2017 Speaker Bios

gopalVC Gopalratnam (Gopal) is Cisco’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) for its International Operations (APJC, EMEAR and LATAM) and Senior Vice President of Information Technology. He is also the leader for Global IT Services, guiding the vision and strategy for key IT enablers across the organization in the areas of Employee Services & Experience, Global Workforce Planning & Operations, Vendor Management and Application Support. In addition, he serves as Chief of Strategy, Planning, and Operations for Cisco India, managing infrastructure development and operations, university relations, and company priorities of inclusion and diversity, compliance and corporate social responsibilities.  

A core member of Cisco’s executive leadership team in India and the region, Gopal has worked in the technology industry for more than 25 years with leading multinational corporations. He serves on the Board of the Cisco Foundation and leads the India Civic Council Board. 

Before joining Cisco in 2007, Gopal was the business leader of the Global Analytics practice at General Electric Capital International Services. Prior to that role, he led GE’s Global e-Engineering/Collaborative Engineering practice.

Gopal holds Masters Degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Risk Management, and an MBA in MIS/Finance. 


 rogerAntonette Ligons
Program Manager, Information Technology, Cisco Systems, San Jose

Antonette Ligons, Program Manager, is a leading diversity advocate within Cisco. Antonette is known for leading transformational efforts that ensure employees are connected with their hearts and minds to organizational vision and strategy.

She previously led Inclusion and Collaboration for IT where her work concentrated on amplifying the hiring and retention of women and people of color within the IT community. 

Currently Antonette is the Program Manager for Men for Inclusion (MFI), focusing on engaging men to become better inclusive leaders within Cisco.

Antonette holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology and has worked at Cisco for 10 years.


rogerRoger Nadeau 
Director, Information Technology, Cisco Systems, San Jose

Roger Nadeau is the Chief of Staff/Business Operations Director for Global IT Services organization, responsible for providing global vision and execution for all employee-facing IT services, devices, as well as providing application support for over 1800 applications. 

Roger has worked in the technology industry for 25 years and has led teams in the areas of Network Infrastructure, Data Center, Support and Quality Assurance, Finance and Human Resources IT.  In addition, he worked for 3 years in the Human Resources area leading the Sales Recruitment function, Employee Services, and the creation of the Cisco University learning and development area.

Outside of the civilian section, Roger served 28 years in the United States Navy – 10 years on active duty and an additional 18 years in the Navy Reserve. His last duty assignment was as the Commanding Officer of Logistic Task Force Pacific.  

Roger holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lewis & Clark College, and an MBA with Procurement & Contracting concentration from The George Washington University.


dorothyDorothy Ngutter assumed her duties as Diplomat in Residence for the Northwest Region (Alaska, northern California, Oregon, Washington) in August 2016. 

With more than 15 years of international and domestic experience in the U.S. Diplomatic Service, Dorothy most recently represented the U.S. Department of State as a National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.  Prior to the fellowship, Dorothy was the Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Before heading to Turkey, she was a special assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Amb. William J. Burns.
Dorothy also has served overseas as a Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium and a Consular and Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali. In Washington, she worked as the Peru Desk Officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and as a Watch Officer in the State Department’s 24/7 crisis management center. 

Dorothy earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communication Studies from Northeastern University in Boston, and holds a Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy (MALD) from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.



Amari Romero-Thomas
Principal Consultant and Executive/Soul Coach

Prior to creating Mosaic, Amari spent over 20 years in the non-profit and corporate sectors as a Senior Consultant, Executive Director, Philanthropy executive, VP of Sales, Human Resources Manager, and numerous other managerial positions.  Most recently she was Senior Consultant for La Piana Consulting, Senior Vice President for Community Building and Impact for the United Way of Silicon Valley and Executive Director for Sacred Heart Community Services.  She also held consulting positions at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, Drake Beam Morin Consultancy, and the Covey Leadership Center.

Amari holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University with a special emphasis in International Relations. She is an Advanced Soul Coaching Practitioner, a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum, and a member of the San Jose Downtown Rotary Club.  In addition, she is bilingual in Spanish and bicultural having been born in Santiago, Chile.

Amari’s warm and effective style allows her to build rapport easily and quickly with all levels of employees. This is essential in working with groups, on issues of culture and re-alignment as well as individual coaching.  She brings her years of business, consulting, and coaching experience to bear on issues in a thoughtful and practical way.



Ben Sihota

Recently retired from Stanley Black and Decker, a diversified industrial S&P 500 company with $12 billion in revenues, headquartered in Connecticut, USA.

Ben has held senior roles in the company, most recently as Senior Vice President-Corporate. He was an elected Corporate Officer, and a member of the Corporate Operating Committee. He reported to the CEO of the company.

In his previous roles as President-Emerging Markets Group, and President-Asia-Pacific,  Ben's extensive experience has included full P&L responsibility for developing and overseeing company's operations in China, India, Japan, Korea, Middle East, Africa, ANZ, ASEAN, Russia, and Turkey. In addition, he has held senior roles in strategic planning, business development, and product management in Europe, and North America.

Ben's track record has included successful start-ups, turn-arounds, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and integration in both the B2B and B2C space. Ben is a results oriented multi-cultural leader who has a unique ability to build world class leadership teams with multicultural and multifunction perspectives, offering global, innovative solutions, without boundaries.

Ben received his Business Management degree from California State University, and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.


michelleMichelle Acosta

Michelle is a senior at SJSU, graduating in Spring 2018 with a Bachelors in Business Marketing and a Minor in Graphic Design. She is passionate about Marketing and all things creative, and aspires to be a CMO or other similar role for a large firm–possibly even her own. She currently works as a Marketer for two firms, and is also active in contributing her skills in the non-profit sector. Michelle is a 2017 Salzburg Scholar. When she’s not developing businesses and marketing strategies, you'll find her singing at a karaoke spot or up on stage with a live band. 


nobukiNobuki Fujioka

Graduating in Spring 2018, Nobuki is a senior Business Administration major with an emphasis in Business Analytics. During his time at San Jose State University, he studied abroad in Toyko, Japan, where he attended Waseda University for two semesters. Apart from his experience studying abroad, Nobuki is also active on campus, holding a number of leadership roles. He is currently the Vice President of the Advancement Institute for Management (AIM) and continues to work with students as a Peer Leader at the Jack Holland Student Success Center. 


d lemaDana Lema

Dana is a graduate student at San Jose State University pursuing her MLIS degree with anticipated graduation in the Spring of 2018. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from Utah State University. She is currently a student assistant in the Special Collections Department at the SJSU Martin Luther King Jr. Library. She participated in the Salzburg Scholar program in Summer of 2017. She enjoys reading, hiking, geocaching, singing and traveling.


thannaThanna Makdsi

Thanaa is a senior graduating in Spring 2018 with a major in Finance and minor in Applied Computing. She’s very passionate about finance and investment, and has been very involved in the finance and investment community at SJSU since becoming a student two years ago. She founded the Silicon Valley Fund, a student-managed investment fund that focuses on investing in Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area companies. Thanaa is also the lead student organizer for the CFO Alumni Network Event, a great networking event where our alumni CFO and students meet and build a relationship for mentorship and leadership guidance. She loves to go camping every year, and her favorite sport is tennis. She plans to work in finance and investments after graduating, and she always welcomes the opportunity to talk to members in a 1:1 setting to learn more about them and provide any help and mentorship they may need.