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Committee Members

Kumi Alderman

Executive Director

Kumi Alderman has been a real estate investor to make Knoxville community better place to live. She was involved in two automobile accidents. She had to concentrate on recovering her health for almost 2 years. Since then, she has discovered a passion to educate and share Asian culture through organizing the Asian Festival and other educational activities. She believes the festival inspires the public, especially younger generations, to learn about and appreciate the richness of traditional Asian arts and culture.

Samuel K. Lee

Advisor

Samuel K. Lee is the Chief Deputy at the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office. He has called Knox County home since 1988 and is proud to serve our community. Sam believes that we need to be tough on crime and also compassionate toward victims and the mentally disabled. He actively supports the efforts of the Family Justice Center, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center, the YWCA, and is grateful to serve with our local law enforcement agencies.

Dr. Rachel Rui

Director of Marketing and Communications

Dr. Rachel Rui is a communication and international affairs expert who is now serving as the assistant to Chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Rachel supports the Chancellor in his day-to-day operations including strategic planning, project management, communication management, producing briefings, reports, and presentations, managing constituent’s relationships, meeting planning and scheduling prioritization. Rachel is a proud two-time UT alumna. She obtained her Master’s degree in Communication and Information in 2009 and her Ph.D. degree in the same area in 2014, with expertise in areas of social media and cross-cultural communication. Rachel is passionate about culture and art. She is a member of Young Professionals of Knoxville, and has served on the board of A1LabArts, participated in Knox Asian Festival and hosted Chinese New Year Gala for 10 years.

Dr. Javiette Samuel

Advisor

Director
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Office of Research & Engagement
Office of Community Engagement and Outreach

Leroy Kautz

Board Member

Leroy Kautz, a Sifu (Kung Fu teacher) under Great Grand Master CHAN PUI

After studying various styles of Martial Arts since the early 1970’s, Leroy was introduced to the WAH LUM system in 1987, training nearly five years as a professional student in Tampa, FL. He then continued his training under the strict guidance of Grand Master CHAN PUI at the Wah Lum Temple in Orlando, FL.

Leroy was granted the opportunity, privilege and honor to open his own school and propagate this system and in August of 1994 Leroy began establishing the Tennessee based Wah Lum School in Knoxville.

Mahagi LaCure

Japanese Leader

Ms. LaCure has been teaching Japanese at the University of Tennessee for more than 20 years. She also works with students as advisor for the university’s Japan Club. Before becoming a teacher she worked as a tapestry weaver, selling her works through galleries. She is proud to be part of the Asian Festival in promoting and celebrating cultural diversity in Knoxville. When she has free time, she enjoys coordinating and wearing kimono and playing the shamisen, a Japanese three-string banjo.

Jula Connatser

Thailand Leader

Jula Connatser is a leader of One Community Services, Inc. Her company is a certified minority and women own business enterprise in Tennessee (MWBE).

Living outside of Thailand is keeping us away from our cultural activities with friends and families. The Knox Asian Festival brought Asian people in town together. Now we have opportunity to bring back our fun cultural environment. At least once a year we can wear traditional outfits, sing, dance, and share our cultural wisdom at the festival with everyone in Knoxville community.

Jill Song

Director Assistant

Hsiaoman (JIll) Song,she obtained a MBA from Texas Women University (TWU) in 2011. She moved to Knoxville for a job after graduation. She was the President of Taiwanese student association at TWU, and the President of Taiwanese association of America and East Tennessee chapter (TAAET) in 2015. During that time, she joined the 2nd and 3rd Asia festival, and continuing promoting Taiwan culture ever since.

Mrs. Silavong

Board Member

Hailing from Ipoh, Malaysia, Mrs. Silavong immigrated to the United States in 1999. With her, she brought extensive knowledge of Malaysian and Chinese cookery. In 2007, she acquired ownership of the Plum Tree Chinese Restaurant, and in 2013, she branched out and opened Thai’an, located in the food court of West Town Mall.

Mari Koguma

Volunteer Coordinator

Mari Koguma is an international student from Japan and junior majoring in Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is an active member of Campus Events Board (Arts and Culture committee) and organizing artistic and cultural events on campus to enhance students’ appreciation of diversity and arts. Being passionate about event planning and promoting diversity in the Knoxville community, she served as the main volunteer in the Knox Asian Festival last year.

She has been teaching Japanese weekly as a volunteer for two years and also helps out Japanese culture events at the International House on campus.

Before she came to the United States, she was learning Japanese Calligraphy for more than 12 years. She is a certified Japanese Calligraphy teacher. She performed Japanese Calligraphy last year at the festival and gave her work to the Mayor of Muroran City at the reception.

Amudha Vaz

Indian Leader

Ling Hidalgo-Catuncan

Philippines Leader

Ling Hidalgo-Catuncan is a licensed Physical Therapist with 24+ years of experience & is currently working at Shannondale Retirement and Assisted Living Centers. Originally from Navotas, Metro Manila & migrated to Knoxville, TN in 1994. Affiliated with Filipino American Christian Community of East, TN (FACCET) whose mission is to promote charity through service, time, talent and assist in realizing spiritual potential in our community. Ling is also an active member of Philippine American Association of East TN (PAAET) & assists with Fil-Am activities supporting the community. Enjoys dancing, singing, hosting and playing the guitar. Married to Paul Catuncan, also a physical therapist, with two smart kids, JP & Jos

Elena Sonbok Lee

Knoxville Area Korean Association President

Elena Sonbok Lee grew up in Seoul South Korea and came to the United States in 1994 to pursue graduate studies. She obtained her Masters of Education in 1997, Master of Arts in Painting in 2005 , and Master of Fine Arts in 2007. She currently is an Art Professor at Crown College and has operated her own art studio for 10 years. She is a member of the Temple Baptist Church. She is the founder of the Christian Art Association and travels internationally delivering her seminar “Brain and the Bible”. She is now the 20th new president of the Knoxville Area Korean Association.

Michael Smith

Chinese Leader

Michael Smith has produced the East Tennessee Chinese New Year Festival for the past 7
years. Held each February on the UTK campus, this event gives the audience the experience
of new year celebrations in China. Michael is also the coach of the East Tennessee Wushu
Team and East Tennessee Tai Chi team, has won 9 gold medals in martial arts competitions
in China, and has been teaching Chinese martial arts to kids and adults in Knoxville for 12
years. For more information, visit him at the knoxvillechineseculture booth at our Festival!

Dave Alderman

Board Member

Dave Alderman works as a lead auditor at UL DQS Inc. He participated in founding Asian Culture Center of Tennessee (ACCTN) and assisted in organizing the Knoxville Asian Festival. Dave frequently travels to Asia to support ACCTN’s mission. Dave is an avid runner and competes in local and national marathons.

Asami H Martin

Dance Producer

I started dancing Hip-hop while in grade school and by the end of high school, our crew was dominating competitions in clubs all over the country. We were credited for forging a new dance culture in Japan influenced by American west coast style Hip-hop. I decided to travel the world choreographing and competing in Hip-hop battles. I finally settled in the States, met my husband, and had a son and a daughter. But I never stopped dancing! I’m part of Southern Sole Hip Hop dance crew based in Knoxville. And recently, did a backup dancing for Chris Blue from ‘The Voice’

Shigetoshi Eda

Japanese Leader

Dr. Eda joined the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UT) in 2003 and is currently a professor at the university. He has been serving as faculty advisor of UT Martial Art Club (Kendo, Judo, Jujitsu, Karate, Taekwondo) since 2008. He practiced a Japanese Swordsmanship, Kendo, for 20 years and is the lead instructor of UT Kendo club. In his research laboratory, he hosted several scholars from Asian countries (China, India, Korea and Japan) as well as local students. He is also teacher at the East Tennessee Japanese School (ETJS, since 2011). He has actively been involved in introduction of Japanese culture (Kendo, Calligraphy, Crafts, and Music) to the Knoxville community at Asian Festival (from the first festival), UT, ETJS, local schools, ORNL, and museums – not only in Knoxville but also in Chattanooga and Nashville. He has been a strong supporter of the Asian Festival since the planning stage of the event in 2013.

Mari Tayama

Ping Pong A-Thon Manager

Mari was born on a U.S. Military base in Yokohama, Japan. A third generation Japanese-American, she attended San Diego State University, where she received degrees in graphic arts and accounting. She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, and became a Special Agent for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Investigation Division, handling numerous domestic and international investigations. She now works as a manager with her husband at the Law Office of William J. Taylor. Here, she realized the need to help those who have no voice of their own, and who’s voices are forcibly silenced. She possesses a strong desire to help those who are going through pain, who have suffered abuse, and who seek justice. She joined the Ping Pong A-Thon awareness group to help bring to light the many horrors of trafficking of women and children.

LayKoon T. Huang MD

Asian Film Festival Manager

I grew up in Penang, Malaysia and came to the US in 1967 to start college at the U of Pennsylvania, followed with medical school at Vanderbilt University. I have been a native of Knoxville since 1982 and retired in 2012 after 30 years of private practice in Occupational Medicine and Family Medicine.

I am an active member of the East Tennessee AARP volunteer leadership team. We promote livable and age-friendly communities, support caregivers, inform and educate the 50+ community about frauds and scams, conduct driver safety, car-fit and home-fit programs. My particular interest is reaching out to diverse and minority populations and groups while we go about promoting our programs. That is why participating and being a sponsor of the Asian Festival has been important to the ET AARP team. And for me, the opportunity to spearhead the Asian Film Festival, a new event during the 2019 Asian Festival week, brings promoting diversity full circle – now we are showcasing the diverse cultures of Asia in films and documentaries to the people of Knoxville and the surrounding communities.

Hana Akimoto

Community Outreach

Hello!! My name is Hana Akimoto. I have participated in Asian Festival, along with my mother and sister, throughout the last five years. I currently teach science at Bearden High School. I enjoy providing a safe, loving environment for my students so that they can grow into critically thinking, civic participants of their local and global community. My goal as a Youth Coordinator is to encourage young people to learn new cultures and share their experiences. In this way, they can help develop innovative ideas that lead to a thriving community.

Azsha Treanor

Director of Community Outreach

Azsha Treanor was raised in Memphis, TN on a family farm with her parents. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2017 with a degree in Global Politics & Economics. Her mother, being from Korea, helped inspire her to get involved in the Asian community. She continues to act as the main Show Host for the yearly event. She also serves as the Director of Community Outreach for the Asian Culture Center of TN which puts on the Asian Festival of Knoxville. Additionally, Azsha works as Co-Host with Rachel Rui in the yearly East TN Chinese New Year Festival. She currently lives and works in Knoxville with her fiancé and two pup children.