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Directors on the IVCLA Board are elected by the membership to serve two three-year-terms. After serving six years, Directors must retire from the board, but may return after at least one year’s absence. Directors are elected by the IVCLA membership at the Annual Meeting held each year in November. Officers are elected by the Directors at the first board meeting of the new term.

Matthew OlsenMatthew Olsen - Chair
Boston Private Bank & Trust Company
Matthew Olsen is Vice President of Boston Private Bank & Trust Company. Matt recently joined Boston Private Bank & Trust Company in their Santa Monica office after their consolidation of three West Coast banks. Matt has a diverse banking background working in several disciplines within the banking and finance industry over the past fifteen years. Matt was previously Chief Deposit Officer with Wedbush Bank. In this role he worked to expand the level of products and services and assist in growing the deposit segments of the newly-formed bank. He was the primary banking contact for 15 Private Client Services offices around the country and 300+ independent investment brokers nationwide for the Wedbush Securities affiliate.

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Fobi Mathias 'Mal' Fobi, M.D. - Vice Chair
Bariatec Corporation
Mathias 'Mal' Fobi is the President of Bariatec Corporation a medical device company. He received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati and his Surgical Residency at King/Drew Medical Center where he subsequently served on the faculty as the Chief of General Surgery. In 1977 he met a woman whose physical incapacity and ridicule as an obese person struck a chord of compassion leading him to shift the focus of his surgical career to the fledging field of bariatric (obesity). In 1981 he opened the Center for Surgical Treatment of Obesity and was often called “the Surgeon to Hollywood Stars”. Dr. Fobi lectures worldwide and has published extensively. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Trustees of IFS, a Fellow with numerous other medical associations, and an honorary member of several international medical societies. He and his wife Helen have four daughters and two grandchildren.

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GMichele Franchett - Vice Chair
Stone Gzegorek & Gonzalez LLP
Michele Franchett is a partner with Stone Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP where she practices immigration law. In addition to her caseload, she presents educational materials on U.S. immigration law to professional colleagues in China in order to strengthen cooperative relationships through improved communications. She also provides pro bono legal services at free clinics sponsored by American Immigration Lawyers Association and St. Lawrence Brindisi Church in South Los Angeles. She is former Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Southern California Chapter. She has volunteered her time at the ACLU and the Orthopedic Hospital of  Los Angeles. She and her husband have three children and are busy with their many interests.

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Michael McDowellMichael McDowell - Vice Chair
Japan House Los Angeles
Michael McDowell is Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for Japan House Los Angeles, a new public diplomacy initiative of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grow awareness and appreciation of Japanese culture and contributions to contemporary life globally. It is one of only three such facilities in the world. Previously, McDowell was the first Vice President for Cultural Tourism at the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, where he promoted Los Angeles as a premier cultural center for visitors worldwide since 2004. Before that, McDowell held leadership positions at the California Institute of the Arts and the University of Southern California as well as top positions in higher education, government and publishing on the East Coast.

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GDeanne Neiman - Secretary
Deanne Neiman is the Owner of Educational Equity Consultants which provides services to school districts throughout California, conducting hearings and investigations regarding discrimination laws. She was appointed Honorary Consul of Botswana for the Western U.S. in 2012. She has been actively involved with the FASPACO (Pan African Film Festival) and participated in the African First Ladies Health Summit in 2009 which addressed HIV/AIDS, Maternal Reproductive &Child Health, and Girls Education. Deanne received her Master of Arts Degree from Cal State Univ., Los Angeles. She has lived,worked and or studied in Israel, Mexico and England. She was previously Director of the Educational Equity Compliance Office of LAUSD, where she often made presentations and lectured throughout the United States regarding equity issues. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and son.

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G Wafa J. Hoballah - Legal Counsel
Middle East Law
Wafa Hoballah is an attorney with an international practice in and between the United States, the Middle East, West Africa and Viet Nam. Her domestic practice focuses on assisting Lebanese nationals with family & probate matters particularly as it relates to religious and civil laws and its compatibility with local U.S. laws. An avid activist for human rights, she was invited by the U.N. to present the legal aspects of human trafficking to the Committee on the Status of Women in New York. She has been a keynote speaker for the U.S. Dept. of State on comparative laws and has traveled to Oman, Algeria and Yemen as a program specialist. She also served on a panel in Russia regarding marketing and business development. She serves on the advisory board for the Refugee Safe Haven Shelter for Victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. Ms. Hoballah is the president and a founding member of the Los Angeles-Beirut Sister Cities Organization, and a charter board member of the Lebanese American Foundation.

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GHaifa Azawi, M.D.
Haifa Azawi is a medical doctor board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Through her New Woman Medical Care she fulfills her desire to help women understand their conditions and provide for their best possible care. Her practice also includes the Multi-Specialty Network, a group of primary care physicians and specialists throughout the greater Long Beach area. She received her medical certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Royal College of OB/GYN in London. She lectures on issues of OB/GYN locally and internationally. She was born in Iraq and served as president of the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) and is present Chair of the Iraq Liaison Committee for NAAMA. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, who is a surgeon and they have three children.

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Jonathan Kaji
Kaji & Associates
Jonathan Kaji is President of Kaji & Associates, a real estate development and brokerage firm located in Torrance, California. The firm has developed commercial, industrial, retail and residential properties in Southern California and has been in operation since 1984. Jonathan is a member of the Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He formerly served as the Director of the State of California Office of Trade and Investment, Tokyo, Japan for 7 years. Jonathan has also served as a past President of the University of Southern California Asian Pacific Alumni Association; Board member of the Torrance South Bay Family YMCA; and member of the President's Export Council. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Southern California and resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

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Kristin McCowan
City of Los Angeles
Kristin McCowan is the newly appointed Director of International Relations and Chief of Protocol for the City of Los Angeles. A native of Santa Monica, Kristin is returning to L.A. from Washington D.C. after working in several positions in the Obama Administration. Most recently she was a presidential appointee serving as Director of Presidential Transition and Senior Advisor to the Director of the Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President. Before joining the White House, she was a presidential appointee at the Department of Homeland Security. Kristin held various campaign and fundraising positions prior to her appointments with the Obama Administration. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Northridge and her Master of Public Administration from the USC.

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Stephen Ozoigbo
Relativity Education
Stephen Ozoigbo is a serial entrepreneur, investor and advisor to multiple technology startups. He is currently the CEO of the African Technology Foundation, a Silicon Valley corporation that seeks to globalize African technologies by providing access to resources that effectively address and manage the most pressing technological challenges on the continent. Stephen also serves as an International Advisor for Relativity. Within the Relativity Education unit, he is responsible for bridging knowledge gaps between the African media and entertainment ecosystems and Hollywood, as well as guiding Relativity's engagement strategies in the region. Prior to these roles, he served as an Investment Consultant to the Government of Catalonia and managed multiple projects related to technology incubation, commercialization and internationalization. He has addressed international audiences at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC), Mobile World Congress (MWC) and DEMO Africa on various elements of the "mobile economy" and he is an avid supporter of diaspora engagement activities that are geared towards innovation and technology entrepreneurship.

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Lourdes Saab Lourdes Saab
County of Los Angeles
Lourdes Saab is Deputy Chief of Protocol for the County of Los Angeles. In her position she represents the L.A. County office of Protocol on the IVCLA board and serves as the liaison between the protocol office and the county’s international community. In addition she aids foreign missions in the county by coordinating visits for dignitaries. Lourdes served as Chief of Protocol of the City of Los Angeles from 1993 to 1997. She previously worked in Mayor Yorty’s Office of Latin American Affairs and in the offices of Mayors Bradley and Riordan. She was a founding member and has served as executive director of the Hispanic Women’s Council, Inc. She was Commissioner for the County Department of Children’s Services and has been recognized for her work with community based health organizations.

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G David Stepp
Bryan Cave LLP
David Stepp is a partner with Bryan Cave LLP. His practice spans a variety of customs and international trade issues, including those related to motor vehicles, steel, textile and apparel products, footwear, retailing, electronic products and other consumer goods. Mr. Stepp's practice focuses on customs compliance and counseling, including tariff classifications, valuation, country of origin marking, Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) participation and other regulatory requirements. His practice includes global customs and international trade audits of multinationals and advice on improving and benchmarking compliance programs. He also advises clients on local trade and customs options for companies in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. He is a frequent speaker on global customs and international trade issues.

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G William 'Jerry' Silva
Southern California Edison
William ‘Jerry’ Silva is the Compliance Reliability Manager for South California Edison, where he joined the organization in October 1982. He is presently responsible for leading a team of Senior Project Managers to review all proposed and adopted electric reliability regulations for applicability to power supply operations for SCE. Jerry is an active member of the community and serves on a variety of boards including the Hispanic 100, Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute, and has served as regional judge and Chair of the Los Angeles Regional Panel for the prestigious White House Fellows program from 2000-2010. Jerry received a gubernatorial appointment in early 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown, having first been appointed in 2008 to serve on the Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor’s commission.

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Swerdlow Yael Swerdlow
Women's Empowerment Foundation
Yael Swerdlow is a social entrepreneur. She co-founded the Women’s Empowerment Foundation, whose mission is to educate, enrich, and connect women to each other. Yael received her Political Science degree from UCLA and her Master of Public Diplomacy from USC. She is the co-founder and CEO of F.8 Interactive, a video game company and co-chairs the National Leadership Council of Games for Change. She also serves on the board of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute for Gender Research and is a media literacy and advocacy educator for the Museum of Tolerance’s Multicultural Leadership Project and the San Diego Anti-Defamation League’s Manhigim Institute. As a long time photojournalist, she was a part of the L.A. Times Pulitzer Prize winning teams for the 1992 Riots and the Northridge Earthquake. Yael went to Somalia, Southern Sudan, and Rwanda in 1994 for the International Medical Corps, to document the reestablishing of the medical infrastructure in those war-torn countries.

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Tangalakis Tina Tangalakis
Della LA LLC
Los Angeles native Tina Tangalakis always sought to combine her love of art and humanitarian work. As a student, she studied costume design at California Institute of the Arts and later went on to work as a wardrobe stylist for film and television. In September 2009, Tina participated in a volunteer program abroad which landed her in Hohoe, Ghana. There she quickly became enamored with the culture and warm hearts of the friends she made. With her background in business and design, Tina teamed up with a local entrepreneur to begin Della, a socially responsible fashion line that provides jobs, education and skills training to women and men of Hohoe.

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Watkins Tim Watkins
Watts Labor Community Action Committee
Tim Watkins is President and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), and his primary concern is in the area of public policy and how it often exacerbates and perpetuates poverty. Along with his day-to-day responsibility for operating the WLCAC, he researches and develops legislative recommendations that positively impact the quality of life for residents of Watts and neighboring communities. Because Tim is a firm believer in the use of cultural enrichment as a means of healing the human spirit in places like Watts, he is leading a much needed discussion on the concept of Social Enterprise as a long-term solution to poverty and neglect.

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Board of Directors
Honorary Chairs
Mayor Eric Gargetti
City of Los Angeles

Mark Ridley-Thomas
L.A. County Board of Supervisors
Chair
Matthew Olsen
Vice Chairs
Mathias 'Mal' Fobi
Michele Franchett
Michael McDowell
Secretary
Deanne Neiman
Legal Counsel
  Wafa Hoballah
Board Members

Haifa Azawi
Jonathan Kaji
Kristin McCowan
Stephen Ozoigbo
Lourdes Saab
William 'Jerry' Silva
David Stepp
Yael Swerdlow
Tina Tangalakis
Tim Watkins
Tracy Young



Emerging Leaders in Citizen Diplomacy
Board Members

Carlos Collard
Kenya Davis-Hayes

 
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