Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder & CEO
Patricia Hyland, Chair
Elise Haas, Vice-Chair
Maria Gabriela “Gaby” Pacheco, Secretary
Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and filmmaker, and serves as the CEO of Define American and #EmergingUS. Jose was part of The Washington Post team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. Vargas revealed his undocumented immigration status in an article in The New York Times Magazine. He went on to produce and direct his autobiographical documentary, Documented, broadcasted by CNN, and later directed MTV’s White People. You can watch a short video of Jose’s story on our storytelling platform.
Responsible for partnerships, innovation and organizational growth. Eller holds a B.S. in Political Science from Appalachian State University, a Masters Degree in Divinity from Wake Forest University, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Penn State University. Prior to joining Define American, he was the U.S. Campaigns Director at Change.org. For four years prior to that, he was the Executive Director of CHANGE in North Carolina—the largest broad-based community organizing group in the southern United States (a 501c3). He has extensive experience in the campaign arena as well, having managed political campaigns at both the local and federal level.
Responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of Define American. Bich Ngoc has held digital marketing roles at Capitol Music Group’s Harvest Records and Warner Bros. Records, where she created campaigns for artists such as TV On The Radio, The New Basement Tapes and BANKS. She began her career at MySpace, launching MySpace Music and helping to build a fledgling social network into a global entertainment destination. After MySpace, Bich Ngoc joined Bobby Shriver and Bono to co-found and launch (RED), a unique product partnership among global brands such as Apple, Gap, Converse and American Express, to raise $100 million for AIDS programs in Africa. A lifelong Angeleno and USC alumna, Bich Ngoc is committed to public service and serves as president of the Board of Library Commissioners for the city of Los Angeles. She wrote an essay about online organizing in The New York Times bestselling book MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country.
Responsible for leading Define American’s capital growth strategy. Prior to Define American, Jacky served as the Director of Individual Giving at the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. She was formerly the Director of Development for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation where she raised funds to support comprehensive community development and anti-displacement efforts in South Los Angeles. As Grants Manager at the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, she helped to lift working conditions for the nation’s 5 million restaurant workers. Jacky holds a firm commitment to upholding a social justice framework in all of her endeavors.
Responsible for expanding Define American’s impact in television, film and entertainment. Elizabeth comes to Define American from a fifteen-year career in media. As a showrunner and executive producer, she oversaw non-scripted projects for networks such as VH1, OWN, Lifetime Television and Syfy. Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Communications from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Pepperdine University. She is a storyteller at heart and passionate about harnessing the power of media to create positive global and domestic social change.
Kristian Ramos is the Communications Director for Define American who proudly hails from the Southwest. Kristian has work experience in both the House and Senate working most recently for Media Matters For America. Prior to that he worked for the Mayor of Washington DC, he was the communications director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and began his communications career in the United States Senate for then Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Democratic Communications Center. Kristian began his career working for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy groups in the country. He has a Masters Degree in Governmental Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. He wishes the District of Columbia had better Mexican food.
Responsible for creating original content through all forms of media for Define American. Conti holds a B.F.A. in Photojournalism from Rochester Institute of Technology and has worked both in newsrooms and for custom publishers. Prior to joining Define American, he photographed for national and international non-profits, and documented agricultural and industrial life in small towns throughout the United States. He contributes his passion for meaningful journalism to Define American’s storytelling, and uses his experience in stills, video, writing and graphics to find inventive ways to reach new audiences.
Responsible for the management Define American College Chapters. Gómez holds a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from American University and comes to Define American from Fission Strategy, where he was a Digital Strategy Fellow and managed the organization’s email strategy. His previous experience includes working on political ads during the 2014 midterm election at MeanGreen Media in Washington, D.C. and curating social media for The Harry Potter Alliance, an innovative fan-activist nonprofit. He has also worked as a freelance videographer and editor on many projects including the Student Emmy-winning film “Chesapeake Villages.” Having moved to Miami, FL from Argentina at a young age, Julián is a proud advocate for immigrant and minority rights and a former DACA recipient.
Responsible for editing videos by the production team. Born in Connecticut but raised on the Central Coast of California, William Johnston-Carter graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Film Production and a BS in Physics. While at Chapman he was a member of the selective Filmmaker-in-Residence mentor program with Academy Award winning producer Cathy Schulman (Crash, The Illusionist). After college, William interned for the documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner (Food Inc., War Letters, Two Days in October) before spending two years with AmeriCorps where he served as Media Production Coordinator for the nonprofit organization Impact America. In 2017, he southbound through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, 2,189 miles from Maine to Georgia, and took way too many photos to prove it.
Responsible for managing and executing events for the organization. So Yeon has over 15 years of experience in outreach, program development and management and community organizing, particularly in Asian American communities. She was formerly the Events and Fundraising Manager at National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, where she organized the annual conference and helped to build individual giving efforts. So Yeon holds a Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a B.A. in International Studies from American University.
Responsible for media outreach and communications strategy for Define American. In addition to working in the U.S. House of Representatives, Noelle has held positions at top lifestyle & entertainment companies like BET Networks, Inc. and Baltz & Company. She now couples her political experience with her knowledge of the media landscape to provide energized and engaging media strategies and inspire people to ask thoughtful questions. Noelle is also the co-founder of Women II Watch, a quarterly event series and social platform that unities rising female leaders across various industries.
Responsible for digital communications and audience engagement strategies for Define American. Sarah has over fifteen years of experience crafting cross-platform media campaigns for The Walt Disney Company, Nintendo, Cigna, PBS, and Discovery Channel. She has also been at the forefront of launching large-scale netroots movements in conjunction with arts-based nonprofits including American Promise, Question Bridge: Black Males, and Land of Opportunity. Sarah holds a B.A. in English from Wittenberg University, a master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus on Global Migration and Community Building in the Digital Age.
As a part of the Entertainment Media team, Kristen is responsible for expanding Define American’s impact in television, film, and entertainment. Before joining Define American, she was employed at The Director’s Guild of America, where she worked on diversity initiatives and advocated for equal employment opportunities for diverse directors. Prior to her work at the DGA, Kristen coordinated marketing campaigns and large-scale events for clients including Nike. Kristen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communications, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the University of Denver. She is passionate about socially conscious messaging and representation in the media.
Responsible for creating video content at Define American. In her previous work, she was Associate Producer at #EmergingUS, the production arm of Define American and a production assistant at the Los Angeles Times. In addition to video production, she has worked in entertainment media and music at SpinMedia, VIBE and REVOLT TV. Monica is passionate about telling stories that reflect the true diversity of our country. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oregon.
Responsible for managing the Arts component of Define American. Yosimar graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A in Creative Writing. His work as a poet has been published in numerous anthologies. He joined Define American with experience in the non-profit arts sector as well as a performance arts background. His one man show, Prieto, will debut in June 2016. Learn more about Yosimar’s current work at yosimarreyes.com.
Responsible for oversight of Define American’s video content production. In her previous work, she was an Assistant Editor at MeetingHouse Productions and Tommie Copper Productions, a Senior Production Assistant at Zero Point Zero Productions, a Coordinating Producer at Hot Air Productions and a Senior Associate Producer & Casting lead for the Emmy-Nominated MTV special “White People.” Shauna has been leading production at #EmergingUS, the production arm of Define American, for the past two years. She holds of Bachelors of Arts from Oberlin College. As a storyteller, she’s dedicated to exploring the complexity of our American identity.
Responsible for assisting Jose Antonio Vargas and the Define American team. Jon graduated from UCLA, line produced Define American’s film Documented, and previously managed operations for HyperShop. He probably should’ve majored in computer science.