Asian-American Women Leading the Business World

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), started off as only a week back in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration. Twelve years later, George H.W. Bush signed a bill to make the week a month, creating AAPIHM as we know it today. During AAPIHM we celebrate and appreciate the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, as well as their contributions. To celebrate the month coming to an end Walker’s Legacy is shouting out three marvelous Asian American women in business.


Mariko Carpenter

“My father told me that I would always be seen as Japanese no matter what I did..and that explained why no one looked like me on TV, in the movies, or in magazines. Luckily, that is not the narrative for my daughters today.”

Mariko Carpenter is the Vice President of Strategic Community Alliances at Nielsen. Her identity as a Japenese-American woman influences so much of her work. In her role she is given the ability to empower, inform, and uplift Asian Americans through advocacy. One of the ways she does this is by addressing marketers on the changing face of America, and the economic power and influence of Asian Americans in this country. Carpenter currently resides in Manhattan, New York with her two daughters. They can be proud of their mother’s active accomplishments to push for diversity and inclusion for Asian Americans


April Tam Smith

“I am fortunate to have been an immigrant kid and having seen how my parents worked really, really hard in a place they don’t know to make it work for me, and make it work for us as a family, has taught me to just not give up and just have ‘grit.’

April Tam Smith is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley on the Equity Derivatives team in Sales & Trading. Aside from her role at Morgan Stanley, April also is a philanthropist, finance professional, and socially-conscious entrepreneur, which is all displayed in her venture PS Kitchen. Located in Time Square New York City, PS Kitchen brings vegan food for the soul, mind, and heart, with a social purpose. The mission of PS Kitchen is to provide gainful employment to those who need a second chance in the local community, including those formerly incarcerated, victims of domestic violence, and those experiencing homelessness. PS Kitchen donates 100% of it’s proceeds to philanthropic causes.

Toni Ko

“The requirements of an entrepreneur are to be tough, to adapt to changes quickly, and to be resilient. Looking back, my entire childhood shaped me to be that way.”

At the age of 25, Toni Ko founded Nyx Cosmetics, a brand built on the idea of bridging the gap between prestigious cosmetics brands and budget-friendly brands. In 2014 Loreal purchased NYX Cosmetics for approximately $500 million. Selling NYX did not mean that Ko exited the entrepreneurship world, she also is the founder and current CEO of Butter Ventures, which funds startups in California, primarily those ran by women. In 2019 she announced that she would be launching a new beauty brand called Bespoke Beauty Brands. She also owns a sunglasses company called Thomas James LA, which is an official sponsor of Coachella.



Isha Kamara

Isha is a Communications Intern at Walkers Legacy. She also owns her own brand Iced Out Cosmetics that launched in 2018, which she uses to uplift WOC and LGBT members by using makeup as a tool for diversity. Through Iced Out Cosmetics, Isha has been a member of UMD's Startup Shell Xi Batch, Terp Startup 2019 Cohort, and Do Good Spring Fellowship for Spring 2020.

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Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.