BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jeni Burgess is the Principal Relationship Manager for the Southern California Business Banking Division at Wells Fargo. Jeni is responsible for acquiring, maintaining and expanding Wells Fargo’s business banking relationships with high value clients in this Division that serves more than 5,9000 customers. Her prior experience includes establishing Metal Products Co., where she managed finances and operations; and serving as director of the Bankers Small Business CDC, SBA loan officer at Pacific Commerce Bank, and as commercial loan officer and senior relationship manager at Wells Fargo. Jeni has received the Avante Garde Award from the California Local Economic Development Organizaion and has been named U.S. Small Business Administration Financial Advocate of the Year.
Robert Ito is CEO of Ito Girard & Associates, an urban infill real estate development and consulting company. With over 38 years in nonprofit leadership experience, Mr. Ito has become a leading name in the Asian community in San Diego. Along with Ito Girard & Associates he holds positions as Managing Member of Keylock LLC and KRMM Investments, LLC and has been previous CEO of Occupational Training Services, CEO of San Diego Community Housing Corporation, and Deputy Program Administrator for the San Diego Workforce Partnership. He has served extensively as a board member for numerous organizations and is currently a Board member of Second Chance, Grid Alternatives, Asian Business Association Foundation and is on the advisory boards of Pacific Arts Movement and the San Diego Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. His recognitions include the SDSU Monthly Award of Distinctions as Alumnus of the Year, College of Health and Human Services, along with San Diego City Council’s Proclamation of March 18, 2002 as Robert P. Ito Day. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the United States International University, his Master of Arts in Social Work from San Diego State University, and holds a certificate from Turner School of Construction Management as well as a certificate in Strategic Growth Planning for Entrepreneurs from San Diego State University’s Entrepreneurial Management Center.
Yen owns a consulting business, Yen Tu Consulting, focused on community outreach and special events. Yen’s previous positions include serving as the Community Relations Manager for Viejas, Executive Director for the Asian Business Association, United Way of San Diego County’s Senior Campaigner for the Asian Initiative, and legislative aid for two City of San Diego Council Members, and one County Supervisor. Yen has been active with many community organizations. Currently, her involvement includes serving as a board member of the San Diego County Water Authority. She is also a board member of the Asian Business Association, UPAC, Japan Societ of San Diego & Tijuana and serves on the President’s Diversity Council at SDSU. Yen Tu was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1966, and came to the United States as a refugee with her family in 1977. She is one of 10 children. A San Diego resident since 1978, she graduated from UCSD in 1990 with a BA degree.
Kent Lee was born and raised in Southern California. He’s a proud UC San Diego alumnus and also Pac Art’s new Executive Director! You may recognize him as he’s been involved with Pac Arts since 2010. Kent and his wife Phuong are avid travelers, as they rack up points and miles the way you might save stamps… or cards… or even money. Despite his travels, his favorite city will always be San Diego, where he volunteers on several boards and organizations including the Asian Business Association, International Deaf Education Advocacy & Leadership, Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group to the Mayor of San Diego, Mira Mesa Community Planning Group, and Alpha Phi Omega. On a typical evening, you might find Kent trying out a new recipe, relaxing over a glass of Scotch, or contemplating all of life’s great mysteries.
Gemma Blain is currently the Diversity Specialist for Becton Dickinson (BD) in which she oversees diversity outreach, employee resource groups, and Veteran recruitment. A native of San Diego’s Diamond District, she snuck away for several years to the SF Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley. After graduation she spent her early career fundraising for small to mid-size non-profits that were focused on the rich cultures that make up the diversity of California. She finally had enough of the fog, and came back to San Diego to be closer to family and the community that she holds dear to her heart. After working to end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at Center for Community Solutions, you may recognize Gemma as having been the former Membership and Operations Manager at ABA. She was recruited from ABA to bring her extensive knowledge of diverse communities and outreach to BD. She could not be kept away from ABA long, and is excited to come back and serve as a Board Member and continue to make an impact. Gemma has held a previous position as the Urban League Young Professional Events Co-Chair as well as a member of their Board of Directors. She also holds a Master’s Degree from National University in Public Administration with emphasis on Organizational Leadership. A recent new mom with a one-year old son and four awesome step-children, Gemma takes pride in being a military spouse to a recently retired Wounded Warrior Marine, MGySgt Ross Blain. She and her family enjoy spending quality time together via travel, trying new and not so new cuisine that celebrates their multi-cultural heritage (Asian and Caribbean), and catching the latest new flick!
Eddie Chen is the Branch Manager of U.S. Bank with more than 15 years of banking and managing experience. His responsibilities include analyzing all necessary personal and financial data, verifying credit standing, and reviewing loan decisions with clients. Prior to joining U.S. Bank, he held key management roles at Union Bank. His current and past community service includes his positions as Executive Director of the Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of San Diego Housing Corp., Board Member/Treasurer of Scripps/Mesa RSVP, and member of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.
Bruce Geier is the founder, President and CEO of Technology Integration Group (TIG), a leading supplier of value-added computing solutions. TIG is a certified - minority-owned business and holds several enterprise contracts with major NMSDC corporate members. Bruce Geier has been recognized on multiple occasions as one of today’s thought leaders in the computer technology industry, including receiving the VAR Business 500 Lifetime Achievement Award. Geier has been named the #10 Most Innovative Executive of the Year by Computer Reseller News (CRN) – among such industry leaders as HP CEO Mark Hurd, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Bruce Geier is a long time member of the San Diego Bowl Game Association Committee (Red Coats) that organizes and produces two major year-end college bowl games in San Diego—The Holiday Bowl and The Poinsettia Bowl. The Association strives to generate tourism, exposure, economic benefit and civic pride for San Diego and its citizens by presenting the nation’s most exciting and entertaining bowl games and festivals of events. Over 3 decades, these bowls have generated over one-half billion in economic activity for San Diego and the proceeds benefit local high school students with multiple scholarships to further their higher education. Geier received his BS in Computer Science (Cum Laude) and Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Utah
Louis Song is the founder and CEO of PROVEN, Inc., a staffing and consulting firm that specializes in Technology, Life Sciences and Finance/Accounting industries. Since its start in late 2007, PROVEN has grown to three locations in San Diego, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. as well as more than 100 employees. Louis has more than 20 years of professional experience ranging from Information Systems Analysis to Technology Recruiting to building and managing high performing sales teams and operations. Previously, Louis was the managing director for a national staffing company where he was the Managing Director for the San Diego office of more than 70 people generating $40M/year. Louis graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is active in local business and community organizations including ABA, NDIA, and Workforce Investment Board.
Kristina is Of Counsel at the San Diego-based law firm of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, where her practice focuses on international and cross border investment, trade, tax and corporate matters. Kristina has specific expertise in regulations regarding supply chain security, customs documentations, tariffs and duties, international trade agreements, including CTPAT; ISA; free trade zone matters; focused assessments; antidumping and countervailing duty investigations and administrative reviews; trade benefits; seizures; detentions; and notices of action. Kristina has represented clients before the Department of State, US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Customs and Border Protection.
Prior to joining SCMV, Kristina worked as general counsel for Samsung International, Inc. and Samsung Mexicana, S.A. de C.V, where she headed the legal departments in the US and Mexico, overseeing all legal affairs including international trade, business transactions and litigation. While at Samsung, Kristina also oversaw the Government, Public and Trade Relations Department, the Mexico Public Affairs Team and the Compliance Department, while serving as Chief Compliance Officer. Kristina has been active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Korean-Mexican Maquiladora Association, the National Chamber of Electronic and Telecommunication Industry and the Association of Mexico Manufacturers and Exportation Industry. She is also a member of South County EDC, San Diego Regional EDC and Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Kristina received her J.D. from the University of San Diego, School of Law and her B.A. from University of California, Santa Barbara. She is tri-lingual, fluent in English, Spanish and Korean.
Lawrence Chou is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Printivity LLC. As founder, Lawrence Chou grew Printivity from a self-funded, garage-based startup company into one of the largest online printing companies in the United States. Printivity has over 60 employees and operates production facilities in both San Diego, California and Lyndhurst, New Jersey. In 2018, Printivity received the Inc 5000 award for "Fastest Growing Companies in America" for the third time. In the crowded and shrinking print industry, Printivity's growth stands out due to their focus on customer service and technology solutions. Before starting Printivity, Lawrence Chou attended UCLA, majoring in Economics. He is a huge sports fan and enjoys strategy games such as Starcraft and Chess.
SUSAN DELOS SANTOS
Susan is currently the marketing director for the Filipino Press in San Diego.
Monica Medina's career in public media has spanned three decades and counting. She joined KPBS in 1995. As Director of Community Development & Engagement for the station, Monica is responsible for raising $1.5 million in grant funding, and oversees major outreach campaigns, such as the annual One Book, One San Diego project and KPBS Kids Workshops. In addition, Monica builds partnerships with organizations representing our region’s multicultural communities. She also works with the KPBS Major Gifts team to cultivate donors and to identify potential new donors from diverse communities. Last year, Monica helped launch the Community Heroes initiative, in partnership with the National Conflict Resolution Center. She and her team are also spearheading the national outreach campaign for SPLASH & BUBBLES, the acclaimed PBS Kids series from the Jim Henson Company. Monica currently serves on the California Diversity Council Board of Directors, and the San Diego Girl Scouts Urban Campout Planning Committee. She was honored with the prestigious National Center for Media Engagement Outreach Professional of the Year Award, and has a B.A. from Brandeis University and a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Maryland.
Ted Miyahara is the President and CEO of San Diego Community Housing Corporation (SDCHC), a nonprofit affordable housing development company based in San Diego. Ted oversees all operations of SDCHC including housing production, management and organizational activities. Prior to joining SDCHC, Ted was Vice President of Multifamily Housing Finance at the San Diego Housing Commission where he oversaw multifamily housing development lending activities, the issuance of multifamily housing revenue bonds, and asset management of the multifamily loan and bond portfolio. Ted also served as a project manager for two nonprofit affordable housing developers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County.
As a communications manager at Cox Communications, Sheila Garcia is responsible for the development and execution of organizational communication for the California region. Prior to joining Cox Communications in 2014, Sheila was a senior communications officer for the County of San Diego. She is an experienced communications professional with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCSD and SDSU and served on the board of the San Diego chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Sheila resides in Chula Vista with her husband and two sons.
Susie Friedman is the Business Relationship Manager for Chase in San Diego. She has over 5 years of experience at Chase and 24 years of experience in financial services and business development. She manages clients' depository accounts, cash management, and commercial lending needs; which includes working capital lines of credit, business acquisition, SBA and Conventional Real Estate Loans. Her goal at Chase is to understand clients' businesses in a way to allow unique insights and value, as well as provide a full array of banking solutions that a business may need to grow.
Alex Kim Yamashiro is a Vice President and Relationship Manager in Business Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with 15+ years of banking experience. Prior to his current role at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex was a Portfolio Manager in the Middle Market division at Bank of America and US Bank, where he excelled at analyzing financials and underwriting loans for companies headquartered in San Diego and nationally with revenues between $50 million - $2 billion. Prior to this, he served as both a Portfolio Manager and Relationship Manager at Comerica Bank, specializing in large regional and national commercial real estate developers. Originally from Michigan, Alex earned a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University and received his formal credit training with Comerica Bank. He currently sits on the Board of the La Jolla YMCA and resides in San Diego with his wife and three children whom he spends the majority of his free time with.
Clarissa Reyes Falcon is Principal Owner and Consultant of Falcon Strategies, a firm that provides government and community relations consulting to both public and private entities. Through her impressive network and relationships, as well as her extensive knowledge of local, state and regional issues, and coalition building, Clarissa has proven effective in navigating complicated government processes and sensitive public relations challenges on behalf of her clients.
In continuing her service to her community, Clarissa has served as a Commissioner on the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women appointed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and was appointed in 2018 by the Governor of California to the San Diego River Conservancy. Clarissa is past Chair of the South County Economic Development Council and continues to serve on their Executive Committee; and also sits on the boards of the UCSD Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board; South Bay Family YMCA; Circulate San Diego’s Executive Committee; and is part of the Energy and Water Committee at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, Clarissa was recognized by State Assemblymember and Assembly Appropriations Chair, Lorena Gonzalez as a Woman of the Year in the 80th Assembly District.
San Diego Native Elvin Lai is a fourth generation owner-operator of the 72 room Ocean Park Inn hotel in Pacific Beach since 2003. Elvin is not only passionate about his family and community, but also an active member of the hotel community serving as President of the San Diego County Hotel and Motel Association, Board Chair of the California Hotel and Lodging Association, and past board member of both the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, and of the San Diego Tourism Authority. Additionally, Elvin also serves and is a past President of the Pacific Beach Business Improvement District called Discover PB. As an entrepreneur with four different businesses in three different sectors, Elvin’s greatest passions are to build relationships, support the growth of our economy and tourism industry, and working to better our community for future generations. In addition to his hotel, Elvin refers to himself as a "serial entrepreneur" with many profitable exits and turn-arounds. He is currently working on HOTELbeat.com, Abnormal Company Beer and Wine, and a restaurant called The Cork and Craft @ Abnormal. He has also served on the San Diego Parking Advisory Board and the Mayor’s API Advisory Board. Elvin has a Bachelor in Biology and minor in Chemistry from the University of San Diego.
LeAnne Tan is an Employee Benefits Advisor with Benefit Pro Insurance. She has over 10 years’ experience in the health insurance industry. LeAnne’s natural passion was assisting clients directly, as she excels at simplifying and navigating the complex world of insurance and has consistently drawn high praise from those that she serves. She was raised in Singapore, is fluent in Mandarin, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Mass Communications, and enjoys volunteering her time with Serving Seniors since 2015. She has also served on various committees within the Asian Business Association over the last five years. In her personal life, she has raised two boys ages 15 and 18 and loves spending time with them.
Noe Castro is Player Development Manager at Sycuan Casino and Resort. He is an experienced executive with multi-cultural casino marketing and player development expertise and previously worked for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Stratosphere Hotel, Pechanga Resort and Casino, and Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
He is a graduate of San Diego State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business as well as a certificate in Community Economic Development.
Eric Le is CEO of 2 Brothers Construction and is an execution-driving project management professional with extensive experience in residential and commercial base building and interior construction of all types. Eric has extensive expertise in management of large scale projects with highly successful construction planning, development and operation management. Eric handles client coordination and contract administration, oversees projects and schedules, coordinate design and administer construction process. Eric is a Past Advisor of the Little Saigon Foundation, Past Co-Chair of the National Asian American Coalition and a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
As Executive Director of External Affairs for AT&T, Christine Moore is responsible for external government activity in San Diego and Imperial Counties. She Interfaces with local and regional governments on all business issues and advocates on public policy issues and builds local relationships with federal, state and local elected officials, grass roots and community stakeholders. Christine develops strategies for local government advocacy and ensures compliance with regulatory bodies and educates government and community stakeholders about corporate and industry issues and the impact on customers and the business. Even further, she monitors and analyzes proposed legislation for impact on the business and region, and work with appropriate internal groups to take strategic action. Christine serves on several local boards, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and is Past Chair of the Board of Directors for South County Economic Development Council, Past President of the Board of Director for Third Avenue Village Association - Chula Vista, and Member of the Marketing Advisory Committee for the Port of San Diego.
Vince Vasquez is the Director of Government Relations at the National University System, a non-profit institution based in La Jolla, and has served in this role since 2017. Vince has fifteen years of experience as a public policy analyst and researcher, and was previously the Senior Economist with the National University System Institute for Policy Research, a regional think tank, prior to his current role. He earned his Bachelors in Political Science from UC San Diego, and a Master in Public Administration. Vince earned a certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investments and Development from the University of San Diego, and is currently completing coursework towards a certificate in Legislative Studies at Georgetown University.
Vince is active in a number of civic initiatives and organizations in San Diego County, and is currently the Board Chair of the National University Academy - Dual Language Institute charter school in Vista. He is the co-founder of the UC San Diego Undergraduate Military Veteran Scholarship Fund, and the Convoy District Partnership, a non-profit organization advocating for the interests of business owners in the Convoy area. Vince is a graduate of the City of Carlsbad Citizens Academy, the San Diego County Water Authority's Citizens Water Academy, and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's Public Leadership Institute. Vince is a Carlsbad resident.
Pauline Ma is a Community Relations Advisor for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 company based in San Diego, California. Her industry experience includes over six years in the nexus of the energy utility and nonprofit sectors
She is currently responsible for managing SDG&E’s corporate philanthropy and nonprofit relationships in the areas of economic development; workforce development; and diversity and inclusion. Pauline also oversees systems operations and compliance of SDG&E’s grantmaking system.
Prior to joining SDG&E, Pauline held various positions at Encore Capital Group, which entailed tracking state and federal legislation related to consumer finance, as well as managing the company’s learning management system for regulatory compliance audits. Pauline was also a Program Manager at Cleantech San Diego, a nonprofit trade organization aimed to position San Diego as a global leader in the cleantech economy through advocacy and strategic private-public-academic collaborations.
As a San Diego native, Pauline has served her community as previous Chair of the Leaders 2020 steering committee, on the Office of Strengths and Vocations (OSV) Advisory Council at Point Loma Nazarene University, and on the Green Advisory Board of San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies. She has also been an Information Ambassador at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Pauline received her bachelor’s degree in Political Economy and Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
ABASD is part of the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network. The network serves entrepreneurs and small businesses with low to no-cost services to support business growth.
Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S Small Business Administration and Wells Fargo Foundation.
Funded in part through a Grant with the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.