Our Board of Directors
Michael S. Wong
Michael S. Wong is the Vice President of Finance and Business Development at Kimbrell’s Furniture, based in Charlotte, NC. He received his BA from Tufts University in International Relations and Economics and has a CEP from L’Institut d'Études Politiques in Paris. Prior to this role, Michael was the Commercial Finance Manager at GE Retail Consumer Finance and was a graduate for the GE Financial Management Program. He was born in Lima, Peru to immigrants of Japanese and Chinese descent. Ethnically Latino but Asian by race, it is no surprise why Michael's multicultural and international background complement La Coalición.
Esteban Echeverria, Esq.
Born in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, Esteban Echeverria moved to North Carolina with his family in 1979 as migrant and seasonal farmworkers. He worked during the summers picking cucumbers and cropping tobacco in Eastern North Carolina for eight years until he was 16. Echeverria received a degree in Anthropology and Latin American Studies at Appalachian State University. He was selected to be a Ford Fellow with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and assisted Congressman Jose Serrano’s office. Echeverria was also selected to be Public Policy Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and served his fellowship with the National Council of La Raza. Echeverria received his Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law in Durham, NC in 2006. While at NCCU, Echeverria was elected to serve as President of the Student Bar Association -- the first Latino in the school’s history to serve in this capacity.
Omar Jorge Peña
Omar G. Jorge Peña is a partner and General Counsel of Compare Foods Supermarkets. Prior to moving to Charlotte, Omar operated a law firm in Garden City, NY focusing on immigration, commercial real estate, mergers and acquisitions, labor and employment, trademark, franchise, and other business law matters. He is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University and earned his BA from St. John's University in Government & Politics. Omar has worked as a legislative aide in the New York State Assembly and was the first Latino and youngest ever appointee to the Nassau County Planning Commission. He is the past Chairman of Fundacion Hispanoamericana and served as an adviser on community outreach and Latino issues for Bethpage Federal Credit Union and South Nassau Communities Hospital. He currently serves Community Advisory Committee for Fifth Third Bank and on the boards of the Carolinas Food Industry Council and North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.
James Bazán traces his family roots in New Mexico to 1598, and yet both of his parents learned English as a second language. This lifelong awareness of being an “outsider in plain sight” led to an interest in sociology, social movements, and the stories people tell to and about themselves. His academic studies include the migration patterns from Latin America to the United States, social identity, and religious pilgrimage in New Mexico, as well as white nationalist and white supremacist movements. Since 1996, James has taught sociology at Central Piedmont Community College, where he served as Director of Behavioral and Social Sciences for seven years. In 2009, one of his students confided that her brother was excluded from school because he was undocumented. James then began to devote more of his work to immigration issues to support all members of the community. He is especially interested in supporting youth-led groups, and in working to improve access to education for all. James was named CPCC Teacher of the Year in 2002 and is co-author of the text, College Student Success.
Cat Bao Le
Cat Bao Le has worked in immigrant rights and advocacy for a decade. Cat's parents are refugees from Vietnam, and were resettled in Tottenham, London where she was born. Upon moving to the U.S. in 1990, Cat grew up in Sacramento with significant Latino and Southeast Asian populations living side-by-side. She has always felt a strong linkage between these immigrant experiences, linkages that remain important to her. Cat has also worked in Monterrey, México for the indigenous Tarahumara population, and has conducted field research in México City through the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México on color, race and underground industries. She has worked in civil rights organizations and with the United Farm Workers. Cat is fluent in Vietnamese and Spanish and is a graduate of Ethnic Studies from U.C. Berkeley. She works at the Southeast Asian Coalition. Cat has three sisters and one brother, and she enjoys jogging around town.
Raphael J.D. Sebastian
Raphael Juan Diego Sebastian is a business consultant who has worked with many top companies. His most recent role was as Sr. Business Partner for Coca-Cola Consolidated, the largest bottler in the Coca-Cola system. Sebastian is the former Vice President and co-founder for WorkplaceDiversity.com, Director of Urban Marketing Initiatives for the Cherenson Group, and a Vice President/Director for Citigroup. A champion in the community, Sebastian has served on numerous boards including the Urban League of Central Carolinas and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's Hispanic Advisory Committee. He has received numerous community service awards including being honored by the NBA's NY Knicks and NJ Nets, as an Outstanding Hispanic American Professional for his significant achievements in business and his tireless efforts and impact in the community. Raphael earned his undergraduate degree Cornell University where he was both a successful student and athlete.