APIO National Council


Executive Board

President - Han Nguyen

Name: Wallace Jennings III
Title: Soil Conservationist
Office: Tangent, OR
Phone: (541) 801-2668 

Email: wallace.jennings@or.usda.gov


Wallace Jennings is from Tutuila, the principal island of American Samoa. He holds a B.S. in Agriculture and Community Development from New Mexico State University. As a Soil Conservationist for the USDA-NRCS, he helps landowners in Benton County and Linn County develop, implement, and improve ways to use land that sustains its productive capacity and enhances the environment to benefit wildlife. He began his career with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as a volunteer in 2001. He was an NRCS intern in 2008 – 2010. From 2011 – 2017 he served as a state Special Emphasis Program Manager. Wallace was recently accepted for collateral duty to be an instructor for the National Employee Development Center. He and his wife own/operate Island Time Catering known for serving generous portions of food and introducing customers to the food and culture of the Pacific Islands. They both have Polynesian connections that brought their vision of ethnic food to the city of Corvallis. Wallace has a broad knowledge of Pacific Islander cuisine. Many of the recipes he shares and develops come from his family in the Pacific Islands.

Vice-President - Yuri Plowden

Name: Yuri Plowden
Title: Ecological Site Specialist
Office: Mill Hall, PA
Phone: (570) 726-3106 Ext. 101

Email: Yuri.Plowden@pa.usda.gov

Yuri Plowden has been with NRCS since 2002, first as a soil scientist and now as an Ecological Site Specialist. She has spent most of her career mapping soils in central and north central Pennsylvania, as well as doing a four month initial soil survey detail in Maine. Her ecological work takes her to areas throughout the Ridge and Valley region of the Northern Appalachians including sites in PA, WV, MD, and VA.  She has served as the eastern representative for APIO and most recently chaired the APIO Conference Committee for 2015 and 2016.  She was also Pennsylvania’s AAPI Special Emphasis Program Manager for 6 years.  Yuri grew up in Bethesda, MD, and spent much of her youth white water kayaking.  She graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a degree in geology and later received her master’s degree in agronomy with an emphasis on soils from the University of Maryland.  She raised two children and she and her husband now live in State College, PA.

 Treasurer - Erin Taylor

Name: Erin Taylor
Title: Soil Conservationist
Office: Eureka, CA
Phone: (707)832-5597

Email: Erin.Taylor@ca.usda.gov


Erin Taylor Bio coming soon!

Executive Vice-President - Vacancy




Article X – Nomination and Elections


Any member of the organization seeking the office of Executive Vice President & Regional Representative shall file and intention to run in writing with the Elections Committee 90 days prior to election.

Secretary - Sara Tanuvasa

Name: Sarah Tanuvasa
Title: District Conservationist
Office: Mt. Vernon, WA
Phone: (360) 428-7684

Email: Sarah.Tanuvasa@wa.usda.gov


"Aloha mai kakou, my name is Sarah Tanuvasa and I would first like to thank APIO for allowing me to serve in this capacity and letting me be part of achieving the goals of the APIO.  A little about myself, I was born and raised in Hawaii and my mom is a Native Hawaiian/Filipino and my dad is a Native Samoan from American Samoa. I started with NRCS as an intern in 2005 as a soil conservationist in the big island of Hawaii and graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. I have worked in Hawaii, American Samoa, Oregon, California and currently Washington. I love hiking, kayaking and canoeing. I am very honored to be on the APIO national council and look forward to working with and getting to know of all of you!"


National Council Advisor

Sudhakhar Sriparameswaran

Name: Sudhakhar Sriparameswaran
Title: Branch Chief
Office: Fort Worth, TX
Phone: 817-509-3260



Sudhakhar Sriparameswaran Bio coming soon!

Regional Representatives

 East/NHQ - Jewel McKenzie

Name: Jewel McKenzie
Title: Management Analyst (RCPP)
Office: Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 205-6130

Email: Jewel.McKenzie@wdc.usda.gov


Jewel started her career with NRCS in Connecticut working in Hartford and Tolland Counties and getting to learn the varied landscapes, food sources, and producers in her home-state. Her interest in working on community-based projects brought Jewel to Rochester, Minnesota where she worked with the Hiawatha Valley Council on the Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Program. From there, Jewel boomeranged back to New England and had the opportunity to work on the 2010 Decennial Census as a Partnership Specialist with the US Department of Commerce.

In 2010, Jewel moved up to the beautiful southeastern seacoast of New Hampshire. Here, she pursued her Master’s Degree at the University of New Hampshire while working part-time in the NRCS State Office. After completing her graduate program (with a focus on the role of farmers’ markets in the area), she went full-time with NH NRCS’ field staff. Jewel had the opportunity to be part of a cadre designing a NEDC course on effective outreach to AAPI producers.


At the end of September 2015, Jewel joined the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) team and moved to the DC metro area.  Throughout Jewel’s service with the federal government, she has been involved with APIO – as a SEPM, the National Council’s Secretary, and is a Lifetime Member. Jewel is excited to return to serve the APIO as the East Regional Representative and hopes to foster the sense of community that she found so valuable and add to the organization’s presence and impact.

Jewel holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and Resource Economics from the University of Connecticut and a M.S. in Resource Management & Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Midwest - SeeSeei Ioane

Name: SeeSeei Ioane
Title: Soil Conservationist
Office: Warrensburg, MO
Phone: (660) 747-8400

Email: Seeseei.ioane@mo.usda.gov


Se’ese’ei (Seh-eh-seh-ey) Ioane

Midwest Regional Rep


Born and grew up in American Samoa.

Started as Earth team volunteer in American Samoa Field Office.

Graduated college at UH Hilo, Hawaii.

Worked in Field Office Cape Girardeau, MO and Plant Materials Center Elsberry, MO

Currently working with NRCS Wetland Office in Warrensburg, MO as Soil Conservationist.

Enjoying the pretty, friendly, laid back Midwest life.

Pacific Islands Area East - Laila Jayyousi

Northern Plains - Thomas Tran

Name: Thomas Tran
Title: Soil Conservationist
Office: Sisseton, SD
Phone: (605) 698-7639 ext. 3

Email: Thomas.Tran@sd.usda.gov


Thomas Tran got a major in Environmental Science at University of Washington in March 2008. After graduation, he started his conservation career on September 14, 2008 as a biologist career intern for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. On October 7, 2012, his title was changed from a biologist to a soil conservationist. 

Thomas grew up on a small farm in South Vietnam, where the majority of its agriculture was rice plantation. In contrast, in South Dakota where he is currently working, people plant mostly soybeans, corns, and wheat in their farming operations.


He would like to travel and move to other states to learn about their agriculture and challenges in the near future. He is currently looking for any detail opportunities in other states. He always wants to learn and explore new things.


He and his family came to the United States in 1996, and he did not know any English and American cultures at the time. It was tough for him to fit in and got assimilated in American cultures at first.


However, he has been received a lot of assistance and mentorship to be able to become what he is today. He is very grateful and appreciated for those who had helped and have been helping him. He believes it is his turn now to help others. He has been working and supporting the diversity workforce in our agency by outreaching to the minority population and working with our leaders to reduce barriers so that the minority people will have a better chance to compete. That’s why he decided to run for the Asian American Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager in South Dakota in 2011 and got elected for the position. Now he is elected for the Asian Pacific Islander Organization (APIO) Northern Plains regional representative because he believes that the more network and partnership he builds will benefit both the APIO community and the agency as a whole. 


He loves sightseeing and travelling to different states and other countries. In his spare time, he likes gardening, watches movies, and explores and learns more about Buddhism.

Name: Laila Jayyousi
Title: Soil Conservationist
Office: Hilo, HI
Phone: (808) 933-8354

Email: Laila.Jayyousi@HI.usda.gov

Laila Jayyousi is a Soil Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Laila’s professional goal is to protect Hawai’i’s natural and cultural resources while assisting farmers, rancher, foresters and land owners who want to put conservation on the ground. Laila also considers herself to be a women of character because she supports her family, friends, clients, colleagues and her community in every way she can. As long as she is able, she is willing to do whatever she can to help make positive changes for the world and people around her. Her leadership philosophy is to foster a positive work environment, be an advocate for her clients and the environment and to do the best job with what she has.

Pacific Islands Area West - Martin Naputi

Name: Martin Naputi
Office: Saipan
Phone: (670) 236-0888

Email: Martin.Naputi@pb.usda.gov


Martin Naputi's Bio coming soon!

West - Vacancy

Name: Han Nguyen
Title: Supervisory District Conservationist
Office: Atwood, Kansas
Phone: (785) 626-3149 ext. 335

Email: Han.Nguyen@usda.gov



Han Nguyen is a Florida native and has worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service since 2010. He has worked as a soil conservationist in Yuba City, CA and is now the supervisory district conservationist in Atwood, KS. Han has served as the western region representative before becoming president of APIO.


In his spare time, he loves to go traveling, hiking, and smoking meat. A few of his favorite shows include Derek, Parks and Recreation and Casual.

South - Vacancy



Article X – Nomination and Elections


Any member of the organization seeking the office of Executive Vice President & Regional Representative shall file and intention to run in writing with the Elections Committee 90 days prior to election.

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