Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight 2016

~Each month, we feature a current member in our Member Spotlight series. The Member Spotlight enables us to get to know each other, learn about our members and to acknowledge their contributions for our community and city.~

January – Wayne Wong

February- Marie Yvette Obias (Evie)

March – Kurt Yue

April – Lisa Wong

May – Diana Le-Cabrera

June – Krystin Eng

July – Lyvian Loh

August – Valerie Gage

September – James Huang

October – Jack Liu

November – Raina Li

December – Thérèse Lemmen

January

Wayne Wong

Wayne A Wong - Spotlight Jan 2016

Current occupation

Project Lead Engineer – NASA Glenn Research Center;
VP of Administration – OCA Asian Pacific American; Advocates – Greater Cleveland Chapter;
Lead MC and Performance Co-Chair – Cleveland Asian Festival;
Dragon Dance Team Lead

Employer

NASA Glenn Research Center

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I was born in Hong Kong and moved with my family to Cleveland when I was three. So I’ve lived here most of my life including college at CWRU and getting hired into NASA immediately afterwards. It’s a great city I’m proud to call home. I grew up in what is now called AsiaTown so I have pretty deep roots in the neighborhood, which is why I’m really happy and excited to see the progress of the neighborhood and why I enjoy working with community organizations to help it grow.

When did you join MotivAsians?

My wife Lisa was part of the early formation of MotivAsians so, through her, I could say I have been part of the group from the beginning. But it wasn’t until more recent years that I became more involved particularly as MotivAsians and several other community organizations share a similar networks of members, like-minded individuals, and friends.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians does a really good job of attracting Asian Americans, organizing networking and social events, and offering training opportunities to its membership. Cleveland has long suffered from the “Brain Drain” as so many of my peers, friends, and family members have moved. Having a support organization such as MotivAsians, either for socializing or for professional networking is much needed as we collectively work towards revitalization of Cleveland, expanding AsiaTown, improving the Asian American experience, and providing positive images of Asians. Working with MotivAsians, OCA Greater Cleveland, Cleveland Asian Festival organizers, and other partner organizations has been enriching and rewarding.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

MotivAsians has been able to do a lot of good, especially for the younger professionals many of whom are from out of town. Looking ahead, with Asians being the fastest growing minority group in the US, it is important for community organizations to work together to address the challenges of our growing Asian population. The needs and issues are far ranging, but I think MotivAsians has the capacity to be able to make a huge impact with its network of motivated and energetic professional members. Initiatives could be stand-alone MotivAsians projects, or they can be collaborative with groups such as our OCA Asian American Advocates – Greater Cleveland chapter. Multi-organization programs powered by partnerships have proven to be successful with events such as the Cleveland Asian Festival that has become a catalyst for growth in AsiaTown. I would like to see these types of collaborations continue and to expand to a broader scale.

See everyone at the Cleveland Asian Festival, May 21-22, 2016!

February

Marie Yvette Obias (Evie)

Current occupation

Nursing Student

Employer

Cuyahoga Community College

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I was born in Cleveland and raised in Bedford Heights, a SE suburb. My parents came here from the Philippines after my mom was offered a nursing job with St. Alexis Hospital. I moved out of Cleveland twice: for college (University of Toledo) and for San Francisco.

When did you join MotivAsians?

I joined MotivAsians in 2002 when I moved back to Cleveland from SF. I wanted to become involved with the Asian community and learn how I could give back after gaining so much prior to my move.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians has always been a resource of Asian culture for me. I have learned so much from the different cultures represented here. My professional and social network has grown as well, which has inspired me to become involved in the Filipino community in Cleveland.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I would love to see MotivAsians volunteer more in the community. If there is anything I can do to help bring this to fruition, please let me know! I love volunteering at the many non-profit organisations in Northeast Ohio and would love to have MotivAsians continue to be part of it!

March

Kurt Yue

Current occupation

Actor

Employer

Self-employed

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I first moved to Cleveland in 1993 when I was in sixth grade. I spent four years in Michigan when I was in college and then moved back to the Cleveland in 2005 and have lived here ever since.

When did you join MotivAsians?

I first heard about MotivAsians from Rachael Yim, Fung Lin Wu, and Nidhi Shah when I met the three of them at a University of Michigan alumni networking event in 2010.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

The networking has been amazing. I’ve built relationships over the past few years on both a personal and professional level. I even won a gift certificate for plastic surgery at one of the fundraiser events!

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I’d love to see MotivAsians grow in both size and community impact. A community service day building houses for Habitat for Humanity would be really cool.

April

Lisa Wong

Current occupation

President, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, Greater Cleveland Chapter;
Organizer & Co-Founder, Cleveland Asian Festival.
Community Organizer, Social Media and Event Planner;

Employer

Self-Employed

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I was born and raised in Cleveland and have lived in Northeast Ohio my entire life. It’s the love for my hometown, passion to grow Cleveland’s Asiatown, and pride in my Asian heritage is what motivates me to volunteer for organizations such as OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates and the Cleveland Asian Festival.

When did you join MotivAsians?

I joined MotivAsians during the initial planning stage even before it was named MotivAsians for Cleveland. It was an exciting time to see so many young Asian Pacific American professionals come together for the kickoff event at Sushi Rock downtown in March of 2002.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

As a native Clevelander, I’ve seen the needs of the community and have been inspired to see how MotivAsians can attract and retain young Asian Pacific American professional through leadership development training, programs, DiscoverCLE tours, and networking opportunities. Through MotivAsians I have enjoyed learning more about my hometown, and have expanded my personal and professional networks in the community. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with some talented and passionate leaders in the Asian American community.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

With Asian Americans being the fastest growing minority group, I see an increasing need for groups such as MotivAsians for Cleveland. I would love to see MotivAsians partner with OCA to promote civic engagement and increase voter turnout in the Asian Pacific American community; leadership development and recruitment of committee members and volunteers for community events like the Cleveland Asian Festival; and community service projects to address the needs of the growing Asian Pacific American community in Northeast Ohio.

May

Diana Le-Cabrera

Current occupation

Faculty Manager

Employer

Kaplan Test Prep

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

Almost 8 years!

When did you join MotivAsians?

May 2010 – I searched for my first email.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians provided me with multiple opportunities to explore the wonderful city of Cleveland but more importantly, meet many new people. I didn’t grow up in Cleveland so MotivAsians was a way for me to network and develop friendships with people I wouldn’t normally meet at work or around town. I grew up in South Florida so I was outnumbered by Caucasians, Jews, and Latinos. Cleveland is actually the first place I lived where I was exposed to more Asian cultures which helped me embrace both my Vietnamese culture but also expose me to other Asian cultures and traditions. I have also witnessed how MotivAsians was involved in Cleveland’s growth throughout the years and it’s been exciting to watch and participate. Dragonboat racing, the Cleveland Asian Festival, the CIFF’s sponsored movie, and the annual New Year’s dinner at Li Wah are a few of my favorite events that I try to make each year.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I hope to see MotivAsians continue to highlight the rich diversity of Asian cultures in Cleveland, contribute to Cleveland’s growth through civic, cultural, and social events, and cultivate MotivAsians members to be leaders of our local community.

June

Krystin Eng

Current occupation

Project Manager

Employer

Aleris International Inc

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I was born and raised in Cleveland and lived in Northeast Ohio for most of my entire life.

When did you join MotivAsians?

I heard about the group when it formulated in 2002 and attended several events on and off throughout the years. I became more involved throughout the years to network, learn, and give back to the community.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians allowed me to network and develop friendships with people I normally would not have met. Being involved has also exposed me to other Asian cultures and traditions in which I would not have normally been exposed to.
Since 2002, MotivAsians has grown from simple networking to bringing in professional speakers, Discover CLE, and formulation of the Asian Festival! It is exciting to watch and participate in a group that is continuously developing, expanding and growing!

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I hope to see MotivAsians continue to partner with other professional groups, companies, and the community. I look forward to seeing our group highlighting the rich diversity in Cleveland, cultivating members to be leaders, and contributing to civic, cultural, and social events the community.

July

Lyvian Loh

Current occupation

Marketing Analyst

Employer/School

Spang & Co and CWRU Weatherhead School of Management

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

7+ years

When did you join MotivAsians?

In May 2010. I saw them at the Cleveland Asian Festival. At that time, they were raffling off a $50 amazon gift card, so I signed up. Who knows….the power of gift card has brought me into this wonderful family since then.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

HUGE!
MotivAsians has given the opportunities to work with all brilliant, intelligent and great leaders in Cleveland. It is the gateway for me to learn about Cleveland, especially the Asian culture of Cleveland. Not only that, but it gives me the chance to contribute to the community through volunteering with all other organizations. I have made so many good friends and good mentors through this journey. The biggest impact that MotivAsians has on me is, it gives the opportunity to form and to lead a dragon boat team for the city of Cleveland. Thank you!

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I would like to see MotivAsians becoming the primary organization for all young professionals in North East Ohio. I would like to see more networking events, mentor and mentee programs, volunteer events, sports events and collaborate with local companies in some professional development programs.

August

Valerie Gage

Current occupation

Marketing Strategist & Wedding Photographer

Employer

I Heart Life Photography

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. I came to Cleveland in 2004 for a Master of Business Administration at Cleveland State University. After getting my MBA, I returned to Indonesia and worked in marketing, first in the financial services industry and later in the consumer products industry. I was destined to live in Cleveland because I returned to Cleveland in 2009 and I have lived here ever since.

When did you join MotivAsians?

A couple years ago, one of my Indonesian friends was invited to be a speaker in one of the MotivAsians events. I attended the event to support my friend and met a lot of new friends at the event. I found MotivAsians to be a fantastic group to connect with people who have both similar and diverse experiences to myself. I was excited to join the MotivAsians and I have been a member since 2010.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

Being a member of MotivAsians gives me opportunities to network with people with a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

Because of the networking developed through MotivAsians, I was able to represent my Indonesian culture at the Cleveland Asian Festival, sharing dance and costume of my homeland with the people of northeast Ohio. I am excited to be a member of a growing organization that has been a part of the exciting growth of Cleveland.

September

James Huang

 

Current occupation

Computer Engineer

School

University of Michigan

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

5 years

When did you join MotivAsians?

I’ve been a part of MotivAsians on-and-off ever since I moved to Cleveland 5 years ago.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians has been a great place to meet other Asian American professionals and friends. But even more than the networking, I feel that MotivAsians is a community in and of itself. There are many acquaintances that I’ve met through MotivAsians that turned into great friendships here in Cleveland. Some of those friends have stayed and some have left for other places, but MotivAsians was the starting place for a lot of those relationships. I’m very grateful for that.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

From the relational side, I hope that MotivAsians keeps doing what it’s doing — giving a space and opportunities to build new and growing existing friendships. I feel that it can be disorienting or isolating at times being an Asian American in Cleveland, so those friendships are important.

From a professional standpoint, I would love to see MotivAsians help to accelerate career growth for their members. This is hard to do, but I would love to see the community help one another to grow their careers. Maybe it’s connecting people to older Asian American career mentors in Cleveland or through other connections. Regardless of the implementation, it would be great to see people helping one another get to where we want to go in our careers through all the resources and connections our community has.

October

Jack Liu

 

Current occupation

Economic Analyst

Employer

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

I have lived in Cleveland since Oct 2015.

How did you hear about MotivAsians?

My boss was one of the co-founders of MotivAsians. He told me about this organization.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians is the only professional networking organization for Asian Americans in Cleveland. I have met quite a number of professionals through this organization. Not only had I enjoyed the fun activities, I am also grateful for the opportunities to volunteer and serve.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

I am happy with what I have seen so far. The museums, playhouse square, dragon boat, and debate watching activities are awesome. More activities such as reading club, outdoor trips, sports, sports watching would also be cool.

November

Raina Li

raina-nov-spotlight

Current occupation

Teacher/ Program director

Employer

Shaker Heights Schools

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

Since Spring of 2006. I was fortunate to be chosen by the Ohio Department of Education to start the Chinese program at Shaker Heights. I didn’t know too much about the city of Cleveland except that it was home to the well-known Cavaliers and that it was on Lake Erie. I learned about the 5 great lakes and the amazing Niagara Falls from my middle school geography textbook in Heilongjiang, China. I always loved everything related to water. It may sound silly, but one of my childhood dreams was to visit the largest group of freshwater on earth. I have been fortunate to be living in Cleveland by Lake Erie for 10+ years now and I really do love it here.

When did you join MotivAsians?

In the Summer of 2011, a friend mentioned to me that MotivAsians’ dragon boat team was seeking more people to participate. A week after, she introduced me to the dragon boat team co-captain, Lyvian Loh, at a MotivAsians gathering. We immediately hit it off and she introduced me to others. Everyone was so friendly. I was very thrilled to meet other transplants as well as locals in the area and decided to join the dragon boat team and become a member of MotivAsians.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians is a phenomenal organization, which has great leadership in place to help people. It is also the window for young/new professional people to learn about the community and Cleveland. Not limited to Asians, they provide various opportunities for everyone interested in Asian culture to be a part of a team, including inviting guest speakers, hosting professional development opportunities, annual barbecue parties, holiday events, etc. It has expanded my exposure to other Asian cultures beyond what I was most familiar as well as American culture having been a transplant from mainland China. Most importantly, I met some life-long friends through MotivAsians.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

MotivAsians has done a wonderful job with community outreach, leadership development, networking events, and volunteer opportunities. As an educator, I would love to see MotivAsians help more students in grade school get tied in early with all the great things going on in Cleveland. As an example, I think there is a big opportunity for the organization to help struggling kids find many excellent role models. In addition, there are so many very talented individuals associated with the organization, each bringing special and unique types of expertise to the table. Capitalizing on membership’s knowledge and skills would without a doubt lead to opportunities to enhance our local community in outreach. Thank you!

November

Raina Li

raina-nov-spotlight

Current occupation

Teacher/ Program director

Employer

Shaker Heights Schools

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

Since Spring of 2006. I was fortunate to be chosen by the Ohio Department of Education to start the Chinese program at Shaker Heights. I didn’t know too much about the city of Cleveland except that it was home to the well-known Cavaliers and that it was on Lake Erie. I learned about the 5 great lakes and the amazing Niagara Falls from my middle school geography textbook in Heilongjiang, China. I always loved everything related to water. It may sound silly, but one of my childhood dreams was to visit the largest group of freshwater on earth. I have been fortunate to be living in Cleveland by Lake Erie for 10+ years now and I really do love it here.

When did you join MotivAsians?

In the Summer of 2011, a friend mentioned to me that MotivAsians’ dragon boat team was seeking more people to participate. A week after, she introduced me to the dragon boat team co-captain, Lyvian Loh, at a MotivAsians gathering. We immediately hit it off and she introduced me to others. Everyone was so friendly. I was very thrilled to meet other transplants as well as locals in the area and decided to join the dragon boat team and become a member of MotivAsians.

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians is a phenomenal organization, which has great leadership in place to help people. It is also the window for young/new professional people to learn about the community and Cleveland. Not limited to Asians, they provide various opportunities for everyone interested in Asian culture to be a part of a team, including inviting guest speakers, hosting professional development opportunities, annual barbecue parties, holiday events, etc. It has expanded my exposure to other Asian cultures beyond what I was most familiar as well as American culture having been a transplant from mainland China. Most importantly, I met some life-long friends through MotivAsians.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?

MotivAsians has done a wonderful job with community outreach, leadership development, networking events, and volunteer opportunities. As an educator, I would love to see MotivAsians help more students in grade school get tied in early with all the great things going on in Cleveland. As an example, I think there is a big opportunity for the organization to help struggling kids find many excellent role models. In addition, there are so many very talented individuals associated with the organization, each bringing special and unique types of expertise to the table. Capitalizing on membership’s knowledge and skills would without a doubt lead to opportunities to enhance our local community in outreach. Thank you!

December

Thérèse Lemmen

Current occupation

Financial Services Professional

Employer

SSIP

How long have you lived in Cleveland?

9 years

When did you join MotivAsians?

2015

How has MotivAsians impacted your life in a positive way?

MotivAsians has allowed me to connect with other friendly and community-oriented Asian professionals.

What do you hope to see for the MotivAsians community in the future?
I would like the members to thrive and make a positive impact professionally and in the community.

Read more … Member Spotlight
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