Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more."
“It’s alright to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel just to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps” — Martin Luther King Jr.
For the last 10+ years, Tarrell has specialized in corporate finance coverage of Fortune 500 companies focused on soliciting and winning underwriting mandates for debt and equity offerings. His efforts have helped Blaylock Van, LLC rank as a top minority underwriter of corporate debt each year since 2007.
Stephanie Gee is a San Francisco native who has witnessed the city change and grow. While she embraces many of the developments, she also cares about preserving San Francisco’s identity and advocating for those who are marginalized. She first joined the San Francisco Achievers' family through the mentorship program and loved it.
Stephanie graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in International Studies and German Studies. After ten years working in online advertising at Google, she left to travel the world and volunteer at local and international communities.
Stephanie is excited about serving on the board and also about the future of San Francisco Achievers. One of Stephanie's favorite Achievers memories is her first time meeting her mentee, Binyam. She was nervous that they would not have anything to talk about. Instead, the two hit it off immediately and spent the first meeting chatting nonstop for almost three hours. Over four years have passed, and the two still have a lot to talk about whenever they catch up. "Binyam is an amazing person. His independence and drive are inspiring."
Aakar Vachhani is a Partner at Fairview Capital where he has been a member of the Investment Team since 2008. Fairview Capital is a leading investment management firm focused on top-tier venture capital and next generation investment opportunities. Mr. Vachhani is involved in research, due diligence, investment monitoring, and business development for Fairview’s venture capital and private equity partnership and direct co-investment portfolios. He established and currently leads Fairview’s San Francisco office.
Prior to joining Fairview, Mr. Vachhani was at Cambridge Associates, a leading investment advisor to foundations, endowments and corporate and government entities. Mr. Vachhani also spent time with MK Capital, a multi-stage growth equity and venture capital firm. Mr. Vachhani holds a B.S. in Economics-Finance from Bentley University and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation from the Kellogg School of Management. As a firm believer in the power of education, Mr. Vachhani is passionate about helping to provide access to education as a lever for achieving equality of opportunity.
"One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” — John F. Kennedy
Phyllis Culp is a member of the Ohio and California Bars. Phyllis retired from the State Bar of California, where she was employed for many years.
Phyllis' resume also includes the following: former member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Specialization, former member of the California Supreme Court’s Judicial Council’s Access and Fairness Committee, past chair of its Education and Gender Fairness subcommittees, past president of Black Women Lawyers of Northern California, and a current member Board of Directors of the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Mekleet Aytenfsu, brings a bank of experience from the non-profit development field. She currently leads the marketing events arm at Lob. Mekleet has been involved with San Francisco Achievers since 2017 as a volunteer.
She has also volunteered at the Museum of the African Diaspora, also located in San Francisco.
Mekleet is a first generation Ethiopian-American and Bay Area native. She received her B.A. in sociology and communications from the University of the Pacific.
Jackie Young earned a Masters in Public Administration at the Univerity of San Francisco and has served on several nonprofit and community boards. Jackie has applied her education / work experience at various organizations, including: The Foundation for San Francisco’s Architectural Heritage, Alumnae Resources, San Francisco Ministry to Nursing Homes, Bay Area Health Ministries, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Meritus College Fund, the San Francisco Grand Jury, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Advisory Commission.
Jackie Young taught cooking at Sala Burton High School in the early 1960s and recently reunited with her students at their 50th reunion. Teaching in the Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco helped broaden her understanding of the African American experience. Jackie is a committed advocate and board member with San Francisco Achievers and the scholars.
Amy Ovalle heads the Global Communications team and sits on the senior leadership team of The Asia Foundation, the premier international development organization working in Asia. Amy's portfolio includes strategic communications, reputational risk, crisis management, editorial, electronic, publications, digital, design, film, photography, media relations, social media, events and advertising.
Previously, Amy worked at National Public Radio in Washington, DC, on All Things Considered and Weekend Edition where she worked for Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr and Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg. She also worked for National Geographic, and later started up a non-profit broadcast production company in the Bay Area, ACF Newsource, producing stories for over a decade with partners in top newsrooms across the globe, including Charles Osgood of The Osgood File and CBS Sunday Morning.
Amy is a founding member of the Asia Pacific Association of Communications Directors, and co-heads their Risk and Crisis Working Group, is a member of The Pacific Council, World Affairs Council, and served as Vice President of The Commonwealth Club’s Inforum Board.
Ovalle has a Masters from Georgetown University; completed Wharton Fellows at The Conference Board Master Class in Shanghai, China; attended the Iowa Writers Workshop; and received her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Amy is a San Francisco resident where she lives with her husband and two children.
Liên represents companies, business owners and executives in a variety of business disputes and litigation, with a focus on co-founder issues, breaches of contract and business torts. Prior to co-founding Kennedy Payne, P.C., Liên represented businesses across a wide range of industries while practicing at an international law firm, including prominent financial institutions, computer storage companies, auto finance providers, and public entities.
Liên is a graduate of Smith College (2006), the Missouri School of Journalism (2009), and Berkeley Law (2013).
Bill Phillips served the United States as an intelligence officer over 35 years, most of which were with the CIA. Phillips, a member of the Senior Intelligence Service, held executive management positions, leading and managing complex intelligence operational activity in many areas of the world. He has extensive knowledge of multiple foreign environments and cultures. Phillips was awarded CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s Latin America Division Medal, and two Meritorious Unit Citations among other awards.
After retiring from CIA, Phillips worked for the National Nuclear Security Administration as the Director of Counterintelligence at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Phillips then worked as a Consultant for BAE Systems, Inc., bringing his expertise to bear on sensitive national security issues.After receiving his B.A. in African American history from Howard University in 1972, Phillips earned a J.D. from Rutgers in 1975. He is a Life Member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men in 1906.
Phillips is a student of Aikido and Zen and uses aspects of these disciplines in his work as an intelligence professional, leader, teacher and mentor. While at CIA, he co-developed a series of one hour pilot classes introducing intelligence officers to the stress-relieving and resilience enhancing benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice.
Phillips was a Boy Scout leader in the U.S. and abroad and an Upward Bound Counselor. He believes everyone needs as many opportunities as possible to become successful and happy. San Francisco Achievers is right on target with its philosophy and mission. He is pleased to have been selected to join its Board of Directors. A fun fact about Bill is that he attended middle school in Pakistan.
Landon Dickey is Director of Program Development at the James Irvine Foundation, an organization focused on ensuring low-wage workers in California have the power to advance economically. His role includes identifying and assessing new opportunities for impact, building cross-sector relationships and partnerships, and engaging internal and external stakeholders on the design and execution of pilot projects and potential new initiatives.
Prior to joining Irvine, Landon spent five years as the Director of the African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative, a team he founded and led in the San Francisco Unified School District. In his role, he was responsible for policy, operations, and programming leadership and supervision of a portfolio of strategies to improve African American achievement.
Landon began his career as an elementary school teacher in New York. Born and raised in San Francisco, Landon holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, a master’s in education from Hunter College, and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Landon is passionate about San Francisco Achievers' mission because he champions the brilliance and talent of young Black men and the power of investing in them. In his free time, Landon loves watching movies, reading science fiction novels, playing on a championship intramural softball team, and listening to hip hop. Landon has a fanatical obsession with baseball and his hometown team, the San Francisco Giants.
Cindy Morton is an accomplished development professional. She has helped raised over $60 million for causes including pediatric cancer research, revitalizing Bay Area parklands and civic institutions by resurrecting Crissy Field and the Randall Museum, and many more. Her wide-ranging experience includes leading capital campaign planning, major donor program development, and fundraising events.
Born and raised in Manhattan and now living in San Francisco, Cindy has a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Boston University, loves to read fiction, take long hikes and yearns to be bi-lingual. She has two sons who are doing great work in the world.
As a volunteer, she has been a tutor with Bridge the Gap College Preparatory and Reading Partners and was on the board of Creativity Explored until recently. Cindy is delighted to be a part of the San Francisco Achievers board and also volunteers as a mentor with the organization.
Melinda began her career in the financial services industry working in the research department of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta. After getting her MBA, she worked in management consulting for PricewaterhouseCoopers in San Francisco and at Stanford University.
While raising her children, Melinda was an active community volunteer with many organizations including The Nueva School, San Francisco Education Fund and her own alma maters. Melinda was introduced to San Francisco Achievers through a pro bono consulting project and was inspired by their work to join the board.
Melinda has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two high school aged children.