SAN JOSE, CA – Five of Silicon Valley’s brightest CEOs, entrepreneurs and community leaders will be recognized at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Celebration of Diversity Dinner held at Villa Ragusa in Campbell this evening, August 23rd. The event sponsored by Alaska Airlines celebrates those who dream the impossible, defend the defenseless and do the formidable to make the immigrant story the innovation story here in Silicon Valley. These honorees cross industries but have a common interest and passion in making the Silicon Valley experience inclusive, enriching, and uplifting for immigrants in business and our community. These are the Leadership Group’s five honorees:
Jose Valente Orozco Acosta, Software Engineer for Insikt
Jose V. Orozco Acosta arrived in the United States at the age of three after his family moved from his homeland in San Agustin del Maiz, Michoacan, Mexico to Gridley, CA. Despite the obstacles he faced as a Dreamer (an undocumented child immigrant), he challenged himself in his educational pursuits. He was valedictorian of Gridley High with a 4.3 GPA; a few years later, he walked the graduation stage as a Computer Science Major at UC Davis, the first of his entire family to reach this educational accomplishment. As a Software Engineer for Insikt, Inc., Acosta remembers his roots today by visiting Gridley and sharing his experiences with students as well as volunteering for multiple academic support programs. His significant local contributions ultimately opened new doors for the youth in Gridley and beyond.
Dave Willner, Head of Community Policy for Airbnb & Charlotte Willner, Head of Trust & Safety for Pinterest
Dave and Charlotte Willner originally met at Bowdoin College. After marrying in 2009, they decided to start a family while building their careers at Facebook in Menlo Park. During June of this year, the couple created a Facebook campaign to support the Refugee Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Their decision was in response to a viral photo of a 2 year-old crying at the US border after being separated from her mother. They had originally hoped to raise $1,500, but the donations quickly amassed to an incredible total of over $20 million. Their steadfast commitment to immigrant social justice inspired more than 500,000 individuals to take action.
Sonu Ratra, Co-founder & President of Akraya
When Sonu was just 6 years old, her mother was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor that left her completely paralyzed. Despite the shadow of illness over her household, Sonu was raised to face adversities with a smile and be resilient in the face of fear. This same girl arrived in the United States 20 years ago with $50 in her pocket, two suitcases, and a dream. Today, Sonu not only leads Akraya, a nationally recognized company in Silicon Valley, but also remains deeply committed to giving back to other female entrepreneurs across the globe. Akraya’s Women Back to Work program creates systemic pathways for women to return to the workforce and gain financial independence. With this story in mind, Sonu undoubtedly embodies the ideals that CEOs and business leaders across the globe strive for while remaining true to her humble roots.
Ahmad Wani, CEO and Co-founder of OneConcern
CEO Ahmad Wani survived being marooned during the catastrophic Kashmir flood of 2014 for seven days wondering whether he would live or die. That was when he decided to dedicate himself to creating an AI-enabled platform designed to build long-term resilience. While at Stanford University, Ahmad met AI guru Nicole Hu and earthquake expert Tim Frank, and together they channeled their collective passion into figuring out how to apply data science and machine learning to natural disasters and climate change as part of OneConcern. His leadership enabled modern technology to meet the needs of humanity while tending to a company culture that thrives.
Interviews with the honorees or about the event are available on request as well as photos. Please notify Kimberly Ellis at [email protected] or (408) 501-7853 if you would like to register for the event, schedule interviews or would like head shots. Other notable immigrant CEO stories can be found at svlg.org
What: Celebration of Diversity Dinner
Where: Villa Ragusa, Campbell
When: 6:30-8:45 pm
7:15 pm Welcome – MC: Dr. Aart de Geus, Chairman and Co-CEO, Synopsys, Inc.
7:22 pm Dinner
8:10 pm Program Begins – Presentation of our Dreamer, Doers and Defender Awards
8:40 pm Closing