Zaka is a platform and community for immigrants to gain knowledge, mentorship and coaching to attain and succeed in their careers. Part of what makes Zaka appealing to members is our access to top, global immigrant leaders across industries.
Advancing Careers & Expanding knowledge.
As three immigrants who moved to the United States at a young age and had to figure out how to create our version of the “American Dream” through trial and error, all while immersing into American culture and maintaining our own culture, a clear path towards attaining our professional and person vision was unclear.
Doing well in school, getting into a great college, getting a good job and making an honest living would not be enough for us to thrive in this world or position us to use our talents and capabilities to attain our dream, a reality for all immigrants who have been underserved, marginalized and adversely affected.
Moving into our careers, we further realized the reality that our diverse, cultural backgrounds were not considered an advantage; rather, they were ignored or often taken advantage of. What would have helped us understand our potential, learn from similar-background immigrant leaders who attained success and reach for more than what was expected of minorities would have been having access to a platform like Zaka.
In 2020 in the height of social and racial injustice conversations, people of all backgrounds got a glimpse of the many challenges underrepresented minorities face in their personal and professional lives, a topic that is often stifled. There is no time better than now to offer a motivational and career development- focused platform like Zaka to First and Second Generation Immigrants.
Greg Maurice was born and raised in Haiti before moving to Brooklyn at the age of 13. Greg started his career working in digital media for ICR INC, a top 10 Investor Relations firm. He served as the Director of Marketing at eOne within the Black vertical for 5 years and launched their Black division Currently, he is the Director of Acquisitions at Screen Media Ventures where he is focused on highlighting the stories of underrepresented communities.
Although Greg has had a successful career, the challenges he experienced in creating his professional path through trial and error was met with challenges of unfair treatment, uncertainty in how to thrive in corporate America or advocate for his needs, a reality most first and second generation immigrants face. Greg’s vision for Zaka is to create the future leaders of the world by providing first and second generation immigrants with the blueprint for success through actionable content, education, and community.
ZAKA BOARD OF
Annie Jean Baptiste
Haitian American professional who has had 15 years of experience in film acquisitions and sports marketing, and is the founder of Zaka. Specializes in revealing the stories of underrepresented communities through digital content/film.
Spark Engine Founder
Lebanese American professional who graduated from UCLA with a double bachelor’s degree in sociology & international development, sustainability, and also studied public relations, advertising, and applied communication. Along with being a Product Manager for Alumni, she is a Design Strategist, and a Product Innovation Coach & Trainer at Spark Engine, and has received certifications in behavioral economics, executive banking, and several other areas.
Cisco Global Operations and Strategy Lead
Julia works as a strategy lead for global operations at Cisco, and talks about how she tries to be a leader and advocate for herself and minorities. She has lived all over the world, which includes places like Brazil, Denmark, and Chile before the U.S.
Born and raised in Haiti, and is a successful singer and songwriter, but also does producing, acting, and script writing. He is the lead singer and owner for the band DAT7. He started his journey in music with T-Vice and now is one of the most sought after hitmakers in the industry, and recently raised $30,000 to help out with the earthquake relief effort in Haiti.
Take Out Girl Lead Actress
Based in California, Hedy Wong is a professional actress, writer, rapper, and producer, and has starred in the Hulu film Takeout Girl that was featured in several films festivals such as ABFF and Cinequest.
Francois M. Jean Noel
Francois is the co-founder of Zaka, and moved to the United States from Haiti. He is also a Lead System Engineer and works with technical management, and has overcome obstacles like coming over to a new country and school system without having a guide or set of directions for how to succeed, and made his own way.
Kyyba Innovations Founder
Tel Ganesan is an entrepreneur, investor, business leader, movie producer, and philanthropist operating in Detroit. His company started in the basement to generate $60 million in revenue within a couple years. He became one of the most powerful business leaders in Detroit. He shares his story of moving to the U.S. from India, and how manifestation and reinforcing a positive outlook kept him going and helped him become an extremely successful player in the business world.
Accenture Vice President Delivery
Sahib is a program manager and works in information technology business, delivery, IT sales, and process development. He believes that a diverse work environment is beneficial because it always fosters growth if you want to attract the best of the best for your company from all over the world.
Walker Series on CW
Haitian American, Jeff is a professional actor from Boston who has been a part of several productions including Drumline: A New Beat, Shameless, Beyond, Once Upon A Time, and Walker.
Licensed Psychotherapist and Best Selling Author
Palestinian American, Lena is a bestselling author, DJ, and psychotherapist who wrote, “My daddy is a Hero: How Chris Watts Went From Family Man to Family Killer”. She is the daughter of a Palestinian father who moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and couldn’t speak English, and was shaped by his experience as well.
Mental Health Advocate
Cuban American, Dailyn is a mental health advocate, poet, and actress from New Jersey. She works with teachers, psychologists, and influencers to create workshops, poetry, and storytelling pieces to people who suffer from bipolar disorder, which is something she has also gone through and is courageous to not only admit it and battle with it, but also help others in a similar situation.
Facebook Recruiting Specialist
Ghanaian American, Osei is an recruiting specialist for Facebook, entrepreneur, and studied AR/VR and Political Science. Having a Ghanaian father, Osei is proud to empower Black voices and uses his experience to better himself and the people around him.
Dr. Valery Andre
Mayo Clinic Cardio Anesthesiologist
Haitian American, Dr. Valery Andre is a Cardiac Anesthesiologist from Haiti, and operates out of Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He has over 11 years of experience in the field, and while being able to speak multiple languages, is extremely proud of his background and aims to be a great role model for young Black and Brown kids.
Northwestern Mutual Financial Advisor
Liberian American, David’s family left Liberia when tensions from the civil war were rising and came to Brooklyn. He is currently one of 1,400 registered Black financial advisors, and has learned many things in his time and wants to share his vast experience and knowledge with underrepresented communities, and uses his background to empathize with his clients.
Screen Media Director of Sales
Indian American, Sana is a producer as well as a director of sales for Giant Interactive, and is dedicated to helping independent filmmakers find the right strategy to advertise their films and projects. She is an immigrant that has lived across the world including places like India, England, and Hungary before coming to the U.S.
Dominican American, Cindy Fernandez Nixon is a senior engineer, actress, producer, director, and voice over artist who came to the U.S. with her family from the Dominican Republic. She has worked on a number of different projects, and is trying to redefine the stereotypes for Latina actresses in Hollywood by taking on nontraditional roles from what we have seen in the past.
Great Place to Work US, Vice President of Client Solutions
uyanese American, Sonya is the vice president of client solutions at Great Place to Work US, and is also the mother of a child actor. She has a strong work ethic implanted in her by her immigrant parents, and takes that into the corporate world to help her succeed.
Professional Tennis Player
Haitian American, Victoria is a professional tennis player, and has an incredible story being able to win her battle with cancer several years ago. She is a dedicated professional, and puts her work as the top priority which is why in 2012 she was able to win the USTA Girl’s 18s National Championship.
Linkedin Principal Solutions Consultant
Zimbabwean American, Munya left Zimbabwe when he was 19, and went on to work for a plethora of high profile companies such as Goldman Sachs, AppNexus, Facebook, and LinkedIn. On top of this, he also launched Career Palz, which is a mentorship program intended for international college students and young professionals to grow and progress personally and professionally.
Honduran American, DJ Spynfo is a former Hot 97 DJ and is known as the College Club for his success in the college tour circuit. He is currently the owner of Sankofa Haus which is a venue that expands consciousness through education, entertainment and love within the inner city.
Kofi Amoo Gottfried
CMO DoorDash/Marketing/Monday Night Mentorship
Ghanaan American, Kofi Amoo was born in Ghana and is currently the CMO of DoorDash. Kofi left Ghana at the age of 17 with $100 and a suitcase to becoming of the most influential, Black leaders in marketing. He is passionate about empowering other minorities in the workforce through mentorship.
Dr. A. Garvey Rene
Haitian American, Dr. A Garvey Rene was born in Haiti and currently works as a medical director and cardiologist. He was in The Business Council of Westchester 40 under 40 Rising Star Recipient and Westchester Magazine’s Top Doctors of 200.
Cesar Alejandro Vega
Assistant District Attorney in the Worcester County District
Afua felt pressure as a child to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant or an engineer like most immigrants. She chose to create her own path by tapping in her passion for creating nurturing environments for people and becoming a leader at Reddit, the 7th most visited site in the US. Afua is responsible for creating an authentic and inclusive culture that fosters engagement talent development and retention.
Reddit Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Program Manager
Afua has always been passionate about people, now working committed to advocating for them as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Program Manager. Afua stresses the importance of self advocacy for underrepresented minorities.
Emmy Award Hairstylist, Good Morning America
Nevisian American, growing up in Nevis, a small island in the Caribbean, Petual was often bullied about her appearance. Her peers called her too dard and too tall. She used those experiences as motivation to become the woman she envisioned herself to be and redefine how society qualified beauty. As a result, she became an Emmy Award winner as a leader in the beauty industry for her work as hair, makeup and wardrobe stylist for Robin Robets and Good Morning America.
Director of Corporate Health and Wellness at Live in Vitality Everyday
Anita was born in Jamaica and is currently a transformation coach, focused in nutrition and health. She is passionate not only about exercise, but also an individual’s mental health.
Circe Saint Louis
Inside Opp Manager, Accenture/Co-Founder of Zaka
Haitian American, Circe had the opportunity to finish his schooling in the states to become an executive at Accenture, Fortune Global 500 Company. Circe is motivated to create an authentic community for immigrants to network organically.
Veronica De Santiago
Mexican American, as the edlest in her family, Veronica had to set the standard to succeed at an early age after witnessing the struggle her parents endured after moving from Mexico. Veronica is proud to be a minority woman and business owner who specializes as a recruiter for IT and Engineering professionals. She is a Navy Veteran and CEO of Desanti.
Linkedin Head of Enterprise Relationship Management, North America, Sales Solutions
Indian Canadian, Kalsang was born in India and is currently the Head of Enterprise Relationship Management, North America, Sales Solutions for Linkedin. Her personal connection to LinkedIn is one of many factors that contributed to Kal’s successful climb from individual contributor to respected leader within the organization. Currently, Kal is managing a team at LinkedIn that includes 5 transformational sales leaders and 30+ enterprises professionals across North America.
Jooeun Alexandra Woo
Spotify Senior Product Manager
Korean American, Alex was embarrassed of her Korean background as a child until college when she realized the importance and power of community. Her passion and leadership transferred to her career and pushed her to develop strategy product development for companies like American Express, Facebook and now Spotify.
Dr. Davisson Edmond
MD/General Family Medicine
Haitian American, Dr. Davisson is passionate about making people feel better to provide a positive change in their lives. He completed Family Medicine Residency training in Arkansas and settled down in Oxford, Alabama as a Family Medicine Specialist.
Tiago da SIlva
New York Life Insurance Partner
Brazilian American, Tiago went from shinning people shoes to becoming their financial advisor. He had a privileged life in Brazil until his father’s company went bankrupt. He left law school and his comfort zone in Brazil and moved to the States to take care of his family.Tiago had a lot of random jobs from busboy, boat cleaner and shoe shiner. His resiliency drove him to become a financial advisor and transition from shining people’s shoes to closing deals with them. He believes in the importance of investing in yourself, both mentally and financially.
Director, RedBull Media Analytics and Insights
She is mostly recognized as the Food Network “Chopped 420” winner on Discovery +but that is only one of her professional endeavors and accomplishments. Wendy is also an executive at Redbull, a creative consultant, business owner and a cannabis advocate.
Hisonni Mustafa Johnson
American Black Film Festival Best Director Winner
Guyanese American,Hisonni is an Award Winning FIlm Director from Wisconsin. He won the best director award at ABFF for his Hulu feature Take Out Girl. He stresses the importance of diversity in the movie industry, both cast and crew.
Cardlytics Executive Business Partner/ManiFeast CEO
Jamaican American, Kim Rickards is a business consultant who has worked with many companies such as Viacom, Pinterest, and Linkedin. She has over 15 years of experience supporting C-Suite execs in entertainment and tech. She’s passionate about the power of intentional connections, diversity, inclusion & equity and championing for the advancement of underrepresented groups in senior leadership roles across industries especially in Tech.
Indo-Guyanese American, Hema was a commercial attorney for 7 years who followed her heart to pursue a career in fashion. In 2014, she moved across the country to Los Angeles with her husband and 2 children. She spent the following 7 years dressing A-list celebrities, styling ad campaigns and editorials, and working with the top fashion talent in the world. In 2021, Hema launched her interior designing business where she helps her clients decorate their homes.
Aequofund, CEO/SAA EVI
Haitian American, Ernst moved to NY from Haiti at the age of 7 and received degrees from Cornell, Columbia, Rice and MIT. He was inspired by his mother to become an entrepreneur when she invested $25,000 of her savings into his company, a private, minority-owned real estate investment firm.Since then, Ernst has successfully invested in and developed real estate in Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Virginia, California and New York. For the past 16 years, he has been involved with development projects ranging from mixed-use, multi-tenant rental properties, single-family renovations and condominium conversions. His fund, Aequofund advances the mission of leveling the playing field by providing capital, access, and support to Black, Brown, Female and Immigrant developers so they can be a part of shaping our cities and neighborhoods.
CPA Senior Manager, Accounting, and Transaction Sales at MorganFranklin Consulting
Malaysian American, Skye was born In Malaysia and is currently a CPA from MorganFranklin Consulting. She worked for PwC and Ernst & Young, she is an experienced Manager with demonstrated history working in the Financial Services industry. She stresses how to keep pushing through as an immigrant trying to make in the workforce of the United States.
Dr Victor Adeola Olujimi
Nigerian American, as an Orthopedic Surgeon at Northwell Health, he serves a very diverse population of patients. He embraces every opportunity to share his faith, culture and background with them while welcoming the chance for them to do the same.
Enterprise Technology Consultant, Swapcard
Zambian American, he grew up in Zambia, and overcame a lot of challenges when he moved to the US for school. He credits his parents for putting him in the right environment where he never felt he was going to fail. He’s inspired by his father who didn’t wear his first new pair of shoes until the age of 8 and managed to get a college degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Patrick played division one soccer at Sports Communication and Media at Sacred Heart University where he received his degree in International Business and Marketing. He is implementing strategic initiatives to drive business growth without compromising customer satisfaction and organization values.
Author, ERG Consultant
Nigerian American, Lola is an ERG Consultant and Author, who grew up in Nigeria and moved to the U.S in her twenties. She is the author of the powerful book “The Immigrant’s Experience in Corporate America”. She is a resourceful leader, who believes in and actively promotes inclusive leadership with the power of harnessing individual motivation for increasing employee engagement in the workplace. She advocates for an inclusive lens across every level within corporations as well as the empowerment of individual contributors, managers, and leaders to own their careers and pursue their purpose and passion in the corporate workplace.
Residential Investment Sales Realtor
Trinidadian American, Aaron is a residential and investment sales realtor. He was born in Trinidad and moved to the Bronx, New York when he was 7 years old. Being one of 5 children, Aaron was inspired by his mother’s great work ethic, which he adopted and used to push through some of his early struggles and doubts. He majored in business administration at Sacred Heart University Jack Welch College of Business & Technology , before deciding that he wanted to work for himself and got into the real estate business where he is seeing great success. Aaron is now an owner of a successful real estate sales team and an investor with a personal portfolio of real estate within Fairfield County. With 12+ years of experience, Aaron brings a tailored approach to real estate on each transaction, this allows him to obtain the best value for his clients and exceed their expectations.
Jean Giovanni Maurice
Process Control Engineer, PBF Energy
Haitian American, Jean Giovanni Maurice from PBF Energy advocates grew up in Haiti, he advocates how education influenced him when he moved to the US at the age of 11. As one of the few Black Engineers in the US, he speaks about his appreciation attending an HBCU, Tuskegee University. He learned so much interning for the Department of Energy in DC and ExxonMobil in New Orleans. Because of his hard work and dedication, he received an offer from Exxon Mobil, the start of his senior year in college. Working for a fortune 500 company right after college was a blessing that he could not imagine.
Rafael Rodriguez Morales
Grammy Award Musician, SOJA
Puertorican American, Rafael Morales is a Grammy winning musician from Puerto Rico. He is the lead trumpet player for SOJA, and he was introduced to music at an early age singing in church with his parents. He dedicates his inspiration and philosophy to work hard and to make it as a professional musician. He won a Grammy after being nominated 2 times previously.Rafa has worked with mega producer Super Dubs on tracks for Sean Paul, Rihanna, Jason Derulo and Drake
SVP of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Hill Holiday
Haitian American, Aisha is an expert in DEI, and a Certified Executive & Leadership coach. Aisha offers a wealth of knowledge on how corporations can support and retain their minority employees and their leadership teams.Prior to her current role, Aisha served as VP of Talent Engagement and Inclusion for Publicis Groupe US. In June of 2020, Losche was instrumental in the creation and execution of Publicis Groupe’s “Pausing for Action” where more than 18,500 employees across Publicis Groupe U.S. and Canada came together to imagine, design and execute new ways for Publicis to address systemic racism and create more opportunities for the Black community within the organization.
Dr. Genelle Garcia
Certified Wound Specialist and Advanced Clinician, Stamford Health
Trinidadian American Dr Genelle Garcia DPT, CWS, CLT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Wound Specialist® (CWS®) and Certified Lymphedema Specialist ® (CLT®) with an avid passion in wound management. She has been practicing since 2009 and currently has experience in the acute care setting, inpatient rehabilitation setting, outpatient setting and skilled nursing facility. To date, she has worked at NorthShore University HealthSystem, Louisiana State University, Mount Sinai Health System and Stamford Health. Genelle documents her journey from getting inspired by her Grandfather who worked in the farm picking apples to save money and bring the rest of his family from Trinidad to the US. Genelle is a role model to a lot of young Black and Brown girls who look up to her for being one of the few Black Certified Wound Specialists and Lymphedema Therapists.
Award Winning Voice Over Artist
Energy, Talent, and Discipline! These are the words that describe Leah Arscott! An award-winning millennial Voice Actress who’s performed for hundreds of international clients, including Fortune 500 companies.
Born to joyful Caribbean parents, a background in Health and Fitness,previously working in a variety of industries including Government, IT, and Health. Leah brings her wealth of knowledge, talent and life experiences to each voice project she is given. Leah has incredible range which gives her the ability to work in multiple genres of Voice Over from Commercials, Narration and Animation to Corporate work, e-learning, and IVR
Zaka My Journey Host
Saint Lucian American, Paul’s parents migrated from Jamaica and St. Lucia before settling in the Bronx where Paul became obsessed with dancing and connecting with people. He attributes his personality and constant positivity to his Caribbean culture. After receiving his business degree, Paul had a good paying job in sales. He quickly realized that his passion was to connect with people and make them feel more positive about their lives. Leveraging that passion, Paul became a dancer for Chris Brown, Alicia Keys and several other artists before eventually starting his own studio. He also became a motivational speaker and host across several fields to bring positivity, purpose and inspiration to others.
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