Speakers for NAAAP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium and National Leadership Academy 2023

Lauren Balcita Garces 

Pronouns: She/Her

NLA Director & NAAAP San Diego President

Lauren Balcita Garces is a city-wide event producer and artist currently based in San Diego, California focusing on diverse community empowerment and sustainable, inclusive economic development.

Currently, she directs the marketing, outreach, and events with the Asian Business Association San Diego representing over 30,000 Asian Pacific Islander owned businesses. Her work is bridged as the Special Events Director of the Convoy District, one of Southern California’s largest pan-Asian economic hubs.

A leader and advocate in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, she serves as President of the National Association of Asian American Professionals – San Diego and as the Co-Chair of the San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition. 

Ashley Mack

Pronouns: She/Her

Executive Director, NAAAP

As Executive Director, Ashley oversees the administration, programs, and strategy of the organization. Ashley joined NAAAP in 2011 and has served roles with increasing levels of operational responsibility. Most recently as Chief Financial Officer, she provided oversight of NAAAP’s financial vision and strategy. 

Professionally, Ashley is the first female AAPI field operations leader in Atlanta Gas Light’s 165-year history where she is responsible for the safety and performance of 80+ first responders. Ashley co-founded and became Chairwoman of the first AAPI ERG at Southern Company Gas. Ashley earned a BBA from Georgia State University and an MBA in accounting from Texas A&M University.

David Doan

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Management Consulting Senior Manager, Accenture

David is a management consulting senior manager in Accenture North America Health | Care Innovation Practice and is based in Los Angeles. David is currently the Southern California (SoCal) Inclusion & Diversity Council Co-Lead where he leads and provides oversight to 20 ERGs and engagement groups. In 2021, he was part of the core team who developed the inaugural Leaders Inspiring Future Talent (LIFT) Mentoring Program and the APA ERG Leadership Summit at Accenture. David is currently the national liaison in support for the U.S. Mental Wellness ERG and U.S. Pride ERG. Most recently, he is the SoCal leader and mentor for the newly formed Refugee Interest Group to help form a new ERG chapter in Southern California.

David has previously served as a guest speaker for NAAAP Los Angeles on the importance, engagement, maturation, and metrics of ERGs. He developed and facilitated a four-part series of the Professional Development and Leadership Program for Ascend LA Chapter.

Outside of work, David is passionate about numerous health, social, and environmental causes including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, health equity, social justice, marginalized populations, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and climate action. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for four nonprofit organizations with a mission in health, music, and culture.

Christie Marcella

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

COO, Connect

Christie Marcella is COO of Connect, a non-profit serving San Diego for over 30 years to grow and support the region’s innovation ecosystem. She is a passionate practitioner of inclusive economic development, being a first-generation Filipina-American herself. Prior to joining Connect she was executive director of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation as well as the economic development manager for the City of Carlsbad. Christie has a love for transportation and its role in supporting thriving communities. She holds her Master’s in Urban Planning and always looks at the intersection of physical and social systems to improve quality of life equitably and sustainably. She enjoys cooking, traveling (particularly to Spain) and spending time with family. 

Jeanie Y. Chang, LMFT

Pronouns: She/Her

Your Change Provider, PLLC® & Noona’s Noonchi, LLC

Jeanie Chang is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Founder of Your Change Provider, PLLC®, an interdisciplinary practice founded on solutions and her unique framework Cultural Confidence®. Jeanie is a bestselling author on Amazon and an accomplished international speaker for corporations, community organizations, and colleges on topics such as burnout, resilience, mindfulness, stress, and mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Jeanie is also an executive coach, DEIB advisor, and mental health expert for media outlets around the world. In addition, she is a McKinsey & Company external faculty member. Lastly, Jeanie is a global social media influencer known as Noona’s Noonchi where she deep dives into Korean Dramas from a mental health perspective. 

Jeanie founded the Cultural Confidence® program which she created to provide psycho-education in all sectors from corporate to schools. She has presented her trademarked curriculum for corporations such as Cisco, Eventbrite, Hallmark, J. Crew, Lenovo, Microsoft, Mondelez International, the NFL, PayPal, and Salesforce. She has also spearheaded her program for non-profits including the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), The Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), and the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP). Her first book, A is for Authentic: Not for Anxieties or for Straight A’s, hit #1 international bestseller on Amazon. 

Jeanie is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) with experience in grief and trauma. In addition, she holds specialized training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Jeanie followed a calling in mental health after a diverse career path. She ÿrst started as a broadcast journalist in Washington, DC, then went on to attend business school. Her work in the corporate sector includes business operations, marketing, public relations, and client success management.

Fabian J. De Rozario

Pronouns: He/Him

Global Talent Coach, Consultant & Trainer; NAAAP National Board of Directors 

Fabian De Rozario is a business and community leader who has led, coached, and trained thousands of people globally. After 18 years in various leadership roles, Fabian started his training & development firm, GlobalConnect in 2005. He also spent 14 years as a contract consultant and master facilitator with Korn Ferry, a global talent and organizational consultancy. Fabian previously served in student services leadership, faculty instructor, and corporate trainer roles at Northern Illinois University and at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (where he served as the Director of the Donaghey Student Center).  From 1998 to 2006, Fabian was the Director of U.S. University Relations and the Director of Global Operations for the Golden Key International Honour Society headquartered in Atlanta.  With NAAAP, Fabian has served in several volunteer roles including NAAAP Atlanta Chapter President, National President & CEO (2013-2017), and currently serves as Vice Chair of NAAAP’s National Board of Directors. 

Fabian hails originally from Malaysia. He and his wife, Jesslyna, currently reside in Lawrenceville, GA. His acknowledgements include the Outstanding Asian American Leader Award from the U.S. Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce–Southeast Region, the President’s Award from the Georgia Society of Association Executives and Leadership Atlanta, Class of 2011.  

Fabian’s 30+ years of professional and volunteer experiences have equipped him to now coach and train people across the globe, allowing him to pursue his deep passion, which is developing capabilities in people and helping to foster an inclusive and productive work culture.

Alex Villafuerte

Pronouns: He/Him

Director of Communication and Community Engagement, City of San Diego District 6

Alex Villafuerte is the Director of Communication and Community Engagement for San Diego City Councilmember Kent Lee. Alex has 11 years of experience in marketing and communication strategy as well as five years in event and community organizing in both the Asian and Pacific Islander community and the LGBTQ community locally and internationally.

In 2018, he co-founded the San Diego Queer APIMEDA Coalition and in 2021, co-founded the San Diego API Coalition. Currently, he serves on the County of San Diego Leon L. Williams Human Relations Commission, the co-chair of the San Diego API Coalition, and a board member of the ABC 10News Community Advisory Board.

In his free time, Alex enjoys traveling, exploring San Diego’s food and beer scene, as well as staying active with yoga, rock climbing, hiking, and snowboarding.

Nancy Ly 

 Pronouns: She/Her

Mindset Coach & DEI Consultant at Be Free with Nancy Ly 

Nancy Ly is a Mindset Coach & Cross-Cultural Diversity Consultant. She works with growth-minded individuals to heal & elevate their mindsets in order to live and lead from a place of Wholeness, Authenticity, and Deep Alignment. As a Coach, she works with the subconscious mind and breathwork to heal generational trauma, remove limiting beliefs, and guide people on their journey toward Being, Becoming, Belonging & Breakthrough. As a Consultant, her work is focused on creating organizational change via corporate alignment, cultural competency, and whole-person leadership.

Nancy’s work is centered around holistic healing, community care, leadership and bridge-building. As someone who has struggled with her own journey of mental health, Nancy is passionate about reclaiming shame as part of the beauty and cultural identity of the AAPI diaspora & BIPOC community, and calling people toward greatness by loving all parts of themselves in order to share their gifts and legacy to the world.

Jason Paguio 

Pronouns: He/ Him

President & CEO, Asian Business Association San Diego

Jason Paguio is the President and CEO of the Asian Business Association San Diego and the Asian Business Association Foundation. Jason was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, the California Entrepreneurship & Economic Mobility Task Force, and by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to the City of San Diego Small Business Advisory Board and the Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group. As a recognized leader, Jason brings vision and expertise across a multiplicity of sectors, including development of minority-owned business; establishment and coordination of high-impact multi-agency collaborative efforts; advocacy for the state’s many diverse communities; and first-hand experience as a first-generation Filipino-American. 

Since leading the Asian Business Association organizations, Jason has grown them to their largest in more than 30 years, expanding their collective impact through community-based outreach and partnerships while more than tripling its office size to provide a free cultural co-working hub for local Asian and Pacific Islander nonprofits. In 2021, Jason helped to formally designate the Convoy District as the “Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District” in the City of San Diego.

In an historic effort, Jason partnered to establish the Strategic Alliance, comprised of San Diego’s three largest ethnic chambers of commerce: the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and Asian Business Association. As the Strategic Alliance, this trio of agencies operate as the Alliance Small Business Development Center (SBDC), focusing on delivering a comprehensive array of services to minority-owned small businesses. Focusing on economic equity for the region’s underserved communities, Jason led his organization through the recent pandemic by assisting thousands of minority-owned small businesses, helping them receive no-cost technical assistance and tens-of-millions of dollars in COVID-19 disaster relief capital.

Jason’s additional civic commitments include the Board of Directors, NTC Foundation – Arts District Liberty Station, LEAD San Diego, San Diego Community Housing Corporation. He is a resident of Coronado and serves on the City of Coronado Mobility Commission.

Jason was twice named “CEO of the Year” and “San Diego’s 500 Most Influential People” by the San Diego Business Journal, and received the Libby Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership by the The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.

Christie Sithiphone

 Pronouns: She/Her

Global Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Omnicom Public Relations

Christie is the Global Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Omnicom Public Relations Group and Omnicom Brand Consulting Group. In her role, she supports OPEN 2.0 to advance systemic equity across the organizations. Additionally, she develops and executes DE&I programming and learning opportunities and works to advance talent advocacy and recruitment strategies across the 24 diverse agencies.

Previously, Christie worked at CNN Digital as a manager on the Strategic Initiatives team, where she led initiatives focused on new hire onboarding, employee experience, and culture-building across the global organization. Before CNN Digital, she served as the director of programs & communications at Leadership Atlanta, one of the nation’s most outstanding community leadership programs. In this role, Christie developed and executed programming focused on equity and inclusion, and leadership development for high-potential professionals. She worked closely with program alumni, corporate sponsors, and nonprofit partners. Her previous experience also includes talent recruitment and talent management.

Outside of work, Christie is passionate about community service. In 2021, Christie was inducted into Outstanding Atlanta, the City’s premier honor for community involvement. In 2020, she founded The Collective for Community Empowerment, a coalition of six influential young professional organizations creating impact and building valuable alliances. These organizations include American Jewish Committee (AJC) Access, Emerging 100 of Atlanta (the young professionals auxiliary of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta), Hispanic Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE), Metro Atlanta Association of Professionals (MAAP, supporting the LGBTQ+ community), National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) – Atlanta, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals (ULGA-YP). Christie currently serves as the president for NAAAP Atlanta. She also serves on the boards of the Asian American Advocacy Fund and the ACLU of Georgia.

Christie is a proud daughter of Laotian refugees. She attended The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and received her Bachelor of Science in Communications. Her hometown is Nashville, TN.

Danny Kim, Ph.d

 Pronouns: He/ Him/ His

Sr. Director of People & Culture, Raindrop Agency

Dr. Danny Kim is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and the Sr. Director of People and Culture at a Raindrop Agency—a people-first organization. He is a faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, Gallup-Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and holds a certification in Diversity and Inclusion from eCornell. 

Danny Kim, PhD catalyzes individuals and organizations to perform at their best. 

Danny is a skilled facilitator who creates psychologically safe environments for individual thinking and group collaboration. Using the power of inquiry, he asks insightful questions at pivotal moments to help leaders gain clarity and take courageous action. As a coach, he supports leaders when the stakes are high and decisions are complex. As a storyteller and keynote speaker, Danny inspires movement and momentum.

Danny’s career in organizational development began in the non-profit sector providing leadership in the areas of recruitment, retention, and employee development for organizational effectiveness. As a career coach, he has conducted over 400 coaching conversations in career exploration and strengths-based leadership. Danny gained experience as an external consultant at an organizational consulting firm serving clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Currently, Danny is the Sr. Director of People and Culture at a Raindrop Agency—a people-first organization. His purpose is to champion the people at Raindrop at every level and supporting their development and growth. He is skilled at working with individuals and teams to create compelling experiences to help individuals and teams maximize their potential. He is a faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership and a Gallup-Certified Clifton Strengths coach.

Danny holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a Master of Divinity in Transformational Leadership. In 2020, he completed his doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and prides himself as a researcher and practitioner. His dissertation focused on emotional intelligence, problematic smartphone use and the future of a digital workforce.

Jane Hyun

 Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Global Leadership Strategist, Author and Founder of Hyun & Associates

Global Leadership Strategy and Executive Coaching


Often called an “interpreter,” Jane Hyun is the leading authority for leveraging culture and diversity to drive business growth and innovation. A trusted coach to global Fortune 500 companies, she is an internationally recognized expert in cross-cultural effectiveness, inclusive leadership, and Asian talent engagement. Her groundbreaking book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians ignited a dialog which has enabled her to help close the culture gap for Asian American professionals inside global companies. Over the past 20+ years, she has coached thousands of leaders to increase their agility in the workplace. Her work appears in CNN, CNBC, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Atlantic on the topics of Asian-American experience, leadership and diversity. Jane is the co-author of Flex: The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences, which examines the skill of switching between communication styles to leverage the power of diversity in teams. Her life’s mission is to help people flourish in their workplaces and in their communities. 

She is the recipient of the Marshall Goldsmith 50 Leading Global Coaches Award as the #1 Coach for Cultural Fluency and was recently named Global Gurus Top 30 Coaches in 2022. 

Chris Cate

 Pronouns: He/ Him

Founder, 3MC Strategies

Former City Councilmember

Chris is the founder of 3MC Strategies, a San Diego firm specializing in public policy, public affairs, and business development. Chris founded the firm following his 8 years of service on the San Diego City Council.

Chris Cate was elected to represent District 6 on the San Diego City Council in 2014, and proudly represented the neighborhoods of Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Miramar, Park Village, and Sorrento Valley. Chris was only the third Asian American in San Diego’s history elected to the City Council.

As Councilmember, Chris was lauded for his solution-oriented approach to public safety, the economy, infrastructure, and civic engagement. Chris championed legislation eliminating burdensome fees for small business owners, developed programs to reduce crime and human trafficking, address the housing shortage, and secured tens of millions of dollars for infrastructure projects throughout District 6. Chris also successfully spearheaded multiple ballot measure campaigns, including measures to address the shortage of quality childcare centers in the City and remove the height limit for the Midway Community.

Tuyen Nguyen

 Pronouns: She/Hers

Stop the Hate Manager, Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties

Tuyen spent years increasing the capacity of individuals and organizations through critical and collaborative work. She has over 10 years of experience developing and managing services in mental health, hospitality, the beauty industry, and higher education. She is excited to transition back to the work she is most passionate about, building power to impact social change. As a young person, her years of experience with hurricane Katrina relief in New Orleans and as a student leader shaped her lens of critical race in America and have driven her to learn, challenge, and grow to work in solidarity with diverse communities. During her tenure as a professional at UC Santa Barbara, she initiated innovative programs addressing food insecurity by creating successful partnerships and coalitions across the campus and state, leaving behind strong and robust teams to continue the work. Tuyen currently works as the Stop the Hate Manager to support grantees and community organizations to create long term change in the county.

Kim Desmond

Pronouns: She/Her

City of San Diego Chief of Race & Equity

Kim Desmond was born and raised in the Five Points neighborhood in Denver, Colorado where she graduated from Manual High School. Kim has over 15 years of experience in the non-profit, local, and quasi-government sector within the areas of diversity, inclusion, racial equity, and addressing systemic racism.

Kim holds multiple degrees, including a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Fort Hays State University, a Master’s in Community Counseling from Fort Hays State University, a Master’s in Education Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Denver, and an Early Childhood Leadership certification from the University of Denver.

She is currently the Chief of Race and Equity for the City of San Diego, leading the Office of Race and Equity for Mayor Todd Gloria. Prior to this appointment, Kim served as the Director and Interim Chief Equity Officer for Mayor Michael B. Hancock, overseeing the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation within the City and County of Denver.

Kim has an extensive background operationalizing racial equity into local government programs, budget allocations, and policies through building equitable outcomes with a targeted focus on eliminating systemic racism.

Kim’s areas of experience include:

· Policy and Operations: Improving policy, service delivery and equitable distribution of resources to ensure that priorities of equity are integrated in key programs, practices, and budget decisions.

· Implementation: Coordinating and developing city-wide Race and Equity offices through normalizing racial equity tools and social justice practices across two large local government systems comprised of over 11,000 employees.

· Learning and Development: Designing curriculum and facilitating training on racial equity and inclusion that contextualizes historic oppression, systemic racism, and implicit/explicit biases to guide departments on building equitable outcomes.

· Evaluation, Assessment and Process Improvement: Creating infrastructure and systems to evaluate equitable outcomes and integrate Racial Equity Tools.

Hobbies including: Playing basketball, traveling, spending time with family/friends and exploring San Diego beaches.

Michael Gonzales

 Pronouns: He/ Him

Principal, NE&E DEI Consulting/ NAAAP Board Member

Michael is the principal and owner of NE&E consulting and travels the country as a consultant to corporations and non-profits, he is a coach for executives and DE&I professionals. He is also a speaker, panelist, interviewer, and advisor on DE&I topics impacting business and workforce imperatives. As the former corporate leader of Hallmark’s DE&I department, he was responsible for Hallmark’s DE&I’s strategies and objectives, their internal and external collaborations, partnerships, and compliance. He was responsible for the execution of the DE&I’s priorities regarding, workforce, workplace, marketplace, and community. Michael was also responsible for the company’s seven Employee Resource Groups, (ERG’s).

He is a co-founder of the Diversity & Inclusion Consortium, a national organization of over 500 DE&I practitioners and advocates hailing from 39 states 67 cities including four international cities, Toronto, Canada; London, England, Hanoi, Vietnam and Mumbai, India. The Consortium was created when he saw a need for collaborative thought and problem solving. The main objective of the Consortium is to share best practice and to provide each other insights and support regarding DE&I opportunities and challenges in a safe environment.

Junann Lopez

 Pronouns: She/Her

Control Desk at Hallmark Cards/ President of NAAAP-KC

Junann retired from Hallmark Cards in 2020 after a 22 year career in Finance, returning to work at Hallmark in Finance at the Control Desk June of 2022. She became actively involved with the Employee Resource Group: Asian American Resource Community at Hallmark, serving in different leadership roles, including Board Chair. Currently she is President of the National Association of Asian American Professionals – Kansas City. The National Association of Asian American Professionals is a non-profit organization that cultivates and empowers Asian & Pacific Islander leaders through leadership development, professional networking, and community service. She has volunteered with various non-profits including: Special Olympics, United Way, Basehor-Linwood High School English/Drama department as a debate and forensics judge, and ARTKC Catalyst Project Grant Committee. A graduate of Baptist Bible College, with a BS in Elementary Education and she experienced life as part of the drama travelling troupe. She has 2 children, a daughter, Nicole, who is a therapist leaving in Lawrence, Kansas. Her son, Nick, who is a Marine Reservist, currently living in Ensanada, Mexico. She lives in Basehor with Jeff Rawlings her partner and her dog, Sasha and cat, King.

Craddock Stropes

Pronouns: She/Her

DEI National Committee Chair, International Association of Public Participation

Craddock Stropes (she/her) is a facilitator, coach and trainer with more than 25 years of experience in the local government and non-profit sectors. Her work centers on connecting people with ideas to create inclusive, strategic and tangible solutions that make everyday lives better. In her current role as a senior management analyst for the City of Carlsbad, she serves on the city’s inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) employee committee which was responsible for creating the first-ever City Council adopted DEI Work Plan. She is a licensed trainer with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and currently serves as chair of its national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. She is also an active member of the International Network of Asian Public Administrators, and on the organizing team for the SoCal Asian Pacific Islander Festival. In 2022 she was appointed to serve on the national DEI Committee for the American Public Works Association. She has presented learning sessions on inclusion, public engagement and crisis communications for Connect, California Association for Public Information Officers, Public Relations Society of America, American Public Works Association and Transforming Local Government conferences.

Mandy Sha
Research Scientist &
Speakers Bureau Director, NAAAP

Mandy directs NAAAP Speakers Bureau (NSB), the official system for engaging Asian speakers in North America.

As a research scientist, she transforms theory into practice in international speaking engagements and scientific publications.

Grounded in sociolinguistics and data science, her UWIN™ narrative framing method motivates groups, Gen Z professionals and youth, and people of color to incubate your strengths and make your gift shine online, on social media, and in cross-cultural communications.

Dennis Ngin
VP Digital Experience, Wpromote
Chief Data Officer, NAAAP

Dennis is the Vice President of Digital Experience for Wpromote, ranked by Forrester as the leading performance marketing agency helping brands excel online. He was previously the Chief Operating Officer of Visiture, an award winning 5x Inc 5000 eCommerce agency that was acquired by Wpromote. Dennis has also held roles at Accenture Strategy, Amazon, and an eCommerce startup.

As NAAAP’s CDO, Dennis is responsible for defining and executing a digital-first strategy for NAAAP and its regional chapters. His primary objective is to enable and support our leaders in executing our mission.

Dennis earned his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Bachelors degrees in Marketing and Political Science from the University of Florida. He resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and son.

Diksha Maurya

 Pronouns: She/Her

Co-Founder, Ethnik Blvd

Diksha Maurya is a cyber security and threat intelligence professional who collaborates with financial institutions to secure their digital environments and play first line of defense against cybercrime syndicates. She is an active member of InfraGard, a national organization formed as a partnership between the FBI and the private sector to secure the critical infrastructure of the United States. She is also an active contributor to SASE, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers and serves as the Chairwoman for NAAAP MN.

Outside of the digital arena, Maurya is the co-founder of Ethnik Blvd, a company based out of Los Angeles that promotes cross-cultural collaboration between artists, spotlights their unique narratives through performance, and facilitates authentic social connection to strengthen bonds between communities in Southern California.