Archived on August 20, 2012. Visit www.aiga.org for more information.
Gain Conference 2006
Speaker biographies

Confirmed presenters:

Bo Barber, founder, Nood Floorcovering
Bo Barber is founder of Nood Floorcovering. Born in Georgia carpet country, Barber climbed the sales ladder on the West Coast at carpet giants including Pacificrest and Milliken. In 2001 he took a deep breath and launched his own company, knowing that the A&D community could be better served. In 2005 he went even farther, founding Nood, a brand without a mill. From day one, the Nood model has been designer-driven rather than warehouse-driven, meeting the wants of the commercial market through a dematerialized design and sampling process that allows designers a maximum of creative input into products, with a minimum of hassle and wait time.

Cynthia Barton, director, Architecture for Humanity, New York
Cynthia Barton is an architect and writer who focuses on the intersection of architecture, the environment and public health. Her international work includes research as a Fulbright fellow in Bangladesh and project management on Shigeru Ban's earthquake relief housing project in Gujarat, India, as well as an AIA/Academy of Architecture for Health fellowship on space for mental health care as part of a disaster relief operation.

Shane Brentham, senior director, brand services, worldwide marketing, Autodesk
Shane Brentham is a senior director at Autodesk, a fully diversified software company that provides targeted solutions for creating, managing, and sharing digital assets. He manages the company’s Brand Services group, which is responsible for driving the global expression and expansion of the Autodesk brand. Brentham’s team, which is located in San Francisco, with staff in six countries, develops online, print, event, and environmental experiences for diverse markets and geographies, and is responsible for Autodesk's corporate website (autodesk.com), the company’s intranets, related extranets, and other web initiatives. Within Autodesk he is an evangelist for Internet and brand-related best practices.

Brentham brings more than 20 years of marketing experience to his work at Autodesk. His background includes graphic design, public relations and international marketing.

Michael Conforti, Ph.D., Jungian analyst, consultant and author
Dr. Michael Conforti is a Jungian psychoanalyst and the founder and director of the Assisi Conferences. Dr. Conforti is actively investigating the workings of archetypal fields and the relationship between Jungian psychology and the new sciences. Dr. Conforti maintains a private practice in Vermont, where he also serves as a state-appointed advisor to the Board of Psychoanalysts. He is presently working with a major Hollywood studio, exploring the role of archetypes and symbolism in the cinema. He has also been asked to consult on the application of field theory to the understanding and resolution of international border disputes.

He has presented his work to a wide range of national and international audiences, including the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich and Jungian organizations in Venezuela, Denmark, Italy and Canada. He authored the book, Field, Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche and has written articles that have appeared in Psychological Perspectives, San Francisco Jung Library Journal, Roundtable Press, World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution, and Spring Journal.

Dr. Conforti is a recipient of the 1995 Vision Award, presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. He has been a faculty member at the C.G. Jung Institute, Boston, the C.G. Jung Foundation, New York and has also served as a senior associate faculty member at Antioch New England Graduate School. He was recently appointed senior fellow of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland. He is currently working on a new book, Hidden Presence: Archetypes, Spells, Possession and the Complex.

Moira Cullen, design director, Coca-Cola North America
Moira Cullen has built a career directing creative business solutions that honor the essence and heritage of organizations, institutions and brands. A design strategist, writer and educator, she was creative director for one of Japan's leading fashion specialty retailers; design research manager at Pentagram; marketing director at The Pushpin Group; AIGA’s national director of programs; and department chair of Communication Arts at Otis College of Art and Design. At Hallmark Cards, Inc., she led the corporate design group and leveraged design as a corporate asset. Her essays and criticism have been published in leading design publications and anthologies. She is past president of AIGA’s Los Angeles and Kansas City Chapters and AIGA’s Center for Brand Experience and now serves on AIGA’s national board. Atlanta is currently home, where as design director she and her team are responsible for The Coca-Cola Company’s North American brands.

Nell Daniel, executive director, Sweat Equity Enterprises
Having worked as an arts and academics educator with students of all ages, economic and cultural backgrounds for 15 years, Nell Daniel has been an active supporter of greater diversity and equity in education. As a non–profit manager, Daniel established Design Directions, a free series of education programs at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She has also worked as director of admissions for Parsons School of Design, arts coordinator for the Partnership for After School Education (PASE) and education consultant for the New Design High School and the Skyscraper Museum. Currently, she is the executive director for Sweat Equity Enterprises (SEE). Daniel also serves as a trustee for Rhode Island School of Design, for a second term. She is also a member of the advisory committees for the New York City Department of Education, the New York Arts in Education Roundtable and the Center for Arts Education.

Todd DeGarmo, chief executive officer, STUDIOS Architecture
Todd DeGarmo joined the Washington, DC office of STUDIOS seventeen years ago. In 1995, he founded the New York office, and in 2005 was named the firm’s chief executive officer. Prior to STUDIOS, DeGarmo was employed in the New York offices of Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Swanke Hayden Connell. DeGarmo’s expertise is in guiding corporate clients through complex projects that include site search, strategic and master planning, design and construction. The strength of his work includes helping emerging companies envision new work environments that support and integrate their culture, work processes, technology and brand. He has helped develop new work models for such diverse clients as the Pentagon, Bloomberg and the law offices of Morgan Lewis. DeGarmo’s work has received numerous awards and has been shown in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, WIRED Magazine and Architectural Record. Frequently asked to speak about his work, DeGarmo’s past engagements have included The Boston Fulbright Committee, the annual national conferences for The Association of Legal Administrators and CoreNet Global.He holds a degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati.

Kierstin De West, co-founder and strategist, Ci: Conscientious Innovation and counder, The Shift Report
After a successful career as a brand planner at a number of high profile advertising agencies, including DDB in New York, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in San Francisco and Mad Dogs & Englishmen in New York, and also working the client side of the business at About.com, Kierstin De West founded Ci: Conscientious Innovation in 2003.

With a keen interest in culture, consumers and their marketplace, De West noticed that all indicators were pointing to a significant cultural shift—where consumers were making lifestyle and purchasing decisions based on a set of predefined values: integrity and social responsibility. As the key strategic mind at Ci and a leading figure in social marketing and branding, De West authored a white paper that started Ci called “Integrity: The new brand currency that can’t be bought or spun,” and in 2006, founded The SHIFT Report.

Fritz Doddy, creative director, Elias Arts
Fritz Doddy began his writing and performing career at the age of six and has never looked back. He discovered rock and roll and proceeded to tour with many original and cover bands throughout his teens and early twenties. Looking for a more stable lifestyle for himself and his family, he joined Elias Arts as Jonathan Elias’s musical guy Friday, working on a production catalog as well as artist development projects. He then found immediate success in the world of underscores. Doddy has won numerous Clios for Audi and “Got Milk?” He has been creative director at the Elias Arts, New York since 2002 and has served as the creative director of the identity group since its inception.

Terri Ducay, vice president, design strategy, Cheskin
Terri Ducay is a leader in the search to find common ground between technology, entertainment and design. Her commitment has led her to create new and better ways for companies to bring technology into the lives of people all over the world. Ducay’s interests are focused on user-centered design. She has experience in designing and developing communications products and services for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Apple Computer, Netscape, AOL-Time Warner, Philips Electronics and Aetna.

Her work spans design management, branding strategies and software design in a range of industries including financial, electronics, insurance and media. She also has a strong interest in International culture and business having worked in The Netherlands, the UK and Hong Kong.

Raised in Chicago, she was influenced by the city’s great architecture, which led her to earn her MFA in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She also holds a BA from Michigan State University with an emphasis in marketing. She has lectured and taught in a variety of settings, including Art Center in Pasadena and University of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, Finland. Terri lives in Palo Alto, CA and serves on the board of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Photo Forum.

Lauren Eckhart Smith, IAC/InterActiveCorp
Lauren Eckhart Smith joined IAC/InterActiveCorp as director of real estate in the fall of 2003 to develop its new headquarters building. Prior to joining IAC, she was at Citigroup Alternative Investments in its buy–side, high–yield CMBS group. She also worked as a senior associate and designer at Gensler. Smith’s expertise in high–end corporate design, construction and experience in real estate finance made her an ideal candidate to head up the internal team and development for IAC’s new Gehry Building in Chelsea. Her ability to multitask, effectively communicate and her tremendous energy to deal with complex challenges has allowed her to tackle myriad issues on the project such as site remediation, Liberty Bond issuance, a base building designed by Gehry Partners and a large team of outside consultants with differing views—all while satisfying the goals of a company that is at the forefront of internet technology and creativity.

Blair Enns, president and founder, Enmark Performance Development
Blair Enns is president and founder of Enmark Performance Development, the sales consulting firm to marketing communication agencies. Through a range of audit and advisory services, Enns counsels advertising, design and public relations agencies on the subject of increasing revenue and profit margin through optimized business development performance. In his counsel Enns challenges the conventional wisdom of traditional agency business development practices, arguing that the unique manner in which agencies and clients come together is fundamentally flawed, to the detriment of both parties. He is the developer of the Win Without Pitching agency business development system, and author of the self-published Win Without Pitching: A Sales Success Manual for Marketing Communication Agencies, and the Win Without Pitching Newsletter, www.winwithoutpitching.com.

Kevin Farnham, chief executive officer, Method
With over a decade of experience in branding and user-centered design, Kevin Farnham founded Method on the principle that business communications should be consistent and highly functional, regardless of medium. Having worked in the capacities of interaction design, graphic design and project management, Farnham brings extensive, broad-based leadership to Method’s multi-disciplinary design programs.

Noted for his intuitive sense of interactive design and information architecture, Farnham is well known in Silicon Valley and design circles for his experience as the creator of the web's first technical ad, the designer of Yahoo's first logo, and the designer on McDonald's first website.

During his career, he also consulted with a wide variety of companies including Apple Computer, Bank of America, Disney, Gucci, Levi-Strauss, Microsoft, Nike and Sony.

Farnham received awards from ID Magazine, Communication Arts, How Magazine, Print Magazine, the ACD 100 Show, as well as numerous other honors from professional organizations and publications. He is also on the faculty at the California College of Art and frequently judges international design competitions and speaks about design, user experience and convergent technologies.

Noel Franus, senior strategist, Sun Microsystems, audio branding
Noel Franus is a strategist in Sun Microsystems’ brand group. He is leading Sun’s first–ever audio–branding strategy and its implementation efforts everywhere the brand lives—from hardware and ringtones to podcasts and music–on–hold. Franus also guides the experience design for all Sun physical environments, including guest–facing spaces worldwide.

Franus led the user–experience for Sun's future-design software concepts and for Sun’s and Java’s online developer communities. Prior to Sun, he founded the San Francisco user–experience consultancy Carbon IQ, which served a number of Bay Area startups and also traditional clients such as Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Knight-Ridder and Houghton-Mifflin.

Maria Giudice, chief executive officer and founder, Hot Studio, Inc.
Hot Studio, Inc., is a San Francisco–based, human–centered design studio dedicated to making the complex beautifully clear. Maria Giudice is considered a pioneer in the field of information architecture and was prominently featured in the 1996 book Information Architects. In 2002, she was included in the book 1000 Most Creative Individuals in the USA. Giudice has, among other things, coauthored two best–selling books about web design: Web Design Essentials and Elements of Web Design. Since 1997 she has lead Hot Studio's team of individuals dedicated to creating design systems that are both beautiful and highly functional. She has more than 20 years of experience working with and mentoring people from many different disciplines.

Sam Hecht, founding partner, Industrial Facility, London
Industrial Facility, a design collective formed by industrial designer Sam Hecht, and architect Kim Colin, has developed projects for companies including Epson, Schott, Heller, Lexon, Panasonic, Whirlpool and Muji. With Muji, Hecht holds the position of creative director for Europe and retained designer for Japan. Hecht's belief is in the importance of design as a means of simplifying our lives in an inspirational way. The studio achieves this by following a rigorous path of investigation and analysis, and has been well documented, with over 30 international awards. The work forms part of the permanent collections of the MoMA, New York; The Pompidou, Paris; The State Museum of Applied Arts, Munich; the Museum Fur Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Hecht has held several solo and group exhibitions, including: "Sam Hecht and Ron Arad—The artist and engineer", Paris (2002); "Under a Fiver", the Design Museum, London (2000); and the Industrial Facility retrospective "Found/Made/Thought", at the Israel Museum (2005). He has written several books including Things that go Unseen, and Product as Landscape with Kim Colin.

Michael Hendrix, co-founder, Tricycle, Inc
Michael Hendrix is a co-founder of Tricycle, Inc., where he serves as chief brand officer and creative director. Under his direction, Tricycle has received awards from the One Show, Type Directors Club, Communication Arts, AIGA, American Advertising Federation, the International Interior Design Association and has appeared in Fortune Small Business and Metropolis among others. Additional personal awards include the Broadcast Design Association, Print, How and inclusion in several graphic design compendiums.

In 2005, Tricycle was Runner Up for best environmental practice in the United States, through the Green Apple Awards (England), and a Short List Finalist at the INDEX:awards for “Design to Improve Life” (Denmark), alongside Google, Apple, Ford. The Company is a 2006 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award nominee for Corporate Achievement and the recipient of an Industrial Design Society of American / Business Week IDEA Gold Award for Eco-Design.

Linda Joy Kattwinkel, Esq.
Linda Joy Kattwinkel is a painter and former graphic artist as well as an attorney and mediator for the arts community. She received her graphic arts training at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she graduated cum laude with a BFA in communication arts, and thereafter worked for thirteen years as a professional graphic designer and illustrator in editorial, corporate and advertising design and typography.

Kattwinkel earned her law degree cum laude from Hastings College of the Law in 1991. As a member of the small firm Owen, Wickersham & Erickson in San Francisco, she represents clients in intellectual property and arts law issues such as copyright and trademark protection, infringement, licensing and gallery contracts. She is the author of Legalities, an online column for the Northern Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild.

Kattwinkel received her alternate dispute resolution training from California Lawyers for the Arts and The Center for Mediation in Law. She has been mediating and arbitrating intellectual property and arts-related disputes since 1987.

Tom Kelley, general manager, IDEO
Tom Kelley is the general manager of IDEO, the design and development firm that created the Apple mouse, the Palm V and hundreds of other cutting edge products and services. Working with his brother, IDEO founder David Kelley, he has helped manage the firm as it has grown from 20 designers to a staff of over 350. During that time, he has been responsible for such diverse areas as business development, marketing, human resources and operations.

Kelley has written two books on innovation. The Art of Innovation describes IDEO’s “deep dive” approach to successful product creation, focusing on brainstorming and team-work as invaluable tools. The Ten Faces of Innovation reveals ten unique strategies for making sure that good ideas make it to market.

Kelley gives business leaders tools and insights for managing innovation gleaned from the experience of IDEO and other successful design teams.

Ji Lee, The Bubble Project
Ji Lee was born in Seoul, Korea and was raised in São Paulo, Brazil. He lives in New York and works as a senior art director and designer at a newly formed agency Droga5. He is the founder of the widely publicized Bubble Project and the author of the recently published book, Talk Back: The Bubble Project. Lee is also the author of award-winning illustrated book, Univers Revolved: a 3-Dimensional Alphabet.

Lee has worked as an art director at Saatchi & Saatchi and freelanced for agencies including Euro RSCG, Wieden & Kennedy and BBDO. Lee’s work has appeared in ABC “World News”, The New York Times, Newsweek, NY Daily News, The Guardian and Wired. Lee teaches at SVA and has given numerous lectures including those at MoMA, Columbia University, GEL Conference and Indaba Conference in South Africa.

Bobby C. Martin Jr., design director, Jazz at Lincoln Center
At Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bobby C. Martin’s focus is on communicating artistic director Wynton Marsalis' vision of vitality, integrity and soul. Prior to Jazz at Lincoln Center, Martin worked at Ogilvy & Mather's Brand Integration Group (B.I.G.) with clients that include NYC2012, CNN, Coca-Cola, Fanta, Hershey’s, Miller Brewing Company and Pilsner Urquell.

Martin’s work has been recognized by several design shows and magazines, including Print Magazine, STEP inside design and Graphis. Last year, he was selected by Print as one of their New Visual Artist’s in the annual “20 Under 30” issue. Currently, Martin serves as a board member of the AIGA New York Chapter and is creative consultant to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

Roger L. Martin, dean, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management,University of Toronto
Roger L. Martin has served as the dean of the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto since September 1998. Previously, he spent 13 years as a director of Monitor Company, a global strategy consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he served as co-head of the firm for two years and founded the Canadian office.

He writes extensively on design and is a regular columnist for Business Week Online's Innovation and Design Channel. He has written six Harvard Business Review articles and published his first book, The Responsibility Virus in 2002. In 2004 he won the Marshall McLuhan Visionary Leadership Award and in 2005 was named one of Business Week's seven "Innovation Gurus".

He received his BA from Harvard College, with a concentration in economics, in 1979 and his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1981.

Jason McCormick, co-founder and creative director, Ci: Conscientious Innovation and co-founder, The Shift Report
As the creative director of Ci: Conscientious Innovation, Jason McCormick has one mandate—make the world a better place, both in terms of substance and style. Prior to Ci, McCormick worked as a copywriter at DMB&B in London, Mad Dogs & Englishmen in New York and Ogilvy in New York.

He has produced work for brands both large and small, including Mars Confectionary, IBM, Perrier, The New York Times and Crunch Fitness and his campaign ideas have run across Europe, Asia and North America. McCormick and his award-winning work have been featured in The New York Times, Adweek, Adage and The Wall Street Journal.

Henry Myerberg, principal, Rockwell Group
Henry Myerberg joined Rockwell Group in February 2003. He received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1980. Since launching his own firm in 1986, Myerberg has built a distinguished career in designing “artfully formed, habitable stories” for houses, libraries, schools, stores, offices and galleries. As co–head of one of four design studios at Rockwell, Myerberg's completed projects include several New York City public libraries, the re–branding of the Meijer stores, the new Albany Public Library and Gap's newest retail brand, Forth and Towne. Since 1999, Myerberg has been the volunteer design director for the L!BRARY Initiative, led by the Robin Hood Foundation to reinvent libraries for New York City's 650 public elementary schools. His extensively published projects have won numerous awards, including top honors from the American Library Association/International Interior Design Association Library Design Awards for the P.S. 106 library, the 2001 National Award from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association for the Rhys Carpenter Library, completed in 1997 at Bryn Mawr College. He is a frequent speaker and panelist at national conferences on library and educational topics for the AIA, the American Library Association and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Other projects include hotels in California, Chicago, Washington D.C., and SteelStax, a performing arts complex in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Shel Perkins, chairman, AIGA Center for Practice Management and author, Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets For Designers
Shel Perkins is a graphic designer and educator with nineteen years of experience in managing the operations of leading design firms in the U.S. and the U.K. He writes the “Professional Practice” column for STEP Magazine, the “Design Business” newsletter for AIGA, and the “Design Firm Management” column for Graphics.com. He has served on the national board of the Association of Professional Design Firms and has been honored as an AIGA Fellow. His book Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets For Designers has just been published by New Riders. He is also chairman of AIGA’s Center for Practice Management community.

Doug Powell, principal, Schwartz Powell Design and founder, HealthSimple
Doug Powell is a designer, business strategist and principal of Schwartz Powell Design, a Minneapolis-based firm he founded with his wife, Lisa Powell, in 1989. Following their daughter’s diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes in 2002—an experience through which they discovered an alarming lack of useful educational materials—the couple developed a set of smartly-designed, kid-friendly tools for families living with diabetes. The product line, called Type 1 Tools, has since grown to serve people living with Type 2 diabetes and is promoted by the American Diabetes Association. Through their new business, HealthSimple, the Powells are collaborating with key players in healthcare to bring creative solutions and better design to the disease management experience.

Powell is a past chapter president of AIGA Minnesota and past member of the AIGA national board of directors. He is a frequent commentator on design issues and has programmed and presented at numerous design conferences.

Harry Rich, deputy chief executive, Design Council, UK
Harry Rich directs the work of the Design Council’s Design Solutions Group, which creates and disseminates world-leading design methods, knowledge and research to support UK business and public services. He also leads on work with Government, policy makers and UK devolved assemblies and, as part of the senior management team, helps to shape the Design Council’s strategy.

Rich joined the Design Council as a director in 1999 after a business career in industrial distribution, retailing and publishing. Before that he practised as a commercial solicitor and worked in parliament as a writer and researcher.

Rich is a member of the Advisory Council of the US-based Design Management Institute. He was previously a non-executive director and council member of the Advertising Standards Authority and a Justice of the Peace.

Richard Smyth, vice president, redevelopment, JFK, JetBlue Airways Corporation

Michael Stanat, author, China’s Generation Y: Understanding the Future Leaders of the World’s Next Superpower
In his lifetime, Michael Stanat he has traveled to over thirty countries and has worked at market research firms worldwide. He frequently attends trade shows around the world, learning and sharing new insights into youth trends with others.

Stanat has been previously published in the News Sentinel and written about in The Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Active Investor Magazine, The World Journal and Midwest Book Review. Stanat has also been featured by The Associated Press, Bloomberg News Forum, Voice of America’s Talk to America, The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the Cable Radio Network, 92.3 Free FM NYC and numerous other business radio stations.

He has attended the United Nations International School in New York City and will be a freshman at The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University this Fall.

John Patrick Starling, chief executive officer, Smith Content, Inc.
John Starling is a graduate of the University of Baltimore, where he studied professional writing and publications. In 2001, he co-founded Smith Content, Inc., a company focused exclusively on corporate message planning, development and deployment. Smith Content is a business-focused marketing communications firm that empowers companies nationwide to increase growth through communication. Prior to forming Smith Content, he co-owned a management consulting firm, served as a vice president of marketing and internet business, taught business and creative writing and served in the United States Air Force. Starling has also instituted a series of public art openings, at the Smith Content office, called “Off the Clock,” featuring the fine art of commercial designers.

Scott Williams, chief creative officer, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Scott Williams is a brand builder with a unique and powerful visual perspective that has produced remarkably successful results in a variety of areas—hotels, television and theater.

As chief creative officer of Starwood Hotels since 1999, Williams sets the company’s global visual and verbal communications strategy, develops worldwide creative standards, controls creative output and bears the final responsibility for the quality of all of Starwood’s advertising and marketing creative products. Williams is the director of an in-house creative team staffed with 50 marketers and designers, effectively creating a powerhouse boutique ad agency within the company.

Prior to Starwood, Williams was vice president of programming and creative director for CBS Eye on People, vice president creative services at ESPN Classic Sports Network and, from 1991 to 1995, Williams was responsible for both the development and production of original, award-winning programming and advertising and promotion at HBO.

Prior to entering the television industry, Williams was both a producer and director at the notable Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.

Williams serves as board president of the Red Ribbon Foundation for AIDS and as an executive committee director of the Stamford Center for the Arts.

LiAnne Yu, director, Asian business strategy, Cheskin
LiAnne Yu brings more than a decade of experience in anthropological research and design ethnography to Cheskin. She specializes in designing user experiences and brand positioning based on deep understandings of the cultural, emotional and technical needs of people in their everyday contexts.

Prior to joining Cheskin, she was field research manager at Ricoh Innovations, where she worked with the engineering team to innovate and prototype multimedia applications. As senior ethnographer at both Point Forward and Global Voices Online, she managed a myriad of mobile wireless technology projects with clients such as Ericsson and France Telecom, focusing on Asian and teen markets. Yu has conducted design research in China, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong and across the U.S. She speaks Mandarin fluently, along with conversational Vietnamese and Japanese.

Yu received her doctorate in anthropology from University of California, San Diego after graduating magna cum laude from University of California, Berkeley.