Zaka is a platform and community designed for immigrant individuals to advance in their careers and expand their knowledge.
WHAT WE DO

Zaka is a membership community that fosters authentic connections among first and second generation immigrant professionals across a variety of industries. We provide highly vetted workshops, motivational content and a safe space where immigrant professionals can build a community with each other, industry leaders, recruiters to attain their professional vision instead of enduring the challenges that come with figuring it out for themselves.

WHO WE HELP

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.

THIS IS HOW

WE DO IT

Zaka’s platform offers the full spectrum of resources, education, community and inspiring content needed for first and second generation immigrants to excel in their personal and professional lives.

ARTICLES about immigrant industry leaders, their experiences and advice. MINI-DOCUMENTARIES/ VIDEO CONTENT to highlight the journeys of immigrant leaders in short format. PODCASTS to provide interactive interviews and conversations with immigrant industry leaders.

WORKSHOPS on career advancement topics (professional branding, cultural differences in the professional world , negotiating your salary and promotion, etc). Interactive and intimate Q & A SESSIONS with industry leaders. “WHAT I WISH I KNEW…” segment from industry leaders Zaka highlights weekly/monthly.

Zaka provides an AUTHENTIC SPACE where immigrants can build community with each other and industry leaders. Zaka connects minority talents with recruiters and job opportunities. ACCESS to coaches who specialize in coaching minority professionals.

BECOMING A LEADER

NETWORK

Build community with fellow immigrant professionals, top immigrant leaders, recruiters and coaches.

LEARN

Acquire knowledge in critical areas that will help you become a better professional and attain your professional vision.

BE INSPIRED

Engage with top, immigrant leaders who will provide you with the blueprint for person and professional success.

“My Journey” shares inspiring and motivational stories from the successful leaders within the first and second generation community in America. We are surrounded by heroes everywhere we go, from our teachers, farmers, lawyers, small business owners, chefs, doctors and fitness trainers etc. “My Journey” is a safe, authentic and vulnerable space where these leaders share their incredible experiences. The mission behind sharing these stories and strategies is to inspire and provide the blueprint for how first and second-generation immigrants can attain their professional vision instead of enduring the challenges that comes with figuring it out for themselves.

My Journey: SIMONE INCE

Simone Ince leverages her fifteen years of strategy, marketing and communications experience to drive success within her corporate career at Sun Life Financial and her digital production company, 43° North Productions Inc. Simone  shares her journey in balancing her leadership role in her “9 to 5” and while creating capacity to tap into her passion, producing film projects that have been recognized at notable events like the Toronto International Film Festival. Balancing success in both industries does not come easy. Simone talks about how she navigated the psychological struggles she faced trying to fit into and navigate non-diverse environments. She credits her resiliency and grit to her blended upbringing as a Trinidadian-Canadian.

My Journey: Dean J. Flowers

Dean J. Flowers’ trajectory to the top of commercial real estate industry is nothing but spectacular. He grew up in Belize and migrated to Los Angeles at a young age during the busing desegregation  in the US. He educates us on the ins and outs of  the industry and how future agents can succeed in the market. His diversified resume of acquisition and management experience coupled with years of private sector commercial development has made Dean a highly skilled real estate professional. He leverages his ability to analyze, negotiate and conduct the necessary due diligence to ensure that each development or acquisition project, whether small scale or multi-billion,  is successful.

My Journey: Sharif Abou Sabh

Sharif Abou Sabh’s overall success in the Engineering field has inspired Fikry F. Andrawes and Mahmoud A. Elshazly to include Sharif as one of the featured  contributors on their book “Egyptian American Journeys”. During this episode, Sharif speaks about his upbringing in Egypt and his adjustment to his new life in the US. In his 40 years of diverse engineering experience, he has managed multiple complex, billion dollars large scale transit infrastructure projects.  He serves HNTB as a Partner/Senior VP with responsibilities including the organization direction of civil and structural engineering design and construction function, schedules, budgets, profit margins and feasibility studies.

My Journey: Rian Hargrav

The Aequo Fund is an initiative that is focused on providing opportunities and financial support to people who are traditionally underrepresented in real estate development. One of their Developers is Rian Hargrave who is taking a holistic approach to providing Residential Development and Home Ownership to change the narrative of Baltimore City. Rian’s career journey started in college where she knew that she was not going to apply her Mass Communication degree to her career. She dabbled in a few jobs in different industries until she finally settled in Real Estate Development. She always understood that home ownership is the best way to increase your net worth in marginalized communities.  Her company, Onyx Development, provides housing options for  Baltimore residents through student housing, workforce housing, and market rate rentals.

My Journey: Jeannette Ceja

Growing up in a Mexican household in Orange County, California, Cristina Saralegui and Oprah were favorites on the household TV. These two legends inspired Jeannette Ceja to become an Award- Winning Bilingual On Air TV Host and Travel Journalist. She was recently named as one of “20 Latina Business Influences to Follow Today” according to Hispanic Executive Magazine. Jeannette highlights the early struggles she faced in her career as a Latina and how she’s advocating for more representation and diversity in the media industry. She vulnerably shares the personal life hurdles that may occur when you are Travel Journalist. Jeannette has travelled to over 60 countries for work, awarding her the  2022 Al Dia 40 Under Forty Honoree. She’s determined to be a mentor to youth because of her personal lack of mentors who looked like her as a kid.

My Journey: Benny Mathew

Over 15 years of experience working in the staffing and recruiting industry has propelled Benny Mathew to generate a vast networking community. Because of his passion to bring people together, Benny launched Orion 3 which connects people to build  authentic relationships and intentional community. Benny shares the challenges that he faced assimilating to American culture when he first moved to this country from India at the age of 7. He educates us on tips and tools that we can implement in our careers to engage successfully and grow our networks.

My Journey: Rene Godefroy

During our conversation with Keynote Motivational Speaker, Rene Godefroy, he states, “we don’t struggle because of a lack of knowledge. We struggle because we lack the courage to act in spite of the unknown.” This quote has been Rene’s anchor and is resounding when you hear his path to success. Growing up poor in a small village in Haiti, he still had the audacity and confidence of becoming one of the most respected, international Keynote Speakers who motivates  corporate leaders. He came to this country with $5 and was washing cars as his first job. That mindset has enabled him to speak on some of the world’s biggest stages like the National Speakers Association, Aflac, Coca-Cola, and Verizon Wireless.

My Journey: MOODY ABDUL

Moody Abdul loves the art of how we communicate through channels such as marketing , branding, advertising  and other methods like public speaking. He currently helps organizations utilize LinkedIn’s Ad product to improve their marketing strategy and their talent acquisition efforts.

Moody documents his personal and professional journey from living in poverty, struggling to speak  english and now elevating team culture within organization through his public speaking and connection workshops.

My Journey: René Sanchez

René Sanchez from Salesforce has been a leader since his early days in college. He founded an organization that promoted the benefits of diversity in a predominantly Caucasian school and faculty. That level of courage and leadership catapulted him into various experiences across several industries.

Some of his accomplishments include managing brand building campaigns for Dove, leading the development of innovative web applications for Axe, launching an international community for Levi’s, and managing advertising campaigns for Ahnu Footwear.

My Journey: Afiya addison

Afiya Addison joins us to discuss her role as the Independent Agency Lead at LinkedIn. As a woman of color, she speaks about the challenges that she faced and how she advocated for herself to receive promotions and transition to several positions within the company. Her upbringing in a Trinidadian household has instilled values in her that she attributes to her success. Afiya has spoken at Social Media Week in NYC, Obility’s Marketing Loves Sales, TSP Live, Hootsuite’s Social Breakfast, Hubspot’s INBOUND, and LinkedIn’s TransformHER conference, and various ad agencies and ad-tech companies across the country.

My Journey: Stéphane Laroche

Giving back to the less fortunate is embedded in Stéphane Laroche’s core. He utilizes that passion as a diplomat working for the USAID as a Regional Financial Service Officer. Growing up in Haiti, he learned about hard work and sharing with the less fortunate. The tough circumstances that he faced in Haiti as a single child helped prepare him to navigate his career in the US. Stéphane is one of the many immigrant success stories that will be featured on Zaka throughout the year. He is extremely proud to represent and lead America’s policies around the world as a Black man.

My Journey: Greisy Espinoza Amparo

Migrating to a new country and entering the job market can be challenging and disconnected for many immigrants. Greisy’s journey was not different. After a successful law career in the Dominican Republic, it was a difficult journey establishing a career in the United States, a completely new environment. Recruiters recommended for her to go back to school because they could not connect to her international background. Greisy relied on the success of her previous experience to self advocate and communicate  her value when pursuing opportunities and in her journey to becoming the VP of Compliance at Goldman Sachs. She talks with us about her challenging journey in the job market and how she is advocating for other minorities in the workforce.

My Journey: Peter Flores

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, we had a conversation with Peter Flores who is an Executive in Client Partnerships at Vice Media. Peter learned a very important lesson from his mother at a young age: “you can be rich in life if you can have a conversation or can connect with anybody”. That very important lesson shaped Peter’s life more than he expected. Instead of focusing on what he wanted to be in terms of title, he pivoted his focus into what he was naturally good at. He implemented his communication and social abilities to create relationships in his professional environments, resulting in securing multi million dollar deals for the  corporations that he partners with.

My Journey: Sean Maingot

Sean Maingot was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma 14 years ago. He went through a grueling regime of chemotherapy that left him weak, uninspired and skinny. But the treatment worked, Sean, CO-Founder of Body by Chosen, regained his energy and was motivated to recover the same fitness he had as a former basketball and baseball player. The cancer survivor refused to feel sorry for himself after that experience, he embarked on a journey to instill the same level of grit and motivation into other people’s lives. His fitness calling has made him an entrepreneur to be reckoned with. The celebrity fitness guru owns multiple gyms in the Toronto area and he is in the process of franchising the “Body by Chosen” brand around the world.

My Journey: Grace Athena Nguyen

Grace left Vietnam 10 years ago by herself and managed to graduate at the top of her class. Her journey assimilating in the U.S  was tough because she did not have the blueprint or guidance in how to achieve her professional vision in a country that differed completely from hers. Holding on to her mission of making the world a better place, Grace decided that her way of contributing  could be by making people feel better physically and spiritually. Her vision and passion drove her to medical massage therapy where she received extensive training in various modalities like neuromuscular energy techniques, sport massage, deep tissue, Swedish, myofascial release, reflexology and hydrotherapy. She believes in the body’s ability to heal itself and utilizes her expertise to facilitate the body’s natural healing process for her clients. She believes that a healing body results in a healed spirit.

My Journey: Mary Beth Sales

PR Expert Commentator and NFT Host, Mary Beth Sales joins us to breakdown her journey growing up in Saint Louis in a Filipino household and moving to Los Angeles for Law School. Mary Beth excels at PR by leveraging her negotiation skills to put her clients at the forefront and elevate their brands. Whether you’re an industry expert, talent, athlete, C-level executive, or if you have a consumer product, she works smart and diligently behind the scenes to keep your narrative active and your brand flourishing. She discusses her experience working in diversity and the Me Too movement in the Public Relations industry while sharing gems about expertise in NFT.

My Journey: Mary Beth Sales

PR Expert Commentator and NFT Host, Mary Beth Sales joins us to breakdown her journey growing up in Saint Louis in a Filipino household and moving to Los Angeles for Law School. Mary Beth excels at PR by leveraging her negotiation skills to put her clients at the forefront and elevate their brands. Whether you’re an industry expert, talent, athlete, C-level executive, or if you have a consumer product, she works smart and diligently behind the scenes to keep your narrative active and your brand flourishing. She discusses her experience working in diversity and the Me Too movement in the Public Relations industry while sharing gems about expertise in NFT.

My Journey: damon degraff

Damon DeGraff is single-handedly responsible for creating what is known today as the “celebrity dj.” The DGI Management founder’s first client was Mark Ronson and his top clients have included D’Angelo, Beverly Bond, DJ Cassidy, DJ Kiss, Chelsea Leyland, DJ Ruckus, The Misshapes, Paul Sevigny, Rev Run, Mia Moretti, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Pauly D and Kat DeLuna. In this episode, Damon speaks about his childhood, his growth in the music business and his mission to elevate Caribbean culture to the mainstream. He’ll also speak about creating your own lane through his partnership with Soho House where he  introduced his new venture, No Man Curse, to deliver curated music and culture including reggae, dancehall, soca, and afrobeats.

My Journey: Allison Runes

Allison is passionate about creating genuine connections with consumers and telling compelling stories to establish brand affinity and long-term relationships. She’s  fascinated by trends and the power of authenticity. Allison joins us to talk about her personal journey from her parents immigrating from thr Philippines and her career growth from working at Red Bull to now being The Associate Director of Content at The Content Collective.



Allison preaches the importance of seeking mentors who will hold you accountable while empowering you. Nourishing these relationships and being a role model for her community inspires Allison to be the social media wizard that she is today. Allison educates us on the power of social media and how brands are utilizing it to organically connect with their audience.

My Journey: Christopher Sherman IV

Christopher Sherman IV was never shy about using his voice to be a leader. He founded an organization in college, The Distinguished Gentlemen, that promoted diversity on campus and sought-after changing the misconceptions about young minorities. Today, the organization is helping inner-city children continue their education.

Chris has continued carrying the torch of leadership in the corporate world through his roles at General Electric, Jet Blue and now Bank of America but also in his community where he mentors several underrepresented minorities who play youth football.

He joins us to share the ups and downs of growing up in the Bronx after his parents migrated from Jamaica. Chris stresses the biggest lessons he learned working in Corporate America, lessons that weren’t taught in college.

My Journey: Jerry Fortuna

Jerry Fortuna is making a name for himself as a leader in the Big3, a professional basketball league founded by Ice Cube. Jerry breaks down his journey growing up in a Latin household in LA to climbing up the ladder in the entertainment industry. Jerry shares how his humility and authenticity have helped him develop relationships with influential people like the Dallas Mavericks governor, Mark Cuban.

Jerry has worn multiple hats in the entertainment industry, from contributing to several tours including reggaeton artists and Ice Cube, to pitching shows to Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to being the Players Relations and Game Day Operations Manager for the Big3.

My Journey: Elvin Colón

Elvin Colón from American Express joins us to talk about his current role as the Director of Mergers and Acquisitions / Corporate Development. Before this leadership role, Elvin worked at several other financial institutions, learning the ins and outs of the industry.  Elvin shares about how he found the confidence as a Latino to advocate for himself and use his voice in competitive, professional environment.  Elvin recommends some of the tools people of color can utilize to overcome the many challenges that minorities face during the recruitment process and within the walls of the companies they work for.

My Journey: Krystle DeSantos

Krystle DeSantos joins us to share her journey from Guyana to moving to NYC when she was 18. Krystle is a Design Guru,  Digital Content Creator and  Digital Advertising Professional with  over 10 years working  the Tech space.   After a successful career working in Corporate America, Krystle followed her dream and passion by launching her agency Krystle DeSantos LLC. Her agency manages interior/event decor projects and develops written as well as visual content for fashion, lifestyle and DIY categories. Her mission in life is always empowering others to show as their authentic selves.


In 2020,  the Design Guru, launched her online shop, Lillian & Joan in honor of her mother and grandmother.  Lillian & Joan carries colorful eclectic fashion accessories and vintage pieces inspired by her Guyanese culture heritage.

My Journey: Paul Herman

Born and raised in the South Bronx, Paul Herman,  fell in love with the belief that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. With the birth of Hip Hop, Paul quickly took an interest in dance . While pursuing dance his parents instilled in him at a young age the value of an education, which led him to graduate with a Business Management and Marketing degree from the Jack Welch School of Business.  After working in sales and marketing for some of the most distinguished companies in Fairfield County,  Paul  knew his true desire was to succeed as an entertainer, teacher, and motivator. He knew he needed to take a risk and follow his heart; a path which opened so many doors and has given him the life he always dreamed of.


Paul’s dance career took him  to stages across the world including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe, performing alongside prominent artists such as Alicia Keys, Chris Brown, Kat Deluna, Sean Paul, Lil Wayne, Eve, and Ciara.

My Journey: Leah Arscott

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 and various international production houses.

Born to joyful Caribbean parents, a background in Health and Fitness (competitor and competition winner), 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 and the ability to take direction well, 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.

My Journey: Dr. Genelle Garcia

We are joined by Dr Genelle Garcia who 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 North Shore University Health Hospital Northwell Health, Louisiana State University, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Stamford Hospital.

 

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 Therapist.

My Journey: Aisha Losche

SVP of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Hill Holliday, Aisha Losche is responsible for the overall  DEI strategy for the agency across the entire employee experience. She works closely with the CEO to  nurture DEI partnerships.  With these partnerships, she makes significant impact in unifying and guiding Hill Holliday employees through programs that push for action and accountability, champion inclusion and allyship, and ultimately contribute to a more inclusive culture not just within the organization, but across the industry at-large.

Aisha speaks about her journey how she climbed to the top and what corporations can do to empower their minority employees.

My Journey: Rafael Rodriguez Morales

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. In this episode, Rafa shares a lot of his journey and goes into the historical origins of some of the most popular music of Puerto Rican culture. He shares his inspiration and philosophy to work hard and make it as a musician, and talks about personal things like some of his favorite musicians, what the experience was like to win a Grammy after being nominated 2 times previously, and some of his advice to young aspiring musicians.

Rafa has worked with mega producer Super Dubs on tracks for Sean Paul, Rihanna, Jason Derulo, Collie Buddz and Drake.

My Journey: Jean Giovanni Maurice

Gio joins us to speak about his education growing up in Haiti and how that 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 Exxon Mobile 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.

My Journey: Aaron Ramkalawan

Aaron Ramkalawan 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 talks about his upbringing and how he 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, before deciding that he wanted to work for himself and got into the real estate business where he is seeing great success. In this episode, he talks about his heritage and culture from Trinidad, what experiences led him to where he is today, and advice on being a realtor today and how important it is to understand the climate of the market and have knowledge about real estate in general.

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