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AAPI Heritage Month

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Month (AAPI), Suns Legacy Partners are celebrating members of our team who represent their AAPI heritage and our organization with pride. We sat down with five of our employees – Alisa Nakashima, Anita Tasavanh, Isabel Guerra, Jason Chey, and Marc Garcia – to discuss their roles, AAPI heritage, and advice for others looking to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry.

Alisa Nakashima – Director of Event Services

Alisa Nakashima – Director of Event Services

Tell us about your role within the organization.

I currently serve as the Director of Event Services overseeing our Guest Services team and event operations. I also work with our building partners to respond to and resolve escalated guest issues and to ensure that we are working together to provide the best guest experience at every event at our venue.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

What I enjoy most is the role we have in positively impacting not only our guests’ experience, but our team members’ experiences as well. We can change the course of an experience, and I love supporting our team members in that positive effort. I also enjoy the variety of events that we host – no day is the same as the next.

What is your favorite memory from your time here?

My favorite memory is last season’s run through the playoffs. We returned to public events after the pandemic, opened a newly renovated building, and slowly increased the number of guests we welcomed as we continued through the postseason. To experience all of that with the guest services team members and our building operations teams was special knowing how rare it can be, particularly with those who were here the last time the Suns were in the playoffs. Hoping that the outcome is much different this year!

How do you celebrate your AAPI heritage?

I am a fourth generation Japanese American whose family members were relocated to internment camps during the war. Many of my family members didn’t share their experiences before they passed on, and as part of a military family that moved a lot, I didn’t have much exposure to other AAPI cultures. I can remember family events during the summer and around the holidays featuring traditions and celebrations of our history and culture.

What advice would you offer AAPI community members who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

My advice to the AAPI community is to gain exposure to several aspects of the industry because you never know where you’ll find the right fit. I never thought I could work in sports if I wasn’t a professional athlete. I am grateful that I’ve been able to connect my love of sports and guest service and build a career that I didn’t know was possible. Also, regardless of your position in any organization, you can make a difference in the career journey of someone else. It’s essential to lift others up and celebrate their successes. I appreciate Suns Legacy Partners for recognizing its AAPI community and celebrating our contributions.

Anita Tasavanh – VP of Business Intelligence and Analytics

Anita Tasavanh – VP of Business Intelligence and Analytics

Tell us about your role within the organization.

I am the Vice President of Business Intelligence and Analytics, which means I run a team full of wildly talented people who focus on generating insights for different parts of the business. We primarily focus on partnership analytics, CRM, and pricing strategy. We help distill and translate complex data into actionable insights for the business.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love that each day is so unique. You may go into each day or week with a plan and have to make many adjustments based on the fast pace of the business. With something as dynamic as ticket pricing, a visiting team may turn into a hot commodity overnight and we need to capitalize on that momentum.

What is your favorite memory from your time here?

The Finals are my favorite memory here. The palpable excitement of the city was unreal. Unlike the Super Bowl, it’s a series so you are able continue to create a championship atmosphere for multiple games, so the excitement lingers. It was especially memorable because how playoff starved this city was at that time.

How do you celebrate your AAPI heritage?

I celebrate my AAPI heritage by highlighting some of the unique celebrations that my culture has. For instance, the Southeast Asian New Year – celebrated in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar – is in April, and I love sharing our traditions with others. I find that people are often curious and always want to learn more.

What advice would you offer AAPI community members who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

Oftentimes people of color and women of color in particular don't utilize their network as much as they can. Ask for that informational interview, have that coffee chat, make that connection. We are always willing and happy to help the younger generation navigate the corporate ladder and guide them to success.

Isabel Guerra – Manager of Brand Marketing

Isabel Guerra – Manager of Brand Marketing

Tell us about your role within the organization.

I am the Phoenix Suns Brand Marketing Manager! My primary role is to hold the integrity of our brand while pushing the envelope to see how we can better market ourselves. To accomplish this, I work alongside other functions to take an initiative from the start of conceptualization to the final stages of execution. Depending on the initiative, I can be the creative director or the event manager. I get to wear quite a few hats in my role – keeps it entertaining!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

This is a two-part answer for me, one being my coworkers and the other being the creativity in my role. I am fortunate enough to touch a lot of different functions and work with some of the most talented people in the industry. I get to learn from different experts with video, social, to digital that is invaluable for my own growth. The other element I really enjoy is the creativity – whatever I can come up with for an initiative, I get to make happen. It’s really exciting to have the ability to come up with a concept and see it come to life.

What is your favorite memory from your time here?

Oh, there are so many that come to mind. I’ve worked here for a good chunk of my life and had some of the craziest experiences here from personal to professional. But through all of that, I would have to say 20-21 NBA Playoffs last season takes the cake. It was my first playoff season and we made it all the way to the FINALS! Getting to experience that firsthand is something I will always remember. It was absolutely electrifying. Some people in their entire NBA career never get to experience that and I am so thankful that I did.

How do you celebrate your AAPI heritage?

The biggest way I personally celebrate my AAPI heritage is through my family. I am a second generation Filipino American, so a lot of my traditions have been formed from my family and parents passed down to me. Anytime we can gather through parties, holidays, or even just lunch and dinner, I feel like I am celebrating my heritage. Just the pure richness of the conversations and food make me feel a connection to my Filipino roots.

What advice would you offer AAPI community members who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

My best advice I can give to anyone from the AAPI community looking to break into the sports industry is not to get discouraged. It’s a grind and a lot of the time you don’t see people who look like you or from the same cultural background, but just because you don’t physically see it, doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Keep working hard, don’t be afraid to be yourself, and speak up. Don’t ever lose your voice!

Jason Chey – Assistant Director of Ticket Operations

Jason Chey – Assistant Director of Ticket Operations

Tell us about your role within the organization.

Currently my role includes building the Suns single game events such as preseason, regular season and playoffs games. I also oversee the Ticket Operations event staff along with a few full-time employees who manage the day-to-day operations in the ticket office and our accounting department.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

My ticket office family. This group brought me in eight years ago and inspired me to not only be a ticketing professional, but a great human being.

What is your favorite memory from your time here?

Garth Brooks in 2015. I got the opportunity to go on stage with Garth Brooks and a handful of employees to shoot the confetti cannon into the crowd.

How do you celebrate your AAPI heritage?

We take the time to acknowledge where we came from and the path my family took to get to this point. My family fled the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide. I was born in a refugee camp along the Thai-Cambodian border. We have a strong place in history that hasn’t been talked about enough. My parents gave my sister and I an opportunity they never had growing up. Even though it’s hard to discuss this part of their past, my parents understand the importance of passing down our heritage to my nephew, Jayden, and my son, Leon, when he’s old enough.

What advice would you offer AAPI community members who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

Be proud of who you are and what your goals are. As a son of immigrant parents, I thought law and medicine was the only path to success, although I found a passion for sports at an early age. That passion drove me to where I am now, and I grew up a Suns fan so it’s easy to be excited for what I do professionally.

Marc Garcia – Account Executive, Arena Sports Group

Marc Garcia – Account Executive, Arena Sports Group

Tell us about your role within the organization.

I work on the Sales and Service team for the Arena Sports Group. I essentially focus on the three properties in the building, so the Phoenix Mercury, Phoenix Suns, and Arizona Rattlers. I sell new clients for each property and also service current season ticket members. My job is to make sure they have the best experience possible while they are season ticket members!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

As a basketball junkie, being around the NBA and WNBA is a dream. I grew up watching and playing basketball and being around the highest level is a blessing. I get paid to watch basketball…how can I not love that?

What is your favorite memory from your time here?

My favorite memory has to be the road trips we took during the NBA and WNBA Finals. Even though we lost both games, the experience is something that I will never forget. The memories made on both of those trips make working in sports worth it!

How do you celebrate your AAPI heritage?

By constantly educating people about my heritage and where my family came from. There are not a lot of Filipinos in Arizona as a whole, so introducing them to the culture, lifestyle, and food (which is FIRE) is something I love doing. But also letting them know how blue collar the Filipino and Asian American culture is as a whole. At the end of the day, you have to be prideful of where you come from and do it for those who came before you!

What advice would you offer AAPI community members who are striving to succeed in the sports and entertainment industry?

Keep grinding and make as many connections as you can. Most of the time, it’s more about who you know than what you know! Also, just because something did not go your way at the beginning, don’t get discouraged. Keep chasing that goal whether it’s working in sports and entertainment or not. I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason! There are not a lot of AAPIs in sports, so that should motivate you to work harder!

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