About Us

Our Philosophy

At the Tai Initiative, we strive to educate the public through our three core lenses: Leadership, America-China relations, and the subnational level of relationship. The point of overlap of all three of these lenses allows us to provide focused, expert, educational material to our audiences. 

Leaders equipped with such knowledge and skills make lasting change. 

By empowering the individual, we create subnational leaders capable of bridging the gap between American and Chinese futures. 

Our Leadership

Executive Director

Carson Tavenner (泰卡森)is a member of the National Committee for US-China Relations and a retired US Air Force officer with thirteen years of experience serving the Pacific Command.  His association with China began much earlier, in 1986, when he  initiated one of the early sister-school relationships in Washington State, between Puyallup High School  and Nankai Middle School in Chongqing.  He is a 1991 graduate of the US Air Force Academy and a 2000  graduate of the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Masters  program. Currently he teaches Global Studies: China at Everett Community College. He has also taught world and East Asian history at the U.S. Air Force Academy, teaches leadership and teamwork in China through outdoor leadership programs, and is the Director of 爱世界 (Love the World), a non-profit bringing leadership and English training to needy Chinese communities.

Intern Team

Duan Ye

Duan Ye is a UCI undergraduate student majoring in international studies.  Born in Moscow, Russia, he soon returned to grow up in Beijing, China.  He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16 and has interned previously with Macroklink Cultural Tainment Development Co, Ltd.  Ye’s personal passion for getting people together is a major part of his contribution to the field of America-China subnational relations.

Jade Jasso

Jade Jasso is a student from the University of California Irvine currently finishing her last year as an International Studies major. She likes meeting new people, as well as making decisions that help her grow and push her outside of her comfort zone. She supports our mission to promote new thinking about the America-China relationship by encouraging her teammates to consider new points of view.  She also leads the intern team’s research project into city-level China relations knowledge among US Heartland medium-sized cities.

Sierra Davis

Sierra Davis is a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of California majoring in International Studies. She is a member of the women’s volleyball team, bringing personal experience in leadership development to the TI team.  She looks forward to connecting this experience with possible futures working with citizen diplomats in her hometown of Kansas City

Sun Zheng

Sun Zheng is a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of California majoring in International Studies.  He is applying his skills to the development of a TI relationship with the Shanghai International Studies University Student Union.

Sun Jiayue

Sun Jiayue (王殿雄) is a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine majoring in International Studies. She was born in China and came to the US in 2014.  She has actively contributed, volunteered, and interned in both China and America.  He has been volunteering for TI in the China Cabinet program.

Board of Advisors

Zhou Baolin, Chief Mentor, Beijing Exploration Cultural Development Holding Co. Ltd.; Co-Founder, China Green Marathon Action Consortium

Donald A. Bishop, Minister-Counselor, U.S. State Department Senior Foreign Service (Ret.); Board of Directors and Immediate Past President, Public Diplomacy Council

Larry Donnithorne, COL, US Army (Ret.): President Emeritus and Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Colorado Christian University; Author, “The West Point Way of Leadership”

William Wild, Mayor of the City of Westland, Michigan

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