Reinventing Yourself at Any Age

August 21, 2014


Julie Azuma

President, Different Roads to Learning, Inc.

In 1994, when her older daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of six, Julie left the apparel industry - which included positions at Jordache, Givenchy Sport, and Collegetown - to begin Different Roads to Learning, Inc., a niche business specializing in educational products for children diagnosed with autism. At the time, specialized educational materials for this population were unavailable so Julie put together a core group of products meant to help autistic children with learning and provide parents and professionals with education and support. For over 18 years, the company has supported, educated, and inspired teachers, families, and individuals affected by Autism worldwide.

Julie is the President of the Eden II and Genesis Foundation Board, an agency that works to educate and serve over 300 individuals diagnosed with autism from early intervention through their life span, to gain the highest possible quality of life. She has been honored for her Autism Advocacy and Asian American Community efforts many times. Currently, Julie serves as the Chairperson of the board for Asian Women in Business. She is also Vice President on the board of the Japanese American Association. 


Conlyn Chan

Founder & Ceo, Lawless Accessories

Conlyn Chan is the Founder and CEO of Lawless Accessories, a boutique handbag company born out of Conlyn's early exposure to art through her parents' collection of antiques, paintings, and sculptures. Known as a fashion house of unique handbags, Lawless Accessories has been featured in major press such as Vogue, Figaro, Tatler, InStyle, and Travel+Leisure. Celebrity fans include Eva Longoria, Blake Lively, Whitney Port, supermodel Xiao Wen, Miss Universe Roseline Luo, and Thai Prime Minister Yinluck.

Before founding Lawless Accessories in 2008, Conlyn worked as an international lawyer at the global law firm Hogan Lovells. While working as an attorney in New York, she could not forget her passion for design and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

She has been involved in many charities and non-profit groups, including China Beauty Fund and the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club. She served on the board and as Co-Chair of the Women's Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and also acted as Legal Counsel for the Shanghai Boat & Yacht Club. Currently, Conlyn is the Legal Chair and Board Member of the Asian Association of Alternative Investment Professionals (AAAIP).

Geetha Jayaraman

Owner, Grab 'Em Snacks

Geetha Jayaraman grew up in Malaysia where plantains were as common as potatoes in the United States. For Geetha, it was a treat to find fresh green plantains in New Jersey stores. After trying out some of the chips sold in "gourmet stores" through the '90s, she decided to make chips at home for all of her parties. In 2006, after 17 years as a financial analyst with Fortune 500 companies, she followed her chip-making passion and founded Grab 'Em Snacks. Starting with Sea Salt flavor, Grab 'Em Snacks added more flavors as they went along to cater to varying taste buds. Grab 'Em Snacks now has seven flavors ranging from Sea Salt, Cinful Cinnamon, Sweet & Salty, to FireMeUp Red Chili. Currently, the chips are available in specialty stores, gift basket companies, food service, as well as online through the Grab 'Em Snacks website. 

While looking for a larger commercial kitchen for the production, Geetha stumbled upon a space in Hillsborough, NJ that came with a retail space. In order to satisfy the township requirements to have a retail presence, Geetha opened a vegetarian cafe with vegan and gluten-free options - this is the genesis of her second venture Spoon and Sprout Cafe being operated as a D/B/A of Grab 'Em Snacks, LLC. They have proven that healthy vegetarian food can be delicious with a wide variety of choices. 



Christine Moran

Director of Business Development, CBS Local

 Christine is a graduate from Bryn Mawr College (BA cum laude), London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc with Merit), and Brooklyn Law School (JC cum laude). Following law school, Christine as an associate in the Energy Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance group, at White & Case LLP. In 2013, after five years at White & Case, she made the leap to digital media by taking a position as a Director in the Business Development group at CBS Local Digital Media, a division of CBS Radio, Inc. that manages the digital properties of CBS's 150+ owned and operated TB and radio stations across the country.

CBS Local Digital Media personalizes the global reach of CBS-owned and operated television and radio stations with a local perspective. Websites and mobile applications have been launched in 25 markets and provide consumers with the latest news, traffic, weather and sports headlines, as well as a question and answer service, daily CBS Local Offers, Best Of Guides, and business directories.

Cyrilla Suwarsa

Founder & Owner, Nuts + Nuts, USA, Inc.

Cyrilla Suwarsa came to the United States to go to the Rhode Island School of Design and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design. She began her career as a graphic designer at Swatch, moving on to become a senior designer at both Straightline International and Deplano Group.

Cyrilla grew up in Indonesia where she enjoyed snacking on some of the world's best cashews. After a visit back home, Cyrilla brought back cashews inspired by her grandmother's recipes which won raves from everyone who tried them. In 2008, Cyrilla decided to leave her graphic design career behind and launch Nuts + Nuts, a business that combined Indonesia's wonderful native cashews with the same local ingredients and roasting methods that her grandmother used.

Nuts + Nuts is a traceable roasted cashew nuts company that works directly with Indonesian cashew farmers. The direct relationship with the farming community guarantees the freshest, premium quality cashews on the market, while ensuring fair prices and wages to the farmers. Cyrilla's clients represent the finest boutique and luxury hospitality groups worldwide. Nuts + Nuts was featured as "100 Foods to Try" by the Food and Wine magazine in 2008 and recently as "Snack of the Day" by Rachael Ray.







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