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College Leadership Track | Featured Speakers

Come join college students from all around the country for a two day jam-packed leadership conference! Heighten your leadership skills through personal and professional development, experience OCA’s renowned APIA U Leadership training, and hear from amazing speakers within the Asian Pacific American community. You won’t want to miss this FREE event with FREE food.

Cultural Intelligence

Gerry Fernandez is Founder and President of The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA).Fernandez is MFHA’s chief visionary and thought leader on multicultural strategies, Cultural Intelligence and talent development practices.


Fernandez founded MFHA in 1996 while employed as national account manager at Minneapolis-based General Mills, Inc. He began his research and development career with General Mills in 1992. Before joining General Mills, Fernandez spent more than 10 years as a senior manager for restaurant company RARE Hospitality, Inc, (now owned by Darden), which known for such fine-dining concepts as The Capital Grille, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar, and The Old Grist Mill Tavern.


Fernandez is currently a trustee of Johnson & Walles University, a member of the board of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and a founding member of the Reseaerch Chef Association. He is a life member of the NAACP and an active member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum.


Fernandez received the General Mills’ "Champion’s Award” in 1997. He was the first recipient of MFHA’s Ernest Henry Royal "Pioneer Award,” a recipient of Nation’s Restaurant News’ "Innovator of the Year” award, and was named a "Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality magazine in 1988.


He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Foodservice Management and Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. In addition, he holds and honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University.

The Call to Mobilize

Elizabeth R. OuYang is president of OCA-New York chapter. Under her leadership, OCA-NY led the fight for justice for Private Danny Chen, a 19 year old American soldier who died in Afghanistan after being racially taunted and hazed by his superiors and secured a governor’s pardon for Qing Wu, a lawful permanent resident facing removal from the U.S. because of an old and minor teenage criminal record.  Her article, "Can Military Courts Deliver Justice to A Subordinate Hazed by Superiors?” was recently published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Asian American Policy Review Journal, a publication of Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


 Ms. OuYang supervises OCA-NY’s Hate Crimes Prevention Art Project, now in its 7th year.  Ms. OuYang teaches a comparative constitutional course at New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, where she also teaches a course, "Post 9-11 Immigration Policies Impact on Immigrant Communities.” 


In 2000, Ms. OuYang was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as special assistant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  Ms. OuYang received the 2010 "Ambassador Award” from Mayor Michael Bloomberg  for her leadership on behalf of Asian Americans in New York City and "Outstanding Teaching Award” from New York University.  Ms. OuYang has been a civil rights attorney for the past 26 years. Her areas of expertise include combating hate crimes, voting rights, media accountability, and immigration.


Minh Nguyen is the founder and executive director of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO), a youth-led community-based organization dedicated to youth organizing and youth empowerment.


As a second generation Vietnamese American, born and raised as in New Orleans, Minh has dedicated his life to giving voice to the Asian American community in the Gulf Coast region. His long-term advocacy and organizing efforts have invigorated the political energy of the Vietnamese youth in New Orleans to unite, fight, and protect their communities from government-inflicted environmental injustices, such as negligible flood protections planning, water contamination, and the conversion of their largely African American and Vietnamese American community into a toxic dumpsite. His collaboration with youth organizers in education has blocked English-only policy initiatives from passing in Terrebonne Parish High School. Through his tenacious leadership, the first youth center in Village de l’Est opened in 2007, which currently serves as a hub for youth-focused leadership development and youth-led community organizing activities in this still under-resourced area of New Orleans. In 2008, Minh engaged college and high school students in electoral politics through his coordination of a voter mobilization drive that aimed to enfranchise the Vietnamese American vote in the critical November election cycle.


Minh graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a double major in management and marketing. His leadership as a student includes his services as the External Vice President of the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Association (UNAVSA) and the Executive Director of the UNAVSA Fourth Annual North American Vietnamese Student Conference.

Keeping Yourself In Check

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Rosie Abriam became the President/CEO for The Center for Asian Pacific American Women in 2008. "The Center” is a non-profit organization dedicated to building leadership capacity within our communities. Previously, her career spanned multiple disciplines across government and corporate entities. Her background is in Biology & Computer Science. She left the technical sector to provide opportunities for women and our communities. However, she periodically consults on "technical projects of interest”.

Rosie holds multiple patents in manufacturing, software and laser applications. These patents were developed while working for New Focus, Inc., a startup photonics company in Silicon Valley where she led multiple projects in the US, Europe, Asia and South America.  Her work focused on laser development and fiber sensing applications in the biomed, oil & gas and civil engineering sectors.

Prior to New Focus, Rosie worked in the Geophysical Division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) with Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability (ARAC), a national emergency response program. While at LLNL, she received multiple awards including the Distinguished Physics Award from the Director of the Lab. Rosie also teaches martial arts and is a Gura Fifth Degree of the Kamatuuran School of Kali. She is a 2002 Fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute (APAWLI) and a graduate of Leadership America 2007.  In 2009, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in America.

Color 10.2006.jpgLeslie Moe-Kaiser,Corporate Public Affairs, manages State Farm’s relationships with national Asian American Pacific Islander organizations.  She partners with leaders to help create safer, stronger, and better-educated communities through teen driver safety, youth and adult leadership training, financial education and professional development offerings.

Leslie’s previous responsibilities include training, communications and Asian American marketing.  She also planned and implemented Asian communications and cultural patterns programming.  Prior to State Farm, Leslie founded a consulting firm that developed strategies for Fortune 500 companies entering the China market, and developed relationships with Japanese financial institutions to facilitate East-West trade.  Her first career was in academia specializing in Asian Art History and Asian Philosophies.

Leslie serves on the Business Advisory Council of OCA, National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center, President’s Council of the Japanese American Citizens League, National Advisory Council of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, and is Board Co-Chair of The Center for Asian Pacific American Women.  She is a 2003 National Fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute, and listed in Who’s Who in the Humanities, 1992-93.  She is president of OSF St. Francis Medical Center Women’s Services Advisory Board, Peoria; past-president of OCA-Central Illinois, and served on the Illinois Valley Mental Health Association Board.

She holds a PhD in Educational Administration of Higher Education from Illinois State University.  Her MPh and MA are in Asian Art History from University of Kansas; her BBA in Accounting from University of Hawaii.  She did post-graduate studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. She holds the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation and is a USPTA certified tennis pro. She and her husband Greg have a son, Kurt, and daughter, Kristine.

James Kyson, Voted by TV Guide as "Hollywood’s 25 Hottest”. James recently finished Hawaii Five-O on CBS, and a 4-year run on NBC's Heroes as ‘Ando’. He will next be appearing in the new series Daybreak, from the producers of 24 & Touch (FOX), as well as the feature films PLUSH, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the Romantic Comedy DON’T KNOW YET, the Action thriller CRITICSIZED, & the Race Car driving film BORN to RACE 2. James currently recurs on the Political Series Chasing the Hill & will star in the new pilot Armed Response.


A native of NYC, James graduated from Bronx H.S. of Science, then went on to study communications & broadcasting at Boston University, and New England Institute of the Arts. After a stint in a hip-hop rap group in college, and trying out improv comedy, James moved to LA on a one-way ticket & a single suitcase, where he began his training in music, dance, and acting. His first ever Television audition landed him on CBS’s "J.A.G.”. Other TV credits include "CSI", NBC's "Las Vegas", "The West Wing", "Heist", ABC's "Threat Matrix", and FOX's "All About the Andersons". James has also starred in numerous feature films such as "Star Runners”, "Shutter”, "How to Make love to a Woman”, "White on Rice”, and the Rich Mullins bio-pic "Ragamuffin”.


James plays basketball for The Hollywood Knights, a charity celebrity team, and participated in Robbie Williams’ Soccer Aid for UNICEF, at Manchester United’s Old Trafford in England. An avid outdoorsman, James enjoys scuba diving, ultimate frisbee, and playing basketball for the Hollywood Knights, a charity celebrity team for USO. He is also an active member of the Global Green eco campaign & the Creative Coalition.

Anh Nguyen runs one of the most successful new State Farm Agencies in the Mid-Atlantic Region, she, owns and operates her office in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.  She opened her own location in August of 2009 after working with the company for a little over two years.  Within less than two years her office has achieved many company milestones such as being the number one life insurance producing new agencies in the nation and more recently recognized as one of the top performing 3% agencies in the entire State Farm Enterprise.  She continues to strive to set records to help promote the advancement of young minority agents within the company.

Aside from her business, she is involved in the community through philanthropy and volunteerism.  She enjoys leveraging her own business as well as her business connections to help give back to the community as much as she can.  She was elected as the External Vice President for the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Association (uNAVSA) in July, 2010.  Prior to that, she served as the External Vice President for the Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Association (MAuVSA, a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization and a region under uNAVSA.   Additionally, she is a board director and Membership Committee Chair of the Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce (VietAmCham) which aims to provide advocacy and development resources for 150,000 Vietnamese American businesses in the country. 

Anh finds the most joy in helping others reach their fullest potential; this includes her staff members, fellow agents, friends, family or any of the individuals she meets from different walks of life.  Her other interests include cooking, singing, flag football, and spending time with friends and family.

 Networking and Getting to Talking

Gregory Cendana was Born in Guam, raised in Sacramento and a graduate of UCLA. Gregory is excited to be in Washington, DC pursuing his life’s passion for serving others & making this world a better place for everyone. He is the first openly gay and youngest ever-Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO. Prior, he served as President of the United States Student Association (USSA) where he was the first openly gay Asian American to be elected.

Gregory has a wealth of experience having served or currently serving on the boards of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Queers United for Action-DC, Jobs with Justice, and the Generational Alliance. This year he was appointed by DC Mayor Vincent Gray to serve on the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Advisory Committee. In 2009, he started a DC business called Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Consulting, a firm dedicated to support youth of color and LGBT youth leaders and organizations. He is also the founder and co-captain for SOULcial Justice, a dance team of the District’s movers and shakers.

Angry Asian Man named Gregory one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 and the DC Spotlight called him the "Future of DC Politics.” He was awarded the Next Generation Award from Metro Weekly, which recognizes the accomplishments of LGBT activists, artists & leaders under the age of 30. The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum presented him with the inaugural Fierce Ally recognition in 2011 and Pride at Work gave Gregory a Celebrating Solidarity Award for his efforts to organize at the intersections of many communities and issues.

Gregory is also a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, the Management Center's Managing to Change the World, the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change, Training for Change’s Training of Trainers and Wellstone Action's Political Training Program. In his spare time, Gregory enjoys singing karaoke, choreographing dances and trying new cooking recipes. Be a part of his journey by following him on twitter at @GregoryCendana.

Rebecca Lee is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL), an educational nonprofit dedicated to building the pipeline of Asian Pacific American leadership in public service. In this capacity, Rebecca manages day-to-day operations, external relations, and year-round programming to create leadership and career development opportunities for emerging Asian Pacific American leaders. As her day job, Rebecca is part of the federal government’s Presidential Management Fellows Program, currently serving as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she is actively involved in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Prior to joining the government, Rebecca was a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton’s strategic health communications practice. She has spent time with the Asian & Pacific American Islander Health Forum and began her career at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Rebecca received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a master of public health degree from Columbia University. At Cornell, she led a diverse coalition to found the Asian & Asian-American Center, which has become a model student community center in the nation. Rebecca is a native of Silver Spring, Maryland and the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong and Burma.

APIA U: Leadership Training

In her tenth year working with APIA U, Dr. Connie Tingson-Gatuz serves as the Lead Facilitator. She is Vice President for Student Affairs and Mission Integration at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. Over the last seventeen years, Connie has worked in various Academic and Student Affairs areas. She has created dozens of APIA serving initiatives atMichigan State University and the University of Michigan and advised multiple Asian American student organizations. Connie has served as a consultant for nine years for the Gates Millenium Scholarship (GMS) Program, consulted with OCA on various APIA scholarships, served as theMidwest Association for Filipino Americans (MAFA) organizing committee Advisor, and served on the Board of Advisors for the Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU). In addition to authoring government and corporate grants to support college students, she co-authored a book chapter, Unwritten Rules: Organizational and Political Realities on the Job, for new Student Affairs professionals. Honored with the 2010 National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) API Knowledge Community Outstanding Mentor award, she continues to develop students and professionals in higher education. She earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University.

Nick Sakurai is an educator, consultant, and human rights advocate. Nick began as a facilitator with APIA U in 2004 and since then has trained new facilitators and created the Critical APIA Leadership Framework (CALF model) with Dr. Connie Rose Tingson-Gatuz and Nicholas Centino. Nick has worked as a college administrator and a national non-profit manager, and has been deeply involved in social justice work for over a decade. His speaking and training engagements have brought him to dozens of colleges, including Yale, Cornell, University of Michigan, NYU, and UCLA. Nick has been interviewed by CBS News, and quoted in the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, and many other media outlets. Nick’s work, studies, and family have led him to live or spend time in many world cities, including Madrid, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Mexico City, and Washington, D.C., and to a minor extent Chicago, Tokyo, and Sarajevo. Nick has an M.A. in International Training and Education from American University in Washington, D.C. and an International M.B.A. from the Instituto de Empresa (IE Business School) in Madrid, Spain. Nick received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his free time, Nick enjoys spending time with friends, learning, travel, food, cultural events, and film.

Ankita Rakhe is the Assistant Director in the Student Activities and Leadership at Stanford University, where she advises community service organizations, ethnic/cultural organizations, and campus publications. Previously, Ankita worked at Santa Clara University where she taught and re-developed the curriculum for a freshman leadership course based on the Social Change Model of Leadership. Ankita earned a BS in Child Development and a Spanish minor from Vanderbilt University (TN). She also earned a MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Ohio State University. Her professional interests include diversity and social justice training, leadership education, gender empowerment, and interfaith discussion and dialogue. Ankita is active in South Asians for Opportunity and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). 

Douglas Lee serves as the Assistant Director for the Asian American Center at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  He oversees the mentoring program, Asian American Heritage Week, and several initiatives to increase the visibility and involvement of the Asian American community on campus.  He also works with several multicultural efforts to empower and engage students of color on campus.

Prior to Northeastern, Douglas worked as a graduate assistant working with Asian Pacific American students in the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) office at the University of Maryland.  He also worked at NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education as a graduate assistant and the Office of Student Conduct.  After graduating from the University of Virginia, Douglas worked for four years at OCA helping to oversee the high school and college student programs.  He helped to provide structure to the APIA U Leadership 101 and OCA summer internship program as well as assisted in the maintenance of the OCA National Center and Convention.  He is also a proud OCA Summer Intern alum (Summer 2004) and APIA U Leadership 101 alum.

Douglas has a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland in Counseling and Personnel Services and wrote his thesis on the relationship between collective racial esteem and leadership self-efficacy among Asian American college students.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and minored in Asian Pacific American studies from the University of Virginia.   


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