Our Team

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Michelle Kim, Co-Founder & CEO

(Pronouns: she/her)

Michelle Kim graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a passion for social entrepreneurship and social justice.

Prior to Awaken, she had a successful consulting career working with C-suite and VP-level executives at high-performing companies around the world, helping them set ambitious business goals and align their teams to achieve them. While working in management consulting and technology startups, she experienced and validated first-hand the urgent need for modern, up-to-date education that empower leaders to be more empathetic, agile, and culturally aware. Michelle's expertise in organizational change management, strategic goal setting, and social justice activism set the groundwork for Awaken's multidisciplinary and action-oriented learning programs. 

As an immigrant queer woman of color, Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and a community organizer, serving on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, UC LGBTIQ Association Steering Committee (commissioned by the UC system’s Office of the President), San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, and LYRIC youth nonprofit’s Board of Directors.

She has been a public speaker for over a decade and has spoken about the importance of social justice activism at events hosted by renowned entities such as Amnesty International, and was nominated as San Francisco Pride’s Community Grand Marshal for her work around low-income queer youth empowerment and her efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the corporate and tech world.

Michelle lives in Oakland, California and enjoys boxing, traveling, and creating to-do lists incessantly.

Recent & Upcoming Speaking Engagements:  Adobe Principal Scientists' Summit D&I Keynote, Women in Leadership Conference by Haas School of Business, Marketo's Marketing Nation Summit, Culture Summit, AT&T Panel on #MeToo, NPR Marketplace interview on Unconscious Bias Training, Backbone Conference, etc.

Want to book Michelle for a speaking engagement? Contact us


Beatrice Kim, Co-Founder & Advisor

(Pronouns: she/her)

As a Korean-American woman executive in Silicon Valley, Bea Kim has seen first-hand the power that a diverse and inclusive culture can bring to a company and the devastating consequences for companies without one. As witness to this power along with her desire to educate, empower, and wake people up to their full potential, Bea co-founded Awaken with Michelle.

Prior to Awaken, Bea ran and successfully sold an education startup. She has over 12 years of experience in technology and client services across multiple industries. Her lean startup experience is balanced with her global corporate experience in workforce transformation from her 5 years of work as a consultant for Accenture.

In addition to her work with Awaken, Bea spends her time inspiring others to live big and unapologetically through her life coaching practice. She is an angel investor and her portfolio includes startups in the financial, technology and media space.

Bea has her bachelor’s from Stanford University and coaching certification accredited through the International Coaching Federation. In her spare time, Bea loves going camping with her husband and 2-year old son.

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Kimi Mojica, Facilitator

(Pronouns: she/her, they/them)

Kimi Mojica is a skilled facilitator, mediator, speaker, and martial artist. She holds a Masters degree in Conflict Dispute Resolution from the University of Oregon School of Law and has worked in the fields of higher education and philanthropy for over 15 years with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership and team development. Guided by a love of experiential learning, Kimi joined Awaken in early 2017 as a curriculum developer and facilitator and has been supporting organizations initiate positive change. Kimi currently serves as the Director of Programs at the International House at UC Berkeley and has been invited to speak, train, and facilitate nationally at Wisdom 2.0, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, and the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation among others.

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Dr. Joel A. Brown, Esq., CLC., Facilitator

(Pronouns: he/him)

Best known for his critical analysis, creativity, humor, and his ability to build consensus, Joel has partnered with Fortune 500 Companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to help them achieve sustained growth and organizational breakthroughs. Joel is the Chief Visionary Officer of Pneumos, a management consulting company based in San Francisco, CA, specializing in cultural intelligence, leadership, and organizational strategy. As a change agent, Joel works strategically with organizational leaders to cultivate innovative, inclusive, and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully.  He is certified in the Cultural Detective suite of intercultural tools and is finishing his doctorate in global leadership. Joel is passionate about helping companies create inclusive space for LGBTQ people and is a nationally-recognized spoken word artist with over 300+ poems to date.

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Lyell Sakaue, Facilitator

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Lyell Sakaue has over a decade of facilitation experience on subjects of identity, inclusion, and social justice across multiple industries. Lyell currently serves as a strategic advisor to social sector organizations through his work at The Bridgespan Group. Grounded in community spaces at the intersection of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation, he completed UC Berkeley’s Practicum on Multi-cultural Conflict Resolution and Transformation, and holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Previously, he managed IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, a global philanthropic initiative to support local government leaders in deploying information technology to improve government performance and outcomes for citizens. In his free time, he can often be found near Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA or catching up on science fiction.


Chand Nirankari, Facilitator

(Pronouns: she/her)

Chand Nirankari has a driven and established history of making meaningful impact with communities through social justice education, technology, and empowering youth. She has worked for over 15 years with several nonprofit organizations and international movements to help them with their digital communications, strategic planning, program management, grassroots organizing and youth engagement. She strongly believes that facilitating with compassion and empathy are key to breaking down barriers to social justice. She is also the co-founder and Vice President of Youth Boxing for Change, a nonprofit organization which empowers under-resourced youth in New York City through boxing to develop their sense of social responsibility.


Kalaya'an Mendoza, Facilitator

(Pronouns: he/him)

Kalaya'an has co-facilitated, trained and worked alongside frontline communities around the world, fighting to secure their fundamental human rights in the face of repression. From Ferguson to Tibet to Taiwan, he has supported the work of activists through experiential workshops that focus on grassroots community organizing, nonviolent direct action, holistic safety and security for human rights defenders and activist self/community care. 

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Ivellisse Morales, Business Associate

(Pronouns: she/her) 

As a first-generation American, Ivellisse uses her skills and talents to rise up and reach back. She is a conscious and creative communicator who brings nearly a decade of experience helping Fortune 500 companies and major nonprofits use the power of marketing, branding and design for social good. Ivellisse is passionate about self-development, equity and empowerment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Boston University. In her free time, she enjoys eating self-improvement books for breakfast and cuddling with her Boston Terrier.