CUNY Conference on
Asian American Leadership at CUNY
and in Higher Education
Date: Friday, May 6, 2016   Time: 9:30AM to 5PM

Place: CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, Concourse Level, Manhattan


Linda Akutagawa is President and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) where she is responsible for LEAP’s strategic direction, sustainability, relationships and collaborations. A beneficiary of LEAP’s leadership programming and a passionate social entrepreneur for over 20 years, Ms. Akutagawa has dedicated herself to continuing the cycle of leadership development and inspiring Asian and Pacific Islanders to aspire to leadership roles in all sectors of society. She is an appointed member of the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Diversity Task Force. Additionally, she is a member of the Southern California Edison Consumer Advisory Panel, a member of the Asian/Asian American Institute Advisory Board at California State University at Los Angeles, and a Board member of Japanese American Community Services (JACS), a community grantmaking organization. Linda received her B.S. in International Business with a minor in Economics from California State University at Los Angeles.


Wellington Z. Chen was appointed by Governor George Pataki in June 2000 as a member of the Board of The City University of New York, and was reappointed by the Governor in June 2005, and November 2010 to a term that ends June 2017. He is currently Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation.

Mr. Chen, a resident of Queens and a long-time community leader, graduated from the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at City College of New York/CUNY. He was the first Chinese American in Queens to serve on a community planning board, where he chaired the cultural affairs, housing, landmarks, planning and zoning committees and helped to bring about the revival of downtown Flushing. Mr. Chen was a Commissioner of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals which reviews zoning variances, special permits, and other land use appeals.

Mr. Chen is Chair of the Board’s Standing Committee on Academic Policy, Program, and Research, and holds membership of the Board’s Standing Committee on Facilities, Planning, and Management.


Hai-Ping Cheng is professor and chair of Biological Sciences at Lehman College/CUNY. Dr. Cheng received his PhD Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and his Postdoctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently a member of several committees at Lehman College, including most recently the presidential search committee and prioritization committee.

Dr. Cheng has previously been an adjunct professor at the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology at the Chinese Academia of Science and a lecturer at the Institute of Genetics at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.


Jean Lau Chin, EdD, ABPP is Professor at Adelphi University in New York. Dr. Chin is distinguished as an educator, administrator, clinician and scholar. She has held senior management positions as: Dean at two universities; as President of a consulting and clinical services firm; and Executive Director of a community health center and mental health clinic. Currently, her scholarship is on Global and Diverse Leadership which includes women’s issues and ethnic minority issues. Her most recent book is: Diversity and Leadership (2014). She is a Fulbright Specialist on Gender and Leadership Studies.

For many years, Dr. Chin has trained psychologists and health care professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems in community health care delivery systems and in academia. She has played a major role in the development of culturally competent training curricula and service delivery models for diverse populations. She has served in many leadership positions on national, state, and local boards. 

In 2016, Dr. Chin will be President, International Psychology (Division 52, APA) and Chair-Elect of the Council Leadership Team of the American Psychological Association, and a Council Representative of New York State Psychological Association. In these roles, she has promoted coalition building and advocacy to impact national policy on psychology, mental health and substance abuse, women's issues, and access to care and health disparities.


Rockwell (“Rocky”) Chin is a civil rights attorney and long-time Asian American activist. As a city planning graduate student, he became active in grassroots movements in Chinatown in New York and Los Angeles in the early 1970s. After many years in legal services, Rocky joined the staff of the New York City Commission on Human Rights in 1980s where he was involved in the City Commission’s litigation to open private clubs to women and to address discrimination against people with disabilities, immigrants, and gays and lesbians. He served at the City Commission for 17 years in several capacities at the City Commission: Supervising Attorney, Acting General Counsel and as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Community Relations at the City Commission under the administration of Mayor David N. Dinkins.

In 2007, Mr. Chin was appointed Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the New York State Division of Human Rights where he is today.

Mr. Chin has taught in preeminent universities and law schools, served as a Community Board member, ran for elected office, and helped found several organizations, including the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the Asian American Bar Association of New York (, and the Asian American Law Fund of New York. He was the Civil Rights Chair of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association ( for many years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Asian American Arts Alliance, Association of Asian American Yale Alumni, and the Asian American Law Fund of New York.

Mr. Chin holds a law degree from the University of Southern California (1974), a Masters Degree in City Planning from Yale University (1971), and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Lehigh University (1969).


Wayne Ho is the Chief Program and Policy Officer of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, a nearly 100-year-old organization where he oversees policy advocacy, member and faith based, and capacity building initiatives to advance economic opportunity for vulnerable New Yorkers. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, the nation's only pan-Asian children's advocacy organization. During his tenure, CACF collaborated with other organizations to successfully promote policies to improve language access, reduce bias-based harassment in schools, baseline funding for community-based child abuse prevention programs, and increase discretionary funding for the Asian Pacific American community. Wayne currently serves on the Board of Directors of Coro New York Leadership Center, New York Foundation, and Partnership for After School Education and is a member of several New York City and State advisory boards. He has also taught leadership and management courses at NYU and UC Berkeley.

Wayne has received awards from nonprofit organizations, government agencies, elected officials as well as AAARI, and in October 2014, City & State named Wayne one of its “40 Under 40 NYC Rising Stars.” He holds a BA from UC Berkeley and an MPP from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and he completed the New American Leaders Fellowship Program of the Coro New York Leadership Center and New York Immigration Coalition.


Belinda Huang is co-author of an American Council on Education monograph with Gailda Davis: Raising Voices, Lifting Leaders: Asian Pacific Islander American Leaders in Higher Education (2013). Her research focuses on faculty of color, campus climate, and pathways to senior leadership for women of color. Recently, she served as the executive director of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), headquartered in Washington, D.C, managing operations and developing and promoting national policies and programming that benefit the postdoctoral community and the scientific research community.

Dr. Huang has taught Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania and CSU East Bay, and was an affiliate faculty for the Educational Leadership program at Loyola University. Previously, as associate director for student affairs, she created and led an undergraduate student affairs program teaching leadership at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. As an organizational leadership consultant, she developed a leadership development program for Asian American college women, and presented it at 15 selective liberal arts and research institutions.

Dr. Huang holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, Education Policy from the University of Maryland, a Master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities from UC Berkeley.


Nelson Louis is Executive Officer of The Ong Family Foundation, a private family foundation that awards grants to not-for-profit agencies located in the northeast region of the United States. Established in 1997, The Ong Family Foundation has a broad range of philanthropic interests and principally seeks to fund programs that are comprehensive, community-based and preventive in nature, with special interest in agencies that service the Asian community. The scope of program areas funded include Social Services, Education, Medicine & Health Care and Arts & Culture. To date, The Ong Family Foundation has provided over $4.2 million in donations to over one hundred local and regional non-profit organizations, and works closely with grantees to build their organizational structure and grow their financial and human capital.

Prior to working for The Ong Family Foundation, Mr. Louis was employed with the YMCA for 37 years since his graduation with a B.A. degree in Education from Queens College/CUNY in 1977. His most recent position was President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Bergen County, and prior to that, served 26 years with the YMCA of Greater New York, beginning as a Youth Coordinator and eventually served as Executive Director at two branches. Mr. Louis was active in the YMCA movement, serving as founding member of the YUSA Asian Leadership Network and then as a delegate to the YUSA National Assembly in 2007 in the Mid Atlantic Region. He has twice been the recipient of the YMCA National AYP Award for Excellence.

Mr. Louis served on the National Advisory Committee of the Rebuilding Chinatown Initiative created after 9/11 to assist with rebuilding Manhattan’s Chinatown community. He has also served as Trustee for the YMCA of USA Fred Y. Hoshiyama Asian Leadership Scholarship Fund; Founding Member of YMCA of USA Asian Leadership Network Steering Committee; Trainer for the YMCA of USA Fiscal Stewardship for Organizational Leaders; and Coach for the YMCA of USA Multi-Cultural Executive Development Institute.


Ji-A Min is Head Data Scientist at, a software startup that aims to reduce biases in hiring. Ji-A's research on stereotypes of Asian Americans and their harassment in the workplace is published in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology and was featured in The Toronto Star and The Atlantic. She has a Master's in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Waterloo and is an Associate of the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology.


Joyce Moy is the Executive Director of the Asian American / Asian Research Institute. She was the first Asian American director of a NYS Small Business Development Center where she helped to secure $25 million in funding for small business. Her area of expertise is entrepreneurship and economic development. She has taught business law and taxation at Queens College, the CUNY School of Law, and at Cornell University School of Law. She is a former practicing attorney. Recently she developed a 45-hour curriculum to train financial counselors embedded in CBO’s, which has been adopted as a national model for replication nationwide by Cities for Financial Empowerment.


Madhulika S. Khandelwal is Director of the Asian/American Center and Associate Professor in Urban Studies Department at Queens College, City University of New York. She has taught Asian American Studies at a number of universities and has conducted research on contemporary Asian American communities.

Prof. Khandelwal’s main interests include immigrants, women, South Asian diaspora, Asian American communities, and multicultural issues in the United States. Dr. Khandelwal’s ethnographic research on South Asian immigrant communities in the New York area has been published in her book Becoming American, Being Indian: An Immigrant Community in New York City (Cornell University Press, 2002).

Born in India, Prof. Khandelwal was educated in both India and the United States and holds a Ph.D in History from Carnegie-Mellon University. Her academic career focuses on engaging diverse cultural and community issues and she has served on the boards of organizations such as National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC), the Association for Asian American Studies, and Citylore. She is widely recognized for her community-oriented research and has been honored by NYC Comptroller’s Office, Queens Women’s Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center, and community organizations such as Pragati, Nav Nirman, and SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action !).


Christopher M. Kwok is the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Coordinator at the U.S. Equal Employment Commission in the New York District office. Mr. Kwok oversees approximately 700 employment law mediations per year and manages mediators in the Newark, Buffalo and Boston offices. He has personally mediated over 1500 matters so far in his career. Mr. Kwok is active in the Labor & Employment field as a trainer, lecturer and writer. He was the founding Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Committee at the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY).

Mr. Kwok received his B.A from Cornell University with a major in Government and minor in Asian American studies. He earned his J.D. from UCLA Law School, where he was an Editor of the Asian American Pacific Islander Law Journal.


Sambhavi Lakshminarayanan is a Professor in the Department of Business Administration at Medgar Evers College/CUNY. She joined the department in 2002, and teaches courses in the areas of Business and Management, and has served as both chairperson and deputy chairperson of the department.

Dr. Lakshminarayanan has a PhD. from the School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas. Her research spans a range of areas and approaches, and she has published in several journals including Journal of the Operations Research Society, Discrete Applied Mathematics, Journal of Management Policy & Practice, Journal of Sustainable Development and Marketology.

Dr. Lakshminarayanan has also written and published cases, intended for classroom use, in The Case Journal and Journal of Critical Incidents. In addition, she has been member of several committees, such as College Wide Curriculum, Core Curriculum, Institutional Effectiveness, Academic Technology and Mentoring.


Russell C. Leong is the founding editor of the Asian American / Asian Research Institute's CUNY FORUM publication, and consulting senior editor for International Projects at UCLA. Leong is a past CUNY Thomas Tam Visiting Professor at Hunter College/CUNY, Spring 2011 & 2012-2013. During his 33-year tenure as an academic editor at UCLA, he edited the first books and journals on Asian Pacific media and film, on Asian American sexualities, on Asian Americans post 9/11, and on Asian American transcultural studies.

From 1977-2010, Leong was the editor of the foremost journal in Asian American Studies, Amerasia Journal, published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. There, he served as an adjunct full professor of English and Asian American Studies. His stories Phoenix Eyes (2000) and poetry Country of Dreams and Dust (1993) received an American Book Award and PEN Josephine Miles Award.


Kevin Nadal is one of the leading scholars on microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination toward people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people; women; and other marginalized groups. A graduate of Columbia University, he is an Associate Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice- CUNY, as well as the Executive Director of the CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of 6 books and 90 publications on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education. He has been featured in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, PBS, Fox News, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, HGTV, and others. He is the President of the Asian American Psychological Association and a co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network.


Santa J. Ono, PhD, President of the University of Cincinnati, is a highly accomplished researcher in eye disease and a member of several national and international honorific societies as well as a sought-after public speaker, frequent opinion leader on higher education issues, and a recognized trailblazer in the use of social media. Serving as UC’s president since August 2012, he has gained a reputation as a chief executive who is accessible and responsive to the university’s wide range of constituents, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, business, civic, arts and government.

Under his leadership, UC has achieved its largest enrollment in history at 44,251, breaking enrollment records for three consecutive years. Dr. Ono also has launched Creating Our Third Century, a sharpening of the university’s vision as it prepares for its bicentennial in 2019. His tenure has also been marked by increasing accolades for UC, among them its selection as the Public University of the Year by the Washington Center.

Since his appointment as the university’s 28th president, Dr. Ono has also brought greater diversity to the President’s Cabinet, appointed the university’s first full-time Chief Diversity Officer, increased investments in diversity and inclusion, and spearheaded a restructuring of the UC Foundation.

Widely recognized as a leader in the use of social media among higher education executives, President Ono was named the 2014 Twitter Madness National Champion in a communications study based on the 64 universities and colleges competing in the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament. Inside Higher Education has named him the university president that is "in" for 2015. He also was named the “top social CEO” in Greater Cincinnati in a study in 2013. Education Dive said that Dr. Ono “sets the standard for the digital age” in its listing of six university presidents to watch in 2014. On Twitter, he coined the term “#Hottest-CollegeinAmerica” to reflect the momentum and spirit he finds on UC’s campus, and the phrase now appears on T-shirts and other items.

Dr. Ono is UC’s first Asian American president and one of only a handful of Asian American university or college presidents in the United States. In December 2013, he was named by the Japanese government as an honorary consul of Japan for the state of Ohio.

Dr. Ono served two months as UC’s interim president before his appointment as president in October 2012. Prior to that, he served as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at UC, his role upon arriving at the university. As Provost, he led the development of an Academic Master Plan (AMP) aligned to the university’s strategic plan. Dr. Ono holds appointments as Professor of Pediatrics in UC’s College of Medicine and Professor of Biology in its McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ono's principal research interests focus on the immune system and eye disease and he maintains an active research lab.

Prior to UC, Dr. Ono served at Emory University as Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Deputy to the Provost and then Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Earlier in his career, he also served in a variety of teaching, research and administrative positions at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and the Schepens Eye Research Institute, University College London (UCL) and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

As a scholar and researcher, Dr. Ono has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Immunology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Immunology and the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Among his many honors and awards are the American Diabetes Association Career Development Award, the Investigator Award from the National Arthritis Foundation, the Brit Katz Award (Emory University), the Roche Laboratories Award for Excellence in Research, and the Pharmacia International Award in Allergy Research. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012, inducted as a member of the National Academy of Inventors in 2014 and inducted into the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars in 2015.

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Ono earned his PhD at McGill University and his BA at the University of Chicago.


Sigmund Shen holds a doctorate in English Literature from New York University and earned his bachelor's degree from Queens College. He is currently Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY and Chair of the LaGuardia chapter of the Professional Staff Congress. He has published essays about the original Gojira, the Final Fantasy film and game series, George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, and the politics of higher education funding.


Lily Tang is President and Co-founder of The Everest Project. She has 15 years of executive experience in the areas of diversity and executive leadership. A former CEO of an international holding company, associate professor, business journalist, and corporate strategy consultant, she has led global employee engagement assessments for Fortune 500 companies, including engagements specifically addressing development and retention challenges of women in high-potential and executive positions. She created a signature framework for coaching teams to execute on change and innovation. Lily was an advisor to the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Roundtable. She holds a doctorate in developmental psychology, an MBA in organizational development and is a certified executive leadership and systems coach. Lily is active in professional development efforts for women and people of color and serves on the national board of Ascend.


Arlene Torres is University Dean for Recruitment and Diversity in the Office of Human Resources Management at The City University of New York. She served as the Director of the Chancellor’s Latino Faculty Initiative in Academic Affairs at CUNY. She is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College. Dr. Torres is currently President of the Puerto Rican Studies Association. She received her PhD and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in cultural anthropology with expertise in Caribbean, Latina/Latino, and Latin American Studies.

Dr. Torres has conducted research in the Anglophone and Hispanic Caribbean and in the United States. Her scholarly interests include: African Diaspora; Puerto Rican and Latina/Latino Diaspora; Theories of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Nationalism; Ideology and Praxis; Migration and Transnationalism; Representation; and Class and Economic Development.

Prior to her arrival at CUNY, Dr. Torres served as Director of the Latina/Latino Studies Program at Illinois and as Associate Professor of Anthropology there. She also served as Assistant to the Dean at the Graduate College at Illinois, and as President of the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists, a section of the American Anthropological Association. In her varied roles, Dr. Torres has worked on the recruitment and retention of university faculty, graduate students, and administrators. She has held appointments and received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and Princeton University.

Her publications include two edited volumes with Norman E. Whitten, Jr., Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean (Indiana University Press). Her chapter, “Collecting Puerto Ricans," in Kevin Yelvington's (ed.) Afro-Atlantic Dialogues: Anthropology in the Diaspora (SAR Press), reflects one of Dr. Torres's recent intellectual concerns: the racialization of ethnic groups in museum settings. As a public intellectual, she has served as a member of the Advisory Board and consultant to a national project on race supported by the American Anthropological Association, National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation.


Kyoko M. Toyama, PhD is Associate Professor of Counseling at LaGuardia Community College of City University of New York, Long Island City, NY, where she has been teaching and counseling students in the College Discovery Program and providing training and supervision for graduate students in the field of Counseling Psychology for over twenty five years.  Dr. Toyama received a number of grants related to students’ retention and graduation. Her research interests include cross-cultural counseling, inter-racial/ethnic/faith families and children, and women's psychological development, particularly related to Asian women.  She is also a consultant to educational and mental health organizations in the U.S. and Japan. She received a MA and M.Ed. from Teachers College of Columbia University and PhD from New York University, both in Counseling Psychology. Kyoko is also a Japanese Taiko drummer and an instructor and she uses drumming as a therapeutic intervention for children and adults with special needs. 


Gloriana Waters has spent her entire professional life in higher education, both as a teacher and an administrator. She worked at Columbia University and at three colleges in the CUNY system prior to joining the University’s Central Office in 1994.

Appointed by CUNY Board of Trustees in December 2007 as Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Management, Ms. Waters is responsible for developing and implementing the policies and procedures the University’s human resources functions, which serve more than 37,000 employees system-wide.  Her Office also monitors and ensures compliance with federal, state and local employment laws, as well as the University’s rules, regulations and procedures regarding employment.

A passionate advocate of diversity and “inclusive excellence” in higher education, Ms. Waters holds membership in CUPA-HR, IPMA and SHRM, and has presented at those organizations’ local and national conferences.


Ron Woo is currently Board Chair of the Asian American / Asian Research Institute - CUNY and Senior Policy Associate at The City University of New York. For more than 35 years, Ron served in the NYC Department of Education where he became the first Asian American to serve as superintendent among other senior leadership positions. His main interests are in the education of language minority students, education policy and law, and teacher and education leadership preparation. He continues to advocate widely on policies affecting these areas.

Most recently, Ron was the recipient of the Advocacy Award jointly given by NYS Association for Bilingual Education and NYSTESOL in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Lau v. Nichols decision protecting the rights of language minority students. He has served on numerous boards serving Asian Americans, including the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, and the Organization of Chinese Americans-NYC Chapter.

Ron holds a JD from Brooklyn Law School, an MA in TESOL/Applied Linguistics from NYU, and a BA in Education from Brooklyn College.


Mitchel Wu is a program manager at The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), the nation’s only pan-Asian children’s advocacy organization, Mitchel manages education policy work as well as CACF’s city wide afterschool youth program ASAP (Asian American Student Advocacy Project) and parent POWER (Parents Organized for Equal Rights). Mitch works with NYC public school parents and high school youth to build leadership skills, develop youth and parent led campaigns, and increase engagement in the school and city-wide levels.

Mitchel received his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Interdisciplinary and U.S. History from SUNY Stony Brook and his Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. He is an alumni of the CORO NY Immigrant Civic Leadership Program (ICLP) and the Leadership for Emerging Asian Pacifics Emerging Leaders Program (LEAP ELP). In addition, for the past 8 years Mitchel has been a lecturer at CUNY Hunter College in the Asian American Studies department. Mitch also serves in New York City’s Citywide Council on English Language Learners (CCELL).







Asian American Leadership



Topic Abstracts


CUNY Diversity Projects Development Fund

The Ong Family Foundation


Asian American / Asian Research Institute 2018

25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000, New York, NY 10036   
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