Our Staff
USA Office

John Anner

EMW President John Anner has been with East Meets West since February 2003. John sees his job as building EMW into a global leader in effective, catalytic solutions to development issues such as the lack of clean water and high infant mortality.

Prior to EMW, John was the founder and executive director of the Independent Press Association, a membership organization that provided technical assistance and business services to hundreds of independent and ethnic periodicals. The IPA was a highly entrepreneurial non-profit that generated most of its budget from earned income. Under John's leadership, the IPA either purchased or launched five businesses in five years. He started the organization with a $5,000 grant in 1996, and grew it to an operating budget of $3.5 million in 2002. He was also the President of BigTop Newsstand Services, an international magazine distribution company acquired by the IPA in 2000.

John has also served as Publications Director at the Center for Third World Organizing from 1989 to 1997 where he founded, edited and published Third Force, a cross-cultural national magazine about community and labor politics in communities of color. Prior to that, he was Editor-in-Chief at Nicaraguan Perspectives magazine from 1986-1989.

John was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania, West Africa during 1983-1985. He also worked in Central America. He received a B.A. with Special Honors in Political Science from Tufts University in 1982, and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis in 1989.

John lives in Albany, California with his wife and three daughters. He is a bicycle road racer and member of the Berkeley Bicycle Club. He serves on the board of the Coral Reef Alliance.

Tom Low
Chief Operating Officer

Tom Low joined East Meets West in 2011, after serving on the EMW Board for five years. Before coming on staff, Tom was a partner with Bridges SF, LLC, an executive search firm specializing in the placement of senior financial executives. Tom was the founding Chief Financial Officer of Restoration Hardware, where he was a member of a three-man executive team that expanded the company from four stores to 100 stores with a direct mail and e-commerce business. The business grew to over $300 million in revenue. When Tom took Restoration Hardware public in June 1998, it was one of the most successful IPOs of that year. Tom also has been CFO of Ask Jeeves and Safeway.com.

Tom graduated from the University of California, Davis with a BS degree and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of California, Irvine where he won the Arthur Andersen & Co. Entrepreneur of the Year award. Tom is a former board member and treasurer of St. Paul's Episcopal School in Oakland, and a founding board member of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Ascend. He volunteers as a Portfolio Advisor for Inner City Advisors, an Oakland-based nonprofit that builds sustainable and responsible inner city businesses that create quality jobs and contribute to the local economy.


Sean Kline, Vice President, EducationSean Kline
Vice President, Education and Training
Executive Director, Reach Global

Sean Kline joined East Meets West in January 2014, assuming the role of Vice President, Education and Training, while continuing to lead Reach Global, providing hands-on expertise in project design, research and evaluation.

Previously, Sean directed Freedom from Hunger's Growth Initiatives Group, scaling up proven social enterprise and education innovations to reach more than 800,000 poor adolescent girls and women across 16 countries. Prior to this, he founded and led Prizma, one of the largest microfinance institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina now managing a portfolio of over $70 million.

Sean has also led poverty research in rural Pakistan and consulted for a variety of development organizations across Asia and Africa. Sean holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in poverty and social policy and NGO Management. 



Burt Thompson
Chief Financial Officer

Burt joined the EMW staff in April 2012. Prior to EMW, Burt was controller at a local community bank that specialized in Asian-American businesses with operations in Greater China. Burt also spent many years as controller in the Napa wine industry.

Burt is a licensed CPA and has a Masters in Accountancy from California State University Northridge and a Masters in Taxation from USC. When not spending time with his nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, he enjoys restoring his 1963 Jaguar convertible.

Thuy Ngo">Financial Analyst

Before joining EMW, Thuy was a financial analyst at a renewable energy investment firm in San Francisco which developed, built and delivered high quality solar projects in the United States. She also has extensive experience in financial and operational management with international nonprofits working in Vietnam and Southeast Asia to deliver hearing aids to children, develop educational programs in training and job placement for single mothers in urban areas, and provide infrastructural support to orphanages.

Thuy holds an MBA in Finance from the University of San Francisco, and a BS in International Business from Saint Mary’s College of California. She enjoys living in Oakland and spends her free time exploring the vibrant art, music and cultural venues around the Bay Area.

Amy Tien
Senior Accountant

Amy joined the EMW staff in May 2013. Prior to EMW, Amy was a senior accountant at a public accounting firm specializing in the affordable housing and renewable energy
industries. Amy received a BA in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from San Francisco State University. She is licensed in California as a certified public accountant. She lives in San Francisco and enjoys exploring new restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

Linda Zhao - Accounting ClerkLinda Zhao
Accounting Clerk

Linda began working for East Meets West in 2010, and enjoys her work supporting the Finance Team. Before coming to the United States from Beijing, China, she held management positions for over a decade at the China Nuclear Engineering Corporation and the Beijing Institute of Nuclear  Engineering.         
Linda holds a BA in Economics from Jilin Finance and Trade College, China and a Master’s from the University of Idaho. She lives in El Sobrante and enjoys the diverse cultures of the Bay Area.
She likes to spend her free time reading, walking and cooking.



Sylvia Townsend
Communications Manager

Sylvia has been with East Meets West since November 2007. In her role as Communications Manager, she works closely with development and program staff to raise the visibility of the organization's mission and core programs, overseeing the production and dissemination of electronic and print materials, as well as social media efforts, media outreach and events.

Prior to joining EMW, she spent eight years at the International Rescue Committee resettlement office as a caseworker, immigration specialist and site manager. She helped resettle refugees from all over the globe, including the former Yugoslavia, Myanmar, Nepal, Liberia, Columbia, the Congo, and Vietnam. Previously, she worked as a freelance editorof  textbooks and computer manuals. 

Originally from New Jersey, Sylvia has lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years. She has a B.A. and M.A. in Slavic languages and literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

Liliana Suryadi

Marketing and Communications Associate

Lily has been with EMW since January 2011. Before joining the Communications team, she worked at Nordstrom, and prior to that was a student assistant at the Disability Center at San Francisco State University.

Lily was born in Indonesia and attended school there through sixth grade. After completing high school in the US, she earned a B.S. in Marketing from SF State. She lives in San Francisco with her two dogs. Bilingual in English and Indonesian, she also has a working knowledge of Mandarin. She is especially excited about the expansion of the Breath of Life program to her native Indonesia.

Vanessa Casotti
Office & Administrative Assistant

Before joining EMW, Vanessa worked as a Graduate Assistant while completing her Master's degree in International Relations in Rome, Italy. She has previous international development experience from her time spent at Camfed, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of girls and women through education. While earning her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, Vanessa worked in the Vaccines for Children program at the California Department of Health. Due in large part to these experiences, Vanessa is devoted to doing her part to promote better access to healthcare and education on a global scale.

Books and food are Vanessa's two greatest passions, with soccer coming in a very close third. She especially loves to combine these passions with travel, so she can sample the local literature, cuisine, and football/futbol/calcio team.


John Nguyen
Portfolio Development Officer, Global Health

John joined the EMW staff in March 2007. He works with the Development and Finance teams to manage and maintain donor and program-related data. John brings four years of experience in outreach, recruitment and database administration with the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program. He completed his undergraduate work in Sociology with an emphasis in International Development focused on Asia at UC Davis.

As a second generation Vietnamese-American born in the states, John has fostered an abiding interest in his heritage. His passion for the development of Vietnam is driven by the desire to understand his homeland's past and the hope to have some part in shaping its future. He is thrilled at the opportunity to work with East Meets West and assist disadvantaged children and families in Vietnam.

Sameera Chilakapati
Program Development Officer, Global Health

Sameera joined the EMW staff in May 2013. She is responsible for evaluating improvements and innovations to existing programs, strategic program development, and identifying new fundraising opportunities for EMW’s global health programs.  Prior to EMW, Sameera was a management consultant at PRTM (now part of PwC Consulting) working with leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies to find solutions to complex operational issues. She also has on the ground experience working with healthcare focused social enterprises, nonprofits, and the governmental sector in India.

Sameera recently graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a combined MBA/MPH dual degree. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, earning a BS in Economics. Sameera is excited to be joining the EMW team and working to improve healthcare services for the underserved globally.

Jessica Burg
Portfolio Development Officer, Education

Jessica joined the EMW Oakland office as Development Administrator in April 2012.  Most recently, Jessica was a Development Intern at Parent Trust for Washington Children where she gained experience in a broad range of development-related tasks.  She has long had an interest in the nonprofit sector with an international perspective.

Jessica attended Lewis and Clark College where she earned a B.A. in International Relations.  She received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington.  She also holds a TESOL certificate from The School for International Training in Costa Rica, where she taught ESL.

Jessica currently lives in Danville with her family.  She is a Martial Arts instructor and enjoys surfing and board games.      

Alexandra McGee
Research and Administrative Assistant

Alexandra has always been interested in the dynamics of culture, conflict, and development. Before joining East Meets West in June of 2014, she completed her Master’s work at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focused on decentralized, small-scale, renewable energy projects for rural electrification in Nicaragua. This analysis was informed by her training in multicultural conflict resolution, her experience as a community organizer, and her passion for Latin American political economy.  Prior to being a Berkeley Bear, she was a Humboldt State University Lumberjack, focused on learning about Latin American culture, language, and politics. 

As a first generation citizen coming from a bicultural household, she continues to be interested in the contributing factors to cross-cultural communication, context-sensitive project strategy, and synergistic collaborations for mutual benefit. Alexandra’s overarching mission is to holistically understand the intersecting structures which cause and exacerbate poverty, and the opportunities available for social and economic justice. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and contemplating the universe. 


For more information about EMW please see our contact page.



East Meets West

1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 1420, Oakland, CA 94612
Tel: 1-800.561.3378  |  Tel: 510-763-7045  |  Fax: 510-763-6545

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