Board of Directors

 
Satoshi Watanabe | Wells Fargo & Company, President

Satoshi Watanabe is a senior vice president and Head of Cross Border Strategic Initiatives for the Wells Fargo International Group. In this role, Satoshi leads cross border related strategic initiatives and directs a team that partners with business units company-wide to develop and coordinate all infrastructure, control, and risk mitigation initiatives for international business activities. Satoshi has also worked for A.T. Kearney, a leading global management consulting firm, the Boston Consulting Group and the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, now Shinsei-Bank. Satoshi has more than 22 years of international experience and has lived and worked in Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US. Satoshi earned a B.A. in Economics from Waseda University in Tokyo and an MBA from Harvard Business School. An active supporter of Wells Fargo diversity initiatives, Satoshi is the president and integration lead of the ASIA Team Member Network. He also actively serves in the local community on the board of the Diversity Council of the Carolinas and the Japanese Association in Charlotte.
 
Cynthia Aziz | Aziz Law Firm, Vice President
 
In 1990, Cynthia founded the law office of CA Aziz P.A. now recognized as the Aziz Law Firm. From its inception, its focus has been U.S. immigration and nationality law. Cynthia is a North Carolina State Board Certified Specialist in immigration and nationality law. Originally from New England, she received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts and her J.D. from New England School of Law in Boston. She was admitted to the Massachusetts bar and, following her move to the South, was admitted to the North Carolina bar. Her professional memberships are numerous and she has often served in leadership roles for these organizations. She has been an active volunteer with the International House for over 20 years, assisting with the citizenship classes as an instructor. She has also been a major financial supporter of International House including sponsoring the annual gala and attending with her staff for many years.
 

 

 

Michael Whitted | SPX Corporation, Treasurer

Michael Whitted is Vice President, Business Development for SPX Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for identifying, analyzing, and consummating opportunities for profitable growth through expansion of existing SPX businesses and external opportunities, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic partnerships. He is also responsible for SPX's divestiture activities. Prior to joining SPX Corporation in June 2001, Mr. Whitted was a vice president at Bear Stearns, where he worked with industrial and technology clients, but was primarily focused on the consumer products industry. He also held a series of positions with investment banking firms, including CIBC World Markets and Bankers Trust. Mr. Whitted received his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Michigan Business School. 

 

 

 
 

Vince Altamura | Wells Fargo & Company

Vince Altamura is a Managing Counsel within the Law Department of Wells Fargo &Company, a leading financial services company. Born and raised in the New York City area, Vince has spent the past 16 years in the Charlotte area working for Wells Fargo and its predecessors.

Vince has his undergraduate degree in Politics from New York University and received his J. D. from Stanford Law School. Other civic interests include serving as a Board member for Loaves & Fishes, a Charlotte based organization that provides food to families in need, and serving as a reading tutor for a child at Ashley Park Elementary School. Vince is married with two children.

 
 
 
Arlene Cash | Carolinas HealthCare System, Secretary

Arlene Cash is currently a Manager in the Department of Diversity & Inclusion at Carolinas HealthCare System. She served as an Organizational Development Consultant for eight years, prior to transitioning into her current role in November 2012. Her present role includes providing leadership in planning and development of Diversity & Inclusion centered education and opportunities for Carolinas HealthCare System’s workforce; partnering with departments within the System on programmatic cultural activities and events that support a culture of inclusion and learning; and facilitating Diversity & Inclusion professional development classes throughout the organization. Arlene is certified in Becoming the Totally Responsible Person (TRP®) from TRP® Enterprises in Winston-Salem; also certifications from DDI® (Development Dimensions International); Lean Healthcare Project Certification, and Diversity Management Certificate.

 
 
 
 

 Dr. Maha Gingrich | Central Piedmont Community College

Dr. Maha Gingrich, a Women of Distinction award honoree and a 50 Most Influential Women award recipient, is the International Community Liaison and Assistant VP at Central Piedmont Community College, one of the largest community colleges in North Carolina. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, student services, academic affairs, facilities planning, construction, and technology planning. Her primary strengths are strategic planning, media and community relations, international relations, project management, budget management, process improvement, digital media services and innovative technological applications. Dr. Gingrich is also the founder of the annual “Dances of India” stage production. Trained under the direct supervision of eminent gurus, Dr. Gingrich is internationally acclaimed and is a gifted dancer, choreographer, TV anchor, educator and community leader. She is an expert in Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak classical dance forms, along with folk dances of India.Dr. Gingrich believes that art and education must go hand-in-hand. She has set an example by attaining two associate degrees, two bachelor’s degrees, a Master of Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Education Leadership. Dr. Gingrich is also active in the community. She hosts the TV show “Charlotte, a City of International Success” on WTVI-PBS Charlotte and CPCC TV and co-hosted the Dances of India segment on the Indian TV show “Nazar.” She is a regular contributor to the “Dances of India” column in Saathee magazine, a feature magazine for the South Asian community of the Carolinas. She served on the board of the Arts and Science Council, 20/20 Vision Plan Steering Committee, Mecklenburg Women’s Summit, and was the past Chair of Charlotte International Cabinet, a position appointed by the Mayor of Charlotte (now Governor of North Carolina) Mr. Pat McCrory. She is the president-elect for Charlotte North Rotary for 2014-2015. She will be the 2nd women President in 62 years of the club’s history. 

 

 

 

Dana Hicks 

Dana earned his Bachelors Degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech. He studied at the Technical University of Berlin (Germany) on a World Student Fund exchange scholarship and completed executive MBA courses at Northwestern University. He has traveled to over 30 countries on 6 continents, is fluent in German, and conversant in Spanish.He is a long-serving member of the NC District Export Council, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and a member of the Charlotte World Trade Association, Mayor’s International Cabinet, and World Affairs Council Charlotte. 

 

Moussa Konate | Konate Group Corporation
 
Moussa is President and CEO of Konate Group Corporation, a multi-national company specializing in business staffing/recruiting, business management consulting, import/export, international trade, as well as mining and agribusiness. He is also the founder of KTech-Engine Program, a program designed to streamline the on-the-job experience by integrating additional skills pertinent for the improvement of market growth in the areas of technology and engineering. Prior to joining KGC, Moussa served as an Operation Project manager at the Bank of America primarily focused on Government HAMP (FHA and NHAMP) loss mitigation program strategy and program execution. He also served as a Business Analyst role at Merck & Co., analyzing and defining SAP financial/material management, project systems functions, business processes and user needs.
 
 

Evie Landrau 

Evie is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was educated in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and New York City where Harlem was her home. She has a master of Divinity degree from Duke University and holds a B.A. in Communication & Sociology from American International College, Springfield, MA.  She also serves on the board of the World Council of Churches and is an accomplished dancer.

 
 
Benjamin M. Li | Private Attorney
 
 
Benjamin M. Li is a private attorney practicing immigration and business law in Charlotte. Originally from China, he has lived in Charlotte since 1992 and was founder and Vice President of both the Asian American Chamber and Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Benjamin holds two LLM degrees from the Law Schools of Temple University and Wuhan University and a J.D. degree from Washburn University School of Law. He also serves as counsel for the Charlotte Chinese Academy and is a serious photographer.
 
 

 Jose Merino | Duke Energy

Jose serves as the Director of Load and Fundamental Forecasting in the corporate strategy and development group for Duke Energy. From 2001- 2010, he served Duke Energy in a series of positions with increasing responsibility, including roles in the corporate risk, bulk power marketing, economic and business development, wholesale and commodities business support areas. He assumed his current position in October 2010. Jose currently serves as the Carolinas sponsor for Duke Energy’s employee resource group “L.E.D” (Latinos Energizing Diversity). Past experiences with volunteer organizations include the Ecuadorian Special Olympics, Hands on Charlotte and Georgia Institute of Technology. Jose holds a Master of Arts degree in economics from UNC Charlotte, a Master of Science degree in management from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and economics from Florida State University.
 

 
 
 
 
 
Jennifer Lupold Pearsall | Principal, Collinswood Language Academy
 
Jennifer is Conllinswood Language Academy Middle School Principal. She was recently the executive director of English Language Learner Services for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. In that role, she and the ELL services team provided support to ESL programs in all CMS schools and the International Center which provides enrollment and screening for all students who speak a language other than English. Prior to joining the ELL services team Jennifer taught Spanish at West Charlotte High School where she developed and taught a new course called Spanish for Native Speakers. Her love for language, culture and travel has taken her around the world. She taught English in Japan, served as international election monitor in Nicaragua and traveled to Taiwan as a member of a Rotary International Group Study Exchange team
 

 

Jennifer Roberts | President Emeritus

Jennifer Roberts was raised in Charlotte and now she and her husband are raising their two children here as well. Roberts graduated with honors from East Mecklenburg High School, attended UNC-Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship—where she was captain of the Tarheel women’s volleyball team—and has Masters degrees from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Toronto.
She has worked as a diplomat for the State Department, as an international business woman and as a high school math teacher. She served four terms as an At-Large Mecklenburg County Commissioner, including five years as Chairman. In 2015, she was elected mayor of Charlotte.

 

T. Minh Tran |  Piedmont Natural Gas

Minh, who was a Vietnamese refugee, arrived in Greenville, SC, in April 1975 and graduated from Clemson University in 1982 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is the Managing Director of Utility Operations for Piedmont Natural Gas, with responsibility for overseeing all distribution pipeline construction. He demonstrates his passion for this industry by staying active in several professional organizations. He is member of both the American Gas Association and Southern Gas Association’s Managing Committees for Utility Operations. He has served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, from which he will be receiving a Distinguished Service Award in June 2013. He currently is on the Board of Directors for the PNG Foundation and Upstate SC Alliance. He is a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow at Furman University. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Diversity Initiative and the Innovation Institute at the McColl Center in Charlotte.

 
 
 
 
 
Sam Wazan | Senior Managment Consultant

Sam Wazan is a fifteen-year combat-zone survivor of the Lebanese civil war. He is a passionate grassroots catalyst for peace, intent on transforming his war stories into lessons learned for a more peaceful world. He is a Global Trustee at United Religions Initiative, chair of the Charlotte Cooperation Circle, member of the Immigration Task Force of the City of Charlotte, and member of the Comparative Religion committee at Temple Beth El.

Wazan immigrated to the US in 1989. In 1995, he earned an MBA in the USA. In 2000, he founded an Information Technology services firm and sold it in 2005. In 2009, he resigned from a corporate position to write his personally inspired novel, Trapped in Four Square Miles, re-titled from The Last Moderate Muslim. The novel reached the top 40 overall ranking, and #1 in 2 categories on Amazon.

Wazan is a Senior Management Consultant.  He facilitates meetings acclimated for creativity and designed for diverse contribution to produce a sustainable change. His clients range from Volvo, The Wall Street Journal Office Network, to local small businesses.