Women of color develop new ideas, form new ventures

Compiled by Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly


The entrepreneurial spirit is key to the American dream, and developing new ventures is one way that women from all walks of life can become empowered.

The upcoming Women of Color Empowered luncheon will take place on September 20 at the New Hong Kong Restaurant, honoring 15 women who have started their own ventures.

The emcee, Carolyn Kelly, is the former president and COO of the Seattle Times. Kelly joined the Seattle Times as a financial analyst in 1977 at the age of 25. She moved around the company, working various job and was named the president and COO in 2001, becoming one of few women in the United States to hold a top level management position at a major newspaper. Kelly has also spent much time while at the Times and afterwards volunteering and leading for community non-profit organizations.

Included below are short biographies of the Women of Color honorees, in no particular order.

Maire and Lesly Chacon

Sisters Maire and Lesly Chacon, cofounders of WOW Chocolates, were raised in an environment full of celebration and where food played a large role.

Lesly completed an interior design degree and worked in the field for several years before discovering that chocolate was her calling. Lesly began making bonbons as gifts for friends and word soon spread. Her hobby became something else entirely — a business.

Lesly has since trained with some of Venezuela’s finest chocolate makers and the results can be seen in all of her creations.

Maire learned the art of making truffles and bonbons from her sister. An accomplished artist who works with many different materials, from acrylic paints to clay and wood,  Maire has always shared a passion with her family for food and now she strives to combine the worlds of art and edibles every day.

Maud Daudon

Maud Daudon was appointed Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president and CEO on June 19, 2012. She stepped into this role after 10 years with Seattle-Northwest Securities Corporation (SNW), a Seattle-based independent, employee-owned investment bank, broker-dealer, and asset management firm. For the latter six years she served as president and CEO of the firm, restoring profitability during the Great Recession.

Daudon has been active with the Chamber for more than 20 years. From September 2010 to September 2011, she served a one-year term as volunteer chair of the Chamber, where she helped to establish the Chamber’s comprehensive plan.

Daudon has a master’s degree in public and private management with an emphasis on finance and economic development from the Yale School of Organization and Management and a B.A. from Hampshire College. She and her husband Marc have two children and live in the Madrona neighborhood in Seattle.

Sophath Chou

Sophath Chou is an attorney and the owner of Chou Law Office, P.S. Chou is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Seattle University School of Law, where she received her Doctorate of Law. As an immigrant, she was inspired at a young age to pursue a career in immigration law so that she could help others.

Chou has been practicing law for the past 8 years and has offices in Bellevue; Pasco, Wash.; and Long Beach, Calif. She focuses her practice on immigration law, both family based and business related. Outside of her practice, Chou volunteers with the Northwest Immigration Rights Project, Asian Counseling Referral Service, and has acted as cochair for the young lawyer division of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Adriana Medina

As a fitness industry veteran and owner of Fuerte Fitness, which she founded in Wallingford in 2008, Medina’s demeanor and knowledge of exercise theory and technique allows her to make exercise programs accessible to nearly anyone.

Medina holds a B.A. in international business from Boise State University. She is certified by the International Sports and Science Association and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Her experience with the health and fitness field includes fat loss, muscle gain, weight loss, pre- and post-natal health, and sports-specific athletic training.
In addition to being a small business owner and community volunteer, Medina is also an active, award-winning fitness competitor, which allows her to serve as a genuine example and inspiration to many.

Angela Shen

Angela Shen, founder of Savor Seattle food tours, is a self-proclaimed “food evangelist,” meaning she has a huge love of eating, shopping for, and talking about food. Shen grew up working in family-owned and other restaurants. After graduating from the Wharton School, she moved to Chicago to work in brand management at the Quaker Oats Company. She moved to Seattle with her husband and founded Savor Seattle after a visit to Pike Place Market.

In her spare time, Shen enjoys spending time with her kids, snowboarding, reading cooking magazines, and watching reality TV.

Anjana Shanker

Anjana Shanker, a research and development chef for Modernist Cuisine, was born and raised in Coorg, southern India. Her interest in food can be traced to her childhood spent on a cardamom, coffee, and orange plantation. As she grew up, Shanker dreamed of opening a café to feature her homegrown coffee and spices. She left Coorg to attend college in Chennai. After attaining a B.A. in economics and history, Shanker worked for Nestlé and Singapore Airlines. She later moved to the United States to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she graduated with honors.

Shanker has been part of the Modernist Cuisine team for five years.

Shanker’s work includes culinary research, recipe development, and food styling. She has also tested recipes, conducted experiments, and written original recipes for Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, and modernistcuisine.com.

Beverly Norris

Beverly Norris, president and owner of Norris Pacific Group, is Native American and an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. She has 30 years’ experience in various business roles, including customer service, business management, and training. Norris started in sales of promotional products, office supplies, furniture, and janitorial supplies with many of the Northwest Tribal Communities.

She quickly realized that a lucrative market in underserved native communities existed not only in Washington State but also along the west coast and then in other areas of the United States.

Edna Daigre

Edna Daigre, a native of Chicago, Ills., began her early dance education studying Katherine Dunham’s philosophy and technique.

Daigre’s 35 years of community service has involved developing health and dance programs for public schools, colleges, community-based projects, and special populations. In 1977 she was invited to serve as an associate professor of dance at the University of Washington.

In 1974, she opened her dance studio, Ewajo Performing Arts in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. The mission brought people from diverse backgrounds together to experience dance and health as a living expression of shared culture and histories.

In 2007, she closed her studio but continues her mission teaching dance as a healthy prescription and lifestyle for the active aging population. The current workshops and classes, which are inspired by Joseph Pilates and Katherine Dunham, focuses on the awareness of breath and movement as an inseparable discipline to maintain life enhancing mobility skills.

Kira Bundlie and Lisa Ström

Hourglass Footwear, founded by Kira Bundlie and Lisa Ström in response to what they saw as a growing need for self-expression and customization in fashion, is a women-owned and operated company of ten Seattle-area artists and designers who create bold, high-fashion shoes that are one-of-a-kind and 100 percent original. Each pair is custom hand-painted to order.

Hourglass Footwear currently offers flats, mid-heels, stilettos, and platforms. Customers can also provide their own shoes to be painted.

Kendee Yamaguchi

Kendee Yamaguchi is an assistant attorney general; the director of policy, legislative affairs, and external relations for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General Bob Ferguson; and is a member of Ferguson’s senior leadership team. Previously, Yamaguchi served the governor as a small agency Cabinet member where she was the executive director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Yamaguchi earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public communications with a minor in international affairs from American University. She is also a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship – PPIA and earned a juris doctorate from the Seattle University School of Law.

Purple Tramble

Seattle native Purple Tramble is the face behind Purple Reels Productions.

As a child, Purple was introduced to film when she spent her time volunteering at her church as control room director and cameraperson and when her favorite teacher in middle school announced an extra credit opportunity where Purple traveled with the football team, filmed the games, and edited the highlights.

Purple went on to study at Howard University, where she received a B.A. in Film Production.

Purple founded Purple Reels Productions, LLC (PRP) in 2008, providing digital video/photography services for artists and small businesses as well as “Celebration of Life” videos for families who have lost loved ones.

In 2012, Purple founded “Eras of Black Film Short Film Contest,” an online short film contest open to youth 13–18 years old. In February, 2013, Purple Reels Productions and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute partnered to create, “The Truth Unchained Black History Month Film Screenings,” showcasing black films for youth in the Seattle community during Black History Month.

Natasha Savage

Natasha Savage immigrated to Seattle in late the 80s with her family from Azerbaijan. In 1990, she began working for the International Rescue Committee as a case manager, managing the resettlement of newly arrived immigrants and refugees in Washington. She prepared them for permanent residency and helped them find work.

In 1995, Savage began working for the Department of Social and Health Services of Washington State, eventually becoming the regional refugee coordinator for King County.

Savage left DSHS in 2006 and began a career in real estate, but she continued her involvement with refugee organizations and causes.

In 2009, Savage founded the Eastern European Chamber of Commerce where she serves as a president and remains active today. The Chamber was founded as a nonprofit corporation that facilitates Eastern European and American business cooperation, international trade and commerce, investment, tourism, and educational, scientific, economic, and cultural activities.

Yen Lam

In 1991, Mac and Judy Lam opened a modest, 700-square-foot grocery store and, with the help of their five children and a focus on customer service, expanded it to an over 7,000-square-foot market. In 2008, right before the Great Recession, Yen Lam, the couple’s youngest daughter, bought out her brother’s share of the market and took over the family business. Instead of being beat around by the economy, Lam succeeded, leading the market to its highest-ever sales. In 2011, Fortune Magazine named Lam’s Seafood Market the 89th fastest-growing inner city business in the entire United States. 

Julia Johnson

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Julia Johnson moved to Miami, FL in 1985 at the age of 17 to learn English and attend college. A few years later Johnson married, putting her professional dreams on the back burner to take on the responsibilities that came with marriage and family.

While managing a home, raising a child, and developing a career, Johnson never lost sight of her professional goals.  In 2001, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration and international business. Later in December 2002, she obtained her master’s degree in finance, graduating with honors from Florida International University in Miami, Fl.

After over a decade of professional growth in the investment and insurance industry Johnson decided to take the next step and open her own State Farm Agency.

Major sacrifices were made to get there.  In July 2009, Johnson and her family moved across the country, accepting the offer from State Farm to relocate to Seattle and make her dream a reality. Her business opened Jan. 4, 2010. (end)

Tickets for the Women of Courage Luncheon are currently on sale for $30 until Sept. 17 with discounts available for students. For more information about the Women of Courage luncheon or to buy tickets, visit www.womenofcolorempowered.com.

Staff can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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