Tag: kim phan

Female Game Changers Gather at 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak


DALLAS, TX – Seven game-changing female Asian American leaders gathered to share personal stories about their paths to success at Against The Grain Productions’ 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak event on Saturday March 2, 2014, hosted at The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Despite the blustery weather conditions, guests packed into the museum’s main gallery to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, coffee and art before settling in to listen to each speaker’s TED-inspired personal presentation around this year’s theme: “Game Changers: Playing to Win.” After sharing their diverse perspectives, speakers joined together as a panel to answer questions and cover hard-hitting issues about identity, cultural barriers, motivation and solutions to nurture leadership in the community. Imparting their insight, there were moments both humorous and poignant. The event concluded with a unique half hour where guests got to interact with speakers one-on-one.

The goal of the afternoon was to give people of all ages a chance to hear and meet influential leaders. It was also about providing mentorship and inspiration, empowering individuals to realize their potential. President/Founder and event moderator Tammy Nguyen Lee said, “Groundbreakers Speak was created to fulfill a need and is unlike most any other event that ATG does. It’s meant to be more intimate and engage with people on a personal level, to create meaningful conversation, provoke deep thought and spark serious leadership. We’re trying to give people a glimpse into who they can be and what we are capable of becoming as a community.”

It was a rewarding and memorable day for our speakers as well. Here’s what they are saying, as they continue to motivate and inspire others to go “Against The Grain”:

Manager of eSports at Blizzard, Kim Phan: “DO what makes you passionate instead of thinking about what makes you passionate. The rest will follow. And remember the words of George Eliot, ‘It is never too late to be what we might have been.’”

Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives for NBC, Grace Borrero Moss: “I am so honored to be included in such an incredible group of strong and successful women.  Listening to everyone’s stories and engaging with other young Asian Americans who are, themselves, making waves in their respective fields is really empowering.  I now feel even more motivated and energized to make an even stronger impact in my field.  Events like these and organizations like ATG are at the forefront of making breakthroughs within the Asian American community.”

Senior Reporter at KERA, Doualy Xaykaothao: “We must remember to continue building bridges across diverse communities, whether via social media or right in your own neighborhoods. A morsel of new information can have great impact in our lives, in our universe. And don’t forget, service to the public is possibly one of the greatest gifts you can give.”

Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, Thear Sy Suzuki: “I left the event inspired and energized!  The connections made were priceless.  Thank you panelists, guests, ATG and The Crow Collection of Asian Art for your authenticity and willingness to share your stories.”

Award-winning Children’s Book Author/Illustrator, LeUyen Pham: “If this amazing panel of women were anything to judge by, I think I came away with one conclusion that I feel certain of:  To succeed as each of these women have, it takes not just brains and passion, but immense courage.  I was honored to be among them, and hope that my story of how I achieved my own dreams will affect someone else, no matter to what small degree.  All change starts with something small.”

Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation, Cynthia Yung: “It was great to hear from strong Asian women who are changing the stereotypes of model minorities.  Being quiet and obedient may make you invisible but not immune to unfair treatment.”

Lawyer, Advocate, Executive Director and General Counsel of The Asian Resource Group, Inc., Lesley Varghese: “No shortage of inspiration at Against the Grain Productions and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Grateful to Tammy Nguyen for a unique opportunity to meet a few of the most dynamic Asian American women in the country, surrounded by mind-blowing art like “China Porsche!”

Video clips of each speaker will be available on ATG’s YouTube Page.

Read the Asia World Media Coverage.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.


Words of Praise

“A surprise Dallas snowfall on the afternoon of Sunday, March 2nd, set the tone for an equally unpredictable and fascinating afternoon at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. I found myself hanging on every word from each expert speaker, and their surprising stories echoed through my mind long after I returned home. The obstacles they had overcome! The talents they possessed! The goals they had marked, achieved, and surpassed! Not only were the panelists’ experiences in life and careers remarkable from a groundbreaking Asian American perspective, but they sparked a drive within me to maximize my potential as a modern working woman. Kudos to ATG Productions, and I look forward to the next Groundbreakers event.” – Lisa Petty, Editor, DFW Style Daily

“My first experience at Groundbreakers Speak last year helped to forge a new relationship between ATG, NAAAP and Dallas Women’s Foundation. This year the experience confirmed exactly why it is imperative for all women to embrace their individual stories for the collective good of women everywhere. The dynamic women who shared their stories not only inspired me to embrace my personal journey but they reminded me why female ‘gamechangers’ are valuable and relevant. Women and girls should strive to take on careers and opportunities that challenge the status quo. ATG Against the Grain Productions’ Groundbreakers Speak definitely embodies that message.” – Akilah Wallace, Dallas Women’s Foundation

“ATG’s Groundbreakers Speak this year was so wonderful with strong inspiring women paving the way to success through leadership. We are so grateful to be a part of this annual event!” – Dii Kim, Founder/Owner, Pho is for Lovers

“Thanks to Tammy and the entire ATG team!  It was a tremendous honor and thrill to get to know each of you.” – Sylvia Komatsu, EVP | Chief Content Officer, KERA/KXT

“So BLESSED to be in this audience and experience this panel!  Each offered such insights and knowledge of what it takes to be a FEMALE game changer.” – LeeAnne Locken, TV Host/Actress/Author

“So honored that I had the opportunity of attending an Against the Grain event hosted by the remarkable Tammy Nguyen. The wealth of talent in the room was unmeasurable. Every single guest can contest to walking away from the flawless event being inspired, motivated, and driven to DREAM BIG.” – Yasmeen Tadia, CEO & Founder, Fluffpop

“So inspired to be surrounded by brilliant, powerful Asian American women leaders who are passionate about their careers and fostering the dreams of women around them.” – Karen Liu Pang, Director of Business Administration and Process Effectiveness, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

“Congratulat[ions on] a successful event. The panelists were impressive, informative and a lot of fun. I am glad that we could be a partner and host.” – Jill VanGordon, Director of Education, Crow Collection of Asian Art


Going Against The Grain: Kim Phan


Kim Phan is a passionate gamer, producer, and community figure in the video game industry. She is currently Senior Manager of eSports at Blizzard Entertainment and is known for her love, passion, and dedication in the competitive and professional gaming scene. What started out as a hobby, later turned into a professional career for Kim when she accepted a job at Blizzard Entertainment in 2006.

She was born and raised in Texas where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining Blizzard, she worked as a software engineer for six years at companies such as Alcatel USA and Garrett Electronics.

Kim began playing console games at the age of five and was first introduced to PC games in college. The first PC game to really grab her attention was StarCraft: Brood War. She later immersed herself in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, which is where her interest in professional gaming emerged. In 2003, she started commentating Warcraft III games, a practice known then as “shoutcasting.” Her insightful and light-hearted commentary captured the attention of many fans in the eSports community, who came to know Kim by the gamer tag “bunny.” She branched out further into the scene when she took ownership and ran one of the biggest and most popular Warcraft III community fan sites, WCReplays.com. She also joined United 5, a professional North American organization, to manage their Warcraft III team for competitive leagues. Kim managed all of this eSports activity during her free time while maintaining a full-time career as a software developer.

kim_shoutcastingAll that community work for video games opened a new door for Kim when Blizzard Entertainment invited her to shoutcast their Warcraft III tournament at BlizzCon in 2005. The following year, she was offered a production job at Blizzard to work on their Online Technologies team, and she continued to moonlight as a Warcraft III shoutcaster at BlizzCon and Blizzard Worldwide Invitational events. She has also taken on roles as a host, interviewer, and reporter for DIRECTV at BlizzCon events. Kim’s positions at Blizzard included production leader and manager of a security development team, and today, she leads the Blizzard eSports team. She followed her passion, devoted her time doing what she loved, and landed the job of her dreams.

During her spare time, Kim enjoys rock climbing, cycling, snowboarding, camping, and playing video games. She currently resides in Orange County with her dog Gizmo and can be followed on Twitter @kimaphan.

Full Name:
Kim A. Phan

Dallas, Texas

Current City:
Tustin, CA


What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Besides it being the proper way to cut your meat, you should always “Go Against The Grain” to make your life as tenderly awesome as possible, keeping it just the way YOU like it! Take it in bite-sized chunks if you have to, but don’t do what everyone else expects you to do. No one wants a chewy, boring life because that’s tough to swallow. Ultimately, do what you want or think is best for you. To me, it means to challenge myself, to keep an open mind and to never let anyone or anything limit me.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the video game industry?

When I realized how talented, passionate and awesome the people are in the video game industry. We all share the same interests and geek out about the same things. There was never a moment when I made a decision to get into this industry. Instead, I focused on the things that made me successful in my life – determination, knowledge, organization, communication and optimism. Once you level up in these areas, you can apply it to any career.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

The only challenges I faced in my career as an Asian American was trying to meet the expectations of my family. I don’t think they would have been supportive of me pursuing a profession in video games from the start, which is why I chose a job in software engineering. The experience and success I gained from having a “normal” and “acceptable” occupation, made it easier for me to prove to my family that I can do just about anything.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

This might sound silly, but my biggest accomplishment is believing in myself, which has allowed me to do everything I’m most passionate about in life. I’m my biggest cheerleader.

What’s up next?

To help take eSports to the next level and have it one day be a mainstream sport, like football, basketball or tennis. I also want to continue traveling the world and exploring the many different cultures to help me become a better human being.

Quote to live by: “It is never too late to be what we might have been.” – George Eliot

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Snake/Virgo

Passionate about: Family, eSports, video games, food and rock climbing

Favorite food: I really can’t pick a favorite. I love food!

Can’t live without: My dog Gizmo and natural source of Vitamin D! I’m solar-powered.

What does it mean to you to be asked to participate at Groundbreakers Speak? What do you hope to accomplish or for the audience to take away?

I am very grateful and honored to be a guest panelist at the Groundbreakers Speak and even more geeked out that I get to represent the gaming community! I hope to inspire others with my story and have the audience walk away learning and knowing more about eSports.

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