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WEBINAR - Ascend Impact Series: Employee Engagement during COVID-19 – The ERG Perspective
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When: April 20, 2020
12:00 PM
Where: Zoom Webinar
United States

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Ascend Impact Series

Employee Engagement during COVID-19 – The ERG Perspective

Date: Monday, April 20, 2020

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST | Zoom Webinar


As the global community continues to assess and absorb the broad ranging effects of COVID-19, it is evident that this pandemic has led to significant challenges for businesses of all sizes, including having to adapt to new ways of conducting day-to-day operations. Increasing number of employers are shifting to work-from-home policy, allowing employees the flexibility to attend to domestic matters and to practice social distancing, in accordance with CDC’s guidelines. As businesses shift to this new “normal”, ERGs are showcasing resilience by stepping up and leaning in to lend a hand and converting these challenges into opportunities for positive impact.


Building on the five years of annual gatherings of ERG leaders, Ascend is proud to present this inaugural installment of Ascend Impact Series: Employee Engagement during COVID-19 – The ERG Perspective, where we will hear ERG leaders’ viewpoints from a cross-section of industries on:  


  • How has their industry been impacted by COVID-19?
  • How is their company responding to this pandemic?
  • What role are ERGs playing in addressing this challenge?
  • How have the ERG activities been impacted?
  • What has been the impact on employee engagement?
  • What are companies and ERGs doing to maintain company culture and spirit of teamwork?
  • What are some of the best practices ERGs can share to facilitate employee engagement during this difficult time?
  • How digital platforms are being leveraged for engagement activation especially for the upcoming Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May?

Click here to read about Ascend ERG Initiative



Joining from New York

Sara Porritt

Senior Director, Integrated Media Planning, and US Diversity & Inclusion Lead

Sara Baiyu Porritt is a Senior Director of Integrated Media Planning with over a decade of experience working with CPG and Telco giants, utilizing empathy as the language of data in crafting impactful media and investment strategies. Having thrived in many circumstances where she was “the only”, Sara champions and leads Diversity and Inclusion for OMD USA with the goal of cultivating a work culture where all ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and levels feel empowered to share their unique perspectives, and know that they are heard and valued. She believes it’s imperative that a brand’s story is the human story. 

In her spare time, Sara is dedicated to capturing and sharing stories of those who have also traversed the road not taken, and is the host and creator of Hear Us Roar⁠—a podcast featuring inspired conversations with fearless Asian women about how ideas and passions can ignite transformative journeys.

Fun fact: I won a chicken nugget eating contest by consuming 42 nuggets in 10 minutes!


Joining from Philippines

Stephanie Galera

Asia Pacific Talent and Skills Leader
BRG Leader and former Country Diversity and Inclusion Engagement Partner

Steph has been with IBM for more than 10 years, carrying with her varying experiences from Recruitment Delivery, Business Operations, Business Anaytics surrounding Solutioning and commercial account cost management.

She has had roles in the Talent Organization as a Talent and Engagement Partner focused on Careers and Skills, HR Communications, and Diversity.

She has been an advocate of D&I from the beginning and has joined and led existing Business Resource Groups in her country. She is an Out Role model and have been instrumental to the deployment of the Same-gender Domestic Partnership benefits in the Philippines. She is a strong supporter of IBM Design Thinking and Agile and hope to propagate many of the practices of Agile in all aspects of her work.

Fun fact: I play several musical instruments and have studied them extensively for more than 10 years


Joining from the U.K.

Lianna Brinded

Head of  Yahoo Finance UK
Global lead of elevAsian
Verizon Media

Lianna is the Head of Yahoo Finance UK overseeing all editorial operations, from breaking news and analysis, to exclusive journalism and original programming. Prior to Yahoo, she led the newsroom at Business Insider UK, was a Europe editor for Quartz, a TV producer CNBC, and worked at a range of titles for Dow Jones, and Incisive Media, among others. She is also a podcaster broadcaster, leading a premium video series for Yahoo Finance and contributes to US live programming. She is also a regular guest on the BBC and TalkRadio and takes part in a number of speaking events across Europe.

Fun fact: I am on a roller derby athlete



Karyne Nguyen

Joining from Texas 

Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility - Diversity & Inclusion
President of Asians in Motion ERG
Mr. Cooper Group

Karyne Nguyen is an Assistant Vice President in Corporate Social Responsibility at Mr. Cooper Group, where she focuses on fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the team member experience. In her role, she oversees and supports their seventeen employee resource teams, which encompass a presence in the United States and India.

At Mr. Cooper Group since 2011, she has also worked within their home loan servicing and compliance operations. Dedicated to fostering connections, creativity, and cultivating company culture, she serves as President of the Asians in Motion resource team and Director of their corporate choir, The C-Notes. Karyne also enjoys contributing to the North Texas community, where she regularly volunteers and serves as a Dallas Stars Foundation Difference Maker. Go beyond and make a positive impact wherever you go – this is a motto which drives Karyne in her career, volunteer activities, and life.

Fun Fact: I once attended a talk show taping in New York City, and sang "Happy Birthday" to the studio audience (someone was celebrating their 50th)!

Xiao-Dong Chen

Joining from New Jersey

Drug Product Development Team Leader
Workplace Lead of PAN Asian Network
Bristol Myers Squibb

As a drug product development team leader at BMS, Xiao-Dong is responsible for developing, recommending and implementing development strategies of parenteral drug product formulation, device and primary packaging, tech transfer to commercial manufacturing and registrational filing. Xiao-Dong is actively involved in professional and community services. He held various positions of increased responsibility at BMS PAN Asian Network.

He is currently leading PAN Workplace and responsible for building strategic partnerships and maintaining those partnerships for PAN. He is also serving as Executive Vice President of Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association. In addition, he is on the editorial advisory board of Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and invited as a reviewer for NIH contract proposals. He has advised two NSF funded projects and served as session chairs in AiChe, AAPS, SMi Lyo Annual Conferences. Xiao-Dong received his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University.

Fun Fact: I am a coin and paper money collector for 20 years.

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