14 Badgers Recognized Among Wisconsin’s ‘Most Influential Asian American Leaders’ for 2022 – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – UW-Madison


Fourteen members of the UW-Madison community have been honored by Madison365 in its annual list of Wisconsin’s Most Influential Asian American Leaders.

A non-profit online news publication, Madison365 has published annual power lists recognizing Wisconsin leaders from different racial and ethnic groups since 2015. The purpose of the lists is to “highlight the beauty of diversity in our state” and highlight role models for young people in Wisconsin, according to Henry Sanders, Jr., co-founder, publisher and CEO of Madison365.

“This week, we shine a statewide spotlight on the dedicated leaders of Wisconsin’s Hmong, Chinese-American, Japanese-American, Pacific Islander, South Asian and other communities. They are very diverse communities with roots that span a wide geographic area,” Sanders said.

Congratulations to current and former UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff who have received this well-deserved recognition. You can read the full article on the Madison365 website.

Jay Balachandran, MD, (’99, MD ’03) is the Chair of Hospital Specialty Medicine at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s in Milwaukee and one of the city’s top physicians in pulmonary medicine/critical care and sleep medicine. He received his medical degree from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in 2003. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he served as chief resident. He completed postgraduate training in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Harvard Medical School and postgraduate training in sleep medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is also a Trustee of the Village of Whitefish Bay and a member of the Whitefish Bay Public Library Board.

Sachin Chheda is a partner at Nation Consulting and a professional in communications, government relations, advocacy, and nonprofit management. He is currently Director of the Fair Elections Project, Campaign Advisor for the Economic Security Project, Strategic Communications Advisor for the AFL-CIO of Wisconsin, and Senior Advisor for Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee. Sachin also oversaw winning campaigns for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly and then-Superintendent Tony Evers, as well as dozens of local judges. , board members, school board members and others. Sachin attended UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison.

Adam Clausen (’06) is the senior leader of Life Center Madison, a nondenominational, multicultural church. He co-founded a grassroots community organizing effort of service providers, the Southeast Community Network, which serves the southeast side of Madison. He currently works in the office of the Madison Schools Superintendent in addition to boards, committees, and councils that advocate for justice, youth engagement and empowerment, and community collaboration.

Shayna Hetzel, MPA, is a community builder focused on collective action for greater social impact with over 15 years of experience in education, equity and social justice. She leads teams focused on social innovation and community collaboration to close equity gaps in education and for our youth through investments, strategic partnerships and community programs at the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. Prior to joining AmFam, Hetzel worked at the Wisconsin State Budget Office on education policy and government operations and at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Union on community building, management of investment projects and communications with stakeholders. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Madison.

Lisa Imhoff (’00, MSSW ’05) is associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the UW School of Pharmacy. She is also a licensed therapist and social worker providing services through Evolve Wellness and Consulting. Prior to assuming the role of Associate Dean of Pharmacy in 2019, she was a mental health clinician and addiction services coordinator at the university and spent 10 years as an assessor and therapist at UW Health. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and women’s studies and a master’s degree in social work from UW-Madison.

Sarah Chitharanjan Jacobs (’06) is the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at UnityPoint Health-Meriter, where she manages inclusion efforts for the organization’s 3,200 employees. Prior to joining Meriter in 2020, she worked in public service, fundraising and membership at Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio for over 10 years. She is also a strategic consultant for The Book Deal, a mission-driven family bookstore. A Stevens Point native of Indian and Polish descent, she earned her degree in Communication Arts and Spanish at UW-Madison.

Angela Jenkins is an accomplished diversity, equity and inclusion leader and strategist who helps create sustainable and innovative programs focused on aligning equity and business priorities. She is a technology project manager at American Family Insurance, where she oversees the recruitment and placement of top technology talent in the Data Science and Analytics Lab. Jenkins studied project management at UW-Madison and has worked with community organizations, nonprofits, and large organizations. She holds leadership positions in non-profit organizations, including The River Food Pantry, The Sessions at McPike Park, and Collaboration for Good. She is a commissioner for the Zoning Board of Appeal for the City of Madison and a member of the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin, a statewide organization that amplifies AAPI voices and conducts advocacy projects that oppose to hatred and racism.

Yoshi KawaokaPh.D., is a world-renowned flu expert and professor at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. He is an expert on the bird flu virus and has shown that a pandemic flu virus similar to that of 1918 can be recreated in nature. He also led a group that created a whole virus Ebola vaccine that was safe and effective in primates and traveled to Sierra Leone to learn more about the disease. His work is also changing the way drugmakers make flu vaccines by providing faster, more cost-effective methods. Kawaoka’s team created a new strategy for generating and manipulating the virus – a system called “reverse genetics” – that revolutionized the field. In 2007, he co-founded FluGen, a Madison-based company dedicated to preventing and treating seasonal and pandemic epidemics that kill hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Nhi Le, Ph.D., is an Accelerator Catalyst at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation where she helps the Accelerator team provide resources and support to WARF project teams and commercialization efforts. Born in Vietnam and raised in Georgia, she earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science from UW–Madison with research focused on stem cell engineering and biofabrication. She is also a deep tech investor at Singapore-based Paeonia Capital and a founding partner at venture capital firm Mariton Partners. She has her name on six patents.

crystal jars (’10) is the Director of State Relations for UW-Madison, where she serves as a contact for state government agencies, including the governor’s office, state legislature, and state agencies. She also helps create and implement statewide advocacy efforts on behalf of the university. Potts previously served as chief of staff to Wisconsin State Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), where she also supported the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee as Senate staffing officer on tax and of local government. She served as a research assistant and staff clerk for the State Assembly Ways and Means Committee early in her career at the Wisconsin State Capitol. A native of the Twin Cities, Crystal is a proud graduate of UW-Madison with a BA in political science and Chinese.

Nashant Upadhyay is Director of Data and Analytics at UW Credit Union, where he started in 2021 after 13 years at American Family Insurance. At AmFam, he most recently served as vice president for information and data management. He earned an undergraduate degree from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and an MBA from Bhavnagar University, also in India, in 1997.

Soyeon-ShimPh.D., was dean of the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology since 2012. Upon his arrival, Dean Shim initiated a school-wide strategic plan to build on the school’s inauguration of Nancy Nicholas Hall. She led the school’s All Ways Forward campaign, which raised $72 million, including 13 endowed professorships and chairs, a dean, and 10 new graduate scholarship endowments. Dean Shim has received numerous teaching, research, development and leadership awards, and has authored or co-authored over 110 scientific articles.

E Son Vang (’12) is Executive Director of the Network for School Improvement at City Year Milwaukee, where she leads efforts to establish and manage a network of schools that will use continuous improvement practices to improve student outcomes. Prior to joining City Year Milwaukee in 2019, she worked in community health with the Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health and Independent Care Health Plan. She is Vice-Chair of the Board of Our Scholarship and served for two years on the Hmong Young Professionals Committee. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in public health from UW-Milwaukee.

Goodson View is Associate Director at UW-Madison’s Pre-College Enrichment Opportunities Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE). As an advisor and coordinator of PEOPLE’s College Scholars program, Vue has supported hundreds of PEOPLE undergraduate scholars throughout their time at college. In 2022, Vue received the award Outstanding Achievement Award from the UW Office of Undergraduate Advising for his work cultivating a culture of respect, inclusion, scholarship, and trust among PEOPLE scholars, improving the retention and success of marginalized students at UW-Madison. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology and his master’s degree in communications from UW-Whitewater.


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