Our People

The work of APIA Scholars would not be possible without the efforts and generosity of countless Scholars, advisors, institutions, and supportive companies and their dedicated employees. Learn more about the ones making a difference below:

President & Executive Director

Noël S. Harmon, PhD.

Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer

Julie Ajinkya, PhD.

Research & Policy Associate

Isabelle Belleza

Chief of Staff & Vice President of Strategy

Michelle Cohenour

Senior Director of Operations

Nicole David

Vice President, Programs

Shyam Gadwal

Development Associate

Danny Le

Associate Vice President of Development

Stacy Lewis

Scholarship Director

Catherine Litten

Director of Scholarships and Programs

Sierra Lloyd

Programs Associate

Cindy Luo

Director of Finance

Gulnara Mambetova

Senior Director of Programs, Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS) & APIA Scholars

Melissa May

Director of Research and Policy

Florie Mendiola, Ed.D.

Director of Staff Success and Special Projects

Andrea Pouso Morales

Digital Storytelling and Marketing, Senior Manager

Bryan Park

Manager of Development

Kylie Stamm

Scholarship Associate

Maggie Chu

Programs Intern

Khatami Chau

Social Media/MARCOMM Intern

Mahbuba Sumiya

Research & Policy Intern

Amelie Lee

President & COS intern

Ellery Lea

Programs-ELS Intern

Justine Marie Amores Suegay

Programs-GMS Intern

Kelly Wei

President & Executive Director

Noël S. Harmon, PhD.

Noël Harmon is President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars, formerly, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. She joined the organization in June 2018. Harmon comes to APIA Scholars from Say Yes to Education, where she was Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships. Harmon has also held positions at the Brookings Institution where she was the Associate Director of the Global Cities Initiatives, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, and at CEOS for Cities, where she was the Chief Program Officer and National Director of the Talent Dividend. She led the National Talent Dividend Network and Prize, a joint initiative of Living Cities and CEOs for Cities, to foster post-secondary attainment, through cross-sector collaboration among more than 60 network cities. She also served as a senior research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) where she managed several long-term national initiatives.

Harmon spent the first decade of her career in direct service to students, working in administration at post-secondary institutions including Hofstra University, University of Michigan, Western Illinois University, and four years in Athletic Student Services at the University of Iowa.

Harmon holds a PhD in Higher Education and a BA in English from the University of Iowa, and a MA in Student Affairs Administration from Ball State University.

Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer

Julie Ajinkya, PhD.

Julie Ajinkya, Ph.D., joined APIA Scholars in January 2021 as its new Senior Vice President to provide strategic direction to the organization as it develops its research and policy agenda. Prior to APIA Scholars, Ajinkya was the Vice President of Applied Research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where her research interests included equity in postsecondary education and innovative models that improve degree completion for underserved populations, such as returning adults, justice-involved communities, and rural communities. Prior to joining IHEP, Ajinkya worked at the Center for American Progress (CAP), where she focused primarily on the impact that demographic change has on a diverse portfolio of policy issues from education and health to employment and infrastructure. Ajinkya has served as a visiting professor of Government at Cornell University’s campus in Washington, D.C., for a number of years, where she teaches courses on race, inequality and public policy. She also sits on the Advisory Council for Amherst College’s Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning, an initiative that creates talent pipelines for the college’s first-generation students and students from low-income households. In 2019, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named Julie one of the Top 35 Women in Higher Education. Ajinkya earned her M.A. with distinction and Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College.

Research & Policy Associate

Isabelle Belleza

Chief of Staff & Vice President of Strategy

Michelle Cohenour

Senior Director of Operations

Nicole David

Vice President, Programs

Shyam Gadwal

Development Associate

Danny Le

Associate Vice President of Development

Stacy Lewis

Scholarship Director

Catherine Litten

Director of Scholarships and Programs

Sierra Lloyd

Programs Associate

Cindy Luo

Director of Finance

Gulnara Mambetova

Senior Director of Programs, Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS) & APIA Scholars

Melissa May

Director of Research and Policy

Florie Mendiola, Ed.D.

Director of Staff Success and Special Projects

Andrea Pouso Morales

Digital Storytelling and Marketing, Senior Manager

Bryan Park

Manager of Development

Kylie Stamm

Scholarship Associate

Maggie Chu

Programs Intern

Khatami Chau

Social Media/MARCOMM Intern

Mahbuba Sumiya

Research & Policy Intern

Amelie Lee

President & COS intern

Ellery Lea

Programs-ELS Intern

Justine Marie Amores Suegay

Programs-GMS Intern

Kelly Wei