ALIST Winter 2018/2019 Issue

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WINTER 2018/2019 Issue 16


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PAGE 3 Amy Chow: Triathlete PAGE 6 Due Quach, Owning Her Own Story PAGE 10 LCDR Elizabeth Moham: You're an American, Just Like Everyone Else PAGE 13 Johnny Vuong: All It Took Was a Dream and a $1


PAGE 15 Lorena Mondonedo-Perez: The Unknown Cosmetic Queen

PAGE 18 Simon Chen: At The Top of His Game PAGE 22 Dr. Yi Sherry Zhang: Reaching Optimal Health PAGE 27 West 32 Soju PAGE 30 Sovanna Pouv: A Passionate Advocate


PAGE 32 NAAAP 100 Award Honorees and NAAAP Inspire Recipient

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Copyright 2019 by ALIST Magazine. Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Cover and contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. ALIST is a registered trademark of NAAAP Inc. offices. Single copies to be distributed in the U.S., its territories and posessions and Canada are $3.99 per copy. Yearly subscription rate in U.S., its territories and possessions, and Canada is $12.99. Please contact ALIST for single copy or subscription prices issued locations outside of the U.S., its territories and possesions, and Canada. For subscription orders or customer service, please access http:// Address all subscription correspondence to ALIST is published three times a year. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to ALIST Magazine c/o NAAAP 4850 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Suite 289, Lawrenceville GA 30044. NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS: Occasionally, we provide our customer list to companies whose products might interest you. If you do not wish to receive these mailings, please send your request to:

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t seems that every year we take inventory of what we’ve accomplished during the year and what we haven’t, only to set up new resolutions in the new year. Why do we put ourselves last? We should be a PRIORITY! Is this a novel idea? No, it’s called self-care! You come first. What is self-care? It is where you take time for yourself, whether it’s taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon or going to the gym during your lunch hour or meditating in the morning or dancing to your favorite song. It is not being selfish, it is a reward to yourself. We have so many responsibilities that we forget to take care of ourselves and when this happens, we get sick, we get depressed, we feel stressed, we are tired …. How many of the below things have you checked off each day? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Maintain a healthy diet Sleep 7 hours a day Exercise daily Pursue a hobby Reach out to your support circle 6. Pampering yourself 7. Challenging your mind 8. Keeping the right attitude 9. Journaling/not bottling up your emotions 10. Meditate or do deep breathing

11. Laugh at least once a day 12. Learn to say ‘NO’ 13. Stop overthinking things 14. Try something new 15. Take a walk 16. Sleep in 17. Complement a stranger 18. Visit a new place 19. Reward yourself 20. Declutter your space

In this issue, see what links Amy Chow a triathlete to Due Quach a social entrepreneur to Elizabeth Moham a pharmacist to Johnny Vuong a restauranteur to Lorena Mondonedo-Perez a cosmetic queen to Simon Chen a CEO to Dr. Yi Sherry Zhang an entrepreneurial scientist to Maxwell Fine and Daniel Lee who are soju distillers to Sovanna Pouv a nonprofit director to the NAAAP 100 award honorees and NAAAP Inspire Recipient.

Amy Chow: Triathlete


when I was a freshman, but I and a few others were the main members. It was one of our friends who convinced me to train for my first marathon and then for my first triathlon. It was also through being president of the organization that I had the opportunity to have dinner with some recruiters who were looking for students interested in spring co-op positions at their semiconductor company, and through that I moved down to Austin, which is where I really got into triathlon.

Amy Chow was a self-proclaimed non-athlete until about age 16. She got her only C in high school in freshman PE class during the football unit. In high school, she discovered rowing, which led her to endurance running. She ran her first marathon during her sophomore year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and completed her first triathlon during the summer before her junior year. Training became her way to relieve stress outside of studying for her degree in computer engineering. She trained for her first Ironman (Ironman Lake Placid) after moving to northern California for her first job after college. Multiple jobs, companies and races later, Amy now resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, works in the semiconductor industry as a project manager and continues to train for triathlons. ALIST Magazine: When studying at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, how did you transition from starting the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering (WECE) student organization to being a triathlete? Amy Chow: My ECE mentor, Grace Woo, actually started the WECE organization

AM: How did you start with Ironman training? AC: I signed up to do my first Ironman the summer after I graduated from UIUC. I knew I did not have the experience to train myself for such a long race, so I researched the coaches in the Sacramento area, where I was moving for my first job after graduation. My main goal was to finish, and I thought that a coach was the best way to increase the likelihood of that. I found a coach who was also a personal trainer, so he put together a training plan, and I would usually go to see him every week for a strength training session. For my first Ironman, I trained mostly by myself – swimming, cycling, and running – though eventually I found some colleagues at work who would ride with me after work or on weekends. AM: To date how many races have you completed? AC: Eight Ironmans, 16 half-Ironmans, nine marathons, a 60-mile running race, and many other shorter triathlons and running races. AM: With each one, does it become like second nature to prepare and participate in one? AC: Definitely! At this point it feels weird to not be training for something. I still get nervous before the longer races, but it is now my normal way of life. AM: What is your training/prep for a race? AC: It depends on what period I am before a race. For a half-Ironman, usually I will peak at about 12-13 hours/week of workouts and for an Ironman, the peak is 16-18 hours/ week. The main difference between the two is the length of the weekend workouts, because the long rides and runs have to be much longer for a full Ironman than a half.

Also, in general I try to sleep enough and eat well to keep my brain and body going. AM: How would a novice train for an Ironman? Where would one start? AC: My first piece of advice would be to get a coach. There are so many things to consider when preparing for an Ironman, not just the physical training, so having someone to guide you in the right direction for is beneficial. Especially if you have a full-time job, it is nice to not have to think about what workouts you are going to do on top of your work. AM: What do you do when you are not training? AC: Work My husband tells me I need to get a hobby, but for the most part, especially in Texas, there is some kind of race that can be prepared for year-round, so usually I am training for something. I do enjoy food though, so sometimes I can be found experimenting in the kitchen, trying to make new gluten-free things or watching food and cooking shows.


AM: Has being certified as a holistic nutrition counselor helped you train as an athlete? What changes in your diet have you made? AC: It gives me more background and context to understand the connection between food and body. I put a lot of stress

"My first piece of advice would be to get a coach." on my body, both physically from training and mentally at work, so knowing how to eat well and how different foods affect the body can help my ability to recover. Most recently, I have been eliminating sources of FODMAPs, which are essentially a collection of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren’t well absorbed in the gastrointestinal system. AM: There are so many different diets now -- what are your thoughts on intermittent fasting and cleanses? AC: I tried intermittent fasting a few years ago when I did a lot of CrossFit but never had great success personally, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The reason I went to get a certification in holistic nutrition is that I think everyone is different, and I wanted WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 3

to help people figure out what best worked for them. AM: Is high intensity workouts part of your training? Why or why not? AC: Not really. I did CrossFit for a few years and had my fair share of high intensity workouts, but nowadays its more aerobic training, since that seems to work the best for me in training.

AM: How does an injury factor into training? AC: You just have to be patient and do what your body can do. My second year of Ironman training, I injured my knee and tried to keep going. That did not go so well. It’s never great getting injured, but it’s your body telling you something. AM: In the past, you used to live and breathe the sport, and now it is more of how to fit training into your life. What changes did you have to make? AC: I found a coach who understands that and makes training plans that are manageable while working a standard 40-50 hour per week office job. AM: Are coaches a necessary part of training? Why or why not? AC: I don’t think they are 100 percent necessary, but they certainly help. When I am a month out from a big race, I may not be thinking clearly, and it helps to have a


AM: What are the best and worst parts of the Ironman? AC: Worst part to me is that there are many things you can’t control during a race, from how the weather will be or getting a mechanical, but the best part is crossing that finish line.

third-party provide perspective and ensure I am training intelligently.

to speed. AM: What is your current fitness and diet regimen? AC: In-season base training is usually 1012 hours/week. I typically do one or two workouts per day during the workweek and then a longer ride or run on the weekends. As I am preparing for an Ironman now, my training load is increasing. I bring all my food to work and generally don’t eat out if I can help it. My husband or I cook dinner most nights of the week.

"...the best part is crossing that finish line." AM: Which Ironman was the toughest and why? AC: I have always struggled with Ironman Texas. I did it when it was held in May, and the run (which is usually my strength) has always been tough. The first time, I overbiked and then went out too fast on the run and walked a lot of the third (last) lap. The second time, there was a huge thunderstorm during my third lap so they paused the race for about 40 minutes, and once I restarted I could never get back up

AM: How has aging changed the way you train? Did your race times changes as well? AC: My 30s are about training smart and not trying to overdo it. In my 20s, I had youth on my side and could train more hours and more intensely and still have plenty of energy. Now, I have to be smart about how I go about training to not get injured or burnt out. My race times, though, have generally continued to decrease, which is about as expected since people peak in endurance sports in their late 30s.


AM: Do you have a cheat day for food? If so, what do you indulge in? AC: No cheat day anymore. I used to, when I did more Paleo/Zone/CrossFit-type diets, but nowadays I just try to eat what I need on a regular basis and not deprive myself of what I want.

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Network come about? DQ: My ‘Poor and Traumatized at Harvard’ article went viral and I was just trying to own my story - I kept this a secret and never told any of my classmates. I never owned it. It was being shared among Admission officers, Student Affairs and it was just spreading everywhere. All these people in academia were reading it and reevaluating how they would support the 1st generation college student. So, these college students, who were still suffering


"I kept this a secret and never told any of my classmates. I never owned it."

Due Quach is the Founder and CEO of Calm Clarity, a social enterprise that uses science to help people master their mind and be their best self. A refugee from Vietnam and a graduate of Harvard College and the Wharton MBA program, she overcame the long-term effects of poverty and trauma by turning to neuroscience and meditation. After building a successful international business career in management consulting and private equity investments, she created the Calm Clarity Program to make mindful leadership accessible to people of all backgrounds. I had the pleasure of talking to Ms. Due Quach after the launch of her book, Calm Clarity and she is an amazing individual. I would have never thought that she has PTSD and she is out spreading the word to help others overcome their own ‘fight or flight’ mentality. Catherine Law: We talked about Due’s time at Harvard and she shared a story with me about one of her friends. Due Quach: My friend’s parents told her 6 |

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to stop spending time with me because it was not a good use of her time at Harvard. She should be connecting with the haves and not the have nots and this was crushing to learn. I’m not sure she understood that it was really heartbreaking to share with somebody and it just created class anxiety. A feeling that no matter how smart I was, no matter how much I achieved, no matter my character or my values would speak for themselves - there will still be people in this planet who will always see my pedigree. CL: You had an amazing career in finance and business and left it behind for social entrepreneurship. What is social entrepreneurship? DQ: I define it as someone who uses their business skills to create initiatives that impact social change, and in some cases, these are economically self-sustaining so it doesn’t solely rely on charity or donations. CL: How did the Collective Success

were contacted because they had the same obstacles and challenges or stigmas. Academia actually wanted to do something and wondered what they can do to address this. Any solutions might take 10-20 years for policy to change. How many students would have to graduate or not graduate and how many generations of students would have to go through so much pain for there to be some sort of progress. Being an entrepreneur, there was a solution by convening students and 1st generation graduates to talk through this and I remember that I couldn’t think that I could. I had so many contacts and connections and I had the business and entrepreneurship skills to do something. If I’m going to build anything, this seemed to be a very worthwhile thing and to finally change the status quo. CL: How do you make yourself less anxious? DQ: I find that there are three things that I do to that help manage my over anxious nervous system. 1) I like to think of each person as a human being and I also use a compassion meditation to wish everyone to be happy, healthy and to be safe. 2) I often try to see people as an inner child. Whenever we are around children, we tend to be more open and be more patience and kind - this helps when I give talks or speeches. 3) I try to do some deep breathing to help calm my own nervous system so that I’m not in that fight or flight state. I

have a background with PTSD and there is an extra effort on my part to prepare myself. If I don’t hit it off with everyone, I have to remind myself not everyone will want to be your BFF. CL: When did you start your journey on neuroscience and meditation? DQ: I think it depends on when you start the clock, some people will say it started when I got to Harvard or when I had PTSD. You know when you have this terrible pain point that needed to be solved? That’s when I fell in love with neuroscience and I became a mind hacker and kept being open to ways that can change your brain. Once you understand neuroplasticity (what you eat, how you exercise, what you talk about) all of that will change your brain. It’s not just knowledge, it’s realizing that every single moment of your life is inspiring the neurocircuit and rewiring them - like the conversation we are having, is impacting our brain. You are activating circuits that really serve you rather than activating them to create a self-sabotage pattern. I had so much trauma that I had a lot of self-sabotaging patterns. Once I learned about all of the research on meditation, I think the big shift for me was I had been a skeptic towards religion and spirituality because I am so rational and logical. The scientific research is worth pursuing but the hard part is about

learning how to meditate in a way that was concrete and practical. I was living in Singapore which was not that far from India and I had a one-year visa to India, so I just hopped on a plane with a one-way ticket. I checked out what they are sharing and wanted to see if it made any sense, as I was doing due diligence. When I started to experience the benefits of meditation, I realized that we all have this monkey mind (this default mode) that just takes over as you meditate. You are actually rewiring the default mode so that your monkey mind isn’t so scattered and you don’t focus anymore on the things that bother you. I’m basically strengthening the processing System 2. We go through these mindless patterns, but as you meditate the mega cognitive part is rooted into what we call autopilot or Systems 2 and I’ve become more empowered to change these patterns and to notice them. If this is a good pattern then you continue but if this is not a healthy or productive pattern what do I want to replace it with? CL: Your book: CALM CLARITY: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment, and Joy was released on May 15, 2018. How was it received and was it what you expected? DQ: I thought once the book was finished, it would be a legacy and what’s been

great is that we have been receiving notes, emails and from social media that the book has had some meaningful impact in their lives, people who are healers. These are psychologists, therapists, and counselors who work in addiction clinics. They are saying that they are brainstorming ways to use this for their patients and some are referring their patients to read the book - this is powerful. Then we have a lot of professionals in our audience, who are loving the book and it is helping many of them to overcome the adversity in their lives and helping them own their stories as well. CL: Can you explain “mindhacking” and how you have used it to better yourself and why do we need this? DQ: For me, mind hacking is really about using science to steer brain development. Once you understand how the brain works, what is possible or what is not possible to change, what is realistic and unrealistic for change - then your life would be so much simpler. For me having trauma and PTSD with the sensations and flashbacks when I was in college was making me miserable. By learning about the neuroscience, I was just creating negative spirals. I wasn’t good at thinking about what could go well and the positive - I clearly had those goals and the academic potential to be at Harvard. So why couldn’t I see myself using that and being positive about them? I needed to work out the entire left pre-frontal cortex area, so one of the simple things was to try to laugh more and try to watch more comedies - a lot of sense of humor lets you

Excerpted from Calm Clarity by arrangement with TarcherPerigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2018, Due Quach


see a bigger picture. You get to laugh at yourself and realize that this pattern you are doing is kind of ridiculous and you are your own worst enemy. You have to try to fire those neuropathways until they become your normal every day like default circuit and a lot can change overnight. I tell people that the old patterns still come back and I am super talented at catastrophizing things that never went away, ever. You can teach an old dog a new trick but the point is that they still know their old tricks - they don’t forget their old tricks and the old tricks don’t go away. Even people in their 90s have been proven to have neuroplasticity. They are still learning assuming that they don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, but the brain is capable of learning to the day you die no matter how long you live. I think that mind hacking is becoming really familiar with the way your brain works and be able to redirect the neuropathways –they are just energy. You are using glucose and you are shuffling it to different parts of your brain - consuming energy but you have a choice of how you want to direct that energy to your brain. CL: What do you do to de-stress? DQ: I wrote an article about having triggers and having trauma come back. I think an important part is the stress hormone. I have an exercise bike or will try and go for a walk, go hiking. You have to use that energy to put the fight or flight response that is coming out, so that your body can return to normal. Stress gives you extra energy to deal with the challenge and most of the challenge is in our head. When the body has too much energy, it is good to exercise to consume that energy and not in the way to further activate it. It

should be a moderate intensity of at least 30 to 45 minutes to an hour where you are burning it all up. You’re breaking it down so that it’s not in your system. A long-term thing is to understand your triggers so that you can calm them before the fight or flight kicks in and you become a calmer person. So, for me, I’ve learned to recognize the things that tend to make me anxious and then preemptively I’ll use the compassion meditation re-activate my sympathetic system so I can calm down. CL: To find the best help, you recommend that we first determine what kind of help is best by paying close attention to our physical symptoms and our health history. In the Asian culture,

normal. Let’s learn that if we get sad, it doesn’t have to become a depression. How can we manage the ups and downs and the setbacks of resilience, so these things don’t become a negative cycle? It’s talking about it. CL: Any last words for our reader? DQ: I think that many reasons why people feel a lot of anxiety, is because we are still worried about our image - of what people will think about us. Among Asian families, saving face matters more than what is really happening. I would encourage everybody to have the courage to be themselves and to show that they really need not worry about what other people think because that’s how you become self-

"I would encourage everybody to have the courage to be themselves and to show that they really need not worry about what other people think." depression is not talked so how do they go about getting help for depression? DQ: It's interesting, I think young Asian Americans are totally into mental health and recognize the issue and want to talk about it. For example, in the Collective Success Network, many of the officers of the different campus chapters are Asian American and they recognize that they have anxiety and that they have challenges with stress. They wanted to create programming to talk about mental fitness, to give kids tools that they can use so it’s about the positive psychology movement. It is not about turning this into a topic and talking about it as a disease, it is about saying its

actualized and that you learn what is really in your heart. You are willing to share your inner wisdom and not bottle it up. I’ve met so many Asian American people that are trying do to the right thing by becoming a doctor, a dentist, or a lawyer and being so unhappy. Parents don’t want you to be miserable and they want you to be happy so in the big picture, these types of doing the right thing, doing these things for image it usually doesn’t lead you to you being really happy in life. I have to keep reminding my parents of that too. My parents are like, she’s the one that nobody can talk to because she always has her own ideas of the way she wants to do things. When I got into Harvard my parents were not happy and one day, I called my mom and she was crying and I said: “mom why are you crying”. She said, “you are too smart, no one is going to marry you because you got into Harvard”. She is proud of me no matter the fact that I have never been married. I think that because our parents sacrifice so much for us, there is this guilt complex that we have to learn to manage and not to be weighed down.

For more information about Due Quach, please visit and www. Excerpted from Calm Clarity by arrangement with TarcherPerigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2018, Due Quach 8 |

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You're an American, Just Like Everyone Else


he mid-‘80s were progressive: Foot loose Kevin Bacon convinced a parish of church girls to kick off their Sunday shoes. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Gay-related immunodeficiency was more accurately identified as AIDS. Yet despite all of this, diversity was still a foreign term, as the majority of minorities were Black. I was in preschool during this era, and because none of my classmates had ever seen a person of Indian descent before, they assumed I was African American. And for a while, so did I, because I was 4, and that's what my friends told me. As I moved on to elementary school, the kids changed their ethnic assumptions about me from American Black to American Indian. My fellow kindergarteners thought that I resided in a tipi, begged me to bring in my feather headdress for show and tell, and figured that my parents bow-andarrowed livestock for dinner every night. The kids would even dance around me in a circle, sounding the mock Native American battle cry with their hands and mouth. By the middle of second grade, I was finally accepted as ASIAN Indian. But it still seemed like I was an outcast. My family enjoyed chapati and sambar for dinner, while

Questions such as "How do you say ‘hi’ in Indian?" to "When you pass by a dairy farm, do you bow down to pray?" were all too common. There were more assumptions than questions, though. Some of my friends' parents would attempt to “praise” the entire continent: "You Asians have figured it all out. You're quiet, law-abiding citizens who value an education. You work hard and live the American dream.” How about the fact that one out of four Koreans are undocumented, or that 40 percent of Cambodian Americans don’t even have a GED? Although Asian stereotypes are about as fair and balanced as the crack cocaine laws enacted by the Reagan Administration, that brainy generalization has naturally boosted my ego. I was usually eye-rolled and reluctantly chosen as the last dodgeball team member in gym, but I was always the first to be asked to spearhead a chemistry or calculus project because I was known as the nerdy Indian. The cool kids assumed I had this king-sized cerebrum and flocked to me for help with assignments. They figured I aced trigonometry and earth science, incorrectly guessing I scored 100 percent

"Because of the labels placed on me, I thought I needed to choose between being Indian and being American." my school friends noshed on roast beef and scalloped potatoes. My mom and dad sounded funny to my classmates, because their parents spoke English with ease. They all played with Rainbow Brite and Barbie, while I preferred the anthropomorphic Gloworm and My Little Pony, mainly because I couldn’t relate to Caucasian dolls. I felt as out of place as I looked, and my friends were understandably curious about Indian customs. After I entered high school, I was the assumed expert in everything pertaining to my parents' country of origin. 10 |

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on every difficult exam and tutored during lunch. Usually though, I was scribbling notes to my best friend to pass the time in class, and gossiped with her on the landline after school. But who wouldn't eat up the assumption of being a genius? It was just tough to live up to those expectations. Because of the labels placed on me, I thought I needed to choose between being Indian and being American. My parents wanted me to cling to my heritage for dear life, shuttling me to as many South Asian cultural dramas and festivals as they

could, teaching me about Rajiv Gandhi and playing cassette tapes of the sitar and tabla. Meanwhile, my classmates had boyfriends, coed sleepovers and late curfews. At that point, I felt I had to make a decision – am I Indian or am I American? My heart was torn in half. In two separate phases, I tried to take on each side. Around 10th grade, I clutched on to Indian culture. My friends were all brown, I watched Bollywood flicks and jammed to Hindi tunes. I munched on samosas and drank mango lassis on the regular. I felt the need to say I was from India, with my American culture trapped within a set of parentheses, merely explaining the afterthought of why I spoke one way but behaved and looked another. My cousins who visited from India propelled me to drop this whole routine, because they didn't accept me as one of them. They'd tease how I said “truck” instead of “lorry,” how during the summer I wore “knickers” out in public, and the fact that I didn't stand when my elders entered the room. That's when it hit me: My Indian-wannabe getup wasn't real. Yes, if you look at me, I'm your South Asian prototype. But culture-wise, I'm stars and stripes forever. I can try to power


the definition of what it means to be an American?

wash the red, white, and blue out of me by observing and copying native-born Indians, but it's not me because it's not what I grew up with. After that facade morphed into pure disappointment, I thought I should try to be the total opposite. So I bleached my brain of how I was before and thought I should try to be what at the time I thought was American. I laughed at the Indian kids who weren’t born here (as if I were so much cooler somehow). I would beg my parents to not speak to me when we'd be out in public, in fear that their thick accents would humiliate me. I’d tell my white friends that I wasn't attracted to Indian guys because I didn't want to be associated even further with anyone who shared my skin tone. I was a traitor to myself. It was as if my Americanness had a huge asterisk next to it, and my heritage was this legal fine print that I didn't want anyone to actually read. This worked out well for me until I counseled a pharmacy patient visiting from New Delhi on how she could manage her cholesterol without medication. Her English was broken, but she was still able to understand my suggestions. Afterward, the pharmacy technician said, "Look at her and look at you. SHE is Indian. You're not. You're white bread and you know it." This comment drove me to analyze my own thoughts and actions. Why do my friends find it funny when I imitate how my parents speak? Why did I feel the need to change myself into something I'm not? Why is it that I'm supposed to consider "white bread" to be a compliment, as if being white is

I would like to think that Asians are crocheted into the diverse quilt that is the United States, but why is it that Asian American history seems to have not even a subchapter or postscript in the typical high school social studies curriculum? Why is that most of us have never heard of the Asiatic Exclusion League, an American organization developed in 1905 that was solely created to ban Asians from entering the United States; or the Page Law of 1875, which prohibited the immigration of Chinese contract laborers and Chinese women; or the 1924 Immigration Act, which not only prohibited immigration of Indians, but also banned interracial marriages between Indian men and white women? Our country is now known to be the land where cultures blend, but why was it that in 1998, MSNBC posted a picture of Chinese American Olympic silver medalist Michelle Kwan, a West Coast native, standing next to Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski

fact that people often “compliment” me, a grown woman with a doctorate degree, on how well I speak English! It is assumed that I’m this stranger from a different shore. If a Jamaican or Polish immigrant is spotted strolling down Fairmount Park with their German Shepherd in tow, are they ever casually asked where they are from? No, but Asians get that all the time! If I say I'm originally from Staten Island, the response is usually, "But where are you really from?" Because I don't fit the specific criteria of what many assume to be an “American,” they always ask that follow-up question, hoping my answer would change to some random foreign country where mainly brown people live. If I say that I was born in the United States, the comment is generally, “Oh, so you must be pretty Americanized.” No, I’m not Americanized. I’m a native-born United States citizen, just like you! Though we are rarely acknowledged, I'm proud to say that I'm Asian American, because being Asian nurtures respect for adults and emphasizes the importance of tight-knit communities, while being

"So to all of my conflicted friends who are of Asian descent: You don't need an asterisk, parentheses or a postscript to define you." with the title "American Beats Out Kwan" as if Michelle wasn't an American herself ? In 2012, how did Hollywood have the nerve paint Ashton Kutcher in brownface, portraying a heavily-accented Indian man in a commercial for Pop Chips? Why was it that in 2014, when Nina Davuluri was crowned as the first Miss America winner of Indian heritage, Twitter was replete with racist (and geographically inaccurate) comments such as "And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic"? Why was Scarlett Johansson cast as a Japanese heroine in 2017’s “Ghost in a Shell”? And finally, how could Bari Weiss, an op-ed writer for The New York Times, tweet out a video of Japanese American Mirai Nagasu's historic 2018 Olympic figure skating performance with a caption that read "Immigrants: they get the job done"? Mirai was born in Southern California! These are just a few examples of how Asian Americans experience blatant discrimination in the public, even in recent times. However, as an ordinary person, I can attest to the

American encourages me, a woman of color, to be a strong and independent thinker. I don't have to choose between my divided cardiac chambers, because being Asian and being American IS what makes my heart whole. So to all of my conflicted friends who are of Asian descent: You don't need an asterisk, parentheses or a postscript to define you. You're an American, just like everyone else.

LCDR Elizabeth Moham is serving as a pharmacist for the United States Public Health Service and is currently stationed at FCI Fort Dix, a Federal Prison on Fort Dix, New Jersey. She is the Program Manager for the Asian Pacific Islander Native American (APINA) program for the institution. LCDR Moham also holds a Masters degree in Drug Addiction Counseling. Contact her at


2018 World's 50 Best Restaurants According to USA Today 1. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy), Best in Europe

27. Boragó (Santiago, Chile)

2. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

28. Odette (Singapore), new entry

3. Mirazur (Menton, France)

29. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris)

4. Eleven Madison Park (New York City), Best in North

30. D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)


31. Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain)

5. Gaggan (Bangkok), Best in Asia

32. Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)

6. Central (Lima, Peru), Best in South America

33. The Clove Club (London)

7. Maido (Lima, Peru)

34. Alinea (Chicago)

8. Arpege (Paris, France)

35. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway), new entry

9. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)

36. Reale (Castel Di Sangro, Italy)

10. Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)

37. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin)

11. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)

38. Lyle's (London), new entry

12. Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York)

39. Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Peru)

13. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)

40. Septime (Paris)

14. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

41. Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo)

15. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)

42. The Ledbury (London)

16. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)

43. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain), Sustainable Restaurant

17. Den (Tokyo, Japan), Highest Climber


18. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain), highest new entry

44. Mikla (Istanbul, Turkey), new entry

19. Geranium (Copenhagen)

45. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London)

20. Attica (Melboure, Australia)

46. Saison (San Francisco)

21. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris)

47. Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzlerand), new entry

22. Narisawa (Tokyo)

48. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia), new entry

23. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

49. Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand)

24. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai)

50. The Test Kitchen (Cape Town, South Africa), Best in

25. Cosme (New York City)


12 |

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26. Le Bernardin (New York City)


All It Took was a Dream and a $1

ALIST Magazine: How did you wind up in Truman, Minnesota? Johnny Vuong: Everywhere is the same, doesn’t matter what town or city you’re in, it just depends on how you do your business. There are a lot of towns surrounding Truman. The opportunity presented, led me to Truman. AM: What did you do before coming to Minnesota? JV: I’ve been in the restaurant business for many years, moving around. I’ve been in Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and now Minnesota. I came to southern Minnesota to be closer to my daughter who was going to school in northern Iowa.

"It doesn't matter if you serve 100 or 100,000 people. If you do it good, people will come." AM: You have over 25 years of restaurant and management experience, how did that help you succeed in opening your own restaurant? JV: I try to look at the good and bad of what people are doing. I learned what to do and what not to do by watching others. I always looked at what works for the customer. That’s the most important thing. AM: How did the opportunity of buying a Main Street Minnesota restaurant for $1 come about? JV: I was working in Fairmont, MN and mentioned to a realtor that someday I wanted to open a Chinese restaurant. That conversation led to people talking to other people and eventually we found out about the café in Truman. Other agencies got involved to make it all happen. We really appreciate everyone’s effort, and thank the Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation, Martin county EDA Ignite, Truman Development Corporation, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Profinium Bank, the City of Truman, and all the customers that have been coming to our restaurant since we opened. AM: Do you think that that this type of creative economic development opportunity would work in other states

across the U.S.? Why or why not. JV: Yes, it would work if you find the right kind of management, the right kind of people. It doesn’t matter if you serve 100 or 100,000 people. If you do it good, people will come. People will drive to your restaurant. AM: Many organizations played a part in with the sale and the rebirth of the café. How was this process for you and your family? Was it easy or difficult? Why? JV: My family helped to make this process easier than it could have been. They helped out in many different ways. They’ve been very supportive. I got a lot of advice from family and others. Some I take, some I don’t. Some of the advice I got wasn’t suitable for a small family restaurant. It’s not that their advice was wrong, but just not the right advice for this restaurant. AM: The restaurant was previously named The Truman Café, and it is now the China House Café. How did you decide on the new name? JV: Well, since we’re serving American food with Chinese, we added the word “café” to the name. But mainly we serve Chinese food. AM: What types of dishes are popular at the China House Café? JV: Easy, Happy Family, Orange Chicken, Pineapple Chicken, and Cashew Chicken. AM: Did you change the menu? If you did, what did you add or change and why? JV: We started out serving breakfast because the community wanted it, but it we had to drop that because the numbers just weren’t there. We’re open for breakfast on Sundays only. Other than that, we haven’t changed the menu since we opened. AM: You said that in order to create a business you have to have a plan. Did you have a plan for the China House Café? If you did, what was it? JV: Yes we have a plan. In order to draw people into this small town we have to provide great food, the right portions, great customer service, and provide delivery and catering services. That’s our plan. AM: Customer service is what the

AM: What advice would you give to new restaurant entrepreneurs? JV: My advice is that you have to be alert to every little detail. You have to be very detailed from the front to the back. As the owner you have to check everything. Consistency is very important. AM: What should we know about Truman, Minnesota? JV: The whole town has been very welcoming and supportive. And surrounding towns as well. But it depends on how you do it. You have to give them great food and great service. And if you come to Truman you can find great Chinese food. AM: If we came to eat at the China House Café, what would we find you doing? JV: I am always welcoming customers. And always checking on things from the front of the restaurant to the kitchen. AM: Did you ever expect to purchase your own restaurant for $1? How did you and your family feel? JV: Well, it wasn’t only $1. We had to put in a lot of money to fix up the café. We took out loans for equipment. We’re not complaining, and we’re very grateful, but we have put a lot of money into the business. AM: What is your favorite Chinese dish? American dish? JV: Hunan, Happy Family, or Triple Delight because they’re more traditional, they’re not sweet. But it’s really not about what I like, the main thing is what customers like. Steak. AM: If you were to expand/franchise China House Café, where would it be and why? JV: I would be in a bigger town to have more chance to succeed. Working in a small town has its challenges. AM: When you are not working at the restaurant, what are you doing? JV: I would be working in a restaurant as a server.


Johnny Vuong came to the United States in the 1980s and settled in the Los Angeles area. He and his wife relocated to Minnesota in 2000 to be closer to their daughter who was attending college in Iowa. Like many immigrant families, the Vuongs have an entrepreneurial spirit and the dedication to make their dreams a reality in the United States. With over 25 years of restaurant and management experience, He came to Minnesota to help open the Asian Palace restaurant in Fairmont and afterwards went to work at Perkins. Johnny was looking for an opportunity to open his own restaurant.

restaurant business strives on, how do you turn new customers into returning customers? JV: The main thing is to treat customers like your friends or family. Anyone who walks in to my restaurant is like my family. They are my boss. You don’t treat your boss bad. If you do you don’t get paid. You treat them like family. Treat all customers warmly when they come in.











14 |Dallas WINTER 2018/2019 2100 Pkwy #130 Plano, TX 75093 | Phone: 972-378-5055 | Find us on:

LORENA MONDONEDO-PEREZ: The Unknown Cosmetic Queen

AM: With so many cosmetic and skin products out there, how is NENA Cosmetics different? LMP: We only use the BEST ingredients out there with skin caring formulations AM: Your product are sold in the U.S, Philippines, Dubai, Spain, Hong Kong, Mexico and Singapore. Why these particular locations and what are future locations? LMP: I live in the U.S. but originally came from the Philippines. I wanted to bring home something I’m proud of. For the rest of the other countries I have networks.

Lorena "Nena" Mondoñedo Perez was born and raised in the exotic and lush tropics of the Philippines where she learned early about her entrepreneurial spirit from her father. She brings with her a rich Asian heritage to her modern line of cosmetics. With more than twenty five years of experience in the beauty industry, Nena is a trained and certified makeup artist by MAC cosmetics and a licensed and state-certified esthetician. With a bachelor's degree in business administration and a Masters in Skin Care Therapy, she has the expertise in many facets of the industry from hands-on cosmetic artistry to operations and management. She has travelled the world encountering all the rich elements of different races, places and cultures. These experiences serve as her inspiration in creating her own cosmetic line. Her passion and devotion for bringing out the individual beauty in every woman has been a dream come true with her namesake line in NENA Cosmetics. "NENA" is an endearing term for a darling girl and is also her nickname among family and friends. Experience our brand and let NENA bring out your natural beauty. The first brick and mortar store was opened at The Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois in November 2018. Nena Cosmetics available in the USA, Asia, Africa, Middle East and Mexico. ALIST Magazine: How did NENA Cosmetics come about? Lorena Mondonedo-Perez: Out of passion in enhancing beauty.

AM: Being an esthetician, what do you recommend for women and men to take care of their skin? LMP: Be smart in choosing your make-up and check ingredients.

"I love challenging myself and looking for great opportunities." AM: What are your thoughts on self-tanners? LMP: I would rather use moisturizers with a tint and a SPF in it.

AM: You said that your “products are made for Latin American and Asian skin types, which are underserved by the industry. Anyone can use our products, but we cater significantly to these two skin types”. How do you reach out to your demographics? LMP: I made collections fit for the different demographics. AM: What are your Top 5 Products in your line and why? LMP: Foundation stick, contour powder, brow definer, liquid lipstick, invisible blotting powder (they are all long lasting and multi-tasking) AM: How are your plans for physical stores or pop ups going? LMP: They will be opening mid November 2018. AM: NENA Cosmetics is headquartered in Highland Park, Illinois. How did you choose this location? LMP: It was close to home. AM: What is the process to go from an online presence to a brick and mortar store? You have been in the beauty industry in various areas: accounting, a makeup artist, salon and spa management and now with NENA Cosmetics. With all of these experiences, what were the highs and lows? LMP: I had to wait a bit until I gained enough

AM: Are you a serial entrepreneur? Why or why not? LMP: I am. I love challenging myself and looking for great opportunities – always looking. AM: What draws you to makeup? LMP: I love how it enhances a ladies beautiful features. AM: Is there a perfect way to apply makeup? LMP: There is no right or wrong way, just choose the right shade for you. AM: Should men wear makeup? Why or why not? LMP: Not maybe makeup but like a tinted moisturizer and primer to even out skin tone. AM: You had spent over 20 years as an executive in the beauty industry and knew that 2010 was the right time to start your business? What were the



AM: You are a licensed and state-certified esthetician, can you explain what that means? LMP: I am certified to provide a variety of skincare treatments.

signs? LMP: I had enough experience and the background in the industry.


LMP: Hard work and perseverance. No other secret. AM: You had once said to “pick the right business and know everything about it. Do something you’re passionate about and love it, so you will just naturally succeed”. How does one even start to do this? LMP: Love what you do. Turn your passion into a business


AM: What are your thoughts on Sephora and Ulta? LMP: I don’t really want my products there with too many cosmetics

exposure to have a brick and mortar. High, when sales happen, peak seasons. Low when I am faced with different challenges. AM: How does it feel to be the first-ever Filipina-owned cosmetics line in the U.S.? LMP: Very blessed and humbled

AM: What is your advice on choosing the right makeup for your skin color? LMP: Apply on your jaw line, the perfect shade just blends in with your skin color.

AM: What is next for NENA Cosmetics? LMP: Stores in Asia

AM: How are your products different than other Korean or popular U.S. brands? LMP: We use nothing but the BEST ingredients, high quality and affordable.

AM: Any advice for new entrepreneurs in the beauty industry? LMP: Know your craft

AM: You started out with $100,000 and now you are bringing over a million dollars in revenue. What is your secret?

AM: Do you have a splurge food? Purchase? LMP: Japanese food AM: Where would you like to travel next if you had the time? Why? LMP: Africa – I am building my business there AM: What is your favorite Philippine food and why? LMP: Pinakbet – I love the vegetable. My Dad use to cook these all the time for me

You can find more information about Nena Cosmetics @ and on IG @ nena.ladyceo and FB at Nena Cosmetics by Nena Brands, Inc.

AM: Is marketing your products different in Chicago as opposed to in the Philippines? How so? LMP: It’s tougher in Chicago with lots more in the market. Philippines is not as saturated AM: How do you de-stress? LMP: I play golf and I love massages AM: Why is cosmetics still relevant in this day and age of being healthy and going natural? LMP: Make-up with skincare formulations also takes care of the skin underneath AM: Give us your “must have/do” for running a business and why. LMP: Have social media presence and collaborate for exposure AM: Which of your products are your favorite and why? LMP: I love it all, but my fave I can’t do without is foundation stick, invisible powder and my brow pencil

AM: What is your favorite place in Chicago and in the Philippines and why? LMP: Highland Park and BGC – I feel safe. 16 |

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AM: Should we apply liquid foundation with our fingers or with a brush and why or why not? LMP: Either way it’s whatever you are comfortable with

ALIST COOL PRODUCTS LIST Black Hero Hoodie by Quikflip

Titan Spray Guide Accessory Tool

Food Cubby Plate Divider


HAVEN: The Stronger, Smarter


IC ICLOVER Silicone Ice Shot Glass Mold

Home Lock

The Kodama Zomes

Give'r Glove

Root Assassin Rake

Happier Camper

The Seabreacher by Innespace

Mighty Mug Go 16oz Travel Mug CanLoft



Hitch Hotel



Avalanche Roof Snow Removal System

Fryin' Saucer Guys Outdoor Portable

U-Ace Company, Ltd. Gyoza Maker

Propane Deep Fryer

Love Hulten

The Rider Daypack

Dash Omelette Maker with Dual Non

Schiller Water Bike

Stick Plates

The Bay ST by Oru Kayak Allstar Innovations True Touch Five Finger Deshedding Glove for Cats & Dogs Zip n Store Refrigerator Organizer ChefLand Stainless Steel Pineapple Corer

Shittens Disposable Mitten-shaped Moist Wipes

Kamikara Penguin POP! Action Craft Kit by Haruki Nakamura

Boosted Boards


Presto Belgian Bowl Waffle Maker


Lalabu Soothe Shirt

GoFish Cam Wireless Underwater

MMX Vancouver Marshmallow

Presto 03430 Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven

Fishing Camera


The Barisieur

Lunatec Aquabot Sport Water Bottle

RetraStrap Hands Free

X1 Everest All Glass Pool Table By Elite Innovations

Grocery Gripps

Swurfer the Original Stand Up Surfing Swing

Gost Barefoot Chainlink Shoes

The Bear Bowl: World's First Pocket Cook Pot

Lotus Trolley Bags 2.0

Bripe Coffee Brew Pipe Kit

Fat Shark FPV Drone Racing Kit Vehicle

The Pocket Shot


rev'pod Ultra-Soft Travel + Loungewear BrilliantPad Rollie Hands-Free Automatic Electric Vertical Nonstick Easy Quick Egg Cooker

Gibbs Sports Amphibians Yaylabs Softshell Ice Cream Ball

Bug-A-Salt 2.0 from Skell Inc. Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker bundled with Nanopresso Protective Case



Zayak Sea Sled A1-XL Deluxe Sea Sled Bodyboard

Nostalgia Electrics Bacon Express


Simon Chen at The Top of His Game


business. After graduating, I worked for a consulting firm doing mergers and acquisitions, and from there I moved on to technology consulting. This was the 90s and early 2000s and the way businesses operated was rapidly changing. I saw that there was an opportunity in the real estate space. That realization prompted me to create Century Pacific Group, a real estate investment and technology consulting firm that I ran for 15 years. Starting my own company led me to other opportunities in real estate, including serving as senior director of corporate development and strategy at and ultimately being appointed chief operating officer and then chief executive officer of ERA.

Simon Chen assumed the role of president and CEO of ERA Franchise Systems LLC in March 2018. A widely respected technology expert with decades of experience in real estate brokerage investments, marketing and operations, Chen is responsible for leading the ERA brand’s growth strategy focused on enhancing agent recruitment, productivity and market share. Chen most recently served as the ERA’s chief operating officer, a position he held since May 2017. Since joining ERA, he has worked to champion tools designed to enhance productivity, with specific focus on processes and services that drive growth for agents and franchisees. His culture-forward approach is driving a new energy and excitement into the network as well. Chen is a licensed broker in California and a member of the Beverly Hills and Santa Clara real estate boards. He mentors with the National Association of REALTORS® Second Century Ventures’ REach® program and Moderne Ventures, two real estate technology incubators. Prior to joining ERA, Chen was the COO at Realty One Group. He founded global real estate brokerage and technology consulting firm Century Pacific Group, and served as senior director of corporate development and strategy at ALIST Magazine: You graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Carnegie Mellon University, how did this lead you into real estate? Simon Chen: I’ve always been fascinated with technology. In college I studied molecular biology, industrial design, and 18 |

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AM: What was your reaction, when you were named the CEO for ERA Real Estate? SC: I was thrilled. The announcement came less than a year after I was hired as ERA’s COO. ERA is one of the great brands in this business, so caring for the legacy while innovating and growing a global brand of 40,000 agents is both an honor and tremendous responsibility. As a technologist myself, I was thrilled to find out that ERA stands for “Electronic Realty Associates.” We’ve been about innovation since 1971! AM: What is your growth strategy for ERA? How can other entrepreneurs use this in their own business? SC: Every decision made at the executive level at ERA has the intention of increasing agent and broker productivity. A big part of that is having the latest and best technology, so that agents can both serve their clients and learn from each other’s experiences and strategies. We are agent-driven because agents are the

have everything they need to succeed. AM: John Peyton, CEO and President of Realogy Franchise Group, said that your “unique entrepreneurial background in technology and real estate will help ERA continue to serve and support agents by implementing innovative technologies that take advantage of our deep data resources”. What have you accomplished so far? SC: Under my leadership, we’ve promoted wider use of our Zap® platform, which helps agents engage with their spheres of influence and allows them to better predict customer needs. We’ve also been working to improve a platform called LevERAge®, a core component of which is a customized goalsetting program. The system tells the agent everything they need—from the number of deals they need to close to how many presentations they need to give—to reach their goal, whether it’s $100,000 in earnings or $500,000 in earnings. Every single activity can be recorded in the system, so the agent can see whether they’re on track at any given moment. We’re also working on solutions at ERA that will help us stay competitive by helping our agents better engage with their prospects and clients over the entire home ownership lifecycle, not just the purchase or sale. This reinforces our agents’ position as hands-on, local area experts, something which no website or discounter can replace. AM: We heard you have a cultureforward approach in driving a new energy and excitement into the company – can you elaborate? SC: Yes. If you are an ERA agent or employee, you are part of the ERA family. It

"Your energy should be focused on leveraging your unique competitive advantages to make sure they have everything they need to succeed." ones providing the direct service; they are on the ground interacting with customers, doing the foundational work, and ultimately have the biggest impact on the success of our brand. I think any entrepreneur should think to themselves, “what is the core, foundational work of my company, and who is on the ground doing that work?” Once you’ve identified those people, your energy should be focused on leveraging your unique competitive advantages to make sure they

doesn’t matter if you’re located in California or South Carolina, Japan or France. We have many opportunities for agents and brokers to get together – both virtually and inperson – for the purposes of learning from one another, supporting each other, and having fun in the process. I’ve never seen a network where every person is not only WILLING to share their best practices, they’re EAGER to. Our brokers and agents literally fly around the globe – often at their


ambitious, driven, and who will do what it takes to reach their personal goals. But we’re also looking for people who are a good fit within our collaborative culture. Yes, we want agents who are successful, but we want agents who will engage with other agents, share information, and who will be part of the ERA family.

own expense – to help out their peers. AM: You serve as a mentor for two real estate technology incubators: the National Association of Realtors® Second Century Ventures' REach program and Moderne Ventures, why are they important to you? SC: Having a mentor can be such an important part of developing a career... or a company. It certainly was for me. As a mentor, I’m able to pay it forward by helping those who are trying to do now what I was doing 20 years ago. Mentoring also keeps me in touch with the thinking, concerns and unique strengths of a new generation of industry professionals. AM: Do you believe that you can bolster the perception of 47-year-old ERA Real Estate as a more modern brand? How long will that take and have there been strides made already? SC: Yes. When you’ve been innovating for nearly fifty years, people don’t always give you the credit you deserve. My job is to make sure the world knows that we are at the top of our game. We are doing things every day that put innovations in the hands of our agents and in service of home buyers and sellers. There are a lot of younger companies out there now who are testing the waters on things we’ve been doing since the seventies – for example, did you know that ERA was the first – and still only – national brand to offer a guaranteed home sale program (with Seller Security Plan back in 1974)? AM: By using augmented reality (AR) with virtual reality (VR) to engage customers, will this diminish the real estate agent roles to show homes? Why or why not? SC: Agents will always be needed, even with the increasing presence of AR and VR in the space. Given the complexities and potential risks of a big-ticket transaction, customers still want to interact with an experienced professional who guides them on the buying and selling journey. AR

and VR provide the consumer and the agent with more flexibility in being able to envision the property exactly as they would like to and even provide estimates for how much it would cost. AM: Home staging sometimes will make or break the sale of a home. With this virtual staging, how does it work if you are not artistic to make it feel livable to make you want to purchase the home? SC: This problem would exist with or without the virtual aspect. If someone isn’t artistic enough to stage their home on a computer, they might not be able to do it in-person either. This is an area where an agent can help. They can make recommendations on the best way to present a home – virtually or in person. The great thing about technology, however, is that it can enhance anybody’s skills. For example, before Shutterfly, I had no ability to create a coffee table book of my own

AM: ERA has a history of innovation and you are tasked with making the company an undisputed leader in the space. How do you handle the stress or pressure? Is there any stress or pressure to your position? SC: Sure, there is a lot of stress associated with leading such a big brand, but there is also the excitement and opportunity of leveraging the combined resources of all of ERA and our parent company, Realogy, to drive innovation and change in the industry. Realogy is the only company out there who is spending over $200 million a year on technology to make agents and brokers more successful, productive, and profitable. Those are resources that none of our individual brands, let alone my own boutique brokerage, could bring to bear. AM: How do you de-stress from a long day or week of work? SC: Working out has always been an important part of my regimen. I also read books for relaxation every night before I got to bed, and average about 100 books a year. And when I can find the time between family and work responsibilities, I escape to the islands with my Kindle and scuba diving gear for some quiet relaxation.

"I am able to pay it forward by helping those who are trying to do now what I was doing 20 years ago." pictures. Now I send one out to my family every year for Christmas. AM: How can a home seller prepare for the new high-tech world of ERA Estate? SC: Home sellers should buckle up and get ready for the best of both worlds: access to premiere technologies to aid in the selling of their home paired with experienced agents to guide them through the process. AM: Since ERA’s emphasis is on technology, innovation, data and analytics tools that help agents be more productive, learn insights about buyers and sellers and market properties in emerging ways. What you do you look for when hiring new agents? SC: When hiring new agents, we look for two things: growth potential and culture fit. We want to bring on people who are

It’s important to make the time to relax, otherwise you’ll burn out quickly and won’t be of any good to anybody. AM: This is all great about selling the home but how can individuals prepare to purchase a home that is within their means or affordability? What are your tips for a home seller and a home buyer? SC: I’m a huge believer in the power of research and data to keep us grounded in reality and to help set achievable goals for the future. Individuals who are looking to buy a home should do heavy research on the state of the market and take a deep, honest look into their personal finances. Can they afford their dream house? If not, then it’s time for a plan. How many years and how much savings will it require before that dream house is affordable? Or…if the dream house isn’t a financially viable WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 19

AM: ERA's has more than 17,000 affiliated agents in the U.S., what does it mean to be an affiliate with ERA? SC: Affiliating with ERA means you become part of the family. Affiliates have access to our resources: our platforms and tools, training, events, but most importantly, they have access to the entire network of agents and brokers throughout the US and the world. AM: You will be speaking at the Realtors Conference & Expo in Boston this November. How do you prepare for events like this? SC: I’ll be moderating a panel on diversity in real estate, so I have familiarity with the topic. As a moderator, the most important thing is to assemble a mix of different panelists that can bring unique perspectives, experience, and personalities. Once you’ve done that, the job of a moderator becomes being active in fostering a good conversation. AM: How is the transition from working in the West Coast to now the East Coast? Personally, and professionally? SC: Relocating is always a journey, especially when you’re going from one coast to another. My wife and daughter were both born and raised in Los Angeles, and I had been living in California for over two decades, so this move was emotional – it’s always tough to say goodbye to the place you call home. But making big moves is the only way to grow, personally and professionally. Heading up ERA and having a key role in the future of our parent company, Realogy, is both challenging and rewarding. And if we hadn’t moved from CA to NJ, I wouldn’t have been able to work alongside the other leaders of these two amazing brands. AM: Do you have any reading recommendations for our readers for real estate and in general? SC: For real estate, I recommend “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor” by Gary Keller. Instead of hype, it gives practical, actionable advice on how to build a real estate portfolio that scales. For casual reading, I recommend anything that excites or inspires you. But most importantly, I recommend that you keep reading regularly throughout your lives. I believe the benefits of reading every day are profound. 20 |

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AM: What was the last thing you ‘Googled’? Why? SC: The scuba rebreather that Li Bingbing’s character wore in the movie The Meg. Anybody know where to get one? AM: Describe your perfect house and where would it be located? SC: At the beach, but within 30-45 minutes of the food, culture, and amenities of a major city. AM: Are you a coffee or tea drinker? If so why and if not what you drink? SC: Coffee, although usually only on the weekends so that I can savor it over a book and then take a nap when the caffeine crash hits. AM: Other than investing in real estate, what other things should we have in our portfolio to prepare for retirement? SC: I believe in a balanced portfolio of real estate, stocks, and other investments, although I still do believe in real estate as one of the strongest vehicles to build wealth. One thing a lot of investors starting out say to me is that cashflow-positive real estate is too expensive where they live. If that’s the case, I recommend that they look in other markets in the US or abroad where they can afford properties that generate income immediately instead of waiting to invest in real estate.

with NAHREP, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, as well as AREAA, the Asian Real Estate Association of America, to lend our voice and resources in advocating for ethnic awareness and diversity in our industry. We just came back from the AREAA National Conference in Las Vegas, where it was announced that I will be Chairing the AREAA Global Luxury Summit in Beverly Hills next year. AM: What is your go to Chinese and American dish? Why? SC: To cook? For Chinese, it’s lobster yee mein (lobster noodles with ginger and scallions). Super tasty dish that’s easy and feels luxurious. For American, it’s Beef Wellington. Also super tasty and luxurious, but difficult to make. AM: What advice knowing where you are now, give to a younger you today? SC: Listen to your parents more. They speak from experience, and nobody else cares for you as unconditionally and has your best interests at heart like parents do. AM: When you are traveling with your family does your ‘business brain’ come into play when you see a property or a ‘for sale sign’? SC: Absolutely. I was just on vacation recently and saw a flyer for the condo I had rented. My mind immediately started calculating income and expense streams,

"Making big moves is the only way to grow, personally and professionally." AM: As an entrepreneur, how do you service the immigrant communities other than advertising in the local papers? SC: Buying a home is, for most people, the most expensive, complicated, emotional investment they will make. At ERA, we believe that having an understanding of different cultures goes a long way in helping immigrant communities feel secure and safe when going through a process that is complex enough, even without any language or cultural barriers. ERA has also partnered

cash flow, and tax implications. Good investments can be hard to find, so if you find one, jump on it! AM: What was the last item you purchased on Amazon? SC: An instant-read meat thermometer to ship to my in-laws since I’m responsible for cooking the prime rib roast at their house for Christmas! You can find more about ERA at


option, what about looking in a different neighborhood, or buying a multi-unit with friends, or rightsizing the vision a bit? For home sellers, it’s a similar process. It’s about doing research and being honest with yourself about the state of the market and what is a reasonable expectation.

2019 Health Trends Self-care routines

Clean Air

Oat Milk

Crystal Clear Water

Vitamin and mineral infusions/IV Drips

Recovery Gadgets


Plant based Fish

Eco-Keto eating



Financial Wellness

Brain boosting nutrients

Regenerative Agriculture

Smart jewelry

Endocannabinoid System

Fat fasting

Vineyard to Table Movement

Kid gyms

Brain Health

Immersion fitness at home

Wellness in Drugstores

Virtual Training and Online Workout Subscriptions

Refrigerated Snacks

Intuitive Eating

Infrared Saunas

Pre and Probiotic Foods

Medicinal Mushrooms

Food Sensitivity Testing

Women Only Gathering Spaces

Technology Based Fertility Tracking

No Food Waste

Active Pregnancies

Multisensory Wellness Center

Tongue Scraping

Alcohol Free Menus

Food Delivery Services

Nutrition Becomes Personal

Oil Free Diets

The Petal Desk

Reconnecting with Nature


Soothing Sounds

Sound Therapy

Colour Therapy/Chromotherapy/Colorstrology

Digestive Health

Sleep Hygiene






Reaching Optimal Health with Yi Sherry Zhang, Ph.D. Founder and CEO of GenoPalate, Inc.

Founded in 2016, GenoPalate combines the sciences of genetics and nutrition to help consumers improve the quality of their lives. Founder and CEO Dr. Sherry Zhang has an extensive background in molecular biology and clinical genomics. ALIST Magazine: Growing up, did you know you wanted to be a doctor in

why did you choose this field? SZ: I was devoted to studying obesity and the metabolic syndrome soon after I started my post-doctoral training at the Medical College of Wisconsin. It struck me with its impact and prevalence in affecting the health of our society not only in the U.S. but globally. Especially when I knew through my training that I have a powerful tool, the genomics to tackle this problem. I decided early on that I will dedicate my career to studying obesity and finding solutions to revert it. AM: In your academic work, you recognized that there is a gap between obesity and malnutrition. Can you explain? SZ: What I identified in my academic work was a gap between the knowledge we have built on metabolic health and genomics for the benefits of the society and people suffering from malnutritioncaused issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and poor blood lipids profiles that we often identified as the Metabolic Syndrome. This gap

"GenoPalate's goal is to help people find their own nutritional eating habits and foods that are consistent to their unique genetic makeup, for a healthier life." molecular biology? Why? Dr. Sherry Zhang: I have always been passionate about life and curious about how things work. That passion planted an early seed for me to develop into a Ph.D. in molecular biology. I just didn’t know when I was young that the path to understand life sciences is becoming a doctor in science. Not until I was in college. AM: You spent 11 years studying obesity and the metabolic syndrome; 22 |

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has hindered us from reaching optimal health and fully taking advantage of the tremendous advancement in healthcare technology. This eventually has driven me to find another solution of closing the gap outside of academia. AM: Would you refer to yourself as an entrepreneur or research scientist? What are the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur and a scientist? SZ: It is a really hard question. Because

I think my identity by training is a scientist and my identity by nature is an entrepreneur. I would call myself entrepreneurial scientist. AM: If you were not in this industry/ field, what else would you be going instead? SZ: I think I would like to write children’s books. AM: How did your company GenoPalate come about, and how did you come up with the name? SZ: I wanted to build something that can change how people live their nutritional lives but delivered in a non-clinical setting. After talking to lots of people enthusiastic about the concept of personal nutrition, I came up with GenoPalate with a purpose of linking people’s genomic DNA with flavor and joy of life. AM: Your bio lists you as “a mother first, a scientist second”; can you elaborate? SZ: Ah, yes. I am a mother of a fabulous 11-year-old boy. Striving to be a good mother to my son always comes first and foremost when I need to prioritize my life. This strong feeling actually isn’t necessarily an instinct or an obligation to my child; it is a wonderful and powerful feeling of being grounded for what’s most important to the inner world of myself. By the way, I wouldn’t be as “smart” as I am today if not for my son. He has taught me so much. AM: What is the goal of GenoPalate? SZ: I set the goal of GenoPalate from day one and it has never changed since. GenoPalate’s goal is to help people find their own nutritional eating habits and foods that are consistent to their unique genetic makeup, for a healthier life. AM: In today’s society, there are


hacks to everything. Can we hack our genetics? SZ: Absolutely. We are doing it already. Genetic codes that we all possess have existed for the entire 2.5 million years of evolution course, but cracking the code and putting our understanding of it to benefiting our health and life was only made possible in the recent years. It is an

might be that we haven’t done enough work in educating society of the importance of genetics and how to apply genetic data properly, or it might be that people are not provided easy enough access to their own genetics. I do think in 10 years, we will see a significant proportion of our society have health and wellness genetic testing completed,

health? SZ: These are reasonable concerns, and I would like to offer those people my perspectives based on my long-term professional training and work in the genetics field. The first human genome costs $2.6 billion. Today, we can offer a whole-genome test like GenoPalate tests for less than $200. That shows how much

"We will see a significant proportion of our society have health and wellness genetic testing completed, simply because we will gain much more insight into the genetic makeup of our own bodies for our benefits." incredible time that we are living in for the applications of genetics. AM: Is genetic health testing recommended for everyone? Why or why not? SZ: Yes. Some people may have reservations to adopting the idea. It

simply because we will gain much more insight into the genetic makeup of our own bodies for our benefits. AM: How do you convince those out there that are skeptical of genetic testing and the issue of digital privacy that GenoPalate is worth it for their

investment that we have put into driving the advancements of the technology of genetic sequencing and typing, the understanding of the data generated and the application of the knowledge gained. As we advance in delivering genetics tests both to clinics and to consumers, responsible providers are taking cautions WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 23

in accessing, managing and analyzing people’s genetic data for consented uses. For example, at GenoPalate, we have implemented data security measures and solutions such that our customers’ genetic information is completely de-identified and encrypted in our database. This means no outside affiliate can access our customers’ genetic data, and personal information is unattached from the DNA. We will continue investing in strategies and technologies in DNA data security and protection as we grow. AM: If GenoPalate provides personal nutrition information that helps people align their eating habits based on their genetic makeup, then why wouldn’t seeing an endocrinologist or nutritionist produce the same results? SZ: For the same reason as applying precision medicine in providing patients with personalized treatment has just started to be adopted by clinicians, applying genetic information to personal health, wellness and particularly nutrition is a newly available resource for endocrinologists and nutritionists whom are interested in providing their patients personalized solutions for healthy eating. In order to make this powerful tool a mainstream for healthcare practitioners,

AM: Can you share some results from individuals that have made a change for the better? SZ: Here are non-solicited quotes and feedback from some of GenoPalate customers: Customer A: Hi! I have my genopalate report and have been incorporating "my" foods as much as possible. I absolutely value these foods and feel great! I have lost a few pounds without trying, and was wondering if ifs [sic] this may be do [sic] to eating more foods that my DNA warrants? Have you heard of this from other customers? Thanks! Customer B: Great info! I have been eating a couple of the superfoods for my DNA on a daily basis and I am already seeing positive results. Customer C: Hi Sherry, Further to my email of January 14th, I am attaching a report from Lab concerning my blood lipids. As you will see, it is highly consistent with the information in my Genopalate report; as such I anticipate that it will be interesting to you.

"To make this powerful tool a mainstream for healthcare practitioners, we need to provide robust educational resources and support programs. we need to provide robust educational resources and support programs. AM: How comprehensive is the nutritional analysis that is sent to individuals? SZ: We have curated the entire nutritional genetics database that encompasses current knowledge and selected over a hundred genetic biomarkers throughout the nutritional genome in determining each person’s nutritional needs based on DNA. It provides one of the most comprehensive analysis and evaluation of personal nutritional patterns based on genetics. 24 |

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AM: You must have a large collection of DNA in your system. What is done with this data, once each individual is sent their results? SZ: Once we have concluded the personal nutrition analysis using the genetic data that we were provided through either sampling our customers’ DNA or customers’ uploaded existing data from or, we store de-identified customer data in our encrypted database. Customers can opt out at any time by requesting deleting of copies of their information stored with us. We recommend customers keeping their data in our secure database as we

need their data and results to continue conducting post-profiling analyses in order to make further personalized nutrition services such as meal planning based on genetic profiles possible. AM: What are your observations on intermittent fasting and high-intensity interval training? SZ: Intermittent fasting has gained popularity over the last decade. The idea of intermittent fasting is appealing to some, it may increase productivity, provide flexibility in daily schedule, limit dietary excursions and provide dietary guidance for those you have difficulty following a traditional eating pattern. Many media outlets claim intermittent fasting as a secret weight loss solution, a simple meal patterning that sheds pounds. But the research tells a different story. Majority of controlled studies find very little difference in weight loss, changes in blood pressure, fasting glucose and lipids when when observing intermittent fasting and continuous diets over 12 months. Research regarding High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is more supportive. Research shows that HIIT is a superior exercise method for the oxidation of fat cells, and increases post-exercise oxygen consumption. The shift to increased fat burning has been shown in as little as two weeks of HIIT. Continuous aerobic activities certainly have their benefit; however, HIIT may lead to similar or greater results more efficiently. AM: What is your perfect meal and why? SZ: My perfect meal is a home-made meal cooked and enjoyed with my family. It is perfect because there is nothing more enjoyable than sharing a meal with people you love. AM: What is the best advice someone gave you and why? SZ: The best advice I have gotten in my life is from my late grandfather. He told me, “Be direct with what you want and pursue it with passion.” To find more information about GenoPalate, please visit

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By Jackie Ho


Portraits New York City 26 |

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New York soju makers sit down and talk to James Christopher Renard about their passion for Soju and starting their own company


saw this as an opportunity to introduce a more natural, cleaner soju that was not only more adaptable to a western audience, but it is also more akin to how soju was made fifty years ago.

Maxwell Fine: Max was born and raised in St. Louis, MIssouri. He graduated from George Washington University with a major in economics and geography. Thereafter, Max earned a JD from Pace Law School. He served as general counsel of start ups HEVO Power and MPOWERD. He currently serves a Senior Counsel for Gwynnie Bee.

32 Soju is distilled from corn, while other soju brands from Korea are made from various grains, including barley or wheat, or starches such as sweet potatoes, tapioca, or rice. Many people refer to soju as “Korean Vodka” because it is a neutral spirit like vodka. A key difference is soju is low ABV, generally 23% abv or less.

Daniel Lee: Dan is originally from Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from George Washington University, Magna Cum Laude, with degrees in economics and statistics. It was at GW where he met and became friends with his cofounding partner, Maxwell Fine. Dan’s professional background began in investment banking and corporate finance he helped many companies improve profitability and value creation through mergers & acquisitions and strategic planning. He has served as head of finance to several start-up technology companies as well as a globally recognized fashion brand.

JCR: With all the alcoholic beverages out there, what made you take that leap of

For more information about West 32 Soju, please visit and on social media @w32soju James Christopher Renard: How did you meet? Dan & Max: We became friends while attending George Washington University. After graduating, we both made our way to New York City. Dan introduced me Koreatown. I quickly learned about Korean culture. We spent a lot of time drinking bottles of soju. JCR: What is Soju? Daniel Lee: Soju is a Korean word that essentially means “distilled liquor”. West

JCR: What are some of the challenges to starting your own soju company? Maxwell Fine: Since Soju is relatively new in the U.S., we’re consistently working to educate and introduce consumers to soju and Korean culture. We luckily have a colleague, Russell Kohn, and partners in our key markets that are vital in helping us build awareness. One of the most fulfilling aspects of starting West 32 Soju is watching peoples’ reaction when they first try our soju. They love it! JCR: What makes West 32 Soju different than other brands? DF: A lot of people in the US do not know this, but soju is actually the most consume distilled spirit in the world. 3 of the top 10 spirit brands in the world are soju brands. Most well-known soju brands are associated with awful hangovers that are caused by highly processed sweeteners and other additives. Those sweeteners (such a steveoside) can be up to 150 times sweeter than natural cane sugar. One of the main reasons why we wanted to make our own

"Why we wanted to make our own soju was to create a soju that is 100% all natural, with no processed ingredients or artificial additives of any kind." faith? D&M: It’s true that there are literally thousands of alcohol brands out there, and the alcoholic beverage industry is extremely competitive. However, soju is relatively new to American consumers – many of which may never have even heard of soju. With the increasing popularity of Korean culture, driven by k-pop and Korean cuisine, Korean influenced drinks have also become more popular. We see this as an incredible opportunity to introduce Korean culture to a western audience through West 32 Soju. These days, most sojus are mass-produced and mixed with artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and other tongue-twisting chemicals. When we hit the other side of 30 and the hangovers became too unbearable, we first came up with the idea of creating an all natural, gluten-free, soju. There are only a handful of sojus sold in the U.S. and they include this artificial sweetener. We

soju was to create a soju that is 100% all natural, with no processed ingredients or artificial additives of any kind. Less hangover! West 32 Soju is all natural, gluten-free, and made in NY! JCR: Who do you think is your biggest customer? D&M: We have a few key targeted customers. Those customers include (1) Korean-Americans seeking a healthier, more balanced soju, (2) consumers seeking low ABV cocktails, and (3) western customers seeking an introduction to soju and Korean cuisine. Soju is a perfect palate cleanser at meals. JCR: What is the difference between soju and sake? DF: Soju often gets mistaken for Sake. A large part of this reason is because Sake WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 27


the next morning from those awful soju hangovers. We did a little research and found a lot of interesting information about Korean soju, for example: why is Korean soju so cheap? Why does Korean soju give you such awful hangovers? Etc. We also learned that Korean soju is the most popular spirit in the world, by volume sold – by a very large margin. We knew we could do better by working with local distilleries, using only simple, all natural ingredients for our soju. So we decided to create our own soju brand – West 32 Soju.

is so much more well-known than soju, at the moment. However, there is very simply fundamental difference between soju and sake: Soju is a distilled spirit that is made from many different types of grains and/or starches, whereas sake is brewed/fermented – from rice.

will give the product a natural sweetness, with a hint of vanilla notes. The ultimate goal was for Reserve to have the nose of a whiskey, but the sipibility of soju. We are very excited about the West 32 Reserve, as the feedback so far has been incredibly positive.

JCR: What is the greatest part of your soju career? D&M: The best part about operating our own soju brand is seeing the positive reactions on peoples’ faces when they try West 32 Soju for the first time. In the beginning, we were naturally very worried about how people would react to our soju. But now that we have received

JCR: What is your soju making philosophy; that is, what are you trying to achieve with your soju? D&M: Soju, which commonly comes in a 375 ml green bottle, is a key part of a Korean cuisine and culture. It is so ingrained in Korean life that today soju is less expensive then water in Korea and because of this, many bottles of soju are

"The best part about operating our own soju brand is seeing the positive reactions on peoples' faces when they try West 32 Soju for the first time." so much positive feedback, it really feels like our hardwork has been worth it, and it really gives us the energy to keep pushing forward. MF: We received our first gold medal for best soju in the New York International Spirits Competition in 2017 – the only soju brand to win gold, as well as being named NY soju producer of the year. The market validation that we have received from consumers and industry peers has been very fulfilling so far, but we have a long way to go to achieve our goal of making soju a household name.

shared over the course of a social gathering. While our soju uses all natural ingredients and is gluten-free, we are very conscious of the role of soju at social gathering and we keep our price as low as possible to ensure customers can include west 32 soju in their social gathering similar to imported Korean soju.

JCR: Are there plans to expand to other alcohols?​ MF: We are releasing a new aged soju in September. It is called West 32 Reserve, and it is the first aged U.S. soju. The soju is finished in first use American white oak whiskey barrels for 6 months. Modern soju is very neutral and light – like a very light vodka. West 32 Reserve, on the other hand, is going to be much more flavorful with the nose of a whiskey, and a bit stronger in terms of ABV at 32% (compared to 19.9% for the West 32 Original Soju). The barrel

JCR: How did you decide to start West 32 Soju? D&M: We both moved to NYC from Washington D.C around the same time: 20072008. We would often meet up in Koreatown for happy hour, which meant soju was involved. We drank a lot of soju together back then. When we both got to the other side of 30, we noticed it was getting harder to recover

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JCR: Do you use traditional soju making methods? DL: Yes, we use modern equipment and our distillation process is very much the same as the imported Korean soju.

JCR: Do you have any mentors? D&M: We are forever grateful to Matt Jager from Yankee Distillers and Chris Murillo of Queens Courage. We first produced West 32 Soju at Astoria Distillery and learned a lot about ins and outs of making alcohol and the business side from Chris. He provided us the opportunity to launch the product. Matt Jager from Yankee Distillers is a creative genius when it comes to distilling and has taken West 32 Soju to the next level. We started producing West 32 with Matt late last year and his advice and wisdom has been amazing. We worked with Matt in incorporating new barreling techniques on the West 32 Reserve to find that perfect balance. Everyone should be on the look out for Yankee Distillers products in the NY market. JCR: What kind of advice would you give to people who are just trying to break into the business? D&M: Be prepared for rejection. JCR: Do you consider yourself a craft distiller? D&M: No. We wanted our soju to be as accessible as possible. JCR: Do you watch any sports? D&M: Yes, Max is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, while Dan is a Philly guy who grew up being an Eagles fan JCR: Describe an awesome date night. D&M: Whatever our wives want to do. For more information about James Christopher Renard, please visit www.closetconversationalist. com

Different. Because it makes a difference.

Goldberg Segalla began with seven attorneys, one vision, and enough spare wood and sawhorses to build the makeshift desks where the firm was born. Today, Goldberg Segalla is an AmLaw 200 firm — and one of the fastest organically growing law firms headquartered in the U.S., with over 400 accomplished attorneys practicing at the forefront of a wide range of fields, from commercial litigation and transactions to employment and labor, construction, cybersecurity, professional liability, retail, sports and entertainment, and more. Most importantly, we’ve never wavered in our commitment to our founding principles of collaboration, professionalism, diversity, and creative client-driven service.

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Sovanna Pouv, A Passionate Advocate


experience to their family and friends. But it doesn’t mean that individuals won’t have a change of heart. There are many in the world that have had their thoughts and perspectives changed due to self-reflection or positive encounters.

Born in the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in Thailand, Sovanna Pouv and his family came to the United States in 1981 as refugees. Pouv currently serves as the Executive Director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell (CMAA). He chatted with ALIST Magazine about his journey and experiences. ALIST Magazine: Tell us what you remember growing up, first in Thailand then in Lowell. Sovanna Pouv: I actually don’t remember much from Thailand. I left the camps at a very early age and arrived in Chicago, IL at roughly 10 months of age. At the time, my father, mother and I were sponsored by Catholic Charities, which is how we were able to come to the United States. My family and I moved to Lowell because my mother found out that the only surviving member of her family from the genocide, my aunt, had relocated to Lowell from California. We moved to Lowell in 1988, where we saw our extended family for the first time: my aunt and cousins on Merrimack Street. It was the best day ever. AM: What were your dreams in high school? In college? Have they come true? SP: I dreamt to be a video game designer. I was really into art, video games and break dancing as a youth in high school. I didn’t read many books, but when it comes to role-playing video games, I made sure I paid attention to every little sentence and paragraph that was on the screen. I attended Middlesex Community College as an art major. I loved art and computers. One of my teachers from high school suggested that I take a course in this field with relations to marketing. She thought I had a very creative mind with a lot to share if the opportunity was there. 30 |

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My dreams came true in a sense where I am the main designer and marketer for CMAA. I’ve obtained positions in both nonprofit and private sector jobs in my previous work experience that pertains to these fields. I would have never thought I would be an executive director of a nonprofit. I took a leap of faith at and am now enjoying the experience very much. AM: When you hear the word “refugee camp,” what are the first images or thoughts that come up? SP: Families and individuals figuring out what is the next chapter in their lives. Why were they stripped of their freedom, why did they lose everything they’ve worked so hard for, are they going to survive in the camp or their next location? This is the reality that we have to face that is taking place all over the world. Politics, agendas, individual pursuit of happiness and not the pursuit of overall happiness blinds some of us. We need to figure out how

AM: Growing up with a single parent without resources made who you are today; do you think if you had all the necessary resources would you have turned out differently? SP: My father left my family when I was 3 and my brother was 6 months old. My mother eventually found love in someone for about 10 years. Since then, my mother has been in and out of relationships while struggling with mental health issues and alcoholism. These experiences have molded me to be the way I am today. I love people, I care for people, I do not want to be what my father was to us. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have him around in my life but truly believe that things happen for a reason. I may be the same person, but may not have a child at the age of 20 and perhaps would still live in Chicago in an urban setting working with people in some capacity in the arts field. AM: What did you study at Middlesex Community College? Any plans to further your education? SP: I studied graphic design, class of ’99. I went to school later in life because of the birth of my first daughter. I had her at the age of 20 and focused my time and energy on working multiple jobs while her mother was attending and finishing her degree at the same community college. I have thought about going back to school for public administration with a minor in political science. It’s so important that institutions and organizations from all levels

"We need to figure out how we can work together on a global scale to ensure that war and refugees are not a norm." we can work together on a global scale to ensure that war and refugees camps are not a norm. AM: Why do you think that in today’s society people still use racial slurs? SP: Lack of interaction with the people they hate. An experience, particularly negative, that someone may have with one individual which may have proven whatever thoughts they had about the whole group. When hate is brewing in someone’s heart and soul, it is much easier for them to pass that same

work together for the common good of our citizens. It’s like a machine: If one cog is broken, the rest of it will not work well, which will end up with a bad product, if any at all. AM: Why is the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Agency (CMAA) so important to you? SP: This organization is near and dear to my heart. Upon my family’s arrival to Lowell in 1988, I remember my mother visiting the CMAA to get her paperwork


trip go, and how did it feel going back? SP: The opportunity to visit the country where your family and ancestors are from is amazing. Seeing everything that is Cambodian related was a culture shock, but also something that I can’t forget. I had the chance to visit the refugee camp where I was born. At one moment as I was standing at the camps, I envisioned the chaos that was taking place at that time. I felt complete in life where I’ve connected physically to location where my journey started.

done. Where to sign us up for school, where the social security office is, where can she apply for public benefits -- it was a miracle for those that didn’t speak English and had no clue on how to navigate the system. Later on in life after I had my firstborn, I found myself with my new daughter living in a friend’s basement while trying to figure out how am I going to take care of this beautiful angel. At the time, CMAA had the Community Service Employment Program, where they would place refugees like myself in non-manufacturing jobs. I applied for the program and was approved to be placed at the nonprofit known as UTEC. I started working there July 2001 as the front desk coordinator/street worker. I eventually stayed with UTEC till 2013 working as a consultant in marketing and design. This is the place where I built my knowledge of nonprofits. AM: You have been the Executive Director of the CMAA since 2014; what have you accomplished so far? SP: It’s been a wonderful but hard journey in the last four and half years. We have been able to almost double our annual budget, created programs for young people and opportunities for community members to civically engaged, expanded our programming space to the second floor of our building, built new partnerships within Lowell and Greater Boston, and are called upon as the reliable connector to the Cambodian community by our local and state elected officials. That is the quick summary of what has happened. As I mentioned, it wasn’t easy getting to where we are today, but with the advice of mentors, opportunities with partners and trust in our mission by supporters, we are very happy. AM: With different generations looking for assistance, how do you bridge the gap?

SP: This is a challenging opportunity for not just the Cambodian community, but other similar groups as well. I think it’s important that we specify what each group can bring to the table. Elders and the first generation of refugees bring their homeland experience, culture and stories about the war and country. Young people bring the perspective of growing up in America, living bi-culturally, and being connected to the American experience whether it’s through language or involvement.

AM: How do we maintain diversity without losing our cultural identity when bringing up children today? SP: I believe that we, as adults, have to truly be connected to our culture and identity as well. Connected in a sense where it’s not about the work, not about who’s around you, but how you truly feel inside your heart and soul. When this feeling is maintained, the energy around you, the decisions you make, it will set an example for the children that we’re raising. I try not to enforce it on my own children. I just live the life and see what they will pick up. AM: When you were at your lowest low, was there anyone that you leaned on to help you? SP: Yes, my mentor was there for me. He opened his home and his time to ensure that I was emotionally and physically well. He was like a father to me, the type of father that I always wanted in my life. He also saw something in me as well when he hired me at UTEC, something in me that I didn’t see, and I am forever grateful for that.

"I believe that we, as adults, have to truly be connected to our culture and identity as well." We connect these two groups by creating a safe space for both to share and learn from each other. We remind our youth that the elders are not here to lecture, but here to share their stories as they would love for it to be passed down to them to be shared with their children. We remind our elders that the youth of this country is very different than to the ones they are used to in Cambodia. Kids in this country are going to lose their heritage and culture if they don’t practice. We ask the elders if they would be kind to share their knowledge and experience so that we can build on the sense of Cambodian Pride that we all have in ourselves.

AM: What is your favorite Cambodian food and why? SP: I love the chicken and lemongrass stew. It is such a simple dish but oh so delicious. It has a slight tart taste, but that’s what is so good about it. Till this day, my mother makes it the best.

AM: How large is the Southeast Asian community in Lowell? SP: Unofficial estimates says one-third of the population.

AM: How would you like to be remembered? SP: I would like to be remembered as the father, family member and community worker that was able to bring people together for a common good.

AM: In 2015, you went on a 10-day delegation trip to Cambodia to build strong ties between the city and the Southeast Asian nation. How did that

AM: If we were planning a trip to Lowell, what should we do and not miss? SP: You should definitely come to the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival. It is typically held the third Saturday of August every year. There are performances, vendors, boat races and over 30,000 people in attendance.

For more information about CMAA, please visit or follow them on social media @cmaalowell WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 31

Lani Wong

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is pleased to announce Lani Wong, dedicated Asian American community advocate, as a recipient of its NAAAP 100 Award. NAAAP’s highest honor is presented annually to a select few leaders who have made significant contributions to their field of work and the Asian American community. This award was presented to Ms. Wong during the gala ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The awards gala is the highlight and culminating event of NAAAP’s annual Leadership Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair, was held August 23-25, 2018 at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. Lani Wong currently chairs the 32 |

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National Association of Chinese Americans (NACA) in Atlanta and has served the interests of the Asian American community for over 38 years. A pioneer in the movement to involve Asian Americans in the American political process, Ms. Wong was appointed to the Human Relations Commission, served as Chair of the first Georgia Asian-American Affairs Commission, and was named to the Asian-American Commission for a New Georgia. Her commitment to promoting U.S.-China relations earned her the distinction of being named an Honorary Citizen of the People’s Republic of China, an advisor to the 6th, 7th, and 8th National Congress of the All-China Federation of Returning Chinese, five consecutive terms as an advisor to the International Cultural Exchange Association; and selection as one of five U.S. citizens to attend the Fifth Session of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The Georgia House of Representatives also passed Resolution 1804, “recognizing the special contributions and the efforts of Ms. Wong to promote peace and the development of commercial, cultural, and educational ties between the United States and China.” She continues her work as member of the National Committee on US-China Relation, and a World Affairs Council Chairman Circle member. Ms. Wong has also sought to advance opportunities for women in her local community throughout her career. She served six years on the Board of Directors at The Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and received the first Luminary Award from Global Executive Women as well as the Georgia Pioneer Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislators—Women, in honor of her achievements and the path that she’s paved for the next generation of women leaders. Ms. Wong has also served for three years on the Board of Trustees for Leadership Atlanta. Ms. Wong was born in Indonesia and

attended school in Taiwan and later at the University of Hawaii. She has two children and lives with her husband in Atlanta, where she enjoys gardening.



NAAAP 100 Award Honorees and NAAAP Inspire Recipient

Ben Chestnut

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is pleased to announce CEO, co-founder, and self-proclaimed ‘leader of the misfits’ Ben Chestnut as a recipient of its NAAAP 100 Award. NAAAP’s highest honor is presented annually to a select few leaders who have made significant contributions to their field of work and the Asian American community. This award was presented to Mr. Chestnut during the gala ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The awards gala is the highlight and culminating event of NAAAP’s annual Leadership Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair, was held August 23-25, 2018 at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. Ben Chestnut is co-founder and CEO of MailChimp, the leading marketing automation platform for small businesses. Mr. Chestnut half-jokes

In addition to helping small businesses to achieve a wider influence, MailChimp has also been earnest in its support of organizations and events that promote education in the community, such as the Emerging Women Conference, lecture series CreativeMornings, and the Radiotopia podcast.


Mr. Chestnut is a dedicated leader whose mantra for employees is “listen hard, change fast.” He studied physics at the University of Georgia before earning his bachelor’s of science in industrial design from Georgia Tech. In 2016, he was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Frank Wu

The National Association of Asian

American Professionals (NAAAP) is pleased to announce author and Distinguished Professor Frank Wu as the recipient of its NAAAP 100 Award. NAAAP’s highest honor is presented annually to a select few leaders who have made significant contributions to their field of work and the Asian American community. This award was presented to Mr. Wu during the gala ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The awards gala is the highlight and culminating event of NAAAP’s annual Leadership Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair, was held August 23-25, 2018 at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. Prior to being named a distinguished professor and serving two terms as Chancellor & Dean at UC Hastings (where he was voted “most influential” dean in legal education by National Jurist magazine), Mr. Wu spent a decade serving as the first AsianAmerican faculty member at Howard University, the nation’s leading historically black college/university (HBCU). He also served as Dean of Wayne State University Law School in his hometown of Detroit and has been: a visiting professor at University of Michigan; an adjunct professor at Columbia University; and a Thomas C. Grey Teaching Fellow at Stanford University. He taught at the Peking University School of Transnational Law in its inaugural year and again a decade later. In addition to his pioneering role as a faculty member at Howard, his leadership roles at UC Hastings and Wayne marked the first time an Asian American had served in such a capacity at both institutions. In 2016, Mr. Wu was elected Chair of the Committee of 100 (C100), a nonprofit membership organization based in New York City dedicated to promoting positive relations between the U.S. and China and increasing Chinese American participation in all aspects of public life. He chaired that office for two years before the Board named him the group’s first-ever President. Mr. Wu is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White and co-author of Race, Rights and

Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, which received the single greatest grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. He is currently writing a book on the Vincent Chin case, and his co-authored script of the case’s trial reenactment has been performed across the nation. Mr. Wu was born in the United States to immigrants from Taiwan. He is an avid runner, completing 36 half marathons in 2016, and a photographer, shooting on film with a vintage Contax G2. He now lives in San Francisco with his wife, Carol L. Izumi.


that he has been fielding questions about email’s imminent death since his company’s founding in 2001. Headquartered in Atlanta, just a few hours from Mr. Chestnut’s hometown of Hephzibah, MailChimp is privately held and profitable, with over 800 employees and millions of global users. In 2015, users distributed a staggering 15 billion emails a month on MailChimp. Mr. Chestnut’s creation was named Company of the Year by Inc. Magazine in 2017 and recognized as one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. In 2017, the company, which is still privately-held and has never accepted venture capital funds, earned over $525 million in revenue.

Chaiwon Kim

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is pleased to announce Chaiwon Kim, community and healthcare pioneer for Asian American immigrants, as a recipient of its NAAAP 100 Award. NAAAP’s highest honor is presented annually to a select few leaders who have made significant contributions to their field of work and the Asian American community. This award was presented to Ms. Kim during the gala ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The awards gala is the highlight and culminating event of NAAAP’s annual Leadership Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair, was held August 23-25, 2018 at the WWW.ALIST-MAGAZINE.COM | 33

InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta.

election for the 97th House District in the Georgia House of Representatives as a Pakistani Muslim woman. In November, she will face the Republican candidate for election to that office. Ms. Yaqoob serves as the policy director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, a nonprofit legal and advocacy center. In that role, she monitors and acts on local, state, and federal policies impacting the Asian community. Her life’s work is dedicated to protecting and promoting voting and immigration rights and ensuring fair access to quality healthcare and education.

For two decades, Ms. Kim has served as the CEO and President of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS). CPACS is the first multi-service community center in the Southeast, serving the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. Her efforts have grown CPACS from a small, volunteer-run organization, which originally focused on the Korean American community, to a large multiservice, Pan Asian organization with a diverse staff of 40 full-time and 80 parttime employees, who speak 15 different languages. Under Ms. Kim’s direction, CPACS has grown from serving 791 clients per month in 1999 to serving over 3,600 clients per month in 2018.

Ms. Kim graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2001 and became a state certified addiction counselor (GACA) in 2003. In 2008 Mrs. Kim opened the RICE (Research Institute and Counseling Education) Center, a CPACS satellite office, to provide mental health counseling. Finally, in 2013 Ms. Kim opened CPACS Cosmo Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, staffed by bilingual, bicultural physicians to serve the API community.

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Aisha Yaqoob

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is pleased to announce Aisha Yaqoob, a passionate civil and immigrant rights advocate, as the recipient of its 2018 NAAAP Inspire Award. NAAAP’s Inspire Award is presented annually to a promising leader, usually early in his or her career, who has already made a tremendous, arguably revolutionary impact in his or her field or on society. This honor was presented to Ms. Yaqoob during the gala ceremony at the InterContinental Buckhead at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The awards gala is the highlight and culminating event of NAAAP’s annual Leadership Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair, was held August 23-25, 2018 at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. Ms. Yaqoob recently made history by winning the Democratic primary


A registered nurse (RN) and addiction counselor, Ms. Kim recognized CPACS’ need for a clinic when she first began volunteering as a receptionist. Soon after, she spearheaded the development of CPACS’ free clinic, which provides basic health checks and immunizations for the immigrant community. In 1999, she initiated the Asian Breast Care program, aimed at providing culturally and linguistically appropriate, affordable breast cancer screening to uninsured and underinsured API women. Thereafter, Mrs. Kim developed the Korean and Chinese cancer support groups, the first and only in-language groups of their kind in Georgia. In 2000, CPACS became a certified HIV testing and counseling center, and in 2006 Mrs. Kim secured funding through HUD to develop the first Georgia senior housing complex—the second for Asian Americans in the nation.

Ms. Yaqoob is the middle of five children and grew up with a large extended family. She graduated high school with honors and won the HOPE Scholarship for the University of Georgia, where she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism in 2013 and a Masters of Public Administration & Policy in 2016. In graduate school, Ms. Yaqoob founded the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, which, in 2016, aided in increasing voter turnout in communities with historically low voter participation. As a co-organizer of the Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women in January 2017, she helped lead nearly 60,000 people to march peacefully downtown. Ms. Yaqoob is a scholarship participant in the National Labor Leadership Initiative, a participant in the Gwinnett Citizens Academy, and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Downtown Suwanee Redevelopment Commission. Aisha has earned a 40 Under 40 Georgia Muslim Award from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, the Rising Star Community Champion Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta and commendation from the Georgia General Assembly for her work in the Georgia Muslim Community. For more information about the NAAAP 100 Honorees and the NAAAP Inspire Recipient, please visit programs/naaap-100






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