Management Team


Minh-Thao Tran, CLF®Executive Partner

“New York Life family” is more than just a phrase for Minh-Thao Tran. She joined New York Life in 2005, followed by her younger sister, Minh-Thuan Tran, and her youngest brother, Nhan M Tran. All three grew up in Vietnam, immigrated to the United States. Minh-Thao began her career in the U.S. as a realtor and became a full-time New York Life agent in 2005. She spent more than a decade primarily serving the Vietnamese market in the San Francisco Bay area. After many successful years as an agent, Minh-Thao was promoted to Partner in 2011 in the Santa Clara General Office; Senior Partner in 2015 and Executive Partner in 2018.

Minh-Thao is an alumna of San Jose State University, and has won numerous achievement awards during her career with New York Life. She achieved Council*, every year she was an agent—seven consecutive times. In management, she qualified for Gathering of Eagles, four years in a row since 2012 and is a two-time winner of the company's prestigious Val Ivanov Award awarded for the best personal performance by an Executive Partner in three key areas of New Organization Production, Recruiting and Retention.

Minh-Thao also earned the CLF® (Chartered Leadership Fellow) designation from the American College in 2017.

Lien Bui, CLF® - Executive Partner

Lien is a Executive Partner in the Santa Clara Office.  Lien's career started as an Agent in 2005 and she achieved two Executive Council* Awards in 2006, 2007.  In addition, Lien achieved Life Stars Individual Life Award in 2007, Career Life Producer Award, Career Success Award, and Class Leader of 2005 for outstanding sales peformance.  In 2007 Lien was promoted to Partner and achieved the Top Winner #1 in the Pacific Zone of “Gathering of Eagles Award.”  Lien won 6 consecutive years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 of the Top 50 Partners award in the company and the Partners View From Top Award in 2013. Lien was promoted to Senior Partner in 2014 and was promoted again to Executive Partner in 2018.

Lien earned a BA degree in Economics from Trinity University in Washington D.C. in 2000. She was the National and State Honoree of the Prudential Community Service Award recipient representing the District of Columbia in 1996.

Nga Ha - Senior Partner

Nga Kim Ha is determined to empower hardworking, entrepreneurial men and women who want to achieve more. “When I moved to the U.S. during the 2008 economic recession, I could only find work as a laborer,” recalled Nga, who studied chemical engineering in Vietnam. She had a tough time landing a position that challenged her like the research and development career she enjoyed for seven years back home.  After a three-year job search and lots of coaxing by a New York Life recruiter, Nga accepted a position as an agent. “I was nervous, because I had no sales experience,” she said. “But I did not want my story to be like that of so many other Vietnamese immigrants."  Nga thrived in her role. She found helping others protect their income, build wealth, and create financial legacies rewarding and intellectually stimulating. Her desire to serve as many people as possible, fueled Nga’s success. She qualified for Executive Council* in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and the Million Dollar Round Table** (MDRT) in 2014.  Nga was promoted to Partner in 2015. She earned New York Life’s Partner Commitment Award in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She was also a Top 50 Partner in 2016 and 2017. Nga was promoted to Senior Partner in 2018. She ranked among the company’s Top 10 Senior Partners and Executive Partners in 2019 and 2020. And she ranked #5 in 2021 among the same group.  As a New York Life recruiter Nga has built a team of 30 financial professionals. She even promoted one of them to Partner. Like Nga, everyone on her team is driven to change the financial landscape of the Vietnamese community, while charting a new path for their own. “Our team is like a family, committed to each other’s success,” explained Nga. “We work hard. And we have lots of fun.” Nga, whose main recruiting source is word of mouth added,  "A happy, winning team attracts happy winning financial professionals."  Grateful for the life she has built in the U.S., because of her success at New York Life, Nga wants to recruit 11 more financial professionals and promote two team members to Partner in 2022. “I have so much gratitude,” she said, “that sharing this career opportunity is my mission.”   Nga is equally committed to making a difference in the lives of children. And to recognize her community service, New York Life Foundation awarded a $10,000 community grant to Golden Hearts, which provides academic scholarships to students in Vietnam, in Nga’s honor. “Children are our future,” said Nga. “We have to give them the tools they need to thrive.”  
Nga lives in San Jose with her husband, Chinh, and their daughter, Thu.


Tu Nguyen - Partner

Tu joined New York Life as an agent in September 2012. She achieved Executive Council* every year from 2013 to 2018, plus two Executive Council Premier in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, she also earned the Life Superstar Award in 2016, together with two Premier Centurion awards in 2015 and 2016 for outstanding sales achievements. Through her relentless efforts in helping clients and fellow agents succeed, in October 2018, Tu was promoted to Associate Partner at the Santa Clara General Office.

Tu graduated from San Jose State University in 2011 with a Master's degree in Hospitality Management. Prior to her career at New York Life, Tu was an assistant manager at Walgreens; she had also held various positions in the hospitality management field from which she gained valuable experience in communication and customer service. Having a strong foundation in a career path that enables her to make a difference in people's lives, Tu is passionate about creating a positive impact on her community. She makes it her mission to develop excellent financial service professionals in order to help the most people achieve higher quality of life. Tu believes that the ability to understand people's needs and situations, together with an inherent desire to care, have greatly assisted in her success in the insurance industry.

Tu is married with two children and lives in San Jose, CA.

Ma Rezel Cerdan  - Partner

Rezel became a part of the Santa Clara Office when she joined New York Life agent in December 2015. She’s an Executive Council* qualifier for 2017 & 2018. She also earned the Life All Star Award In 2017 & 2018 for outstanding sales achievments. Through her tireless efforts and hard work in helping client with their financial goals, mentoring and helping fellow agents succeed, Rezel was promoted to Associate Partner at the Santa Clara General Office in May 2019. 

Rezel graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree In Commerce,  majoring In Management. Prior to her career at New York Life, she was an executive assistant of a successful businessman from which she gained valuable experience in handling and servicing various individuals. Rezel is extremely passionate about creating a positive impact on her community and the Santa Clara General Office especially the Filipino Community that she considers her second family. She wants to be a part of growing and building a strong exceptionally talented Filipino Cultural Market agent team not just in the Santa Clara General Office, but the entire New York Life Insurance Company,

Yuan Gong  - Partner

Yuan has been with New York Life for more than 9 years, from an agent to Associate Partner to Partner.
Before joining New York Life in 2009, Yuan was a financial advisor at 2 full-service broker-dealers, one was headquartered in San Francisco, and the other was a startup online/full service brokerage firm located in Fremont. Her career as a financial consultant started from Merrill Lynch in 2003, where she associated with 2 financial consultants in the private Client Division who manage $350 million in assets. Yuan created investment services for high net-worth individuals and professional investors. Originally from China, Yuan graduated with a MA degree from Harvard University Graduate School.  She earned a Harvard University Graduate School Full Financial Award. During her graduate school years, she was the chair of the Committee for Extracurricular Activities, Harvard Chinese Scholar and Student Association. Yuan loves travelling during her spare time.

Domingo ‘Dom’ Comandante, Partner

Dom has almost three decades of background in the Banking Industry where he has held multiple Management positions with extensive experience in customer service and asset custody relationship.  It’s a position that gave him the ability to help people and at the same time, have a career with purpose.

Life changing events forced him to find an opportunity where he can use his expertise and provide him flexibility to assist and care for elderly family members.  He found this opportunity at New York Life Insurance Company when he joined as an agent in 2014.

He is an outgoing person with a big smile and always makes you feel comfortable when you’re around him.  He is passionate in helping people and has made it his lifetime goal to have a positive impact and make a difference in people’s lives. 

Dom has achieved Executive and Quality Council* in his 5 years as an agent.  He wants to build a Winning Multicultural Team in the Santa Clara General Office where they can become trusted financial professionals and resource for their families, clients and prospects.

Dom was promoted to Associate Partner in February 2020 and became a Partner in September 2020. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science and has FINRA Series 6 and 63 registrations

He is happily married to his loving wife, Mila, and has two sons and two grandsons.  He loves to eat and travel with his family.


Philip P. NguyenPhilip P. Nguyen,  CLU®, ChFC®, CLTC® - Senior Director of Development

Philip joined New York Life in 2011.  New York Life's company strength and training program was an integral part of his decision to transition into this career.  Applying the knowledge from the company's training and materials, he qualified for Executive Council* for two consecutive years.  Philip was promoted to Development Manager in early 2014, Senior Development Manager in early 2018, and Director of Development in 2021.  He is responsible for training and developing the next generation of agents so they can be successful and can make a positive impact in people's lives and their communities.

He earned his Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC®) ,Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designations.  He currently holds FINRA licenses 6, 63, and 26 registrations.

In his spare time, Philip enjoys offshore fishing out of Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.  He volunteers with various local Fishing Associations that protect, preserve, and improve California's fishery for future generations.

He is currently married with two children and resides in San Jose.


Derek Raphael, ACS, ALMI, AIAA, AIRC, FLMI, CLU - Service Leader

Derek joined New York Life in 2013 and had been in management positions since 2009. He started his New York Life career training in the Northern California General Office, spent 3 years at the Las Vegas General Office and has been at the Santa Clara General Office since 2017.  


Derek graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in Business in 2008 and has continued his education with 2 New York Life Leadership Programs and industry designations.
Derek and his wife Cassandra have three children. They enjoy spending their time traveling and at the beautiful beaches of Santa Cruz, CA.


Rae Ann Paff - Director of Agency Standards

Rae Ann began her career with New York Life in 2015 as the Agency Standards Manager in Hawaii.  Before joining New York Life, Rae Ann worked nine years at Ameriprise Financial.  During that time, Rae Ann served on the annuity review team in Minneapolis, acted as standards officer in a general office and travelled extensively to supervise offices in the mid-west and east coast as interim registered principal. 

Rae Ann was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, earned her bachelor’s degree, is a CFP® designee, and enjoys everything Hawaii has to offer.


Please feel free to contact one of our management team members to learn more about New York Life.

* Council is an annual Company recognition program based on agent production levels from June 30 to July 1.

**The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®, is recognized globally as the standard of excellence for life insurance sales performance in the insurance and financial services industry.



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