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Speaker Events

The Voices of Women in Leadership Speaker Panel 12.16.2019

At Project Lotus, our mission is to inspire and empower. In our very first speaker-panel event,  The Voices of Women in Leadership, we invited four distinguished speakers to talk about the Asian-American female experience.  

We asked the question: what does it mean to be an Asian woman and a leader?

How is confidence and empowerment achieved against stereotypes and cultural bias?  

The four detailed their journeys, each unique, to succeed in their respective fields. They spoke of how they broke away from the stereotype that has constrained Asian women for so long to blossom as their own person and express themselves creatively and freely. Staying true to the mission of project lotus to inspire and empower, we brought the community together in a celebration of Asian femininity. 



Meet The Speakers


Renee Paquier

Renee Paquier is the advisor of and sits on the board of Project Lotus. As a second-generation Iranian American, she knew all too well the hardships of immigrant women in America. She grew up caught between two cultures: the traditional Iranian culture of her parents and the American culture she must adapt to to fit the mainstream. She embodies the idea that one can find success in many fields: from serving as the only minority female police officer in her county to being the dean at a college. 


Cynthia Chang

Cynthia Chang is a leading figure within the Saratoga community and the first-ever Asian American to sit on the city’s board of education. She is the current board president of Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District. She is an advocate for education and Asian American women as she sits on the board of many local organizations. She crushes the stereotype that Asians are not active leaders in their community or politics; in fact, she embodies community involvement.  

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Diana Kwok

    Diana Kwok is a leader in the finance sector, having worked at Morgen Stanley for more than a decade. She overcame the hardships of moving alone as a young woman to a new country; she succeeds and leads in a heavily male-dominated field. She brings to the table the inspiring experience of someone who adjusts amazingly to a new environment while still staying true to her roots.  


Grace Ling 

 Grace Ling, our youngest speaker, is an activist, entrepreneur, and game designer, all the while pursuing a graduate degree. She shares the experience of many Asian American girls in our generation: growing up admits the “model minority” pressure. As a designer and creative, she breaks the mold of stereotypical Asian American success. 

The Voice of the Lotus: Asian in America Speaker Panel   1.20.2020


This New Year, Project Lotus celebrated by hosting another speaker panel: the theme was the voices of women growing and prospering in America and their journey to confidence and empowerment. Our speakers shared their experiences battling the everyday trials, and also shared the insightful wisdom they have learned over the years. We came to the conclusion that the hour was too short--there was simply too much to be said. Every speaker brought their own slice to the table, and together, we feasted on knowledge and inspiration.


Dr. Grace Yu taught us that in order to be heard, we must speak up and fight for what we deserve. 


Ms. Wei Li spoke that we must be brave, push forward, and maximize the opportunities given to us.  

Dr. Lu shared her own story of self-improvement and constant learning; she spoke that growing up across two cultures is an amazing asset to be utilized. 

Ms. Heather Xia taught us that we hold the power against biases and stereotypes; they can only hurt us if we let them. 



Meet the Speakers


Dr. Mei-Yan Lu

Dr. Lu is a Professor at SJSU and an internationally recognized author and keynote speaker. Her area of research and specializations include hybrid/blended learning, faculty/staff development, teacher training/support, program evaluation, service learning, design/develop elearning for diverse audience, and women administrators/leaders. She has more than a hundred publications and presentations in journals, books, and conferences. 

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Heather Xia

Heather Xia is an English and literature teacher and has been teaching for over 40 years in the bay area. Her years of teaching experience and watching students grow as scholars and people are her pride and joy. Having immigrated by herself in her twenties to America from Taiwan, Ms. Xia understands better than anyone the trials and joys of living across two cultures. As a non-native English Speaker, she has taught thousands of native-speaker students advanced English. 

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Dr. Grace Yu

Dr. Grace Yu is a hardware engineer at Microsoft and has worked and led and the tech industry for many years. Current projects of hers include Virtual Reality simulations and a web service called Zoom, where virtual conferences are held. Leading in a male-dominated industry,  she has much to share about confidence and empowerment. 

The Journey of the Swan: Tan Yuan Yuan Speaker Event

Ballerina Tan Yuan Yuan is truly one of the most dynamic figures within the Asian American Community. She is a principal dancer in SF Ballet, the highest position a dancer can garner. She entered Shanghai Dance School at the age of 11. Initially, her father opposed this, as he wanted her to become a  doctor. Her mother, however, supported her dance. Since, she has become one of the most successful and well-known dancers in the world, having been featured many times in Vogue magazine, on the cover of Dance magazine, in the New York Times and performing numerous times on national television. Ms. Yuan has been the ambassador of numerous brands, including Rolex and Van Cleef and Arpels. Her journey to success has been filled with hardship and trial, yet she persists and prospers as a prominent Asian-American woman in the media. In this rare and exciting speaker event, Ms. Tan gives back the her native bay area community by sharing the lessons she has learned.  
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