Founder & CEO
James Baykal founded the KnowMe Initiative to help and challenge diverse citizens (1) to realize their shared interests with other fellow citizens, (2) use their shared interest as an icebreaker to fostering amicable and transformative educational interactions about one’s dissimilarities and uniqueness, (3) with the goal of eliminating preconceived or perpetuated fears, stereotypes, political bias and creeds which creates conscious or subconscious divides and mistreatment of not alike fellow citizens. Branded by many as “an all people person with a big heart and welcoming smile”, James is invigorated by diversity around him. James is dedicated and passionate about promoting diversity tolerance and acceptance by capitalizing on commonalities with fellow diverse citizens; thus, aspiring to eliminate abysmal bigotry, discrimination and ease divisive tensions in communities worldwide.
James has a Masters in Regulatory Affairs (MSR) from San Diego State University, including a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management with years of proven leadership and management experience in Regulatory Affairs, Medical Safety and Quality Audits where he enjoyed overseeing departments and processes such as, but limited to- Organization Regulatory Compliance, Departments Impacts, Resource Development & Budgeting, Strategic Management, and Organization Management. As a visionary and realist, James strives to seek partnership and build an innovative and talented workforce for a successful KnowMe.
James enjoys spending time with his wife, including friends and professional colleagues. Travelling, learning and appreciating different cultures continue to reinforce James’s conviction that diversity is noble and enriching. James collects hats as souvenirs of each country visited.
Shammy Baykal is a marketing operations expert in the medical devices industry and has expertise in project management and event planning. Prior to joining the medical device industry, she spent considerable time in the education industry implementing federal policies and overseeing operations for federal funding. Shammy received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Redlands, and is currently pursuing her Master's in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy from University of Florida.
Having had a lens into public health, Shammy knows that proactive effort to understand diverse citizens can have tremendous impact in lessening community tensions and thereby improve the health of underserved populations. As a global citizen, she is working with her colleagues at KnowMe to address inequalities and bring together different ethnicities by sparking conversation that fosters lifelong tolerance and acceptance of diversity.
Shammy enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends from all backgrounds. Because of her energetic personality and her desire to help others in need, Shammy finds fulfilment volunteering during weekends at local food banks and other communal charity organizations.
With a sharp eye for new market trends, Joe Pham has had over 15 years of business management experience. Joe has successfully grown over 5 businesses and startup ventures into full-fledged companies with rising shares in the market. Since 2008, Joe has been directing his expertise into Green Energy Initiatives with emphasis on smart, efficient lighting solutions and solar power, which had helped thousands of businesses across the US to significantly reduce their carbon footprint as well as save millions of dollars in energy cost. Through his leadership and vision, Joe has transformed several companies into major global players in import and export of green energy goods.
Joe Pham graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in 2003, where he also served as the Vice President for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Cal Poly Pomona Chapter from 2002-2003. After working as an engineer for several years, Joe discovered that he had a natural talent and passion for business. Since then, he has worked as an entry level door to door salesperson, become an executive director for a successful company, and is now a business investor and owner himself.
In addition to his passion for his professional career, Joe is interested in helping his community. He’s involved with several organizations that dedicate assistance and support to underprivileged children and their families. He also provides mentorship to younger entrepreneurs in business planning, and financial literacy to help them become better prepared in the business world.
Joe sees his life as a blessing and values his family and friends to the fullest. He takes comfort at dinner gatherings over a nice bottle of wine, and also enjoys traveling to experience the world and its many foods and cultures. What he likes the most, however, is this friendly game called Golf, some of his friends would even refer to it as his addiction.
Jennifer Patton has spent the last 10+ years within Brand Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing, and Communications working with several major corporate retail organizations. Her educational background includes a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication with a concentration in Intercultural Communications from Ohio University, a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communications with minors in African- American and Women and Gender Studies from Ohio University and an Associates of Arts with a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from The Ohio State University.
Jennifer enjoys a diverse, collaborative environment to advance a noble cause; thus, joining the KnowMe Initiative is exciting and fulfilling. Diversity and inclusion have been a passion for Jennifer since she was a child. She learned about African American history and Diversity from her grandfather who was a Black History instructor in the United States Airforce and her mother who was a Diversity teacher for the State of Ohio. She continued this education through her life learning more about diversity initiatives and continues to use her education to assist major corporations in diversity, inclusion and equity training and education.
In her free time Jennifer loves to travel, cook, read books, and spend time with her family and her three-year-old Staffordshire Pit Bull PJ.
Katherine Goyette is a lifelong learner, educator, and an advocate for inclusive opportunities for ALL students and families within the communities they reside. Katherine is a Consultant for Educational Technology & Integrated Studies for Tulare County Office of Education. She engages educators of all levels in active professional learning grounded in solid pedagogy regarding technology integration in the classroom, project-based/interdisciplinary learning, computer science integration, universal design for learning, and social-emotional learning. She believes all students have a right to an equitable education. Katherine was primary writer for California’s inaugural Computer Science Standards, and advocates for increased student access to quality CS, particularly in historically underrepresented subgroups. Katherine is founding president of CSTA - California Central Valley and a board member of CVCUE.
Katherine is co-author of the upcoming book, “Lead with Learning: Organic EdTech Coaching”. She believes in relationships with those she serves and ensures she is in classrooms with teachers and students at every allotted opportunity. Katherine has been an administrator, curriculum coach, and teacher in California’s Central Valley. Katherine believes in the power of networks. She co-founded the hashtag #CVTechTalk, featured on multiple social media networks, which has been featured on local news segments with members from across the globe. Katherine has a M.A. in Educational Leadership & Administration. Her certifications include: PBLCore Certified Trainer, Google Certified Trainer & Innovator, Apple Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator, & PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator. Katherine enjoys speaking at educational conferences across the nation and spends her free time writing poetry, playing piano, and vacationing with her husband, son, and stepdaughters.
In 2009 Jessica received her nursing license and was honored with the title of Valedictorian of her graduating class. With years of experience in various specialties as an Area Manager & Director of multi-site operations, she has gained powerful knowledge and insight on how to build teams that exhibit an all-inclusive culture. In the past ten years of her Nursing career, Jessica has led initiatives and team projects, earning her awards for her leadership on the front lines and mentorship to peer leaders. She has worked closely with cross-functional teams, gaining insight allowing her to form strategic data analysis, optimizing program creations designed to bridge gaps, and bring diverse groups to a collective understanding of the big picture.
She is known for having a big heart and the ability to relate to each individual that crosses her path. If you are experiencing a time of need, you can always count on her to show empathy. She says, "In my travels, I have found that language is not the only form of communication, most importantly keeping in mind that smiles are universal."
Jessica has volunteered in rural and underprivileged cities, to offer tutoring services for all age groups. She has a deep understanding that children are our future, and each child deserves to be developed and educated to flourish and thrive within a world full of love. Jessica is passionate about spreading kindness and acceptance. She believes that every person deserves to be heard, and every individual has something of value to contribute. All people, no matter our differences, have a right to belong. Proactively working to cultivate a world of inclusion is at the forefront of her efforts. Jessica's favorite pastime is waving at dogs as they walk by her balcony. She enjoys spending time with family, friends, traveling, and learning about other cultures.
Jace is honored to join the talented KnowMe Initiative Team. He is a proven leader and manager with over 15 years of progressive professional and volunteer experience in the development and oversight of medical clinics, Nonprofit Organizations (NGOs), academic programs, policies, and initiatives to promote individual growth and support optimal achievement for underserved populations. Jace received his MPH from the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and completed his undergraduate studies at BYU. Jace brings a proven leadership experience with extensive operational knowledge, and has led cross-functional teams with great success. Throughout his career, Jace has been recognized for his ability to facilitate and help patients faced with great need for clinical service and support seamlessly navigate the complexities of the healthcare system- management and clinical services. Jace is known for his ability to relate and empathize with individuals from all walks of life. His passion to serve others is rooted deep within, and Jace accredits his passion to his amazing and exemplary family that has led the way in serving others first and foremost.
Jace has managed complex business scenarios with meticulous strategies based on his expertise in team management, supported by his relatable communication skills, cultural sensitivity, firsthand experience in project development and evaluation, including operation research, data analysis with innovative solutions. Jace is always quick to lend a hand; one of the first people to jump in and volunteer to help. He is mindful and sensitive to others and can connect on multiple levels to help others feel acknowledged, heard, accepted, and supported.
Jace loves to travel throughout the world. His experiences traveling have shaped his life and cultivated his determination to make the world a better place than how he found it. Jace loves backpacking and exploring the outdoors, reading, and trying new things whenever possible. He is most at peace when he is in nature, and he seeks to transcend that peace to other aspects of his life.
Ria Munongo is a graduate student, currently pursuing her Master’s degree completion in Fashion Communications and Marketing at Mod'Art International- Paris, France. Her expertise shines in developing and implementing marketing plans strategically, including community management and graphic design. By nature, she is creative which justifies her profound desire to create relatable, audience-targeted new content. Ria continues to exercise her instructive knowledge in the industry by working with multiple reputable brands during the last four years, where she has excelled in messaging and adjusting content based on particular audience segments.
Growing up in France, Ria realized her calling in marketing for the fashion industry at the early age of four, when she witnessed lack of diversity; precisely, the exclusion of colored people and immigrants in the fashion industry, in France and the world at large. Surrounded by different cultures, sexual orientation, religion, race; one underlying factor remains clear to Ria: “Our shared interests will always strengthen our unbreakable bond despite our differences and struggles”. With little curiosity and tolerance, one can accept and celebrate these differences. By joining the KnowMe Initiative, she believes to have found the perfect venue to educate others about the fact that accepting and tolerating our differences in a diversified society is a gratifying learning process. To her, KnowMe is the ideal venue.
In her free time, Ria enjoys everything associated with fashion- expositions, documentaries, magazines, shopping, to name a few. Moreover, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. Ria loves helping others by creating new content for friends or prospective clients. Ria is also passionate about writing, interior design and music.
Director, Project Management
Inspired by innovation and a constant desire to help others and spread more goodness in the world, Tina Ho has worked in the medical device industry with years of experience as a clinical data manager. With her attention to detail and hawk eyes, she has led concurrent projects associated with analysis of clinical data mining for Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies in preparation for a successful submission for review and approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including other regulators worldwide. Tina received her bachelor’s degree in Public Health Sciences from the University of California, Irvine.
Tina has the warmest energy with the biggest laugh. She will laugh at anything within acceptable norms because she loves to see the positivity and goodness in people. Because of this, she is dedicated to promoting diversity, tolerance, and inclusion in communities and the world, in order to eradicate hate, intolerance, and racism. Tina believes that the KnowMe Initiative is the correct vessel to carry out her devotion.
In her free time, Tina loves listening to podcasts (specifically true crime ones), working-out at her spin class, volunteering at various local food shelters, and co-hosting the podcast - Friends After 5, where she discusses topics ranging from Asian-American representation to dating and relationships.
Director, Community Engagement
Marine Sergeant- Melvin Giles Jr. is a proud veteran of the United States Marines Corps. Driving by patriotism to serve his country, Sgt. Melvin joined a rigorous Marines Boot Camp training based in San Diego, CA. Following a successful training completion, he was stationed in 29 Palms with the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines. Sgt. Melvin reached the rank E5, Sergeant, non-commissioned at the age of 19. Such a rare and extraordinary accomplishment, Sgt. Melvin embraced the opportunity to excel by faithfully serving and protecting his country.
To recognize his exemplary services and achievement, Sgt. Melvin was decorated and awarded two (2) medals- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals (NAM) by the United States Armed Forces. Moreover, for his exemplary military conducts during three (3) years of continuous active service, Sgt. Melvin was awarded the Marine Good Conduct Medal.
After proudly serving his country, Sgt. Melvin found the opportunity to smoothen his transition to the civilian lifestyle by pursuing his passion in culinary and successfully completed the training at Cordon Bleu Culinary. With an unbreakable desire to remain a contributing member of the society, Sgt. Melvin found another calling by joining a California based manufacturer for Orthopedic Medical Devices where he enjoys working with trauma and/or orthopedic surgeons in order to deliver better patient outcomes. As a Medical Device Sales Representative, he prioritizes the patient’s best interest.
While not on duty, Sgt. Melvin enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends, including cooking and fitness exercising. Sgt. Melvin dreams to establish a homeless rehabilitation center someday.
Social Media Specialist
Awal Hosen is a proud graduate (BSS) of Bangladesh Open University, with professional expertise in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) evidenced by his successful track record in Social Media Marketing. With 4+ years of SEO experience- both ON-page or OFF-page, Awal continues to find fulfillment by working with different companies and diverse individuals at all levels worldwide.
In part, Awal’ successful track record in Social Media Marketing is attributed to the following credentials- he poses:
· Digital Marketing Certificate (Ram It)
· Digital Marketing Certified (Learning & Earning Development Project)
· Google Digital Unlocked Certificate (Google 2020)
· Social Media Certificate (HubSpot Academy 2020)
His desire to learn from and respect others with different backgrounds and values has helped Awal live up to his passion of helping people achieve their social media marketing goals. In line with his reverence for diversity, Awal believes that the KnowMe Initiative mission is a noble cause worth supporting with his skills and time. When not working, Awal enjoys spending time with family and friends- especially playing football(soccer).
Corporate Media Advisor
Saher is a Multimedia Professor and media producer based in New Delhi, India. She is a media academic researcher with experience in content curation for print and digital publications such NDTV & India Today Television. She leads the Media & Communication program at Pearl Academy, New Delhi and is a visiting professor at the Delhi School of Communication.
Saher is also an active human book under the title “Ameoba” at the Human Library Organization that addresses dialogue on breaking stereotypes. She speaks on and works closely on LGBTQ+A rights, religious minorities, diversity, body image and inclusivity. Her paper on “Social Media and Cultural Diversity” was chosen to be presented at the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism and Al Jazeera. Saher believes that the KnowMe Initiative offers an authentic venue to continue advocating for diversity.
She is also the founder of; Untagged: Stories to Tell, an initiative on social media to bring forth diverse human stories that are inclusive and break prejudices and stereotypes, through podcasts and interviews.
When not working, she enjoys reading, travelling and dancing. Her happy place is by the beach with a book.
Director, User Experience (UX)
Anthony Vallejos holds a BS degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of California with over 14 years of extensive experience and expertise in Graphic Design, UX/UI design, Art Direction. As a Product designer, Anthony works with a fund advisory services firm developing and designing FinTech and FinEd Tech software for desktop and mobile applications. Prior to that, Anthony worked in a prestigious investment firm designing and developing trade software as well as portfolio management software.
Anthony is a life long student with a natural desire to solve problems and help people from diverse backgrounds at all levels. With a passion to promote diversity, Anthony found the KnowMe Initiative as a unique venue to fulfill his passion.
Post work, Anthony enjoys evenings with loved ones, He likes long walks and hikes with his dog Jango, enjoys weekend adventures at local breweries and pools halls. Last but not least, Anthony is a captain and coach for a billiards team (APA - Orange County Chapter).
Natalie Hands- Siviter
Director, Corporate Partnership Marketing
Natalie is honored to be part of the KnowMe Initiative team as her passion and conviction in diversity coexistence are very much in line with the KnowMe mission. She is a proven leader and manager with ten (10) years’ experiences within diverse business sectors. During her time at the British University, she co-founded a University Start-up specialist which worked with Google (digital garage) and many well-known professionals in the UK business sectors. Following her BA hons degree, Natalie went on to do further HR studies, and successfully landed her dream job as a radio presenter. With the rise of social media influence, Natalie found an opportunity to successfully extend her work in social media marketing and journalism.
Inspired by her desire to help people from diverse backgrounds foster enduring partnerships, Natalie has been referred to by family and friends as a social media activist for peace and coexistence around the world. She has honed in on her skills in professional journalism to advocate for peace and love throughout the world. Furthermore, as a poster child in a mixed family background, she knows the beauty and challenges associated with diversity, and believes that the KnowMe Initiative is the organic venue to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Natalie’s bubbly and outgoing personality helps engage people from diverse backgrounds and successfully find a common ground. She enjoys writing and spending time with family and friends. Natalie says, “humanity is beautiful, our ability to love one another despite the many different backgrounds, communities, races etc is what makes humanity so special”.