The remarkable journey and lessons of Lisa Loo, ASU General Counsel

The remarkable journey and lessons of Lisa Loo, ASU General Counsel

Arizona State University is a public institution that has a total undergrad enrollment of 41,828, exists in the urban setting of Tempe, Arizona on a campus of 661 acres. U.S. News & World Report named ASU the #1 university for innovation in the country, ahead of both MIT and Stanford. Arizona State University is ranked #507 in ethnic diversity nationwide with a student body composition that is above the national average. (Source). Lisa Loo is its Vice President of Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel. On June 10, she will receive the Social Justice Award at the Positively Powerful Woman Awards.

Given the size, diversity, business interests and complexity of Arizona State University, the legal responsibilities that Lisa Loo must manage as Vice President of Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel would be daunting if she had not already faced significant trials and tribulations in her journey to the corporate offices of this great American university.

Public institutions of higher education manifest legal and operational characteristics that make them different from private institutions….Given the size and complexity of the typical college and the litigious environment in which they operate, virtually every college in the United States regularly uses the services of a lawyer.  (Source).

Persisting despite adversity, Lisa immigrated to the United States with her family as a young child where they lived in New York City. She faced the educational trauma of being told not to speak Chinese in school and overcame this to advance from the remedial to the advanced level in grade school. When her father died, she helped her widowed mother raise her fellow siblings. After putting herself through college, she attended law school and became a leader in a profession where women and people of color are woefully underrepresented. On the way, she acquired a NYC journalism background which was to shape her commitment to social justice and commitment to social causes. 

az bar

President Lisa Loo, center, and the other State Bar of Arizona officers, 2016-17. L to R: President-Elect Alex Vakula, Second Vice President Steve Hirsch, President Lisa Loo, First Vice President Jeff Willis, and Secretary-Treasurer Brian Furuya.

She served as Vice President of Victory Together, the coalition that primarily and successfully advocated for the Arizona statewide MLK Jr./Civil Rights Day.  She also served on the board of Harmony, Inc., a coalition of business, civic, and political leaders working to remove barriers to advancement in businesses and governmental institutions, and on the State Advisory Council to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  She has also served on numerous advisory councils to various Arizona governors and attorney generals and on numerous governmental and law-related committees. She has been recognized by the State Bar of Arizona for advancing equal opportunity in the legal profession and also as the 1993 Outstanding Young Lawyer. In 2016, Lisa was elected the President of the Bar Association that regulates Arizona’s more than 24,000 attorneys.  She is a founding board member of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association and a founding planning member of the Arizona Minority Bar Conference. 

Lisa Loo is a mentor to others and a support to the students of Arizona State University. She is a proud mother and has received her black belt in tae kwon do. 

Lessons from Lisa Loo:

  • What is social justice?  Everyone has a right to justice. Everyone should have the right to full opportunity. A person can make an impact when they are part of the conversation when laws and policies were made.
  • Things aren’t challenges, things are what you have in front of you.
  • Coming to America meant hope and opportunity. Some opportunities are easy to accomplish, some are harder. When you have an opportunity, say “yes” and the decide what to do with that choice.
  • You must be disciplined and that takes energy

Powerful Woman Awards (PPWA) to be held at the Desert Botanical Garden beginning with the reception at 5 p.m., followed by the 2017 awards presentations. The mission of the Awards is to “celebrate the accomplishments of women in ways that empower all people to live their dreams”. Register now and prepare to be informed and inspired.

dr joel martin

Dr. Joel P. Martin

The Positively Powerful Awards and Programs are hosted by Founder and Executive Producer, Dr. Joel P. Martin, President of Triad West, Inc. which provides corporations with specialist support in executive coaching, leadership development, diversity, inclusion and cultural competency.

2017 Positively Powerful Woman Awards Sponsors

Being Acknowledged

Being Acknowledged

Don't Ignore Us - What the 2016 Election Taught Us

by Pauline Sandell

I’ve been meditating on my strong emotional reactions to the election, escalating those reactions by looking at some of the “stuff” on Facebook before I got a grip on myself to stop feeding those reactions and engage my capacity to look at a bigger picture (which I can do really well when I chose). I just want to share them with you all.

Those who came out to vote for Trump have been heard (or “seen”). There is clearly a huge number of Americans who feel their need for attention has not been met and the only person on a public platform who has given them even a glimpse of a possibility that they might be even acknowledged – seems to be Donald Trump. Whether he can deliver or not – they are willing to take a risk because he acknowledged their need.

I understand how it feels to not to be seen, heard or acknowledged repeatedly and consistently. It sucks!

This is not a comment or opinion about the politics (as a Brit , tho I live in the US, I cannot vote here yet). This is an observation about being human and the human condition – the need to feel like we matter, that we count is primal. To feel ignored, talked at, exploited at best – manipulated and powerless – at worst – I think, forces one to do whatever it takes to be “seen” and “heard”.

Whatever my own beliefs and views – all I can say is I understand (and worked with populations) who know first-hand how it feels to not to be seen, heard or acknowledged repeatedly and consistently. It sucks!

What this election and the Brexit phenomenon may be reflecting is that huge numbers of the population showed up to say “I want to be counted – literally (I want to be seen and heard).

We have a system called democracy that allows that. Some other parts of the world don’t. Does the system always work the way we think it should? Hell no! But it mostly serves us (or we make do) – but then comfort encouraged benign “righteousness” may lead to the belief that the system is working for everyone. Clearly, from this election, it seems the system is not!

The fact that we have a system (however imperfect) that gives people who may feel they have no voice the option to be heard, in my view is still pretty progressive. I can certainly celebrate and feel good about that!

Pauline Sandell

Pauline Sandell

Personal Coach and Writer

Who will be this year’s Positively Powerful Women? One may be your nominee.

2014 PPW Group PhotoAs you think back on our her-story, what women have been “A Positively Powerful Woman”? If there were a special award for this, with social media available to share her story, her organization, the nonprofits she supports and the commitments that motivate her; plus a gala recognizing her leadership as part of a transformational program, who would you nominate? We want to know. Answer the questions below. And thank you!

One easy quick action…

Our Positively Powerful Woman Awards shine a light on women who are making a difference and the causes that matter to them. Attendance at the Awards program is open to the general public – women, men and families. For 8 years, this program has provided inspiration, motivation, empowerment and connections to build businesses and professional careers and skills to be a transformational leader anywhere in the world. We shine a light on our honorees in PR, print, websites and social media to empower all people to live their dreams. And we’ve won an award as one the Best Events for Women from Stevie International.

We all make a difference. The question is what kind of difference do we chose to make?

Please answer the three questions below in our comments section. We want to know what you think and who inspires you by her example. And again, thank you.

  1. What makes a woman positively powerful?
  2. Who do you nominate to be an honoree at the 2016 Positively Powerful Woman Awards?
  3. What about them fits this definition for you?

If you want to know about our past recipients, see the photos and videos and learn more about our programs, click here. 

Message from Joel Martin, PhD, Triad West Inc. & Founder:

The experience I want people to leave with at the end of every Positively Powerful Woman Program is that because they attended, their lives will never be the same but better, that they are closer to living their dreams than ever before, and they could as easily be on the stage as any of our recipients with the tools, access and resources that my team and I provide. Our intention is to “fire them up” so that they take action on the vision they have for what matters to them. That’s also my intention in every presentation I produce, speech I give or training I deliver.2016 FB PPWA Photo


2016 Positively Powerful Woman Awards Sponsors

Southwest Airlines
ABC 15
A Joyous Event
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For Smart Businesses, Language Is Never A Problem

For Smart Businesses, Language Is Never A Problem


“You don’t know how smart I am in my own language.”

I heard “Gloria” speak those words on Modern Family and it reminded me of a breakthrough training that I created. I had two teams of trainers, one Spanish-speaking the other English, and two sets of interpreters. The reason for this brave and valuable series of trainings was that 75% of the client’s workforce was Spanish speaking. It was important to me that the leadership alignment training to customer service, vision and values be SHARED equally and for all leaders to be recognized. The outcome was overwhelmingly successful.

how smart will I be

How smart will I be

If any of the people in your organization are thinking this statement and you don’t know it, your diversity & inclusion (D&I) dollars are evaporating. So too is your employee engagement and board outreach. 20.8 percent of the US population, about 60 million people, spoke a language other than English at home in the 2011 Census. Since then there have been major shifts of the demographics of the US. By the 2030s, say demographers, English language learners (ELLs) will account for approximately 40  percent of the entire school-aged population in the United States (source). In some areas, that projection is already exceeded – in California, for instance, 60 to 70 percent of schoolchildren speak a language other than English as their primary language..


One reason for including diversity & inclusion in your company’s HR plans: To recruit and retain more talent with the increasing growth and importance of globalism and diversity in the workforce.

Another client who is proactive and culturally proficient has a workforce that speaks Somalian, Spanish, Russian and other languages. They have a corps of trained interpreters to service their clients and patients. Health disparities are woven into the diversity trainings that I delivered to every new employee. Working with clients like the two mentioned here is a joy. They get it. They know how smart people are when given the chance to speak in their own language and English also.
What are you doing and what can you do to create greater inclusion for your workforce and customer or clients?

A Laboratory for Diversity and Globalization – The National Basketball Association (An Update)

laboratory for diversity

Over the last twenty years basketball, USA style, has been changing and anyone who is a true fan can see the reason why. Back in the 1980, players started to show up on the NBA hardwood floors who were big, could cross over with ball, and shoot from the 3 point line – Rick Smits, Tony Kukoc, Detlef Schrempf and many others. Most were considered not tough enough for the NBA ’cause we did basketball the right way. While big, they didn’t like to play with their backs to the basket like Patrick Ewing, Shaq and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That is not the story today. The game has changed and almost all of the change is the result of the continued influx of players from all over the globe. In fact teams comprised of all US-born players have had difficulty winning against teams formed with international players. Checking last year’s rosters there are 82 players from 38 countries. If you look closely, you will notice that most of the players belong to teams in the Western Conference. You will also notice that the Western Conference teams have a better win/lose record then those from the East. Many people say that the game, as played by the West’s teams, is a more entertaining game to watch and that they have better “teams”. Better teams? This confuses the mind. How can it be that players, some of who don’t have a strong command of English (Yao Ming may have an interpreter telling him what the coach says at times), didn’t go to the same church, have different dietary needs, listen to different music etc. and form a better team and a better product. Better teams produce a better product. Regardless of what kind of industry we work in, diverse teams produce a better product that appeals to a larger, global consumer and you can see it in action, every other night or so, on a basketball court.

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