, Valle del Sol Profiles of Success Special Recognition Award, and the Asian Pacific Community in Action Community Leader Award. She also received the Central Arizona College Governing Board Award in 2013 and is an honorary member of the Arizona City/County Management Association.

Casuga received her Masters of City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and her undergraduate degree in Community Studies/Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Jasmine Chan – Born and raised in Tucson, Jasmine Chan (she/her/hers) is the second daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong. She trained as a mechanical engineer (M.I.T. 2015) and worked for Amazon Prime Air as a controls engineer and project manager before attending the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance (2019) for a Master’s in Public Administration. Jasmine currently works for the City of Tucson as a program manager in the City Manager’s Office and volunteers as the chairperson for the University of Arizona Asian Pacific American Advisory Council to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She is passionate about raising Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American (and international) voices in areas of civic engagement in local issues, systemic operations and change, and advocating for sustained institutional change.

Max Chan – Max Chan is Avnet’s chief information officer. In this role, he is responsible for all information technology areas throughout the Avnet ecosystem, including the delivery of strategic business IT and digital transformation initiatives. He oversees the resources and capabilities of the global IT team and ensures that the organization maintains a robust and optimized IT environment. Chan joined Avnet in 2013 as vice president of IT for Avnet Technology Solutions in Asia Pacific. He led critical system implementations and enhancements, helped build Avnet’s Global Development Centers and drove process improvement initiatives in the region. In 2016, he transferred to Phoenix to take on the global application and business relationship management role and was promoted to CIO in 2019. Prior to joining Avnet, Chan held several IT leadership roles, including chief information officer, Asia at VF Corporation, and vice president, IT Global Supply Chain, Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls.

Chan earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Malayan University, Malaysia, and a Master of Business Administration in strategy from University of Birmingham, UK.

Katie Chin is a caterer, award-winning cookbook author, television chef, food blogger and culinary ambassador to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Chin has a passion for Asian cuisine and is committed to teaching the American public that the very best Asian cooking can be achieved in a real home kitchen by real people on real schedules.

After growing up working in the kitchens of her late mother Leeann Chin’s award-winning Minneapolis-area restaurants, Katie pursued a career in film and television marketing, but eventually left her executive position to return to her culinary roots.

Chin co-hosted the national PBS cooking series, Double Happiness, in conjunction with her mother and together they wrote Everyday Chinese Cooking. On her own, Chin wrote 300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes and most recently, the award-winning bestsellers Everyday Thai Cooking and her latest cookbook, Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen. Chin’s fifth cookbook, “Katie Chin’s Global Family Cookbook” is slated for a May 2021 release. She is recognized as a pan-Asian cooking expert and has been featured in many food and lifestyle magazines such as Forbes Magazine, Huffpost, O Magazine, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Elle, Real Simple, and Family Circle as well as The Wall Street Journal.

In January 2021, Chin was named Culinary Ambassador to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. In this role, Chin will help the organization to fund research to find less toxic and more targeted treatments for pediatric patients along with educating the American public about the role of healthy ingredients and cooking in potentially preventing and eradicating cancer.

Kristin Couturier – Kristin Couturier is the Senior Producer KTVK/KPHO in Phoenix. She is an award-winning journalist who oversees several evening newscasts at Arizona’s Family, which brings hyper-local and investigative stories to the people of Arizona. She has produced live television & events for the last decade, traveling to London to cover to Olympic Games, field producing the Super Bowl, overseeing multiple national elections, and producing the Fiesta Bowl Parade. In addition to working in television, Kristin is a Faculty Associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she also received her master’s degree. She teaches Newscast Producing, sharing her passion for storytelling with the next generation of producers.

Hui Wu-Curtis – Hui Wu-Curtis is an executive who specializes in contact centers operations. She has over 20-years of experience in leadership roles across multiple industries including hospitality, utilities, financial services, telecommunications and healthcare. Wu-Curtis has served small to large global organizations covering sales and support in 65 countries. Wu-Curtis was most recently the CEO/president of World Connection, a global business process outsourcing company (BPO) with locations in the U.S. and Latin America. She left World Connection in mid-August to establish her own BPO company, SupportU. SupportU’s mission is to help provide employment and development opportunities to untapped populations and empower our diverse communities to live inspired, purposeful lives. SupportU strive to bring out the best version of their people and in turn, their teams deliver awesome results for their clients and customers.

Wu-Curtis received 2021 Silver Globe award for Executive Excellence/Influencer of the year, listed in CIOLook’s Top 10 Businesswomen to admire in 2021, Nearshore America’s Top 20 Social Media influencers, and CCW 2017 Customer Experience Leader of the Year. Her departments have been identified as top innovators in the utility space for speech analytics and best continuous improvement innovator in hospitality and has published several articles on leveraging data analytics and insight to drive innovation in customer service delivery and support. Her most recent company was also named 30 admired companies to watch for in 2021.

Hui holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from San Diego State University, MBA from Western International University and completing her doctoral degree in business administration at Trident University. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband of 29-years with their five children. And yes, it is her first and only marriage!

Odeen Domingo Odeen Domingo is the president and founding partner at CO+HOOTS, Phoenix’s purpose-drive workspace. Ranked #4 coworking space in the nation by Inc.com, CO+HOOTS currently houses 280+ scaling entrepreneurs and small businesses and has been an integral role in creating hundreds of jobs locally. He speaks regularly on entrepreneurship and leadership as an ethnic minority, husband, father and former corporate cog. His mission is to provide access to networks, capital, technology, knowledge and circles of power to those who don’t have the privilege of naturally possessing it. Domingo was honored in Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 under 40 class in 2020.

Thuan Le Elston – Thuan Le Elston has been a member of USA Today’s Editorial Board since 2005. Her responsibilities include print and online publishing. She also writes editorials, opinion columns, poetry and fiction. Previously, she was a news copy editor for The Salt Lake Tribune and USA TODAY, and a news reporter for the Greenwich (Connecticut) Time and the Los Angeles Times. She was born in South Vietnam and left a week before Saigon fell in 1975. She received a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. One of her few non-journalism jobs was a speaking role in Oliver Stone’s 1993 movie “Heaven and Earth” (as Kim, sister to the main character). She’s married with four children. Her historical fiction novel, “Rendezvous at the Altar: From Vietnam to Virginia,” was published on Sept. 14, 2021.

Steve Erickson – Steve joined the Teach For America corps in 2005 where he taught 4th grade and 7th grade in west Phoenix.  After Steve’s corps experience, he joined the Teach For America national recruitment team where he was responsible for doubling the number of candidates joining Teach For America from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. In 2009, Steve joined Teach For America’s Phoenix regional staff where he has played various roles and led multiple functions, including fundraising, public/government affairs, partnerships, and alumni strategy. Currently, Steve is acting as Executive Director, responsible for the direction, impact, and ultimate success of Teach For America’s program across the Phoenix community.

Steve and his wife, Vanessa  – a fellow Teach For America alumnus – live in Central Phoenix with their four children. Outside of work, Steve and Vanessa enjoy serving their community, whether at their church or through involvement with various local organizations and boards. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona as well as an MBA from Arizona State University.

Jane Goh-Kwa – Jane Goh-Kwa is a fashion entrepreneur. Born in Singapore, she has an international management consulting background, having worked and lived in many countries. She now owns a fashion business, Northern Clover. Her company’s apparel line, Journey, is carried in more than 280 high end boutiques in the United States and Canada. She is also the co-founder of Llamadash, a F&B digital solutions company with headquarters in Singapore. Goh-Kwa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from The National University of Singapore and an MBA in International Business from Business School São Paulo- University of Toronto. She enjoys cooking and travel. She is also mom to Chloe, a freshman at Purdue University.

Kenny Ho – Kenny Ho is an attorney at the law firm of Christian, Dichter & Sluga, P.C., whose practice primarily consists of insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. He also has experience in commercial litigation, business disputes, and related healthcare law. As a young attorney, Ho has earned Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars recognition. Ho is involved in various community organizations, including a board member for the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, and a former member of the State Bar of Arizona’s Council for Minorities and Women in Law. Ho is also a proud graduate of Valley Leadership Accelerate Class 1 and State Bar of Arizona’s Bar Leadership Institute Class 12. In his spare time, Ho loves practicing martial arts, including taekwondo, tai chi, and baguazhang. He also loves finding new food in Phoenix and running a music blog.

Kiem Ho – Kiem Ho is the founder of moonshot 11 (M11), a full-service branding and digital marketing agency headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. M11 combines big agency experience, emotionally engaged branding (E2B), customer mission mapping and in-bound technology platforms to deliver great work at affordable prices. Ho’s vision is to make marketing easy for his clients, so they understand and see the value and growth it drives. His clients include corporations, municipalities, small businesses and charitable organizations.

Prior to founding moonshot 11, Ho was CEO of Heasley & Partners, a local Arizona advertising agency and head of marketing at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the largest certifier of personal and group fitness trainers in the world. Kiem holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from Brigham Young University and a MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kim Ho – There’s no one more passionate about and adept at building community than Kim Ho. A servant leader committed to change, Ho has built a career rooted in leveraging experience and expertise to make a large-scale, needle-moving impact. As evolvedMD’s director of sales, Ho helms business development, sales, and outreach to a national portfolio of current and prospective customers while also overseeing program implementation, efficacy, and commercial excellence.

With over 15 years of B2B consultative experience including over nine years in medical sales, Ho’s considerable expertise draws from roles as a corporate development officer for Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation,  enterprise development manager for WebPT, regional medical sales executive for TeleVox Software, and western regional sales manager for TP Orthodontics.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Ho attended University of Arizona and graduated with a degree in business marketing. Ho is a board member for the Phoenix Public Library and ACEL (Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders). Ho has been honored and recognized as one of Phoenix Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Business and Community Leaders, featured in 2019 Phoenix 100+Women to KNOW Book + Tribe, as well as ACEL’s (Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders), and is Member of the Year and a Class 37 Graduate of Valley Leadership Institute.

Sue Ann Hong – Sue Ann Hong joined the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW) May 2018 as the interim executive director. As of January 2020, she is the president & CEO. Her career was with State Farm Insurance Companies for over 28 years, including data processing, diversity & inclusion, corporate business & technology portfolio management and P&C auto claims. She’s led up to 600 employees in multiple locations, managed 1000 contract employees and supported customers and State Farm agents in 23 states.  She’s worked in various locations, including MI, IL, NY and GA.

She infuses the philosophy of building trusting relationships, collaborating and bringing people together to achieve common goals. A 2002 Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APAWLI) Fellow, she continues her journey as a Whole Person Leader in her belief it’s the journey versus the destination. Her goal is to support CAPAW’s vision to build Whole Person Leaders one person at a time. Hong graduated from the University of Kansas with a BSB in Business Management and earned a MBA from Western Michigan University. She is also a certified Life Coach (CLC). She currently resides in Atlanta, GA.

Bill Imada – Bill Imada is Chairman and Chief Connectivity Officer of IW Group, a fully integrated marketing communications agency specializing in the growing multicultural communities throughout California and the U.S. For more than three decades, Imada and his team have played a critical  role in reaching many of California’s most vulnerable and underrepresented communities,  including Asian American, Latinx/Hispanic, LGBTQ+, Middle Eastern, indigenous communities  such as Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and older adults. Imada’s areas of expertise include community outreach, community relations, intercultural communications, media relations, experiential events and activations, and partnership  marketing.  IW Group’s work with vulnerable and underserved communities includes organizing community townhalls and roundtables, public hearings, qualitative and quantitative research,  stakeholder engagement, community building and education, and public-private partnerships.

Jenn Kaye – Jenn Kaye is a master communicator, language expert and executive coach whose contagious enthusiasm adds a refreshing spark to everyday challenges. Through her coaching, corporate facilitation and speaking, Kaye has emerged as a relevant voice and thought leader on the art of communication. Her systemized approach to solving the Rubik’s cube that is human communication has evolved over her 20 years experience and is infused with the belief that every leader is unique. Kaye helps her clients amplify their confidence and presence to activate their authentic voice and customize their communication so that they convey the right message to the right people for optimum impact.

Creator of The Choice Point Method ™ and cocreator of Communicating with Confidence & Presence, a transformational learning journey for high-performing leaders, Kaye is committed to helping organizations and teams bridge their translation gaps.

Jenn holds a degree in languages from the University of Arizona, is a certified Master Facilitator for the Marcus Buckingham Company in strengths-based leadership, and a certified coach in Conversational Intelligence. She splits her time between Scottsdale, AZ and St. Croix, USVI with her rescue dog, Maia.

Philip Kim – Phil Kim, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, RICP®, CRES is the managing director and a founding member of Signature Wealth Concepts, LLC. Kim is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and spent several years running restaurants in Boston before turning to his current company in 2002. Phil has served on multiple leadership committees during his career, both within the firm and also within the industry. He has been a frequent main platform speaker over the years, presenting on subjects such as business strategies, career advice, financial planning, and motivational topics.

In 2014, Kim was recognized by the University of Arizona, Eller College of Management as an inductee into Beta Gamma Sigma, a national honorary society for high-achieving business members. In 2016, Kim was nationally recognized as an NTSA Elite Advisor, awarded to only a handful of advisors in the industry based on professionalism, integrity, and leadership.

Originally an East Coaster, Kim has resided in in the warm State of Arizona with his wife and two children since 2008. When he is not in front of clients, you might find Kim playing golf or hiking with his family in the mountains that surround Phoenix

Asad Khan – Asad Khan came to the United States in 1993 to study finance and entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona. At age 18, he started his first business in Karachi, Pakistan. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Khan worked globally for companies including IBM, SAIC, Leidos and Tetra Tech. He is a serial entrepreneur and has built 16 self-financed small businesses, ranging from nightclubs, restaurants, wholesale, retail, import/export, real estate and financial consulting. Khan takes pride in having a very little social media footprint and continues to believe that investing small is the best way to achieve success.

 

Chris Kline – Chris Kline is the President and CEO of the Arizona Broadcasters Association. In the role, he leads all shared services, training/scholarship programs, and advocacy efforts for 200 radio and TV stations in Arizona with a focus on future-proofing local media for the digital future. Chris previously spent 12 years working at the ABC media brand in Phoenix, where he held roles ranging from reporter to digital director to news director. He also worked for The Arizona Republic newspaper and NBC station in Phoenix as well as at KTAR radio and CNN in Washington, DC. Chris serves on boards at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, University of Arizona’s Journalism School, Arizona’s emergency communications committee, and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Anthony Lai – Anthony Lai is the student affairs program manager for The International School of Hospitality (TISOH) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lai joined TISOH in 2015 to oversee students as they embark on their externships, and to assist them with the first steps of launching their careers, from assistance with resume writing to providing career coaching and networking opportunities. Lai brings to TISOH a broad range of experience in the hospitality industry that includes a keen knowledge of the skills industry leaders look for in successful employees. Lai previously worked as guest services manager at LINQ Hotel and Casino, where he trained, coached and motivated team members to successfully meet company expectations along with their career goals. Prior to his work at LINQ, Lai was the implementation specialist for the hotel division at MICROS Systems Inc., an updated computer system for hospitality applications intended to make hotel reservations more customer-specific. Lai’s extensive hospitality experience includes working at notable companies including Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Peninsula Hotels, and MGM Resorts International.

Lai holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) from the American Hotel & Lodging Education Institute. He is also the recipient of the 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year from the Nevada Hotel & Lodging Association.

Kristi Lee – Kristi  Lee  holds  over  33  years  of  experience  in  marketing, retail  and  business  strategy.  She  has  been  responsible  for  product  and  marketing  decisions  for  more  than  2,300 Albertsons  stores  in  38  states,  and  negotiations  with  brands  such  as  Johnson  &  Johnson,  Procter  &  Gamble, Maybelline  and  Revlon.  Lee  is  one  of  the  founders  of  ACEL,  where  she  helped  create  the  professional development and mentorship programs and served as vice chair on the board of directors for four years. She is the current president of the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association in Phoenix and a Valley Leadership Class 38   graduate.   In   2011,   she   received   the   Positively   Powerful   Woman   Award   for   Non-Profit   Leadership. Supplementing her outstanding community volunteerism, she co-authored “License to Dream –Every Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom Through Network Marketing” in 2010 to help women step through limiting beliefs and build successful businesses

Amin Leiman – Amin Leiman holds the following professional certifications: PMI-ACP®, PMP®, SDC®, SMC®, CPC®, CISA®.  A graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA with a master’s degree in Information Technology (IT) Auditing, Amin focused early in his career on cyber-security audit and consulting projects.  He is the author of Karate Project Management and Agile Done Well books. He consults for many of the world’s most successful firms, bringing to them the Agile organization management approach to produce sustainable and agile business practices. Amin teaches project management and positive psychology (Appreciative Inquiry) courses in the US, Philippines and Indonesia.  He is a frequent guest speaker of Asian Development Bank, Project Management Institute (PMI) Philippines Chapter and PMI Indonesia Chapter.  Also, he was an adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa teaching advanced modern auditing for over 10 years. He previously held several high-level managerial positions at Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (HEI) and KPMG US. One of his notable projects was working as a Cyber Security Specialist at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), California, USA. In 2021, Amin delivered Agile public and in-house training sessions to large organizations including Citibank, San Miguel Corp, CDO, Bayad Financial, Inc, ARTESYN (Advanced Energy), Philippines.

Leonardo Loo – Leonardo Loo is the Phoenix Office Managing Partner of the law firm of Quarles & Brady, LLP, the past chair of the firm’s Phoenix office Business Law Group, and a member of the firm’s Business Law Group and International Services Group.  He practices in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, commercial financing, international transactions, securities, and general corporate law involving clients in a wide variety of industries.

Loo has been honored as among the Most Admired Leaders by The Phoenix Business Journal, listed in The Best Lawyers in America, and as among the Top Minority Leaders in Arizona by Az Business Magazine multiple years He is deeply committed to serving his community and has served as chair and been members of various boards, including Chicanos Por La Causa, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Asian American Bar Association He has also served as general counsel for the Black Chamber of Arizona, where he was honored with the 2015 Chairperson’s Award for his positive economic impact across the State of Arizona.

Loo earned his law degree from the University Chicago Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where he concentrated on international relations and economics.

Michelle Loposky – Michelle Loposky is the director of student success  and partnerships for ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center. In her role, she directs and implements actions to establish the PTVC success culture for ASU’s military affiliated and student veterans, to include both campus and digital immersion. Her work includes the PTVC strategic communications plan, focused on building strong partnerships and collaboration across the ASU enterprise and with other outside organizations and individuals to implement a federated approach in support of military affiliated and student veterans. An Army veteran, Loposky served four years as a combat medic. After her service, Loposky received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami (Florida) and this is where her love for higher education began. Prior to working at ASU, Loposky held positions at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and New York University. She has been working at ASU since 2015. Loposky also serves on the City of Tempe Veterans Commission and is part of ASU Alumni Association’s Leadership Institute Class One.

Anita Malik – Anita Malik is a Tech executive and journalist. She is a passionate advocate for equity and a leader in building inclusive communities. Malik is currently the chief operating officer of legal tech company LawLytics. Formerly, she was the Democratic nominee for Congress in Arizona’s 6th, the COO of  ClearVoice, an international content technology company; deputy director for business journalism training at Arizona State University; and the founder and editor of East West magazine, a nationally-acclaimed print publication about the Asian American experience. Anita is mom to 7-year-old Wade, 5-year-old Avery and fur baby Marky.

Clyne Namuo, Ph.D. Dr. Namuo most recently served as vice president of learning and chief academic officer at South Mountain Community College. At SMCC, he worked collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to develop a comprehensive academic plan that spawned a number of initiatives including an equity initiative, the creation of mediated classrooms, expansion of mobile technology across instruction, the creation of the construction trades institute, and more. Prior to joining Maricopa Community Colleges, Dr. Namuo served in progressively responsible roles at Cochise College, a comprehensive community college in southeastern Arizona.

He is active in the community as the former board president of Habitat for Humanity Sierra Vista, a commissioner for the Industrial Development Authority, a former member of the Sierra Vista City Council’s Citizen Advisory Commission, and as the current president of the Asian Pacific Islander Association constituency group within Maricopa County Community College District. Dr. Namuo is also an active peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission and currently serves as the chair of HLC’s diversity committee.

Dr. Namuo holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Strategy from the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education, a master’s degree in information systems from San Diego State University, and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Hawaii.  He lives in Phoenix with his wife Tiana and their family of five children (Amel, Charlotte, Kekoa, Maika, Kainoa), each of whom is extraordinary in their own way.

Mi-Ai Parrish – Mi-Ai Parrish leads Arizona State University Media Enterprise and is the Professor for Media Innovation and Leadership at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is president and CEO of MAP Strategies Group, based in Phoenix.

Parrish served as president and publisher of The Arizona Republic/AZCentral.com and market president at USA Today Network, where the team won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for “The Wall,” a multi-layered, multi-media examination of the southern border with Mexico. Prior to The Arizona Republic/USA Today Network, Parrish held similar leadership roles at the Kansas City Star, and (Boise) Idaho Statesman, and an array of newsroom roles at (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Parrish was the first Korean-American publisher in mainstream media, first BIPOC publisher in Idaho, Kansas City and Phoenix, and first woman publisher in Kansas City. She continues work in diversity and inclusion in media, the weaponization of information, and coverage of justice and equity. She is the chairwoman of Poynter Institute Board of Directors, vice-chairwoman of Banner Foundation Board of Directors, and serves on the boards of the Associated Press, Common Sense Media, the O’Connor Institute for American Democracy, The 19th* News, Arizona Community Foundation, and others.She holds a bachelor’s of science in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kris Vera-Phillips – Kris Vera-Phillips is a faculty associate and a Ph.D. student at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She teaches newscast-producing classes and a multimedia bootcamp for master’s students. She is also an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than 14 years of experience producing news shows and special projects. Most recently, she worked as a multimedia producer for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and the Senior News Producer for KPBS, San Diego’s NPR and PBS station. She serves as the Vice President of Journalism Programs for the Asian American Journalists Association. She mentors student journalists with AAJA Voices and PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs.

Mahes Prasad – Mahes Prasad is a wealth management leader with over 25 years of financial services experience. He is an employee-focused leader who applies a consultative and collaborative approach to coaching, recruiting, and mentoring others to achieve success both individually and as a team. He has effectively led multidisciplinary wealth management and sales teams, consistently achieving enterprise sales results, double-digit year-over-year revenue, and asset growth goals.
Since 2021, he has served as managing director for US Bank Private Wealth Management.  In his role, he leads a team of private wealth advisors in Arizona and Nevada.  Prior to his time at US Bank, he served as regional brokerage manager at Wells Fargo Advisors in Scottsdale, AZ where he also directly supported The Private Bank from 2007 to 2018. He also supported Juncture Wealth Strategies, a boutique investment advisory firm, from 2019 to 2021.

Actively engaging in the community and serving on multiple non-profit boards, Prasad is currently trustee on the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, Asian Corporate and Entrepreneurial Leaders, and sits on the Professional Advisory Board of the Arizona Community Foundation.

Prasad was born and raised in Oakland, NJ. He later moved to the great state of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from The University of Arizona. He resides in Ahwatukee, a community in Phoenix, Arizona, with his two daughters and wife, Shelly. Away from the office, you can find Prasad trail running or hiking on one of the many trails in Arizona, and spending time with his family.

Luige del Puerto – Luige del Puerto is the Publisher & Editor of Arizona News Service/Arizona Capitol Times. He is an award-winning journalist who manages Arizona News Service, which produces the premier political publications Arizona Capitol Times, Yellow Sheet Report, Legislative Report, and LOLA, a legislation tracking service. He organizes and hosts the popular Arizona Capitol Morning Scoop, a forum on statewide public policy issues. He also moderates other public forums, notably political debates. As publisher, he organizes company events, promotes services and publications, plans and executes financial strategies, and prepares annual budgets. He develops, maintains, and enhances relationships with groups to strategically support the mission and journalistic integrity of Arizona News Service. Luige also speaks at various forums and venues to educate the public about the political process and the role of the media in America’s grand experiment in democracy. He contributes regularly to local radio and political talk shows. A veteran reporter, Luige covered national security, notably military adventurism, in the Philippines, wrote about terrorism in Southeast Asia, and exposed corruption in the Philippine government. He is a subject matter expert in news writing and reporting. He still edits and writes stories, his first passion.

Albert Shen – Albert Shen is a senior leader with the Verizon Public Sector Strategy team and recently was part of Verizon Smart Communities and the National Lead for Smart Airports.  Previously, he was a senior advisor for the Toyota Mobility Foundation working on developing new smart city mobility innovation and sustainable energy investment strategies in U.S. cities and was also a senior advisor in Advanced Technology and Research at Toyota North America, where he was developing advanced next generation mobility strategies on transportation innovation and to integrate new future mobility technologies with federal, state & local governmental transportation Smart City initiatives.

In 2014, he was appointed by President Obama to be the National Deputy Director of the U.S Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency. His leadership elevated minority business participation in new international markets in Asia, Africa, and South America. He has over 15 years of federal, state, local governmental affairs engagements on legislation/policy development and executive & legislative branch relationship management.

In 2012, Shen was awarded the U.S. Small Business Administration Region 10 Minority Champion of the Year Award. He served as board chair of the Seattle Community College Board of Trustees, and as vice chair of the Washington State Commission on Asian and Pacific American Affairs. Shen earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and environmental science from the University of Washington.

Leezah Sun – Leezah Sun is a devoted community organizer. She is the founder and leader of an organization called Strength in Unity, which is dedicated to unifying grassroots organizations for racial equity in Arizona. She is a member and volunteer for community groups such as the Sierra Club, Save Our Schools Arizona, Demand to Learn, the Family Intervention Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union. She perviously held the Vice Chair of the Arizona Central Region position for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus for the Arizona Democratic Party. She previously campaigned for the Arizona State House of Representatives and is very involved in the state’s political process — being elected State Committeeman, Democratic Precinct Committeeman, and 2nd Vice Chair for LD 19. She has a background in pharmaceutical consulting and sales in the medical industry, was enrolled in undergraduate programs at Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania, and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Drexel University. She spent the past 15 years as a stay at home mother to a gifted son prior to becoming a community activist.

Mark Strickling – Mark Strickling has created a career out of his passion for helping others become their personal best. He has achieved this through leadership and service in higher education for twenty-plus years and is no stranger to the classroom. Strickling has emceed multiple events and has spoken at several venues on a variety topics relating to professional development, embracing leadership, networking, success and customer service. Some of his topics – Marketing Yourself, Authentic Leadership, Success is your Business, You as a Marketer, Mission Possible, A Club/Organization going from Good to Great, Customer Service, Success Within & Around Me, Authentic Networking 1 & 2, and more. He has also had the pleasure of appearing on AZTV channel 3 and the legendary Pat McMahon Show (AZTV7).

Strickling earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from UA and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He is a two-year Letterwinner and a member of UA’s legendary Desert Swarm football team, champions of the ’94 Fiesta Bowl. In addition, he is a member of Valley Leadership ‘s 35th class (Best Class Ever!) and VLClass winning project. Strickling is married and a father of two.

Ai Sullivan – Ai Sullivan brings 22 years of experience from the financial services industry with extensive knowledge in business analytics and business intelligence. Prior to joining AvAir as their business information systems manager, Sullivan has implemented various complex assignments to identify and define strategic business issues that require analysis and translate this information into insight, knowledge and understanding of the business industry. She also established and served as chair of their Arizona Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Wells Fargo Bank.

Originally from Yokohama, Japan she immigrated to the United States to pursue her education. She holds an MBA, and an undergraduate degree in business management  and finance from Eller College of Management, University of Arizona. She is also on the board with a local animal rescue, and often volunteers her time teaching children about financial literacy.

Sullivan lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, two children and four rescue dogs. On her days off, you’ll find her running the desert trails or hiking with her family.

Byron Tanigawa – Byron Tanigawa was born and raised in Hawaii and is of Japanese descent. His great-grandparents migrated to Hawaii from Japan. At age 17, Tanigawa left Hawaii to attend Gonzaga University, where he studied and earned his Bachelor of Science of Electrical Engineering. He began his career working for a consulting firm in Seattle, and a year into his career, he moved to Arizona to work for Fender Musical Instruments as a design engineer. The base of his career was built at Fender, where he worked his way from designing various amplifiers and electronics products, to working in global sourcing and procurement, where he managed the supply chain for Fender’s electronics business unit. After spending a decade at Fender, he left to work for Axon Enterprises (formerly Taser International), where he built and led their sourcing and procurement department, implementing many important initiatives and processes to enable a more reliable supply chain. Following his time at Axon, he moved on to work for Shamrock Foods Company, where he leads the strategic sourcing department and is responsible for managing over $300MM of annual spend, with responsibility for indirect spend across the enterprise and direct materials and commodities to support the dairy manufacturing operation.

Byron has been married to his beautiful bride, Denise, for over 10 years and they have two beautiful children, Paisley (5) and Baylor (2). In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and investing.

Thiru Thangarathinam – Thiru Thangarathinam is the founder and CEO of MST Solutions, a technology and services firm that specializes in transforming customer experience in today’s digitally connected world. Back in 2011, Thiru worked as Chief Architect at Apollo Group where he designed and implemented large scale transformation programs. Although the work was respectable and left plenty of room for personal growth, Thiru was determined to chart his own destiny. A year later, without experience as an entrepreneur, he left the corporate world and started his own business out of his home office. Today, MST Solutions employees nearly 350 people globally and continues to expand its Chandler, Arizona headquarters. Throughout the years of rapid growth, Thiru focused on encouraging work-life balance and creating a workplace culture everyone could enjoy. Under his leadership, MST Solutions was awarded as one of the best places to work in the Phoenix area. And, due to his track record of founding a global software consulting organization, Thiru was recently recognized by Phoenix Business Journal as one of the Most Admired Leaders in the valley in addition to being a EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalist for 2019.

Tran Tran – Tran Tran owns Axis Employment Services, a successful staffing agency in the Phoenix metro area. Tran and her family were the very first wave of refugees to come to the US in 1975 with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Tran and her family settled in Camp Pendleton, California until a family in Arizona sponsored them. Their sponsor lived in the Biltmore area and Tran was transformed from refugee status to resident within a few months. Not speaking a word of English, Tran was placed in an English-as-a-second-language class and by the end of that year, she won the class spelling bee. She was on a fast track in school from then on.

Tran earned a degree in business communication and worked at a cable news station in California. She landed in a staffing agency and fell in love with the industry. She enjoyed meeting different people every day and figuring out the right fit for them. After her company closed, she took the opportunity to start her own staffing agency.

Steve Wei – Steve Wei was born near Beijing China and immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles, when he was 10 years old. Through unique network and background in international communication and investment, Wei was introduced to the world of real estate and was eventually led to a career in mortgage banking. Wei now is a Top Producing Area Manager and serves as the President of the Greater Phoenix chapter for the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA).

 

David Zhao –  David Zhao, a 25-year-old immigrant of Shanghai, China, is a visionary entrepreneur who oversees numerous international capitalist ventures. As an activist, scholar, and investor, Zhao values patience and efficiency. Catapulting his career early in the tech space at 13-years-old, he began a digital marketing agency called MoreViews Inc. which has evolved into present day NXT Factor. From selling ads as a seventh grader to growing his business from $2K to $2M, his passion for digital marketing is evident.

Zhao advocates for practicality and self-growth, not only for himself, but for others, too. Zhao is the president and founder of the End to Cyberbullying Organization and has been an activist in this role for over ten years.  He uses his current platform to help propel his partners succeed in both raising capital and also keeping philanthropy a priority.

Zhao values innovation within his ventures. Most importantly, though, he values empathy. By creating professional solutions for big and small businesses alike, Zhao is ensuring that each esteemed client receives the same equitable attention and care. Empathy is key in his ambitions to optimize profit, expand education, and create greater inclusivity. Practicing purposeful disruption and authenticity is how Zhao manages to stay ahead and stay on top.