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Fellows' Bios

Spring 1999 Fellows

Alexander Akhiezer

ALEXANDER AKHIEZER   is a partner at Hamilton, Brook, Smith & Reynolds, a prominent Boston intellectual property law firm

Alex was born in the Ukraine.

He studied physics at Kharkov University, Ukraine, and biochemistry at New York University.  In 1997, Alex began working on his doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in computational and biological chemistry in 2002.Alex received his JD at Suffolk School of Law

After graduating with summa cum laude from New York University, Alex worked at ImClone Systems, a New York City biotechnology company developing novel cancer therapeutics. During his doctorate, Alex worked on the development of novel immunosuppressive compounds to aid in organ transplantation at the Center for Cancer Research at MIT, and at the MIT Laboratory for Molecular Science, where his research project used novel mathematical tools for the optimization of lead compounds in commercial drug development. After completing his JD in 2007, he joined Hamilton, Brook, Smith & Reynolds as a patent attorney. He practices patent law in the areas of physics, and medicinal chemistry. 

Alex and his wife Liana live in Lexington, Massachusetts.


Supinda Bunyavanich

DR. SUPINDA BUNYAVANICH is a physician scientist on faculty at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Her research group focuses on the integrative genomics of asthma and allergic disorders. She teaches medical students and fellows in addition to taking care of patients with asthma and allergic disorders.

Supinda was born in the United States to parents who came from Thailand.

Supinda concentrated in environmental science and public policy at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She conducted her senior thesis fieldwork in Borneo, where, to test her hypothesis about regeneration of a major timber species, she constructed, installed, and operated cooling devices 150 feet up in the canopy. Supinda also organized and raised funds for two international student conferences in Asia, and directed a health service and advocacy program for Boston families.

As a Herchel Smith Harvard Fellow, Supinda earned a master's degree in environmental design at Cambridge University, UK. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and fellowship in Allergy & Immunology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She also earned an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. Supinda served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School before being recruited to Mount Sinai. She is a recipient of the Harvard Medical School Shore Award for Scholars in Medicine.


Nadine Burke

NADINE BURKE is currently Medical Director of the Bayview Child Health Center for California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is chairing a task force for the mayor's office to look at inner-city violence as a public health issue.

Nadine though born in Vancouver, British Columbia, spent the first four years of her life in Jamaica. She then settled with her family in Palo Alto, California.

Nadine earned her BA in integrative biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996. graduated from University of California at Davis Medical School in 2001, She completed a MPH degree at Harvard University in May 2002

At UC Berkeley Nadine developed and carried out a project to enhance communication and understanding between Berkeley's police and its at-risk youth. She was co-director of a medical student-run clinic that provides primary medical care on Saturday mornings to a predominantly minority community.

Nadine earned the Gabriel Smilkstein Award for outstanding contribution to the medically needy. She is the recipient of  a National Institute of Health research grant to support her studies. She co-authored an article in the Western Journal of Medicine addressing the need for ethnic parity in the health professions.  


Constance Chen


CONSTANCE CHEN is in private practice in New York City specializing in complex microsurgical breast reconstruction and the surgical treatment of lymphedema.

She was born in Columbus, Ohio to Taiwanese parents.

After receiving her BA in history from Harvard University, Constance went on to become one of the founding editors of Men's Journal. When she was 23, The New Press published her book, The Sex Side of Life: Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education. In 1997, she received her MPH in international health, development and epidemiology from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. In 2001 she received her MD from Stanford University School of Medicine, where she organized a highly politically sensitive collaborative project between Stanford University and Beijing Medical University School of Public Health to study orphans in China.

Constance completed her residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle; a clinical research fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; a plastic surgery fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City; and a microsurgery fellowship at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. She has published a plastic surgery textbook, serves on the Medical Advisory Committee of the National Lymphedema Network, and is often invited to lecture nationally and internationally.

Constance is married to Stephen Warren.


David Hernandez

DAVID HERNANDEZ founded his own company in 2008 - LUMI Industries in New York. 

David was born in the Bronx, to parents of Cuban and El Salvadoran backgrounds. 

David graduated from Polytechnic University in New York as valedictorian, receiving both a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and a master's degree in electrical engineering, followed two years later by a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

David has two patents as well as two publications resulting from his doctoral research in the field of wireless communications. As an engineer in the department of research and development at Symbol Technologies, Inc., he submitted five additional patents in the communications field, was responsible for all research prototype demonstrations given to visiting executives from other corporations, and served as Symbol's representative to a multi-corporation group, formed after 9/11, serving to develop more effective technology to battle skyscraper blazes.

David furthermore served three years as an adjunct professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Polytechnic University. He then joined the Technology Development Group at Northrop Grumman Corporation, where he was head of Space Sciences and Operations. David was also honored with an IEEE award from the Long Island chapter as outstanding young engineer, for his contributions to Homeland Security communications. David formerly worked as Director of Strategic Technology at Telephonics Corporation in Farmingdale, NY and as Director of Advanced Systems Engineering at Tactronics Corporation.

David launched his own company, LUMI Industries, Inc., involved in both consulting and product development, LUMI is working in the areas of industrial green energy (energy saving and monitoring devices) and advanced display technology. He has also been instructing students in the areas of project management and entrepreneurship at State University of New York, Stony Brook.

David and his wife live on Long Island, in NY with their daughter.


Renee Hsia

RENEE YUEN- JAN HSIA is on faculty in emergency medicine at University of California at San Francisco and is an attending in the emergency department at San Francisco General Hospital.

Renee was born in Huntsville, Alabama, to Chinese immigrant parents and grew up in Arlington, Texas.

Renee graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where she majored in public and international affairs. She attended Harvard Medical School for her medical degree, where she served as executive director of the Hepatitis B Initiative in Boston.  She then pursued a Master’s of Science degree in Health Policy, Planning, and Financing at the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and completed her residency in emergency medicine at Stanford University. 

During her undergraduate study, she spent five months working on education policy in South Africa and also stimulated an investigative report in a major newspaper regarding the local government's unwillingness to provide adequate transportation for mentally disabled children. 

Renee has worked extensively abroad, including Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan, Eritrea, China, Haiti, Honduras, and Mexico.  Renee speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, French, and Spanish fluently.  Her work has been published in numerous high-impact journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and Health Affairs, and has been cited and interviewed by the New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, ABC with Diane Sawyer, and National Public Radio.  

Renee's current research focuses on access to emergency care, especially for vulnerable populations; factors associated with closure of emergency services (both emergency departments and trauma centers); and how these closures affect patient outcomes.


Hsing-ay Hsu Kellogg


Since her stage debut at age 4, Chinese pianist Hsing-ay Hsu (“Sing-I Shoo”) has been performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and internationally in Asia and Europe.  Her thoughtful and passionate interpretations have won her international recognition, including the Juilliard William Petschek Debut Award, William Kapell International Piano Competition, Ima Hogg National Competition first-prize, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the Presidential Scholar of the Arts Award from President Clinton, among others.  She has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, NPR’s Performance Today, Chinese National Television, and Danish Public Radio.  Concerto highlights include the Baltimore, China National, Colorado, Houston, New Jersey, Pacific, and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras.  Solo recordings on Pacific Records and Albany Records have won critical acclaim.  A passionate chamber musician, Ms. Hsu recently co-founded a trio with CSO principals Yumi Hwang-Williams and  Silver Ainomae.

Always interested in innovative programming, she has produced multi-venue projects focused on a specific composer or theme.  Upcoming themes include a program of Chinese Piano Music for the Denver Art Museum, and The Russian Soul at CU-Boulder.   Born in Beijing, Hsu studied piano with her parents and uncle Fei-Ping Hsu, Herbert Stessin at Juilliard, and Claude Frank at Yale.  She is the Artistic Director for Pendulum New Music at CU-Boulder, piano faculty at Metro State College of Denver, artist teacher for DU Enrichment, and creator/teacher of Conscious ListeningÔmusic seminars.   Ms. Hsu is a Steinway Artist and resides in Colorado with her husband, composer Daniel Kellogg, and one daughter.  Concert/seminar info and media can be found at www.hsingayhsu.com.


Ron Huberman

RON HUBERMAN  is currently an Operating Executive with two Chicago based private equity firms, has founded two companies in the K12 market and serves on the corporate boards of Reliance Communications, Navman Wireless and Specialized Educations Services, Inc. 

Ron was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His career choice was shaped at the age of six when, newly arrived in Tennessee, he and his mother were victims of an armed robbery.

Ron received his BA in English and psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1994. Following Police Academy training, Ron served in the Chicago police and received the following awards: A Department Commendation, 24 Honorable Mentions, a Special Service Award for devotion to duty and professionalism during the 1996 Democratic National Convention. After three years of service as a beat officer, Ron received a dual master's degree at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration and Graduate School of Business in 2001. 

During the administration of Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley Ron served as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, the President and CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority, and the CEO/Superintendent of the Chicago Public School System.  Prior to these positions, he served as Executive Director for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications for Chicago.

Ron was featured on the front cover of the February 15, 2005 edition of CIO Magazine and named one of the 40 under 40 in Crain's Chicago Business. He also received the Gary Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum for providing innovation in policing. In 2009 Ron received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Chicago.  In 2009, the New York Times featured Ron's efforts to curtail student violence, (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/opinion/05thu2.html?_r=1).


Ravi Kamath

RAVI KAMATH works at Fairfax Radiological Consultants, PC, a subspecialty radiology practice in northern Virginia.

Ravi is the child of an Indian father and a Chinese mother. His hometown is Overland Park, Kansas. 

Ravi won numerous national awards in high school, including recognition as a Westinghouse Scholar and as a member of the USA Today All-USA Academic First Team. Ravi received an AB in biochemical sciences from Harvard College, where he worked on identifying causes of diabetes. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School, where he did research on genetic heart disease and produced his school's second-year show. He also completed a PhD in genetics at Cambridge University, where he studied functional genomics using the nematode C. elegans as a model system.

Ravi's research has been published widely, including in the journals Nature and Science, and has been reviewed by the lay press, including the New York Times and CNN. Ravi was a recipient of the 2003 Amersham Biosciences & Science Prize for Young Scientists, an international prize awarded for an 'outstanding original contribution to the field of molecular biology.' He also produced the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' 148th annual production  while at Harvard, a professional-caliber musical that played in Boston, New York, and Bermuda. 

After completing a residency in diagnostic radiology and subspecialty training in musculoskeletal radiology, both at Massachusetts General Hospital, he became an attending radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in radiology at Harvard Medical School. Ravi specializes in musculoskeletal imaging and intervention, which includes diagnostic imaging in trauma, sports medicine, and cancer as well as image-guided interventional procedures.

Ravi currently works at Fairfax Radiological Consultants PC; he has staff appointments at several area hospitals, teaches medical students and residents, and conducts research in collaboration with orthopedists and biotech companies.


Salmaan Keshavjee

SALMAAN KESHAVJEE is  is an associate professor in the Departments of Global Health and Social Medicine and of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

Salmaan was born in Nairobi, Kenya. His family, which immigrated to Canada, was part of the 19th century Indian migration to South Africa.

Salmaan graduated from Queens University in Canada, and subsequently attended Harvard University, where he earned a PhD in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies in 1998, an MA in Middle Eastern studies in 1995, and an MSc in tropical public health in 1993. He graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine in 2001

Salmaan spent a summer working in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research. His doctoral dissertation, which he completed while a first year medical student at Stanford University focused on the political economy of health and social change in post-Soviet Tajikistan.

Salmaan was an instructor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard University and an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He conducted research on health and social change in the Middle East and Central Asia as a fellow in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and was an associate at the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He worked on the clinical team of Partners in Health. Now, Salmaan is an assistant professor in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and is a physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Salmaan is married to Mercedes Becerra.


Tal Klement

TAL KLEMENT is a Deputy Public Defender in the San Francisco Public Defender's Office 

Tal was born in England with shortened arms and missing fingers on each hand. His family came to the United States when he was 14, and he went to high school in California.

Tal graduated with high honors from University of California at Berkeley with a BA in history in 1995. He received his law degree from Yale University and master's in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in 2001.

Tal organized and registered college students to vote on behalf of the Democratic Party in the 1992 presidential election, and he also worked as an aide to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. At University of California at Berkeley, Tal founded a summer program and fellowship for people with disabilities interested in public policy.  His thesis on the racial implications of Seattle Police Department's drug enforcement practices won the outstanding thesis award and was published. 


Fei-Fei Li

FEI-FEI LI is the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Vision Lab. She is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford. Her research areas are in machine learning, computer vision and cognitive and computational neuroscience, with an emphasis on Big Data analysis. Dr. Fei-Fei Li has published more than 100 scientific articles in top-tier journals and conferences, including Nature, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, CVPR, ICCV, NIPS, ECCV, IJCV, IEEE-PAMI, etc. Research from Fei-Fei's lab have been featured in New York Times, New Scientists and a number of popular press magazines and newspapers. Dr. Fei-Fei Li obtained her B.A. degree in physics from Princeton in 1999 with High Honors, and her PhD degree in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2005.  She joined Stanford in 2009 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2012. Prior to that, she was on faculty at Princeton University (2007-2009) and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2005-2006). Dr. Fei-Fei Li is a recipient of the 2014 IBM Faculty Fellow Award, 2011 Alfred Sloan Faculty Award, 2012 Yahoo Labs FREP award, 2009 NSF CAREER award, the 2006 Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship and a number of Google Research awards.

Fei-Fei was born in Beijing, China. She lived in Chengdu, China until she was 15, when her family immigrated to the US.


Daniel Lu

DR. DANIEL LU is Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at UCLA and is a member of the Comprehensive Spine Center in Santa Monica.  

Daniel was born in Taiwan. At the age of 10, he came with his family to the Los Angeles area.

In 1996 Daniel received his BA from Dartmouth College with distinction and with high honors in biochemistry and molecular biology.  He earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and an MD from the University of California at San Diego in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

At Dartmouth College, Daniel organized conferences on AIDS, organized student outreach programs to assist families affected by AIDS, played first violin in the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, and was assistant concertmaster of the Dartmouth Pro Musica. In 2000 he received a research scholar award from the Alzheimer's Association and presented his findings at the World Congress in Washington, DC.

Daniel  completed a neurosurgery residency at University of California, San Francisco and rotated through pediatric neurosurgery at Children's Oakland Hospital. He  is also first author on two publications, one in the Annals of Neurology and the other in the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Dr. Lu's clinical focus is on minimally invasive techniques in the surgical management of degenerative, traumatic, and neoplastic spinal disorders.  His research efforts are focused on the molecular biology and regenerative treatment of traumatic spinal cord and brain injury.


Zarina Maiwandi

ZARINA MAIWANDI teaches, writes, edits, and travels the world.

Zarina was born in Kabul, Afghanistan just before the chaotic Soviet occupation. When she was eight, her family fled to Pakistan and subsequently received political asylum in the United States.

At New York University, Zarina graduated summa cum laude in literature and politics, and she was a commencement speaker and recipient of the university medal for all-around excellence. Zarina also completed a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.  

During summers Zarina interned for the Bureau of Human Rights at the State Department and on Capitol Hill. She worked to promote universal human rights for women in Muslim societies and Afghan refugees in particular. Upon graduation, she lived in Japan, teaching English at a secondary school. 

Zarina's home is New York City.


Katherine Nahapetian

KATE NAHAPETIAN currently is working as the Government Affairs Director for the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington, DC. 

Kate was born to Armenian parents in Tehran, Iran. Her family received asylum in the United States following the 1978 Iranian revolution.

Kate graduated magna cum laude from American University in 1994 and received a JD from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. She received a Konrad Adenauer Foundation Fellowship to pursue graduate studies in Germany

Katherine has worked on asylum and migration issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the German Council on Foreign Policy in Berlin. She was also a legislative correspondent for Senator Joseph Biden. During her law studies, Katherine documented cases of torture in Chile for the prosecution against General Augusto Pinochet and wrote training manuals for a human rights organization in the Gaza Strip.

Kate is the author of two published articles: 'Confronting State Complicity in International Law' in the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs and 'Selective Justice: Prosecuting Rape in the International Criminal Tribunals of the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda' in the Berkeley Women's Law Journal. She also worked as an attorney with the Community Relations Service of the US Department of Justice, which mediates ethnic and racial conflicts. 

Kate and her husband Stefan have two sons.


Thuy Nguyen

THUY THI NGUYEN serves as General Counsel for the Peralta Community College District, in Alameda County, California. 

Thuy and her family fled as boat people from Vietnam, and drifted aimlessly in a rickety boat in the Pacific Ocean for about twenty-five days.  A Japanese ship finally rescued her family and took them to a refugee camp in Japan.  Arriving in America, her family first lived in Wichita, Kansas, and later in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Her family ultimately settled in Oakland, California.  A refugee, Thuy grew up in poor, minority communities and her parents still speak limited English. 

Thuy attended Yale where she earned a BA in Philosophy, and UCLA School of Law where she received her JD degree in 2000 and was in the law school’s inaugural class of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. 

Thuy co-published a book entitled, “25 Vietnamese Americans in 25 Years,” chronicling the first twenty-five years of Vietnamese people in America since the Fall of Saigon.  She has taught education law for three years at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay).  Thuy serves on the California State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness where she is leading an initiative to include community colleges in the diversity pipeline.  She also currently serves on the board of Marcus A. Foster Education Fund, which supports Oakland public school students and families; Emerge California, which trains Democratic women to run for public office; Vietnamese American Professional Women of Silicon Valley; and California Network of Asian Public Administrators. 

In 2002, Thuy was listed among “30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30” nationally by Rainmaker Political Group (politicalcircus.com).  In 2007, she was named one of eighteen “Best Lawyers Under 40” in the country by the National Asian American Bar Association.  Thuy received the 2011 Trailblazer Award from the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California, and in 2012, received the Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition of the Greater Bay Area.  She has been featured in the New York Times (Millennium Issue), San Francisco Examiner, USA Today, L.A. Times, Daily Journal, AsianWeek, Nha Magazine, and other media outlets.  


Thomas Ort

THOMAS ORT is an assistant professor of Eastern European history at Queens College, New York. 

Thomas was born in New York City shortly after his parents immigrated from Czechoslovakia.

Thomas holds a PhD from New York University in modern European intellectual and cultural history. Thomas is a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior.

Following graduation from Brown University, he spent 18 months in East-Central Europe during which he worked as a consultant for the Anti-Defamation League, writing reports on the resurgence of far-right political extremism and anti-Semitism. Thomas subsequently worked for the Open Society Institute and the Open Media Research Institute. He is the author of several articles on politics and culture in East-Central Europe and a recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the Czech Republic and a 2003-2004 Prize Teaching Fellowship at New York University, as a visiting scholar at the Center for European Studies at New York University.

Thomas taught for four years as an assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University at Raleigh. Thomas's article, "Art and Life in Avant-Garde Prague, 1920-1924", was published in the April 2010 edition of Modern Intellectual History.

Currently, Thomas teaches history at CUNY at Queens College. He was awarded an ALCS fellowship to complete his book manuscript.

Thomas and his wife Mandana have two children.


Paola Prestini

PAOLA PRESTINI is a composer.

Paola was born in Trento, Italy, and moved to the Nogales, Arizona in 1978.

At the Juilliard School, Paola received a BM and a MM, under the tutalage of Robert Beaser, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Samuel Adler.

Paola is the co-director and founder of the nonprofit arts organization, VisionIntoArt (VIA), a multi-media arts group in New York City. VIA strives to fuse cultural voices across borders, bestow civic responsibility on its makers, address issues of globalization, and incorporate genres of art that are not traditionally performed. VIA performs regularly at the The Clark Studio Theater at the Lincoln Center Institute, Chelsea Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, and has toured to North Carolina and Dallas.

Paola received the 2003 Woman's Commissioning Project from the Monumental Brass Quintet, an award at the Whitaker Competition & Immigrant Voices Series, and a 2002 ASCAP Morton Gould Composers Award. Her most recent film was presented in Neo Noir, on CNN Worldbeat and on CNN.com. It won best short film at the 2002 Austin Film Festival. Paola was featured in a composition residency at Dickinson College, followed by a residency at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. Paola's 2010/2011 season includes a premiere with the New York City Opera on the VOX series and a new commission that will open the Wilson Theater at Juilliard School. She curated the FERUS festival at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. At present, Paola is at work on an article for the New York Times and finishing her opera.

Paola and her partner Jeffrey live in New York and they have a son.


Naheed Rehman Abbasi

NAHEED REHMAN ABBASI works at the Summit Medical Group in New Jersey, specialising in dermatology. 

Naheed was born and raised in New York City.

Naheed earned her BA degree magna cum laude in history of science from Harvard University. Naheed earned master's degrees in public health, health sciences, and international studies while at University of California at Berkeley, and her thesis research on the social impacts of microcredit in Pakistan was honored with University of California at Berkeley's Scholarship from the Field award in 2001. She completed the MD/PhD program at University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco

Naheed received her MD degree in December 2004 and completed a residency in dermatology at New York University. She has previously worked for Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the US State Department, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Naheed has also written a case study based on this masters research, which was published by International Health and was the first author on an article published in 2004 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Naheed is married to Faisal Abbasi, they have two children together and live in New York where she practices dermatology.


Julissa Reynoso

JULISSA REYNOSO is currently serving as the US ambassador to Uruguay

Julissa was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the South Bronx in 1982.

Julissa graduated from Harvard University with a degree in government and then obtained a master's in philosophy from the Cambridge University. Having completed her JD at Columbia University, she served as a law clerk in the Southern District of New York.

Julissa has done extensive work in the areas of development and human rights, working for organizations like the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program, the Saguaro Seminar on Social Capital at Harvard University, the Inter-American Development Bank, Columbia University's Human Rights Program, the Center for the Study of Violence at the University of Sao Paulo and the African-American Policy Forum.

Julissa is co-founder of Dominicans 2000, Inc., a civic organization based out of New York which focuses on empowering the Dominican community in the United States. She served on the planning board of the Dominican Women's Caucus, Project Enterprise, the African-American Policy Forum and New Yorkers Say No to War. She was a 2002 recepient of the Union Square Award for innovative approaches to community building.

Julissa was an associate in the litigation department at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP and a fellow at Columbia University School of Law. She ran an immigration law clinic in upper Manhattan in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society, Columbia University and Alianza Dominicana. Her article entitled "Putting Out Fires Before They Start: Organizing and Collaborative Governance" was published in the Journal of Law and Inequality.

Prior to her current role as ambassador, Julissa was also the Deputy Special Envoy to Latin America for the Department of State, in this position she was responsible for the US State Department's work in Haiti.


Patricia Sanchez

PATRICIA SANCHEZ is a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Her appointment is in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Division at the College of Education & Human Development.

The daughter of immigrants from rural Chihuahua, Mexico, she was born in El Paso, Texas. Her father first entered the United States as a bracero under the Guest Worker program.

Patricia graduated from Rice University, She completed a master's degree in Latin American studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 1999 and collaborated in the making of a research documentary on Tejano farm workers. She received her PhD in social and cultural studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she helped found the Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research and designed innovative literacy workshops for immigrant families. She was the 2nd Place Winner in an annual National Association for Bilingual Education Outstanding Dissertation Competition.

Patricia has taught second grade bilingual education in Houston and helped found a grassroots charter school for underserved middle-school students while in Houston.  Her co-authored book, Recuerdo mis raices y vivo mis tradiciones/Remembering My Roots and Living My Traditions, won a 2005 American Educational Studies Association Critic's Choice Award.

At UT-San Antonio, Patricia was elected to serve as the Chair of the Department's doctoral program in Culture, Literacy and Language (2011-12). She was also awarded her department's teaching award for tenured faculty. In 2011 Patricia co-authored three book chapters on bilingual education as well as an article on immigrants and technology. She was awarded a three-year tri-national research grant on Mexican immigration and NAFTA (she will be a co-principal investigation, working with colleagues in Canada, the United States & Mexico). Find out more at: http://20yl.blogspot.com/p/investigacion-research.html

Patricia lives in San Antonio with her partner and two children.


Jinesh Shah

JINESH SHAH is a member of the faculty of Radiatoin Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center where he specializes in brain and spine tumors that require radiotherapy

Jinesh was born in Queens, New York to parents who were immigrants from India.

Jinesh graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a double concentration in biology and psychology and a certificate in mind/brain/behavior studies. Jinesh received his MD from Columbia University in 2002 and completed his residency in radiation oncology at Columbia University.

Jinesh's laboratory achievements in cognitive neuroscience helped earn him a place on the 1998 USA Today All-Academic Team. He also organized forums on denial of health care to the indigent, coordinated a program that provided tutors for inner-city children, and published an article on sources of racial differences in performance on intelligence tests for Harvard University's Journal of Undergraduate Studies.  

In addition to clinical duties while completing his MD, Jinesh conducted research on optimizing planning techniques for the performance of brachytherapy seed implants for the treatment of prostate cancer. He presented his research at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Prostate Cancer Symposium and at the 2005 national meeting of the American Society for Theraputic Radiology and Oncology.

Jinesh is married to Jaswinder Legha. 


Grace Suh

DR. GRACE SUH  is currently a hematology and radiation oncology fellow at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

Grace was born in Seoul, Korea. She immigrated to the United States when she was nine. Her father, a Christian minister, worked for the Korean-American community while attending several American universities. Her mother supported the family, at times working three shifts.

Grace graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 2003, did a residency in internal medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she was active in the literature and medicine writer's workshop.

Grace's sense of liberation at being able to attend Yale University was crushed her freshman year when she was hit by a car. She took a leave of absence from Yale University to undergo surgery and rehabilitation for her injuries. Returning to Yale University, she wrote for the school paper and served on the President's Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment. She was awarded the Winston Towbridge Townsend Prize by the English department for a composition describing race relations in Chicago. During her year at Oxford University, she undertook a research project in biochemistry and volunteered at a hospital.

Grace received the American Association for Cancer Research-Amgen Clinical/Translational Fellowship. In July 2010, Grace joined the Gynecologic Medical Oncology Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Grace and her husband Wei Lin have a son.


Thomas Sy

THOMAS SY is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at University of California at Riverside. 

Thomas was born at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, of ethnic Chinese parents. To escape retaliation as a result of his family's involvement with the US military during the Vietnam War, they immigrated to the United States.

Enlisting in the US Army on his 17th birthday, Thomas won awards as a distinguished honor graduate of the Primary Leadership Development Course, the Special Forces (Green Berets), and the Egyptian Arabic Language Course. He then graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Riverside and finished his Ph.D. in organizational psychology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

At University of California at Riverside, he was a senior counselor at a home for troubled adolescents. Thomas was previously a management consultant.His current research, teaching, and consulting centers on leadership, emotions in the workplace, and Asian managers. Thomas has two lead-author publications in press, one in the Journal of Management Development and the other in the Journal of Applied Psychology. He also serves as an advisor to the Asian American Professional Network.

Thomas is married to Susan Rogala.


Yer Thao

YER THAO  is currently an associate professor at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University

Dr. Thao was born the youngest of seven children. From the time he was a baby his father served in the Royal Laos army, which had close ties to the CIA. He fled with his mother and siblings after theCommunists began a genocidal campaign against the Mong/Hmong and eventually settled in Northern California. Members of a pre-literate mountain tribal culture, none had any formal education.

Dr. Thao gained admission to Humboldt State University, receiving his BA and his elementary teaching credential. He received his MA in education from California State University Monterey Bay and Ph.D. in education in July 2002 from Claremont Graduate University. He was very involved in community and youth violence prevention activities in Eureka City schools. He received several awards for his work.

Dr. Thao was the first peace prize maker recipient in Humboldt County, California.  He had numerous articles and a book publications. His book was selected to be the outstanding academic title by Choice Magazine in 2009. Dr. Thao has completed his research 5 year study of an after school program in Portland that aims to teach Mong language and culture to children in the Portland area. He is working on another research about bilingual and bicultural identity.

Dr. Thao is living with his wife Vilay S. Thao and children in Beaverton, Oregon.


Igor Timofeyev

IGOR TIMOFEYEV is the Director of Immigration Policy and Special Advisor for Refugee and Asylum Affairs at Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC. 

Igor was born in Moscow, Russia and came to the United States at the age of 16. While in Moscow, he was involved in the early pro-democracy movements.

Igor graduated summa cum laude from Williams College, with a major in history. He subsequently spent two years at Oxford University in England, receiving the MPhil degree in Russian and East European studies. A reworked part of his master's thesis appears as a chapter in an edited volume on the demise of Marxism-Leninism in the USSR. Igor graduated from Yale Law School in 2001, where he was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal and a co-director of the Forum on the Practice of International Law. He clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the US Supreme Court, and for Judge Theodore Meron, the president of the International Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Igor was an  associate at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in Washington, DC and later was appointed as Special Advisor for Refugee and Asylum Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. He also worked as an attorney at Paul Hastings in Washington, DC, where he specializes in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, as well as international arbitration.


Rafael Vargas

RAFAEL VARGAS is practicing radiology in Springfield, IL

Rafael was born in Morelia, Mexico, as the penultimate of nine children, and two years before his family immigrated to California. His family lives in Hughson, California. 

Rafael worked to pay his way through University of California at Davis, earning a BS in biological sciences. Following graduation, Rafael spent a year substitute teaching Californian students from minority backgrounds, whom he inspired to set high academic and career goals. In 1998, he began training at Stanford University School of Medicine. 

As a medical student, Rafael was co-president of the Stanford Raza Medical Association, co-coordinator of the Stanford Minority Medical Alliance, a member of the Minority and Disadvantaged Admissions Panel, and member of the medical student a capella group "Palpitations." Rafael was awarded a Stanford University Public Service Medical Scholars Fellowship, an American Academy of Dermatology Minority Mentorship and Research Fellowship, and an American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry James Comer Fellowship. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Southern Illinois University. 


Rajesh Vedanthan

RAJESH VEDANTHAN an Assistant Professor for the Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center

Rajesh was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. His parents both came to Fort Collins, Colorado, from South India.

Rajesh studied chemistry and economics at Swarthmore College, where he received a BA with distinction and the Ivy Award for outstanding scholarship, character, and service. He was selected as a British Marshall Scholar to study at Oxford University, where he earned a second BA with a 1st class in human sciences. In 1997, Rajesh enrolled in the Joint Medical Program at the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses of University of California, receiving his MS and MPH from University of California at Berkeley in 2000 and his MD from University of California at San Francisco in 2002.

During medical school, Rajesh was actively involved in a community health project in South India, Swasthya, which earned him a Henrik L. Blum Award for Distinguished Social Action. Rajesh has worked to improve the physical diagnosis instruction for 3rd year medical students and coordinated a course titled Teaching How to Teach for graduating 4th year students. 

Rajesh completed his residency at Brigham & Womens Hospital in Boston and went on to work as a Visiting Professor at Indiana University and Moi University Faculty of Health Sciences in Eldoret, Kenya. Rajesh finished a cardiology fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.


Heela Yang Tsuzuki

HEELA YANG runs a consulting company called Perfect Fifth, LLC, located between South Carolina and Brazil. 

Heela was born in Seoul, Korea. Her father, a prominent politician, was blacklisted as a result of his non-cooperation with the military regime. He left for the United States in 1981, and the rest of the family followed a year later.

Heela graduated magna cum laude with concentrations in economics and East Asian studies from Harvard College and then obtained a master's degree in East Asian studies from Yale University. She also holds an MBA from Harvard/

Following a challenging year working on her father's campaign for the Korean National Assembly, Heela redirected her attention to the private sector. After spending two years with the corporate finance department at Goldman Sachs in New York, Heela attended Harvard Business School where she graduated in 2001. She then worked for Clinique Laboratories Inc. as Director of Global Marketing before starting her own consulting company, Perfect Fifth LLC.

Heela's parents have returned to Korea but Heela makes her home in Greenville, SC with her husband Seiji Tsuzuki and son.


Deborah Yeh Chong

DEBORAH YEH CHONG   is a vitreoretinal fellow at Texas Retina Associates. 

Deborah was born in Chicago. Her parents fled China for Taiwan soon after the Communist revolution, and then immigrated to the United States. Her family now lives in Plano, Texas.

Deborah graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude in biochemical sciences. she graduated from Harvard Medical School in 2004 and was an opthalmology resident at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI

In college, Deborah served as a supervisor for a student-run homeless shelter and enjoyed playing and teaching violin and piano. Then finished a year at National Institute of Health as an NIH-Howard Hughes Research Scholar studying insulin resistance. 

Deborah's  publications include research articles in American Journal of Opthamology and Ocular Immunmology and Inflammation. Recently, she was invited to speak at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Dallas Chapter.