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Ascend Inspiring Across Generations

Courageous Conversations: Empowering Voices Across Generations


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Romin Bahk

Accounting & Reporting Advisory (Audit & Assurance) Senior / VP Programs

Deloitte / Ascend NorCal

Romin loves to equip, empower, and educate others to become the best version of themselves. He is particularly passionate about the AANHPI communities and has extensive experience in leading movements and growing platforms, from local initiatives to national conferences. Romin currently works with entrepreneurs to build a better tomorrow and is also on the leadership team for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Deloitte. He has been an executive, leader, and speaker in various sectors, including: education, consulting, entertainment, beauty, tech, and non-profit.

Romin Bahk
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Dr. Katherine Eng

Licensed Psychologist

Summit Center

Dr. Katherine Eng is a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of experience in therapy and psychological assessment. She currently provides comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations at Summit Center in Walnut Creek, California, and was previously a Senior Clinical Associate and Director of Assessment at Frugé Psychological Associates and Director of Training at Ann Martin Center.

Dr. Eng trained and worked in Asian-focused sites on both the East (Boston Medical Center and South Cove Medical Center) and West Coast (Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc.; Sunset Mental Health; and Chinatown Child Development Center).  She received her PhD from the California School of Professional Psychology with an emphasis in Multicultural and Community Psychology. Attuned to the impact of culture, Dr. Eng has presented on psychological aspects of AAPI identity at conferences and grand rounds and provides bilingual/ bicultural consultations. In her free time, Dr. Eng enjoys spending time with her children outdoors, exercising, and volunteering.

Dr. Katherine Eng
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Tim Hird

Executive Vice President, Enterprise Optimization

Robert Half & Protiviti

Tim Hird is executive vice president of enterprise optimization for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm, and Protiviti, a global consulting firm and Robert Half subsidiary. In his role, Hird enhances combined Robert Half-Protiviti solution offerings to help businesses create functions and processes, address performance issues, and drive improvement.


Hird most recently served as executive director of the management resources practice, beginning in 2012. He joined Robert Half in 2000 as an account executive for our management resources practice and helped launch the division’s London office. He quickly assumed leadership roles to expand the business throughout the UK, European and Asia-Pacific regions. In 2007, he relocated to Singapore and directed operations for multiple Robert Half business units in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. He is now based out of the company’s headquarters in California.

Hird is a noted speaker, author and commentator on issues impacting finance and accounting professionals, such as career and workplace management, employment trends, regulatory reform, and employee mobility.

Tim Hird
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Jia Jiang

Chief Executive Officer

Rejection Therapy

Jia Jiang is a top resilience keynote speaker with one of the most viewed TED Talks, bestselling author of Rejection Proof, and the 2019 winner of Toastmasters International Golden Gavel award. Jiang is famous for doing 100 Days of Rejection, which became the basis of his Amazon bestselling book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. In his book, website, and talks, Jiang provides inspiration and knowledge for people and organizations to become fearless through rejection training.

Jia Jiang
Gene Kim
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Gene Kim

Director of Permanent Placement Services

Robert Half

Gene Kim is a Senior Vice President with Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. In his role, Gene manages the company’s finance and accounting permanent placement practice teams in the East Bay market of the San Francisco Bay Area. Gene joined Robert Half in 2003 and has won multiple awards for his work. During his time with the company, he has placed hundreds of accounting and finance professionals in full-time roles at companies of all sizes. Prior to joining Robert Half, Gene worked in consulting for a public accounting firm and as a senior financial analyst at a large technology company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UC Berkeley. Gene is the VP of Corporate Relations for Ascend NorCal. Gene and his wife Maritza reside in the East Bay with their two boys, aged 20 and 17.

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Sora Lee

Product Marketing & Strategy Leader

Ex Meta and Netflix

Sora Lee is a product marketing & strategy leader with experience in driving product roadmap, GTM, growth, monetization, partner engagement, ad tech, performance/brand/product marketing, across early to late-stage startups to world’s most admired brands (Netflix, FB Watch, FB Live, WhatsApp). Her core background and passion lie at the intersection of entertainment and technology, enabling creators and businesses to thrive and delighting customers.

Sora is an entrepreneurial leader who’s passionate about leveraging customer insights and cross-functional relationships to deliver innovative yet pragmatic solutions optimally poised to drive business outcomes, and building culture and strength-based teams, from mentoring the underprivileged, to developing and empowering individual contributors and people managers on my team, to leading org-wide talent growth and diversity & inclusion initiatives.

Sora Lee
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Youngwon Lee



Youngwon Lee is the Founder and CEO of Dokkaebier. He brought his Asian-inspired creation Dokkaebier to fruition in 2020, with a mission of bringing innovation and much-needed diversity to the craft beer scene.

Prior to Dokkaebier, Youngwon has accumulated more than a decade of operations, finance and sales experience in the food and beverage industry in both South Korean and US markets. He has launched and distributed brands like Stolichnaya, Patron, Armand de Brignac, Agwa, and Bernini as well as opened Magnum the Tasting Room (Shinsa-dong) and Bottle Shop (Cheongdam-dong) in Seoul. Youngwon also helped to launch The Booth Brewing in the US and spearheaded their growth in California.

Youngwon enjoys giving back to the community. With Dokkaebier, he has collaborated with several SF Bay Area NPOs for donation campaigns, volunteer endeavors and meal delivery initiatives

Youngwon Lee
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Hoa My Nguyen


RAMS - Adult Outpatient 

Hoa My Nguyen, LCSW (she/they) is a dedicated psychotherapist whose career is guided by her unwavering commitment to empathy, compassion, and inclusivity. She is located in the Bay Area, CA; working in both community mental health clinic and private practice. With a strong belief in the transformative power of human connection, she has made it her mission to support individuals as they navigate their mental health needs. In her therapeutic practice, Hoa My creates a safe and nonjudgmental space for her clients, prioritizing cultural competence and social justice. Outside of the therapy room, she is a dedicated green thumb, maintaining her vegetable garden and a wide collection of indoor plants, which she calls her urban jungle. Caring for plants and cultivating her own food help to shape her understanding of people, who also require a conducive environment and basic needs met in order to grow and to thrive.

Hoa My Nguyen
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Carina Ruiz

Silicon Valley Managing Partner


Carina is the Silicon Valley Managing Partner and leads Advisory’s Telecom, Media and Entertainment Sector in the US. She has 25 years of experience in treasury strategy & design, finance, banking, and consulting. She leads large-scale treasury transformation initiatives that have enabled clients to restructure their treasury organizations and realize transactional and structural benefits.

She has advised clients of all sizes – from $1b unicorns to over $100b clients in the design, structure, and implementation of their respective treasury groups. This includes modeling the business case for streamlining initiatives as well as determining end-to-end process flows to support efficient structures. She has reorganized treasury groups with global coverage and implemented these in the Americas, Europe, and Asia with consideration for the impact of the model to tax, legal, accounts payable, IT and accounting.

Carina has led multiple divestitures in the TMT space requiring the re-design and implementation of the treasury functions of the split businesses. This required the stand-up of over 600 bank accounts across 60 jurisdictions, covering all the facets of the treasury organization, including enablement of payments capabilities ranging from checks, ACHs, to wire transfers. The engagements included the development of a strategic expansion of treasury’s responsibilities, a gap analysis of current resources to end-state requirements, an assessment of treasury system options to support the end-state design, and the end-state process flows to outline transactional and data movements across various stakeholders.

Prior to joining Deloitte & Touche LLP, Ms. Ruiz held various positions in a global financial services institution. She has served in a regional financial control capacity in Asia as well as a brokered products trader in Manila, Philippines. She is a licensed CPA in California.

Carina Ruiz
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Faye Sahai

Partner / Chapter Advisor

Telosity by Vinaj Ventures / Ascend NorCal

Faye Sahai is currently Partner at Telosity by Vinaj Ventures, investing in digital wellness and behavioral health startups with the touching the lives of millions.  Prior, she has 25+ year experience in healthcare, financial institutions, and insurance innovation and investment executive at Kaiser Permanente, Schwab, AIG, Blue Shield and Deloitte Consulting and founded 3 of her own startups.

She has served an Advisor and Board member to over a dozen companies including Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, UCSF Catalyst, ANA Innovation Advisory, Samsung Emerging Technology Advisory, Innovation Executive Forum, Summer Search, Autonomous ID,  &Ascend Leadership NorCal Chair.


Faye has been recognized by Insurance Business Hot 100 and Elite Women in Insurance Business America, Tech for Good Women in Tech, Ascend Leadership Award, Computer World’s Top Premier IT Leaders, Stevie Awards Women helping Women, Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Kaiser Permanente Asian Community and Innovation Enterprise Best Ideation Award.

Faye Sahai
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Doua Thor

Vice President, Strategy and Influence 

Sobrato Philanthropies

Doua Thor is currently the Vice President, Strategy and Influence at Sobrato Philanthropies. Prior to this Doua was the Director of the English Learner Program. In her current role, she manages many of the foundation’s cross organizational programming and oversees the EL Program as well as the Family Initiatives and New Opportunities work.

Previously, she served as an advisor to the Asian American and Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Fund and most recently was a political appointee in the Obama Administration as the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from Wayne State University. Doua and her family were resettled in Detroit and are among the many thousands of Hmong refugees who were resettled in the United States after supporting and fighting alongside the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

Doua Thor
Kayoko Yokohama

Dr. Kayoko Yokoyama


The Wright Institute

Kayoko Yokoyama, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice serving a wide spectrum of individuals including women, immigrants, and people of color through a strength and evidence-based approach with consideration of sociopolitical dynamics, systemic oppression, and collective trauma.

She is currently an Adjunct Faculty at The Wright Institute (Berkeley, CA) and former Professor of Clinical Psychology at JFK University. She enjoys mentoring and teaching her doctoral students and her areas of interest include feminist considerations in therapy, Asian American resiliencies, and anti-racism and social justice training.


Through Tsuru for Solidarity, a Japanese American social justice advocacy group, she facilitates Healing Circles to address intergenerational trauma.  She also serves as Facilitator and Consultant for Team Level Partners where she provides leadership on DEI workshops and dialogues in the private and public sector.  She brings her bicultural, international, and feminist perspectives to her professional work and maintains a regular yoga practice.

Dr. Kayoko Yokohama
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Nancy Yuen

Sr. Director of SOX Governance and Financial Data Mgmt

SoFi Technologies

Nancy Yuen is currently the Sr. Director of SOX Governance and Financial Data Mgmt at SoFi Technologies. Previously, Ms. Yuen was at Google Inc., leading the Revenue Accounting Internal Controls and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance for Ads Finance, Engineering & Applications, YouTube and Alphabet Payment operations. Ms. Yuen held additional roles at The Clorox Company, RGP and KPMG LLP in the areas of audit, accounting, privacy compliance and SOX.

Ms. Yuen is an adjunct professor of Advanced Accounting, Audit & Ethics and Accounting Information Systems to the graduate students at Saint Mary’s College. Ms. Yuen is the Governor and Academic Advisor at the Institute of Internal Audit (IIA), serving on the local chapter’s Board from 2016-present and is an active member with the AICPA, CalCPA and ISACA. Ms. Yuen received a Bachelor of Science degree in Neurobiology from the University of California, Davis and Masters of Accounting from Saint Mary’s College. Ms. Yuen holds an active CPA license (California) and is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). Outside of Accounting and Audit, Ms. Yuen is a violinist in an orchestra and ensemble within Northern California.

Nancy Yuen

Gloria Zhu



Gloria Zhu
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