Claudia P. Mirza
CEO and Co-Founder
As Akorbi’s visionary and tireless CEO and co-founder, Claudia Mirza has led the company’s impressive evolution from a language translation company to a global provider of multilingual business solutions, including staffing, contact centers, global marketing, e-Learning and much more. What started as a home-based translation business in 2003 has flourished under her leadership into an award-winning, fast-growing, international company with approximately 750 full-time and part-time employees.
Claudia’s leadership has led Akorbi to become the 12th fastest-growing women-owned/led company in the world, according to the Women Presidents’ Organization. It has also become the fastest-growing provider of translation, localization and interpreting services in the U.S. and globally, according to independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory’s 2014-2015 growth figures.
Claudia’s success and business savvy have garnered her interviews by leading business media such as Forbes and Fortune, as well as local media such as The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Business Journal, just to name a few. It has also led to countless awards and recognitions (listed below) that highlight her impressive success as the leader of a fast-growing, woman-owned company. In addition, it secured her elite participation in the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women, which includes only 12 of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the country.
Claudia is extremely active in the localization industry and is highly respected by her peers. Her commitment to the industry has been recognized nationally and internationally, securing her speaking engagements at industry conferences such as LocWorld Silicon Valley. She is highly committed to supporting the industry and helping other business owners succeed by freely sharing her keys to success.
Claudia and Akorbi have received numerous awards and honors, including:
- Quality & Excellence Empire Builder award from The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber
- Dallas 100 46th fastest-growing company
- NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award from the Dallas Cowboys & Telemundo 39
- 2015 EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women
- 26th largest woman-owned company in D/FW according to the Dallas Business Journal
- Immigrant Entrepreneur Award
- 30th fastest-growing women-owned/led companies according to the Women Presidents’ Organization
- “Enterprising Women of the Year” award from Enterprising Women magazine.
- “Minority Business Leader” award from the Dallas Business Journal
- “La Cima Latina Leader” award from The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Latina Style
- “Women in Business” award from the Dallas Business Journal
- “Minority/Women Business Enterprise” award from The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber
- “Latina Achievement” award from the Assoc. of Latin Professionals in Accounting & Finance
- “Women of Color Achievement” award from The 100 Black Men of Greater Dallas/Fort Worth
- “Top 40 under 40” from the Dallas Business Journal
- "Community Hero" nomination from the Metroplex Technology Business Council
- “Woman-Owned Business Enterprise of the Year” by the North Texas Regional Certification Agency
- Fort Worth Mayor's “Entrepreneur Award”
- “Micro-entrepreneur of the Year” by Wachovia and ACCION Texas
- Dorothy B. Brothers scholarship
In addition to leading a successful international company, Claudia has spent countless time and money giving back to her community and causes she’s passionate about including:
- Serving on the Board of The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for two terms (most recently 2015-2017) and chairing the technology committee
- Working with Groom-Elite to teach non-English-speaking horsemen how to work and make a living in the racing industry
- Devoting time to supporting micro lending organizations and mentoring small minority/women-owned businesses
- Financially supporting the Ronald McDonald House where children with severe medical conditions stay while they are away from home and getting medical treatment
- Spending countless hours mentoring mothers of children who are deaf, have lymphatic defects or tracheas and has given them guidance on how to help their ill children
- Sponsoring the college education of three girls with very limited resources. Two of them are mothers and one of them tops her computer science class in India.
- Donating money to orphanages and children in need
- Working with the elderly to make sure they continue to be productive members of the community
Prior to founding Akorbi, Claudia held managerial roles at GENUITY (formerly GTE Internetworking) U.S., where she worked on multiple enterprise process improvement, project management and optimization programs.
She holds a business management degree from Cotecnova, Cartago, Colombia and is a graduate of the Tuck-WBENC Executive Education Program at the Tuck School of Business. In addition, she has a management certificate from the Southern Methodist University Cox Executive Education Program and a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from the DeVry Institute of Technology.
Claudia loves to travel the world and inspire women by sharing her entrepreneurial lessons learned. Claudia is also passionate about photography and learning about different cultures. In the future, she hopes to travel to Bora Bora, Australia and Antarctica. And, there’s no doubt she’ll make her dream of a world cruise a reality. She also loves riding Paso Fino horses and attending horse shows. In addition, Claudia is very passionate about mentoring parents of children who have complex medical needs.
Azam A. Mirza
President and Co-Founder
Azam Mirza brings enthusiasm and expertise to his role as Akorbi’s president and co-founder. His commitment to innovative development has distinguished him as a business leader. He is responsible for strategy development and daily business operations, as well as technical initiatives for Akorbi’s comprehensive localization and translation services. Leading a network of global professionals, he has helped clients in multiple industries consistently achieve their business objectives. Through Azam’s unique blend of business and technology prowess, Akorbi has evolved into a premier global provider of localization and translation services.
Azam’s extensive management and technical background includes experience in several vertical sectors including insurance, medical, systems security, finance, human resources, government, real estate and energy. He is well versed in enterprise technology architecture, system design and implementation. He has held leadership roles for a variety of technology programs for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Regus Management Group and ENSCO International. He has also managed national security projects for CACI, the Department of Defense and the National BioDynamics Laboratory.
Azam holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Orleans, with a focus on neural networks and routing algorithms. He also secured a Bachelor’s degree from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Corporate Leadership Program.
Azam is a self-proclaimed workaholic, but when he is not working on making Akorbi an industry-leader, he loves spending time with his family. He has two young boys who enjoy basketball and superheroes. With his family, he shares his passion for breeding, training and racing thoroughbred horses.
Azam also enjoys giving back and supporting organizations like the Ronald McDonald House charities and the North Texas Food Bank because of how much they do to help families in need and sick children. He also pays for the college education of deserving students in India and Colombia, the countries he and his wife Claudia immigrated from.
Executive Vice President
As executive vice president of Akorbi, Dave Franklin is responsible for the overall vision and management of the company’s professional staffing division, including: operations, delivery, P&L, and business development. He joined the company in 2011 to develop and launch the division, which today serves a multitude of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to the Department of Defense, just to name a few.
Dave has more than 18 years of staffing industry experience and has held numerous leadership positions throughout his career, such as: executive director of recruiting, recruiting manager and business development manager. His extensive experience has allowed him to develop deep relationships and long-lasting partnerships within the healthcare, information technology, financial, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, retail, energy/utilities and manufacturing industries.
Dave was formerly employed by Robert Half International, Comsys and Allegis Group, where he earned numerous awards for driving business performance and his recruiting acumen. He has a proven track-record for developing recruiting organizations and has a reputation for excellence based on diligence, client satisfaction and strong business ethics.
Dave holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from Longwood University and completed graduate-level finance and accounting courses at the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business.
Vice President of Finance & Accounting
As VP of Finance and Accounting, Kevin Melanson manages Akorbi’s strategic financial initiatives. His responsibilities include strategic planning, financial modeling and accounting, as well as HR and compliance support.
Kevin joined Akorbi after an impressive 15 year career in finance with global companies, including UPS, Experian and Hyundai Capital America. He held a variety of roles, including Manager of Finance and Strategic Planning, Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis and Finance Supervisor. Kevin’s many responsibilities included building finance departments, developing and rolling out annual budgets, financial modeling, company acquisition evaluations and partnering with sales teams and business leaders to implement successful growth business models.
Kevin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, Finance and Management from the University of California at San Diego. He’s currently pursuing a certified management accountant certification from the Institute of Management Accountants.
Kevin and his family recently relocated to Dallas, Texas after many years in California. His wife and two young daughters are his pride and joy and keep him very active in his spare time. He also enjoys supporting his favorite charity, United Way, by doing things like building homes for the needy.
On a professional level, he admits that the decision to switch his major to finance and economics, after initially pursuing a mechanical engineering degree, was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. After all, finance is his true passion.
Vice President of International Services
As VP of International Services, Ralph Bonaduce leads Akorbi’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Services division. The division provides international clients with translation, interpretation and transcription services, as well as inbound, outbound and back office support in more than 170 languages.
His impressive 33-year career includes 14 years specifically in the BPO industry. During this time, Ralph has managed BPO operations for Fortune 500 clients in the financial, telecommunications, insurance and cable industries, as well as numerous other industry verticals. He’s supported a wide array of global companies, including Verizon Wireless, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Sears Financial Services and MCI – just to name a few.
Ralph’s international experience includes managing service delivery teams in excess of 4,500 employees worldwide. And, his client and operational management experience has taken him around the world, including: Latin America, Canada, India, Australia and United Kingdom. Prior to joining Akorbi, Ralph led international services for several multinational organizations, including: Affinitas Corp., LiveBridge, Inc., HeroBPO and NW Natural. He has established a solid reputation for developing world-class service delivery platforms and for creating and managing high-performing customer service teams around the world.
Ralph has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. His post-graduate studies include the Management Development program at Northwest Natural Gas Co., as well as Marketing studies at the University of Oregon.
Edward C. Cavazos, Jr.
Vice President, Business Development
As the vice president of business development, Edward is responsible for the development and support of new commercial opportunities in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as opportunities in the U.S. government sector. His focus is on providing services for telephonic, video, on-site interpretations, document translations and the Mobile App for translations and live interpretation on iPhone and Android phones.
Edward brings more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, business development, channel management and business ownership. He previously served as the vice president of business development and marketing for Telelanguage, Inc., where he developed 15 strategic partnerships to market the company’s language and interpretation services both in the U.S. and worldwide. He also focused on account development in the insurance, medical, utility and legal vertical markets. Previously, Edward held account and partner management roles at Language Line Services and Frontier/West Coast Telecommunications.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and business administration from California State University, Sacramento.
Vice President and Chief Learning Officer
As Vice President and Chief Learning Officer of Akorbi’s eLearning division, Allen Dunkle is responsible for leading Akorbi’s global team in creating critical-to-performance knowledge, skills, and technology solutions for the company’s global clients.
Allen is a recognized leader in the training and education industry. He has over 18 years of experience leading divisions for various companies such as Trizetto, GeoLearning, Kenan Systems, Lucent Technologies and Oracle. Allen is also the proud owner of a supplemental education center for K-12 students in the Denver area.
Allen graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and completed his Master’s degree in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Phoenix. He is also certified in Accelerated Learning, Online/Distance Education, and eLearning Development and Design. He is also a Six Sigma Black Belt.
Maria Clara Buzzini
Director Customer Relations and Account Development
As the director of customer relations and account development, Maria Clara is responsible for quality assurance, delivery operations and major project initiatives. She works with project managers to develop and implement customized and streamlined processes for large client projects, manages project deadlines, and ensures Akorbi’s services and solutions meet client’s needs.
With 11 years of experience in translation services, Maria Clara has a unique expertise in the requirements and quality measures of a translation project. Leveraging her years as a Spanish-language translator, she is directly involved in the testing and selecting of Akorbi’s translators for the Spanish language. Prior to joining Akorbi in 2005, she worked as a freelance translator, serving the pharmaceutical, arts and marketing industries. She was additionally a university English instructor in Argentina.
Maria Clara graduated with honors from Belgrano University (Universidad de Belgrano) in Argentina with a Bachelor’s Degree in English-Spanish translation and a specialization in legal, literary and scientific subjects. She also earned a certification as an art dealer from the Instituto Superior Dante Alighieri.
Maria Clara’s family is from Italy, and she’s very proud of her Italian roots. She speaks Italian every chance she gets, especially when she’s with her family. She also loves to celebrate Italian traditions with her two small children.
Maureen H. Maranca
As Akorbi’s Controller, Maureen Maranca is responsible for managing day-to-day accounting operations (including accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll), financial reports, internal processes and controls, audit requests and compliance.
Maureen’s impressive 14 year accounting career includes roles as audit manager, accounting manager and controller with global companies such as Pinnacle Group, eVerge Group, 7-Eleven and KPMG.
Maureen has a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Accounting from the University of Santo Tomas.
Maureen was born and raised in the Philippines. These days, she stays very active in her spare time raising three young children with her husband Xavier. However, she also finds time to support her favorite charity, UNICEF, because of her passion for helping children in need of food, shelter and an education.
Matthew Casey, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, Learning Services Division
With over 15 years of experience guiding cross-functional teams responsible for human capital management solution design and change management execution. Matthew is adept with providing steady leadership during times of change by creating buy-in at all levels within and across teams.
His background is rich with deep experiences in training evaluation methods, training program management in both centralized and decentralized environments, technical communications management, instructional design program management and change management.
His diverse experiences and education have enabled him to develop proficiencies in:
Executive Leadership, Talent Management, Adult Learning Theory, Change management, Organization development, Planning: Strategic & Tactical, Testing and Assessment, Training evaluation, Problem-based inquiry, Multimedia Training, Synchronous / Virtual Training, Needs Analysis, Audience Analysis, Instructional Design, Performance-based instruction, Competency development, Document design, Online-help design, Help desk / call centers, Quality Assurance, Story boarding, Usability Testing, Task analysis, Gap analysis.
David W. Rhodes
Vice President of Video Mobility
As VP of Video Mobility, David W. Rhodes oversees the development, deployment, maintenance and operations of Akorbi’s video mobility solution called Unified Mobility Communications Platform. It allows users to access interpreters and translators through video conferencing delivered on any mobile device.
David’s extensive 19 year career includes roles as CEO of VRI Direct (a provider of video remote interpretation technology), Director of Operations for LifeLinks Video Interpretation Services and Owner of D.W. Rhodes Interpreting Services. He comes to Akorbi with a wealth of experience in operations management, business development, B2B sales, contract negotiations and enterprise-wide software implementation, as well as diverse business functions.
David has Bachelor of Science degrees in Process Management and Marketing, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Arizona State University. He also has certifications in Interpretation and Transliteration from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
David is a man of many talents and loves to share his gift of music – most recently as part of the band playing at the TAUS Conference in Portland, Oregon. He loves to write and record music and hopes to one day tour with his band. He also enjoys travelling with his family. His dream vacations include snowboarding around the world, scuba diving in exotic places and doing a worldwide beer tour.