Who's Who
Chris Chan

Chris Chan is currently serving as Special Assistant to Administrator Karen Mills of the US Small Business Administration (SBA). In this role, Chris works on a variety of projects for the Administrator, including the President’s Startup America Initiative, which helps high-growth entrepreneurs grow the next job engines of America. Chris’ portfolio also includes the SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities, a federal advisory council that provides SBA information on how to reach traditionally underserved communities, as well as liaison to the State Department on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In addition, he works with the White House Asian American Pacific Islander Initiative to promote SBA’s efforts in support of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Prior to working at the SBA, Chris worked for the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team in operations and AAPI outreach. In 2008, Chris served as scheduler to the CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee in Denver, where he managed all scheduling requests for the CEO as well as several priority projects. Chris has a B.A. in History and Political Science from American University and is a native of Massachusetts.

Shandon Phan

Shandon Phan is currently Director of Communications and Civic Engagement at BPSOS, Inc. and chairs the Organizing Committee of the inaugural National Summit of Vietnamese American Leaders.

Shandon is Founder and President of the Vietnamese American Republican Coalition (VARC). In that role, he oversees the Coalition’s formation and strategic development, devoting his time to building a national network of conservative candidates, leaders, and activists in the Asian Pacific American community and engaging new citizens to play active roles in America’s civic life.

Shandon has over ten years of political experience, starting out as a volunteer and later full-time staff with a gubernatorial campaign in Texas in 2002, and has worked on election campaigns at all levels across the country.

During the 2008 presidential election, while being a full-time law student, he was elected as delegate to the Republican National Convention, winning the second highest vote percentage (with 8,037 votes or 13.7% of total vote) to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District and later was appointed to serve as a delegation whip at the convention. As APA Coalitions National Co-Chair for the McCain-Palin campaign, he successfully built a national coalition of leaders and activists and served as a surrogate speaker for the RNC at college events and to international and national media. In 2009, he led the grassroots organizing efforts to mobilize Asian American voters in Northern Virginia to support Bob McDonnell for Governor campaign, contributing to his landslide victory over the well-funded and media-favored Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds. Several board members of VARC, who had no previous political experience prior to joining the organization, have been appointed to various boards and commissions and now play instrumental roles in ethnic outreach and party re-building efforts for the GOP in this battleground state.

Shandon graduated from Tulane University with a B.S.E. degree with honors in Computer Engineering and earned his J.D. from University of Baltimore School of Law. During law school, he was a Marine Corps JAG officer candidate and worked at the United States Attorney's Office of District of Columbia, United States Immigration Court, and United States Coast Guard's Office of the Judge Advocate General, as well as the International Republican Institute and the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, where he worked on religious freedom and civil society development initiatives in Asia. For his service, he was recognized with the Special Congressional Recognition Certificate from United States Congress for his "outstanding and invaluable service to the community" in the aftermath of the BP Oil Spill and the "Spirit of Excellence" Award from the United States Coast Guard's Office of the Judge Advocate General.

Shandon is a former AmeriCorps VISTA joining the service right after 9/11 events. Over the years, he has led key national community organizing and civic institution building efforts in the Vietnamese American community. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce (VietAmCham) and Director of the Vietnamese American Bar Association of the Greater Washington DC Area (VABA-DC). He is a frequent political commentator on various international and community media outlets, including weekly appearances on SBTN TV and Free Vietnam Radio.

An avid runner and reader in his free time, he has completed four Marine Corps marathons and is writing his first book on Vietnamese American history.

Bao Ngo


Working under the title of Vietnamese American designer, Bao is a professional jack-of-all-trades like Nathan Myhrvold, engaging in graphic and web design, writing, web programming, marketing, filmmaking, event management, research, and social entrepreneurship. Currently he is the co-founder and board member of the CayDa Foundation, an organization based in San Jose devoted to researching innovative ways to improve the Vietnamese American community. He, along with Tam Phan, co-founded Vietlicious, an online Vietnamese American apparel store.

He was formerly the Co-Executive Director of the Children Moon Festival of Northern California. He was a founding member of UVSA Northern California, a coalition of Vietnamese Student Associations, and served as its Arts Commissioner Chair (2008–2010). He served as Webmaster-Historian (2002–2003) of UCLA Vietnamese Student Union. He was the co-editor of the film Things I'll Never Say (2005) and co-producer of La Petite Salon (2009).

Motivated by the need to free himself from the office cubicle, he enjoys studying leadership theory and organizational studies, lifestyle design, and web technology. He also takes interest in post-classical science, and Vietnamese history and philosophy. His dream is to see his future daughter be married at a Vietnamese community center built along the beautiful coastline of California, headquarters of a future Lantern Moon Festival Society

Linda Akutagawa

Ms. Linda Akutagawa is the Senior Vice President for Resource and Business Development at Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), the only national, nonprofit organization focused on “growing leaders” of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. She received her B.S. in International Business with a minor in Economics from California State University at Los Angeles. Over her 19-year career at LEAP, Linda has dedicated herself to inspiring Asian and Pacific Islanders to aspire to leadership roles in all sectors of society and serve as role models for diverse leadership. In her leadership work, she consults with corporations such as IBM, ConocoPhillips, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Wells Fargo.

Ms. Akutagawa is a recognized expert on Asian employee network groups, helping to co-found the Corporate Asian American Employee Network (CAAEN) based in California’s Greater San Francisco Bay Area. She speaks and presents nationally and internationally on topics such as leadership, Asian cultural values and influences, employee resource groups, diversity, networking and personal branding to a range of audiences. Some of her clients include: BP America, Chubb and Sons, Cisco, Deloitte Consulting, Dial Corporation, Eli Lilly, ING, Kimberly Clark, Lockheed Martin, Macy’s, Merck, Merrill Lynch, Visa.

Additionally, Linda has contributed subject matter expertise to Diversity Inc., the Society of Human Resources Management Magazine, Monster.com and CNN.

Currently, Ms. Akutagawa is a participant in the National Urban Fellows America’s Leaders of Change class of 2010-2011 and was a member of Leadership America’s class of 2007. She is the Vice Chair of the Boat People SOS-Orange County Board of Directors, a member of the Board Directors of the Asian Women Leadership Network, and a Board member of Japanese American Community Services (JACS).


Ngoan Le

Ngoan Le is vice president of program for The Chicago Community Trust, providing strategic vision and oversight for all the Trust’s competitive grant making. Before being appointed to this position, Le was senior program officer for the Trust’s basic human needs program where she spearheaded the Immigrant Integration Initiative.

Her background in human services includes more than 10 years in leadership positions at the Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Department of Public Aid, in addition to serving as special assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley on homelessness. In May 2000, Le was appointed by former President Clinton to the President’s Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In 2005, she was named by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to co-chair his commission on immigrant integration. The many honors and awards for her work include recognition for “Outstanding Contributions to the U.S.,” given in 1991 by Jewel Lafontant-Mankarious, former U.S. Ambassador for Refugee Affairs, and selection as one of the “40 Under 40: Most Dynamic Civic and Business Leaders in Chicago” list by Crain’s Chicago Business. Le was recently appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to serve as co-chair of the Human Services Commission, which is charged with the responsibility of making recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly about providing high quality human services to Illinois citizens by 2011.

John Anner

EMW President John Anner has been with the East Meets West Foundation since February 2003. John sees his job as building EMW into a global leader in effective, catalytic solutions to development issues such as the lack of clean water and high infant mortality.

Prior to EMW, John was the founder and executive director of the Independent Press Association, a membership organization that provided technical assistance and business services to hundreds of independent and ethnic periodicals. The IPA was a highly entrepreneurial non-profit that generated most of its budget from earned income. Under John's leadership, the IPA either purchased or launched five businesses in five years. He started the organization with a $5,000 grant in 1996, and grew it to an operating budget of $3.5 million in 2002. He was also the President of BigTop Newsstand Services, an international magazine distribution company acquired by the IPA in 2000. John has also served as Publications Director at the Center for Third World Organizing from 1989 to 1997 where he founded, edited and published Third Force, a cross-cultural national magazine about community and labor politics in communities of color. Prior to that, he was Editor-in-Chief at Nicaraguan Perspectives magazine from 1986-1989.

John was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania, West Africa during 1983-1985. He also worked in Central America. He received a B.A. with Special Honors in Political Science from Tufts University in 1982, and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis in 1989. John lives in Albany, California with his wife and three daughters. He is a bicycle road racer and member of the Berkeley Bicycle Club.


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