Board of Directors

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more."

—H. Jackson Brown Jr.

TARRELL GAMBLE, Board President

Tarrell Gamble President

“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.

In addition to serving as the Senior Vice President ant Blaylock?, Tarrell also serves as a Trustee of the Alameda County Employees Retirement Association. Tarrell is committed to this work to make sure every man gets his allocation of boots.

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Stephanie Gee, Vice President

Stephanie Gee Vice President

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."

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Aakar Vachhani

Aakar Vachhani Treasurer

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.

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Phyllis Culp, Secretary

Phyllis Culp Secretary

"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.

Phyllis believes strongly in the importance of education and became part of the San Francisco Achievers.  In some small way, Phyllis strives to make a difference in the lives of the students.

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Mekleet Aytenfsu

Mekleet Aytenfsu

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.

Aklil Ibssa

Aklil Ibssa

Aklil Ibssa is a first generation Ethiopian-American working at LinkedIn in corporate development (M&A), responsible for acquisitions and corporate strategy. He was previously an investment banker at Deutsche Bank and received his B.S.C. in finance from Santa Clara University. Aklil is passionate about equality of opportunity and, in his spare time, fancies himself a would-be tech historian and stand-up comedy enthusiast.

Amy Ovalle

Amy Ovalle

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.

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Lien Payne

Liên Payne

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 Philips

Bill Philips

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.

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James Lance Taylor

James Taylor

James Lance Taylor currently serving as associate professor and Chair of the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco. He is also the author of the book Black Nationalism in the United States: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama, which earned 2011 “Outstanding Academic Title” — Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries (January 2012).

Carla Walter

Dr. Carla Walter

Dr. Carla Stalling Walter (PhD, MBA) brings expertise to the board from her successful 20-year career in higher education as professor, dean, provost and president. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, and served as executive director of nonprofit arts organizations. During her career she has written and published seven books, and numerous articles.

Carla is the founder of Dance in the Spirit, an organization that recognizes the value of sacred dance as a daily practice linked with mindfulness, along with its ability to emphasize and anchor us to the present moment.

Both her BA in economics and her PhD are from the University of California, Riverside. She also holds an MBA from the California State University, San Bernardino. Being invited to serve on the San Francisco Achievers Board, she is interested in showing African American youth how to envision and attain a prosperous life.

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Jacqueline Young

Jacqueline Young

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.

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