Make It Count: Transforming Mindsets for 2020 and Beyond
August 15 – 18, 2019
2019 National Empowerment Conference
Executive Director of the EPYC Leadership Institute, NaFFAA
Erick is the EPYC 2019 Leadership Institute Executive Director this year. They have been involved with EPYC since 2016 from serving as a panelist, as well as joining the inaugural EPYC ambassador class in 2018. Erick also currently serves as the Advisory Board Chair of the North West Filipino American Student Alliance. They are pursuing a graduate degree in Student Development Administration at Seattle University.
Dr. Catherine Sy Luib
2018 Delegate, FYLPRO
Proud Cebuana, Globe Trotter and Former Cruise Ship Doctor, Dr. Catherine Sy Luib of San Diego was prestigiously recognized for her Global Influence, Service & Footprint as 2018’s “Most Influential Filipina Woman In The World” in London, 2018’s “Woman Of Worth” in Los Angeles, her “Inspirational Filipino Immigrant” story featured in the New Americans Museum of San Diego and highlighted in ABS CBN TFC’s “BUHAY” tv series. Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Nutritionist and Herbalist of Luib Health Center, Dr. Cat is here to holistically serve the Mental, Emotional, Physical and even Spiritual health needs of communities around her. She partners with Civic Leaders, Business Entrepreneurs, Parents & Children who are having challenges with stress, sleep, weight, pain or performance. Dr. Cat regularly hosts her Philippine Health/Medical Missions as her own Personal Philanthropy Projects. She is an Engaged Civic Leader, Entrepreneurial Business Leader and Community Health Educator who powerfully teaches the following: 1) that “Health Is An Inside Job”, 2) that we all need to “Think Well, Eat Well and Move Well” and 3) that “Heart Base Living is The Major Step to increasing Personal, Social & Global Coherence.” Her Legacy Project for the Philippines is to Explore and Reactivate the Ancient Filipino Healing Arts, Healing Plants and Therapeutic Herbs to help heal and bring more prosperity to kababayans, communities of color and planet earth. Her Integrated Holistic Wellness center is the first in the USA to promote and offer the fullness of Filipino Traditional Medicine – Hilot.
Secretary of Events and Programming, NWFASA
Hello, I’m Malea and my preferred pronouns are She/Her/Hers. I was born and raised in northern Washington and I go to UW Bothell where I plan to major in Biology with a minor in neuroscience. This upcoming year I will get to serve my 3rd year on the board of FASA sa UWB as upcoming Senior Advisor after serving as Cultural Chair (2017-2018), and President (2018-2019). I will also serve on the board of NWFASA this year as Secretary of Events and Programming.
Community Action and Dialogue Chairperson, NCPASA
I’m Nate, pronouns are he/him/his. My home town is Union City but I live in Daly City now. I go to SFSU and I’m majoring in Asian American Studies and minoring in Race and Resistance Studies. I just ended my term with PACE as Hxstory coordinator and now I am the incoming Community Action and Dialogue Chairperson for NCPASA.
De Alarik Quipuha Ojeda
My name is De Alarik Ojeda or Dee for short and I’m the Chairperson of SCPASA (Southern California Pilipinx-American Student Alliance). My preferred pronouns are he/him/his. I was born in San Jose but was raised in Milpitas, CA. In 2011, I moved to Southern California and graduated from UC Irvine with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry with a Concentration in Biochemistry in 2015. I am currently at Pasadena City College (PCC) in the Dental Hygiene Program and pursuing my dream to become a Dentist. I was the President of the Filipinx organization, TROPA (The Reunited Organization of Pilipinx-Americans), at PCC and was the Vice Chairperson of SCPASA last year.
Vice President External, MAFA
Hi everybody! I’m Rio, and my preferred pronouns are he/him/his. I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and I’m a student in the Master of Human Resource Management program at The Ohio State University. I am also the Vice President External for the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans (MAFA). This is my second year on the executive board of MAFA, and I’m excited to continue my involvement with the organization.
National Chairperson, FIND INC.
What’s up, I am Janrei Villavicencio and I proudly represent the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue also known as FIND INC. My preferred pronouns are he/him/his. I currently hold the position of National Chairperson and study Communications at the University of North Florida. I have spent a total of 5+ years working and volunteering with multiple Filipino related organizations from local non-profits, to national organizations like NaFFAA & FIND Inc. I am currently doing an internship at The Filipino Channel with ABS-CBN.
My name is John Catral and my preferred pronouns are he/him/his. I was born and raised in Dallas, TX, and I currently attend the University of Texas at Dallas. I am studying IT/Accounting and am one of the Co-Presidents of SIFA (Southern Intercollegiate Filipino Alliance).
Co-founder and Program Director, Kayamanan Ng Lahi
Joel Jacinto has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and recently completed service as Commissioner on the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works. Jacinto served as long-time executive director of Search To Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), a community-based organization that empowers youth, families and businesses through health and human services, community economic development and through a community center that serves as a place for collaboration and partnership. Throughout his career, Jacinto has been active in networks and coalitions that advocate for diverse communities, especially underserved and low to moderate income populations. Jacinto is also co-founder and program director of the cultural arts organization, Kayamanan Ng Lahi.
EPYC Ambassador, NaFFAA
Natalie Ricasa Bagaporo is a second generation Filipina-American from Bonita, California. Bagaporo graduated in June 2018 from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Human Biology and Asian American Studies. Bagaporo spent her undergraduate years serving the Filipino-American community at the University of California, Los Angeles through Samahang Pilipino, as well as participating in various other student organizations.
Following her graduation, she returned to her family now residing in San Diego, California. With the values of kapwa (shared humanity), relevant education, and social justice, Bagaporo has committed to reconnecting with the Filipino-American community in San Diego through community-based organizations such as Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) San Diego and Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC). In her current capacity, Bagapor serves as the Associated Students Assistant Programs Coordinator at San Diego State University.
Marijo is an alumna from the University of Washington Seattle with a degree in Medical Anthropology and Global Health. While she attended UWS she served as FASA sa UW’s Academic Chair, VP and President and NWFASA’s 2017 Conference Co Chair. Additionally she was a TFCU Student Ambassador and an EPYC Ambassador for NaFFAA region 7. Her continued work in the Fil Am community includes being Programming Director for NAFAA’s 2019 EPYC Institute and as a weekend Barista at Hood Famous Cafe + Bar. She currently works at Microsoft as a case manager for their Supported Employment Program and hopes to continue her education and career in public policy.
EPYC Ambassador, NaFFAA
Hi everyone! My name is Raphael Noah Olea Natividad, but I usually go by Raffy. I am a former EPYC Ambassador and I am a current staff member for the Lakas Mentorship Program. Fun fact, I am a returning Anteater, since I’m back in UC Irvine pursuing my Masters in Public Health. I first graduated in June 2017, with a B.A. in Public Health Policy and Education Sciences. While I currently consider Irvine home, I was born and lived in the Philippines for most of my childhood. Someday, I hope to combine my interests in public health, education, and psychology to work in a non-profit organization and uplift disadvantaged communities.
EPYC Ambassador, NaFFAA
Natalie Nuesca, a 21-year-old Los Angeles native, is the former chairperson of the Southern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance (SCPASA). She is a recent graduate of California State University, Fullerton with a B.A. in English and Communications with a concentration in Journalism. She also served as programming director for SCPASA and as secretary and publicity chair for the Pilipino American Student Association (PASA) at CSUF. She began elementary school in, unknowingly at the time, Historic Filipinotown and continued through her high school education rarely identifying with her Pilipinx heritage. It wasn’t until she joined PASA Kaibigan during her first semester of college that she began to embrace this part of her identity. As she became educated on her culture, she gained an appreciation of who she is and where she comes from; and she grew a passion for sharing her cultural discoveries with others. On her free time, she enjoys getting lost in books, being enchanted by musicals, feeding her creativity with music and writing, and exploring new places through travel. She feels incredibly blessed to be representing the Greater Los Angeles Region and is thrilled to be a part of this journey of community, culture, and empowerment.
President, Asian Action Network
Herman Martir serves as the President of Asian Action Network, an organization with the mission to strategically connect, empower and mobilize the Asian Pacific American community to engage in public service, in the political process, in social justice issues and in civic engagement, in order to help improve the lives and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in America.
Herman Martir has coordinated mobilization for significant events in major cities of America, attended by thousands of people in support of conservative values, issues and policies that strengthen American exceptionalism. He is an experienced leader with a proven history of leadership development in the faith, civic and business sectors, as well as in organizing community development projects that bring these diverse leaders together to help revitalize and transform neighborhoods into safe and thriving communities.
Herman also serves on the board of an organization that rescues children who are victims of sex trafficking. He travels and speaks in conferences, advocating for the eradication of this modern-day slavery.
Herman was also recently appointed by President Donald Trump to serve on the President’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Commission.
Chief Development Officer, FilAm Creative
Meriden Villanueva is best known for her award-winning community leadership and serves as the Chief Development Officer of FilAm Creative, a community organization dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of Filipino Americans in media and entertainment. She is an actress, writer, and Associate Producer at the Official Daytime Emmy Awards events presented by P&L Media.
Director, Talent Development Inclusion, NBC Entertainment
Grace Moss is the Director of Talent Development & Inclusion for NBC Entertainment. In this role, she oversees multiple programs that focus on discovering, cultivating and showcasing talented writers and directors of diverse backgrounds, with the objective of getting them staffed on NBC’s scripted programs. Grace also manages nationwide outreach efforts and develops relationships with community partners, such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and East West Players. Before coming to NBC, Grace a Development Executive at the Style Network, where she oversaw new series in production, from initial pitch to delivery. Prior to her stint at the Style Network, Grace worked as a Producer and Director on a plethora of unscripted shows on a variety of networks, including MTV, VH1, TLC and NBC.
Grace has been actively involved with numerous organizations, including Asian Pacific Americans@NBCUniversal, where she serves as a Hub Leader, and Filipino Hollywood Mafia, where she acts as the Co-Chair. She was a selected participant for Comcast’s Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) Rising Leaders Program, the National Association of Multiethnicities in Communications (NAMIC) Leadership Seminar and, most recently, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute Corporate Athlete Training Program. She also received Comcast’s Ingenuity Award in 2008 for her contributions to the Style Network.
Grace graduated from UCLA with a BA in English and Minor in Asian American Studies.
Jandiz Estrada Cardoso
Senior Director, Talent Development Inclusion, NBC Entertainment
Jandiz has been working in casting for close to two decades. During her tenure as an independent casting director, she worked on films such as GREEN ZONE and THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU with Matt Damon, as well as films with several major studios including Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., New Line and Screen Gems. She also worked the pilot for THE BLACKLIST and the final season of 30 ROCK, among other TV series. For the past five years, she executive produced the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival that celebrates diversity in entertainment and awards two NBC talent holding deals to actors every year. Currently she is the executive producer of StandUp NBC, the network’s annual nationwide search for diverse comedians whose alumni include Lil Rel Howery (GET OUT), Deon Cole (BLACK-ISH) and Dulce Sloan (THE DAILY SHOW). Voted Backstage Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Audition Coach of the Year along with other honors, Jandiz is a proud member of the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences and Casting Society of America.
Chair, NaFFAA Greater Los Angeles
Noel S. V. Omega co-founded the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Los Angeles (FACC-GLA). Noel studied Electronics and Computer Engineering at Cal State L.A. and is currently the CEO of Omega Quadrant, LLC. Noel has diversified business interests in Information Technology outsourcing, Renewable Energy development and International trade & investments.
Noel promotes economic empowerment by working with various Filipino-American population hubs in the greater L.A. area and engages the youth to become champions of economic empowerment. Noel currently serves as president emeritus and lifetime advisor for the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Los Angeles and has helped establish various Filipino-American Chambers in Southern California.
Noel’s community leadership includes: the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce/FPACC as Vice President of Public Relations, Kalayaan of Southern California (Chairman Emeritus), Jose P. Rizal Monument Movement, Los Angeles Mission College Foundation (former board member), Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment(Valley VOTE), Leyte-Samar Association, and, continues to speak on behalf of various civic and community interests. Noel also performs as a professional voiceover talent and emcees major events in his spare time.
Noel joined NaFFAA in April 2014 and currently serves as Chairman for Region IX to promote advancement and empowerment for Filipino-Americans in Southern California.
Christine Love is a Filipino singer. She received Aliw Awards Best Female Artist award on 2009 and Best in a Live performance in a concert in 2010. She has released several albums under VIVA records. She released her album Happy on 2009 featuring the cover song “Happy” originally by Michael Jackson.
Iñigo is an international crossover pop star power-singer, songwriter, TV host & actor born in the Philippines but raised in Glendale, CA before returning to the Philippines to pursue his entertainment career, his last OPM single “Dahil Sa’yo (Because of You)” hit #1 on the Billboard music charts and broke records on YouTube, with the lyric video alone amassing 95+ millions of streams. He has amassed a significant following within his social media presence, boasting a total of 6 million across all platforms and he just released his new singles, Options and self-written second single, Catching Feelings, in preparation for his new album called Options out in the Fall, both songs are available on all digital streaming platforms like Apple Music & Spotify.
Iñigo’s stars in the new film, I’m Ellenya L that will be released in September, and following his acting debut in the overseas blockbuster “Crazy Beautiful You,” in 2018, he was asked to do The Disney Channel’s official cover of the popular Disney song “Remember Me,” originally sung by Miguel from the movie, Coco.
This quadruple threat has fans worldwide & has toured extensively across Australia, Japan, UK, the States & Canada and featured on global stations like BBC Radio, Sirius XM and Power 106. He has also collaborated with other popular artists like Pretty Much, Alex Aiono, New Rules, Leroy Sanchez, Wengie Jessica Reynoso of the Black Eyed Peas, AJ Rafael, Kiana V. and many more to come. Iñigo’s passion lies in connecting youth to their culture, encouraging them to not only travel to the Philippines but embrace the Tagalog / Filipino language and culture. His biggest dream is to internationalize OPM (Original Pilipino Music) and bring Tagalog to mainstream outlets like the Grammys.
NaFFAA National Vice Chair
Emraida Kiram is a princess in real life. She not only possesses physical beauty worthy of being a beauty pageant representative, but a brain to match worthy of being a community leader on a national level. Her commitment and dedication to the causes of the organizations she’s involved with is exemplary.
Since she joined NaFFAA, she has actively participated in the organizing and planning of both regional and national empowerment conferences, and acted as the NaFFAA Cultural Empowerment Chair from 2002-2006. She was Region 3 Vice Chair from 2002-2010, Region 3 Chair from 2011-2012. In 2014 she was elected as National Vice Chair, a position she held to date, after being re-elected in 2016. In those capacities, she was appointed as COMELEC Chair, Constitution and By-Laws Committee Chair, and as adviser to many.
In addition to her involvement with NaFFAA, she has served as the President of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Midwest; as FANHS National Trustee; as Secretary and Trustee of the Rizal MacArthur Memorial Foundation; as member of the Board of Trustees, Foundation University, in Dumaguete; as Chairman of the Wisconsin Commission on Civil Rights; as Contributing Columnist for Diaryo Media, Boses Pilipino; Community Builder; Senior Administrative Specialist with the Office of the Registrar, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Carson City Mayor
Albert Robles grew up in Carson, where he played at our local parks and attended local public schools (Kindergarten through High School). On March 5, 2013, Albert was elected to the Carson City Council by almost 50% of the voters – an unparalleled achievement for someone running for Carson City Council the very first time.
Albert was the first in his family to graduate from high school, and upon graduating, he received a scholarship to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. During his undergraduate studies, he studied abroad at foreign universities in both Latin America and Europe. Albert Robles received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Colorado, where he double-majored in Political Science and Latin American Studies, and minored in Economics.
Mayor Robles also has a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California, where he was a USC Merit Scholarship recipient. In addition, Albert has the distinction of having served as a United States Congressional Fellow in Washington, D.C., and receiving a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of California at Berkeley – one of the best schools in the Country.
Albert Robles is a businessman and understands what it takes to create economic development and jobs. His professional experience includes working at one of the country’s most prestigious law firms, teaching business law at a local community college, working as a Community Affairs Manager for a fortune 500 company, serving as the General Manager of a joint powers authority, serving as a consultant for local governments on business development, and working as a Staff Assistant to a United States Member of Congress.
In addition, he has served on the board of directors of non-profit organizations and received numerous certificates of appreciation and recognition from civic, community, and business organizations for his involvement in the community.
Councilmember and Former Mayor, City of Carson
Jim Dear currently serves as a Council Member for the City of Carson, and served as Mayor. Mr. Dear holds a positive vision, and the knowledge to make it happen for all of Carson. He has maintained strong public safety and senior services during the worst economic crisis in generations, authored Carson “Code of Ethics” and lobbyist registration ordinance, and brought many new restaurants and cinemas to Carson. He also created very successful “Park Enforcement Team”. As an Carson elected official, Jim strives to development of new shopping centers and quality housing, Improve public safety, senior and youth services, bring back ethical, transparent city government and mobile-home resident protection, enhance the quality of life for families and children, and ultimately better manage taxpayers’ dollars.
Adelio Angelito S. Cruz
Consul General, Philippine Consulate Los Angeles
Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz is a career officer of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his arrival in Los Angeles on 28 July 2016, Mr. Cruz served as Vice Consul then Consul at the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago from 1997 to 2003; in the United Arab Emirates as First Secretary and Consul from March 2007 to December 2009; First Secretary and Consul General from December 2009 to November 2010; Minister and Consul General from December 2010 to April 2011 at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi; in the People’s Republic of China as Consul General from April 2011 to November 2013 at the Philippine Consulate General, Xiamen; and, as Charge d’ Affaires, en pied from June 2014 to June 2016 at the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, Libya.
Mr. Cruz was conferred the Gawad Mabini Award, with the rank of Dakilang Kamanong (Grand Cross) by President Rodrigo Duterte on September 13, 2017 for his efforts in facilitating the mass repatriation of over 5,800 Overseas Filipino Workers from 2014-2016 in Libya.
In the Philippines, he previously served in the Department of Foreign Affairs in various capacities, such as Acting Director in the Office of Protocol and State Visits; Acting Director in the Office of American Affairs, and Executive Director of the Office of Protocol and State Visits.
Consul General Cruz holds a B.A. in Political Science degree from the University of the Philippines and units in law from the Ateneo de Manila.
He is married to Catherine Amon Cruz and father to Christian Nathan, Aaron Mathew and Angeline Nicole.
National Chairman, NaFFAA
As National Chairman of NaFFAA, Brendan is responsible for leading the largest national affiliation of Filipino American institutions, organizations and individuals. Throughout his time as an officer of NaFFAA, Brendan has served as State Youth Coordinator, State Youth Chair and Regional Youth Chair for Region 11 (NV, AZ and UT) based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He was also the last person to be elected as NaFFAA’s National Youth Chair as well as the National Treasurer. Brendan holds a position as Regional Banking District Manager and Vice President at Wells Fargo in Florida and was one of the youngest promoted to Community Banking District Manager role. Brendan has held numerous leadership positions, specifically within the Wells Fargo team member diverse networks, and is also the President of United Way Emerging Leaders United of Saint Johns County. His community involvement locally and nationally led him to establish a series of networks, awards and scholarship opportunities: he is a scholarship grantor for The Public Education Foundation of Las Vegas, and president of the Alumni Leadership Circle of the Academy of Finance. Brendan continues to be active within his community, expanding his professional sphere and promoting personal growth.
NaFFAA Trailblazer Award
Allan Pineda Lindo (more commonly known as apl.de.ap) was born in the Philippines to a Filipina mother and an African-American father. At age 14 he was adopted by an American family and moved to Los Angeles. Soon after he arrived, he met 13-year-old William Adams (will.i.am), and the two struck up a musical friendship that later became the foundation of the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas.
The Black Eyed Peas eventually became internationally famous, winning Grammys in 2005, 2006, and 2007, making apl.de.ap the first Filipino to receive this honor. His pride in his heritage is evident in his music: one of the band’s songs, Bebot, is rapped entirely in Tagalog, as is the chorus of an earlier hit, The Apl Song.
Friday, August 16 – Civic Engagement
Field Director, AAPI Vote
Eric Salcedo has been the National Field Director for APIAVote since September 2014. Previously, he served as the Asian American Liaison and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois Attorney General.
For the past twenty years, Eric had been an active leader in Chicago’s Asian American community. He served on the boards of Public Allies Chicago and the Leadership Center for Asian Pacific Americans, focusing on the development of young adult leaders. In 2007, he was the field director and key strategist for an Asian-American candidate for Chicago’s City Council.
He later became a founding member of the political action committee Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago.
Director, ACE Collaborative, NVM
Marlan Maralit has demonstrated a strong commitment to a broad range of movement work, from organizing to leadership development. As a second-generation Filipino American, his earliest exposure to social justice was shaped by the pioneers of the farm worker movement in California. He has worked as an organizer, educator and consultant with labor and non-profit organizations including SEIU, SEIU-UHW, AFSCME, Center for Community Change, Make the Road NY, Organization for Black Struggle, and the LA Black Workers Center. Marlan Maralit currently serves as director for the ACE Collaborative, a project of New Virginia Majority, to increase the civic engagement of one of the fastest growing Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the country.
Trustee, FilAm Vote Co-Director, NaFFAA
Juanito Amor Jr -also known as- “Amor” as he is popularly known to everyone is the National Fil-Am Vote Director. Amor was introduced to NaFFAA as San Diego/Imperial County Region’s youth chair in 2002. Amor envisions in creating a national server that would generate an accessible Filipino Database and a strong Fil-Am Vote Program in each of NaFFAA Regions. Currently, he serves as Filipino Language and Voter Outreach Coordinator for County of San Diego Registrar of Voters Office. Excited in this project, Amor explains the Filipino Database will strengthen the Fil-Am Vote Program.
His goal is to finally collect the data and have a Filipino Database created for our community so that it is easily accessible by creating a “Filipino App”. All are welcome to become part of making a Filipino Database and learn how to collect our Filipino Population data in the US Census. Let’s work together to create our own Filipino Database National Server.
Amor further explains that “FIL-AM VOTE Program must start in the local level in all NaFFAA Regions to build the National Level with the 4-point communication plan thru Voter Registration, Voter Education, Voter Protection, and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) programs. It is not enough to simply register Filipino American voters. It is also important to help Filipino Americans understand the candidates and issues on the ballot to be the best-informed voters.
Amor lives and breathes the “bayanihan spirit”. He continues to supports and collaborates with many of the Fil-Am groups and is a positive force in the community.
Amor’s challenge to everyone in the Filipino American community is, “Voting starts with YOU … REGISTER & VOTE. Voting is good for our FAMILY, our KIDS, our FRIENDS and OurCOMMUNITY. When we VOTE – We WIN. TOGETHER, WE COUNT. PANAHON NA!”
U.S. Census Bureau
Ivy Daulo is currently a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau through the Community Partnership and Engagement Program. She is also a passionate educator and language access advocate based in Los Angeles County and had served as the primary lecturer for Filipino language classes in the Asian & Asian American Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach since 2014. Ivy holds over ten years of experience working with non-profit organizations in Historic Filipinotown, California, and the Philippines. Prioritizing a culturally responsive pedagogy, she has previously worked as the Health Education Coordinator at Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement which focuses on health and environmental justice issues throughout various communities. She is also a Los Angeles liaison for the Council for Teaching Filipino Language and Culture and enjoys opportunities that bridge academia and community. Ivy holds a B.A. in Sociology, B.A. in Language Studies: Tagalog, and a special minor in Philippine Studies from University of California, San Diego in addition to an M.A. in Education with specialization in Dual Language Development from California State University, Long Beach.
Director, California Complete Count Office
Ditas Katague is currently the Director of the California Complete Count Office for the State of California. She also served on the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee (NAC) on Race, Ethnicities and Other Populations from 2012-2018, including serving as Chair from 2015-2018. Katague served as the Director of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Census 2010 project. In 2000, as Chief Deputy Campaign Director for the Governor’s Census 2000 California Complete Count campaign, she led a groundbreaking multi-lingual, multi-media outreach effort that resulted in a mail-in return rate that outpaced the entire nation. She is an expert in multi-ethnic outreach and civic engagement. Ditas most recently served as Chief of Staff to the California Public Utilities Commissioner Catherine Sandoval where she improved public participation and access to the energy and telecommunications utility rate and regulation process. Since 1998, she has served on the Sacramento Center Advisory Board for the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. She holds an MPA from USC and a BA from UC Berkeley.
Stewart Kwoh is the founding President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles (formerly known as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center).
Kwoh is a nationally recognized leader and expert in race relations, Asian American studies, nonprofit organizations and philanthropies, civil rights, and legal services. He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1998, becoming the first Asian American attorney and human rights activist to receive this highly prestigious recognition, often referred to as the “genius grant.”
In 1983, Kwoh co-founded Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Asian American legal and civil rights organization that serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Advancing Justice | Los Angeles’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. The organization provides direct services to individual clients; engages in policy advocacy, research and analysis; litigates impact lawsuits; and provides social change-based leadership training. Advancing Justice | Los Angeles has successfully challenged garment sweatshops, English-only workplace policies, racially discriminatory employment practices and unfair immigration laws as well as advocated for stronger protections for low-wage workers, limited-English-speaking immigrants, and hate crime victims.
Under Kwoh’s leadership, Advancing Justice | Los Angeles has become a leading advocate for Asian American and NHPI communities while working to build bridges with African American, Latino, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Kwoh earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.
Jessica M. Caloza
Commissioner, Board of Public Works, City of Los Angeles
Jessica Caloza is a Commissioner on the Board of Public Works in the City of Los Angeles. She was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in February and confirmed by City Council in March 2019. She is the first Filipina American to serve on the Board.
Previously, Jessica served as Mayor Garcetti’s Director of Scheduling since 2017, overseeing the Mayor’s entire scheduling operation — including strategic planning, day-to-day logistics, and coordination with various Departments and agencies. She also served as Deputy Director of Scheduling, and came to the Mayor’s Executive Office from the Office of Immigrant Affairs, where she managed policy proposals, grant programs, and civic engagement initiatives focused on expanding access to resources for immigrant communities.
Prior to joining the Garcetti Administration, Jessica served in the Obama Administration in the U.S. Department of Education — where she worked on Congressional and legislative affairs, student data and privacy, immigration policy, and gender equity issues. She has also been a campaign aide to several members of Congress for their reelection campaigns, including former Rep. Xavier Becerra of California; former Rep. Mike Honda of California; and Rep. Albio Sires of New Jersey. In 2012, she was a community organizer for President Obama’s reelection campaign in Virginia and helped lead various field offices.
Outside of government, Jessica is active in the Asian American and Filipino American community. She serves on the Leadership Council for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE). In 2014, she was also selected as one of ten delegates for the Filipino Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro), a national leadership program led by the Ambassador of the Philippines. Jessica previously served on the boards of KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress, the FYLPro Executive Committee, and the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition.
A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, Jessica is a proud first-generation immigrant and lives in Historic Filipinotown with her husband, Matt, and their cat.
Board Member, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund Community Advisory Board, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Ms. Faith Bautista is the President and CEO of National Asian American Coalition, a HUD-approved home counseling agency and the nation’s leading Asian American nonprofit advocating against foreclosures, advocating for greater economic and small business development and in advancing the growing economic and social power of Asian Americans. Appointed by President Trump’s Administration in 2017, Ms. Bautista is currently serving a 4-year term as one of the five members in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund Community Advisory Board, and a member of the advisory boards for Federal Communication Commission on broadband adoption and diversity, and for the California Utility Diversity Council. She also serves as the President and CEO of National Diversity Coalition, a non-profit advocacy organization comprised of community organizers, faith-based leaders, and business owners. Ms. Bautista also serves as and is one of the Founders of The Capital Corps, LLC. She serves on the corporate advisory board for First Republic Bank, Royal Business Bank, Citizens Business Bank, Charter Communications, and was a former advisory board member for CIT/OWB. Ms. Bautista is a member of the Charter External Diversity and Inclusion Council (EDIC).
Faith Bautista advocates in the halls of Congress, in the California legislature, and in front of key federal legislators such as the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, FHFA, FTC, FCC and SEC and among America’s Fortune 500 corporations, as a major voice for the ethnic minority.
Commissioner, Department of Building and Safety, City of Los Angeles
Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, L.C.S.W. is a licensed psychotherapist by profession. She received her B.A. in Social Work at UCLA in 1969 and her Masters in Social Work at USC in 1971. She has been licensed by the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1973. She is a published author of articles in the mental health field and has been a faculty lecturer at the Cal State University Los Angeles, Department of Social Work.
Joselyn worked in three Los Angeles County departments between 1971 and 2006, and these provided her opportunities to research and study best practices in both direct patient care and management systems. Currently she is in private practice providing psychotherapy at student health centers in community colleges in the Los Angeles area. Her volunteer community work over the past decades has earned her numerous awards and recognitions such as Pioneer Woman Award from the Los Angeles City Women’s Commission (2005); 100 Most Influential Filipina Woman in the USA (2009) and Global 100 (2013), awards from the USA Filipino Women’s Network; Community Service Award from the Philippine Consulate General of Los Angeles (1990).
She served on many nonprofit boards and citizens commissions including the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission (1994-2006), Asian Pacific American Friends of the Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Music Center (1992-2004), Friends of the Echo Park Branch Library which established the only collection on Philippine heritage and culture in the L.A. City Public Library system (2014 to present) and is Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointee to the Board of Building and Safety Commission (2014 to present.) She brings to this last position her decades long interest and passion in safeguarding our planet’s resources and reversing climate change through principles of permaculture and sustainability.
She draws inspiration from the lives and community service of her late parents Jose V. Geaga and Remedios V. Geaga. The corner of Temple and Alvarado Streets in Historic Filipinotown was named “Remy’s Square” in honor of her mom.
Commissioner, Department of Water and Power, City of Los Angeles
Susana Reyes was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in June 2019. This appointment earned her the distinction as the first-ever Filipino- American LADWP Commissioner. Reyes is the Founder and CEO of AgilEngines LLC, an advocacy and consulting firm focusing on community outreach and civic engagement strategies and where she parlays her more than 32 years of expertise working in various capacities in the City of Los Angeles. Reyes also had the distinction of being the first Director of Low-Income Customer Access (LICA) at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). In this role, she ensured that underserved ratepayers in low- income communities could equitably access financial assistance and energy and water efficiency programs by the utility. Previously, Susana served as a Senior Sustainability Analyst in the Office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and helped oversee the implementation of the first Sustainable City Plan – a roadmap to the city’s environmental, economic, and equitable future. Her portfolio included electrification of the transportation sector, environmental justice, air quality, sustainable procurement, zero waste, and key performance measures. She secured a $1.7 million grant from the CA Air Resources Board for the first-ever electric car share in disadvantaged communities. Previous stints included a pioneering role as Manager of the City of L.A.’s Facilities Recycling Program and as a Human Resources Director at the LADWP where she oversaw health and wellness programs, training and leadership development, and the Workers Compensation Program. She graduated magna cum laude from Saint Paul College with a Communications degree and pursued a Civic Engagement Leadership and Management certification from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a Government Purchasing and Contract Administration credential from the George Washington University, and was a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP).
Jenny Punsalan Delwood
Executive Vice President, Liberty Hill Foundation
Jenny Punsalan Delwood is the Executive Vice President at Liberty Hill Foundation. In this role, she oversees programs and operations of the Foundation. Prior to joining Liberty Hill, Jenny served as Chief Deputy for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she led federal policy initiatives, grant-making, and research related to child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, adolescent pregnancy, and domestic violence prevention.
Prior to her appointment within the Department of Health and Human Services, Jenny co-founded the National Foster Youth Institute, an organization committed to reforming the nation’s child welfare system. Before this, Jenny served as Acting Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to Congresswoman Karen Bass of California. In this role, she managed daily legislative operations and advanced a policy agenda focused on social and economic justice.
Previously, Jenny served as District Director to then Speaker of the California Assembly Karen Bass, overseeing outreach and constituent services in Los Angeles. A graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Jenny also earned a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Jenny also serves on the Board of Directors for Coro Southern California and started her career in public affairs as a Coro Fellow.
Vera de Vera
Vera de Vera joined the Weingart Foundation in 2018 as Director, Leadership for Movements. In her role, she leads the development of a pilot leadership program for social movement builders. Vera has nearly two decades of experience in philanthropy. Most recently she served as the Director of the California Community Foundation’s Community Building and Nonprofit Sustainability initiatives and previously the Western Regional Director of the Fannie Mae Foundation. She has served on a number of nonprofit boards over her career and currently serves as a board trustee for the Durfee Foundation and the Center for Courage and Renewal. Vera holds a juris doctor degree from Southwestern University College of Law. She also received a master’s degree in urban planning and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and is a Certified Professional Coach.
Manager, Bank of America Charitable Foundation
Stephanie Lomibao is a member of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) team and serves as a program manager for the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. As part of the enterprise program and strategy team, Stephanie helps deliver the bank’s ESG philanthropic initiatives and integrate these programs across global enterprise platforms including volunteerism and thought leadership. In her role, Stephanie also helps develop and implement the philanthropic platform that focuses on the economic mobility needs of individuals and families which includes hunger relief, services for the homeless, workforce development through social enterprises, as well as better money habits (financial education). The portfolio of global grantees she manages includes partners that provide programs and services for the formerly incarcerated, opportunity youth, disability, and other diverse communities.
Prior to joining Bank of America in 2009, Stephanie was fund development director for New Economics for Women (NEW) in Los Angeles, California where she was responsible for the fundraising and funder relationship cultivation to support NEW’s programs and services. Stephanie also previously served as vice president, regional manager of volunteerism and events for Washington Mutual where she provided regional oversight of community development service goals tied to the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act federal requirements and signature employee volunteer projects and initiatives through Washington Mutual’s Committed Active Neighbors (CAN) employee volunteer program from Central to Southern California.
Stephanie brings over 19 years of professional experience from the nonprofit, private, and public sectors, beginning her career at California State University Fullerton’s University Advancement Foundation where she managed accounts payable, donor data, and development staff training. Stephanie earned her dual bachelor’s degree in business marketing and public administration from California State University (CSU) Fullerton, where she participated in the CSU California State Capitol Internship Program, and her master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis in philanthropy from the University of Southern California where she co-authored “The reality of race neutral admission for minority students at the University of California: Turning the tide or turning them away?” (2004) as a research assistant at the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
In 2015 Stephanie was named one of the Global 100 most influential Filipinas by the Filipina Women’s Network. She is currently board chair for Central City Neighborhood Partners, serves on the Association for Corporate Citizenship Professionals national board of directors, steering committee for the Asian America Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Los Angeles Chapter, and is executive committeeperson for the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 472.
NaFFAA Colorado, APIA Vote/FIlAm Vote
Giselle emigrated from the Philippines to the US over 40 years ago. She completed her undergraduate studies in Finance at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco and completed majority of her graduate studies in Management and Computer Information Systems at Regis University in Denver. She is an APAWLI (Asian Pacific Women’s Leadership Institute) Fellow, AT&T and a Loden Institute Certified Diversity Facilitator.
Giselle created and managed diversity programs, projects and processes for a large department in a Fortune 500 company. Some of the programs included a national Diversity Council that managed the activities, training and development of council members including; workshops; newsletter, website, diversity video, and recognition program for those who promote and support diversity. The company had adopted this diversity model throughout the corporation. She mentored and coached colleagues in career and personal development, team building, verbal and written communication skills and cross-functional relationships.
Giselle supports profit and nonprofit organizations in developing their strategic and long-term planning as well as team building processes. She co-founded the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Region 5 and is a charter member of the national organization.
In 2015, NaFFAA’s Chair JT Mallonga committed NaFFAA’s network and resources to ask Congress to award Filipino Veterans of World War II the Congressional Gold Medal. As NaFFAA’s Executive Director (2014-2016), Giselle led a nationwide grass roots effort of advocating elected officials in the House of Representatives and Senate to vote for HR 2737 and S 1555, respectively. NaFFAA’s Region Chairs were instrumental in facilitating this successful effort. The Act (Public Law 114-265) was eventually signed into law by President Obama in December 2016.
In collaboration with Gloria Caoile, Juanito Amor and under JT Mallonga’s leadership (2014-2016), Giselle implemented FilAm-Vote within NaFFAA in 2016. She is also a NaFFAA Trustee and since 2016 manages the APIA Vote Colorado. For the last three years, Giselle and her team of volunteers registered thousands of qualified voters!
Executive Director and Member of the Board
Mr Ng has over 25 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations. He has provided services including strategic planning, management consulting, program development and evaluation, fundraising, and public relations. He has worked with numerous nonprofits including the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trust, Nueva Esperanza, and the Latin American Economic Development Association.
Mr Ng graduated from Drexel University with a Masters Degree in Art Administration focusing on nonprofit organizations. He grew up in Hong Kong and is an award-winning composer and a gourmet cook.
CA State Assemblymember
Assemblymember Rob Bonta was elected to the California State Assembly’s 18th District in 2012, where he represents the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. He was the first Filipino American legislator in California’s then 165-year history.
Rob’s passion for justice and equality was instilled in him at a very young age by his parents, who taught him to understand injustice and the importance of joining the struggle to empower vulnerable communities. His father was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and stood with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Deep South—marching for equality and justice in Selma. His mother was and continues to be a long-time leader in the Filipino social justice movement.
Growing up in a trailer just a few hundred yards from César Chávez’s home, Bonta watched closely as his parents organized Filipino and Mexican American farm workers, infusing his formative years with first-hand experience of one of the greatest peaceful social, racial, and economic justice movements of all time. This had a huge impact on Rob’s life choices and pursuits, inspiring his life’s commitment to helping people.
Rob believed legal training was one of the most powerful ways to effect positive and profound change in the lives of those who needed it most. He worked his way through college cleaning laundry rooms and, with the help of financial aid, was able to achieve his dream of attending some of the best universities in the world, obtaining his Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School after attending Yale College and Oxford University in England. Earning honors in college, Rob was also a scholar athlete, captaining the Yale Soccer team. He also paved the way for the advancement of students of color as a mentor and volunteered in support of local children struggling with poverty.
His legal career included work as a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, where he represented the City and County and its employees, and as a private attorney, where he fought to protect Californians from exploitation and racial profiling. Rob was undefeated at trial, never losing a jury verdict for his clients. Prior to being elected to the Alameda City Council, Rob served as the Chair of the City of Alameda’s Economic Development Commission, where he focused on business attraction and retention efforts, and as board president for the Social Service Human Relations Board, where he fought to protect safety net services for the most vulnerable members of the community. As Vice Mayor of the City of Alameda, Bonta strongly supported public safety, fostered economic development, and exercised fiscal responsibility.
In the State Assembly, Bonta currently serves as the Assistant Majority Leader. He serves on the Appropriations, Communications and Conveyance, Governmental Organization, and Health Committees.
Rob and his wife Mialisa live in Alameda with their three children.
City of Cerritos Councilmember & Former Mayor
Councilmember Mark E. Pulido was elected to the Cerritos City Council in March 2011. He served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2013 and as Mayor in 2014. He was re-elected to the City Council in 2015, and became Mayor Pro Tem in 2017 and Mayor in 2018.
A proud Cerritos resident since 1972, Councilmember Pulido has an extensive history of local community service and professional work experience in local, state and federal government. He was elected to the ABC Unified School District Board in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009. He served as Board President in 2007-2008 and concluded his service in March 2011. Councilmember Pulido also served as the Board Liaison for the ABC Federal Head Start and State Preschool programs for seven years. In 2009, the Los Angeles County Office of Education honored Councilmember Pulido with its “Board Member of the Year” award. He served on the CaliforniaVolunteers Commission from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Councilmember Pulido to the California Science Center Board of Directors and to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.
Councilmember Pulido is a Council liaison to the ABC Unified School District and Cerritos Community College. He serves on the City’s Performing Arts and Library committees. Councilmember Pulido is the Council’s alternate delegate to Sanitation Districts 2, 3, 18 & 19/Waste Management.
Councilmember Pulido is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Alan Lowenthal. He previously worked for the California Legislature for more than a decade, serving as District Director to State Senator Alan Lowenthal. Prior to that, he served as a legislative consultant with the California State Assembly in the Los Angeles offices of Assembly Speakers Robert M. Hertzberg, Herb J. Wesson Jr. and Fabian Núñez. In the 1990s, Councilmember Pulido worked for the City of Long Beach in the City Manager’s Office, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, the Budget Bureau, the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department and the Gang Intervention/Prevention Program.
Councilmember Pulido graduated with honors from Whitney High School in the ABC Unified School District. He received his bachelor’s degree in History and Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as UCLA Student Body President. He received his Master of Public Policy degree from The University of Chicago as a Woodrow Wilson National Fellow. Additionally, during his graduate studies, he served as a graduate fellow of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Institute at the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau for Justice Assistance in Washington, D.C.
Councilmember Pulido and his wife Gloria have two children.
Councilmember, Sierra Madre, CA
Rachelle Arizmendi was first elected to the City Council in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. In April 2017, she was selected to serve as Mayor by the Council and is currently a City Council Member. In addition to representing Sierra Madre on the Foothill Workforce Development Policy Board and Collaborate PASadena, she serves as an Advisory Member of the South Coast AQMD Local Government & Small Business Assistance Advisory group and a Board Member on the League of California’s Cities (LOCC) Women’s Caucus. She is also a CA Governor Appointee on the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Board President of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and Board Member/Governing Committee Chair of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Association of Community Development. Rachelle is the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of PACE (Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment).
Born in Carmel, California, Rachelle is a graduate of San Diego State University where she earned 2 Bachelor’s degrees prior to pursuing her Master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. She’s a dietitian by education and has taught Nutrition courses at Pasadena City College. Rachelle, her husband Fili, and dog Madison, have resided in Sierra Madre for over twelve years.
Mayor of Brunswick, Ohio
Ron Falconi began his term as Mayor of Brunswick in 2014. Originally, he was appointed to the Council at Large seat in 2008 among a group of 14 applicants. He successfully defended the seat and won a full term in 2009.
Falconi was born and raised in northeastern Ohio. He received his diploma from Padua Franciscan High School. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree from John Carroll University, where he majored in political science with a concentration in international studies. Subsequently, he received his law degree from the University of Akron, and he has a license to practice law in this state.
He is the first Filipino-American mayor in the State of Ohio. He was most recently picked as one of ten Asian American Leaders from across the country to travel to Japan as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss politics, culture, business and international relations.
Ron married his wife Geny in 1998 and they have two beautiful kids, Joey and Angela.
He has been active in the community. He was a former member of the Brunswick Board of Zoning Appeals, and served on that board from 2004 to 2007. Falconi is also active at St. Ambrose Church, where he is a lector and is also a former bingo team participant. He served as the government liaison officer for the Fairway’s Homeowners Association. He also has served as a Guardian ad Litem in both Medina and Cuyahoga Counties.
Mayor Pro Tempore, City of Cerritos, CA
Mayor Pro Tem Frank Aurelio Yokoyama was elected to the Cerritos City Council in 2017 and became Mayor Pro Tem in 2019. A Cerritos resident since 1976, Mayor Pro Tem Yokoyama previously served as a Cerritos Planning Commissioner from 2011 to 2013.
Mayor Pro Tem Yokoyama is a member of the City Council’s Performing Arts, Personnel and County Health Department/Health Insurance committees. He serves as the Council’s delegate to the Southeast Water Coalition Joint Powers Authroity. Mayor Pro Tem Yokoyama is the alternate delegate to the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, Gateway Cities Council of Governments – 91/605/405 Corridor Cities Committee, League of California Cities, Sanitation Districts 2, 3, 18 & 19/Waste Management and Southern California Association of Goverments.
Mayor Pro Tem Yokoyama is a local businessman, attorney and a youth sports coach. He graduated from UC Berkeley Business School and Harvard Law School.
Mayor Pro Tem Yokoyama and his wife, Wendy, are parents to daughter Makenna and son Maddox.
Councilmember & Former Mayor, City of Culver City, CA
Council Member and former Mayor Thomas Aujero Small was elected to City Council in 2016, having previously served as Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. Council Member Small’s work with the city has focused on excellence in urban planning, sustainable design and mobility, including the Transit Oriented District Visioning process. He serves on the LA Metro Sustainability Council, and the Transportation Policy Committee for the Southern California Association of Governments. He represents the API Caucus of the League of CA Cities on the League’s Housing and Econ Dev. Policy Committee. At a national level, he participates in New American Leaders and Local Progress, both based in Washington, D.C.
Council Member Small has been featured or quoted on design or mobility in the New York Times, the LA Times, NPR and the Washington Post, and was recently interviewed live on CNBC on new transit technology. As an architectural writer and consultant, he has worked on projects in urban and sustainable design and planning, development and historic preservation in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He taught Sustainability for Organizational Change at UCLA, and studied at Yale, the University of Paris, and the Columbia School of Journalism. He is the Chair of the Board for Jacaranda Music, an internationally renowned producer of modern classical music concerts. He lives with his wife Joanna Brody, and their two children and two giant sheep dogs, in the sustainably designed, much published home that they built in 2007.
Artesia City Councilmember
Melissa Ramoso is a proud Filipino American born to parents who worked hard in government jobs helping others and served in the military. Over the past decade, she served and advised federal and state legislators. She continues her family’s legacy of public service as a Deputy District Director for State Senator Ted W. Lieu, advising on healthcare, military affairs, education, civil liberties and older adult issues.
Melissa previously worked in the legal field and various levels of government, but always had an interest in the political side of how government works, the empowerment of the Asian Pacific Islander community and most especially the Filipino American community.
Melissa’s involvement in the California Democratic Party led to her appointment as a Democratic National Committee (DNC) Party Leader Elected Official (PLEO) Delegate for 2012 DNC Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was one of a handful Filipino American delegates that was featured on ABS-CBN’s Balitang America. Melissa was also in sixteen different global and national media outlets for her role as delegate and spokesperson for Filipinos for Obama and Asian American and Pacific Islanders for Obama in California. Previously, she served as State Chair of the California Democratic Party (CDP) Filipino American Democratic Caucus and Southern Vice Chair of the CDP Asian Pacific Islander Caucus.
Born and raised in Downey, a product of ABC Unified School District, she calls the city of Artesia her home. She earned her B.A. in Political Science with studies in Criminology Law and Society from University of California at Irvine and was Board Member to the Pilipino Americans in Social Studies (PASS).
NaFFAA National Secretary, Region 7 Chair
Mariela Fletcher is a licensed residential real estate broker in the State of Washington with RE/MAX Metro Realty since 1990. She holds a Business Degree in Management. Prior to immigrating to the United States in 1988 to join her husband, she owned a manufacturing and exporting business in the Philippines with concentration on hand painted and hand-crafted costume jewelry, gifts and housewares. She was also a Department of Trade and Industry CITEM awardee for “Best in Product Design” and for her contribution to the manufacturing and exporting industry in the Philippines.
Besides her real estate career, Mariela Fletcher owns MANILA MANILA, a Filipino deli and retail store in Seattle since 2010 with emphasis on ethnic Filipino food. Her goal in establishing the business is to introduce good home cooked authentic Filipino food to the mainstream. Her business has successfully earned a place in the Seattle Magazine February 2015 issue as one of the recommended places for Filipino food.
She is active in a variety of civic and nonprofit organizations such as National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) as National Secretary since 2014, and Region Chair for the Pacific Northwest, International Drop-In Center (IDIC), a Filipino Senior Service Agency as Vice President, Lake City Future First, as Board Member and Business Development Committee co-chair, and St Matthew Parish as Chair of Parish Life Committee.
Saturday, August 17 – Advocacy
Limwell L. Branal
International Marketing Head, Vista Land
As International Marketing Head, he is tasked to establish company’s brand and presence in Asia, Northern America and recently, in Canada. His responsibility includes establishing office, developing the network and extensively promotes Philippine properties through educating/encouraging global Filipinos the value of investing in the Philippines. A Civil Engineering graduate with MBA degree, but has a solid background in sales, marketing, training and business development for more than 20 years. Have been with Vista Land for over 15 years. He is an artist by heart. He sketches, paints and currently finishing an online course in Interior Design. A family oriented-person and God fearing.
Pilipino Workers Center, Executive Director
Aquilina Soriano Versoza is a founder and current Executive Director of the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California, a nonprofit serving and organizing the low-wage Pilipino immigrant community in Los Angeles. Aquilina is also serving as the current President of the Board of Directors of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has served as Executive Director of PWC for 20 years and has been working in the Pilipino community for 22 years, both here in Los Angeles and in the Philippines. She has been at the head of PWC as it has been a part of the growing statewide and national movement of domestic workers. She studied her BA in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Aquilina also serves as Board President of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and received the Federick Douglass 200 Abolitionist Award.
Pilipino Workers Center, Lead Organizer, Membership Program Coordinator
Myrla Baldonado is the Lead organizer and Membership Program Coordinator of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) . As a previous caregiver, Myrla has advocated for domestic worker rights and immigrant rights for over a decade in the United States. She has spoken nationally against the threat on family based immigration , co-organized legal clinics, Know Your Rights sessions and is working on the community deportation defense program of PWC. She has been a grassroots organizer for over three decades in the US and in the Philippines and a survivor of torture during Martial Law in the Philippines. In 2013, she was chosen by the White House Initiative to be one of the Asia Pacific Women Champions of Change.
Executive Vice President at ITO Solutions Inc & Founder/Managing Partner at Duaqui Ventures LLC
Giovanni (Gio) Duaqui is a senior executive in information technology, an entrepreneur, and a supporter of diverse organizations and causes. He serves as a Vice President at ITO Solutions in Signal Hill, having joined the firm as its first account executive in 2010, and he understands the principles of growing a business and the need to remain competitive and relevant in a changing marketplace. Before joining ITO, Gio developed extensive experience in sales, business development, and finance through his employment with Fortune 500 organizations including MetLife and Citigroup.
Gio invests time in the community through participation in organizations focused on service, civic outreach, and business networking. Fluent in Tagalog and Kapampangan and conversational in Italian, he has served as a member of the Rotary Club of Historic FilipinoTown and on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of Albertus Magnus College, a Catholic liberal arts college located in New Haven, Connecticut, with a major in Business Economics and a specialization in International Business, Gio is a founding member of his alma mater’s Southern California alumni chapter. To satisfy his creative side, he launched Duaqui Ventures LLC, an events and marketing consultancy, and served on the advisory planning committee of MODELHUNT, a search for talent that emphasizes inclusion and diversity.
Founder & CEO, 1Heart Caregiver Services
Belina Calderon-Nernberg is an accomplished self-starter with over 25 years’ business experience in HR Recruitment and Senior Healthcare Services combined. As the founder and CEO of a number of successful companies, one of which is 1Heart Caregiver Services, she provides the vision, leadership and direction that her companies need to achieve its goals. Belina’s principle-centered leadership and ability to utilize corporate talents paved the way for the company to successfully achieve revenue, profit and business growth objectives over the years– an accomplishment that has equipped 1Heart Caregiver Services with the expertise and proven system to expand its business operations on a national level. Commencing in 2015, within a short period of time, 1Heart has rapidly expanded from a single office in Los Angeles to multiple locations in California and neighboring states.
Belina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and is the recipient of numerous Awards related to Financial, Business and Social Services.
In 2013, she was an Image Awards honoree; recognized as an ‘Ambassador of Goodwill’ in 2014 by Historic Filipinotown (HIFI) Neighborhood Council. This recognition is given to selected Filipino-Americans who are persons with integrity that have the ability to promote, reach out, influence, mobilize public interest in and support to the ideals, values, principles, programs and goals of the Historic Filipinotown and other reputable organization with the same advocacy. In 2015 and 2016, she was also the recipient of the TOP LA (The Outstanding Pilipinos in Los Angeles) and Women of Worth Awards, both for outstanding achievements in Leadership and Business acumen.
Founder & CEO, Lay Bare Waxing Salon, International Franchise Association
When Fiona started Lay Bare in Manila 13 years ago, she took it on as a personal mission to empower women who would opt to leave their families to become domestic helpers elsewhere and teach them a new trade to give them a livelihood that may support them and their families. As the team’s leader, she guides staff members and oversees the store. An optimistic person, being in business reinforces a positive focus the positive without losing touch of reality. Fiona advocates practices gratitude everyday even for the tiniest things and believes that’s the number one way to influence people and make her presence count – by being a positive force and espousing gratitude. In a world full of negativity, Fiona would like to better people’s lives and be a force for good in the world. In the real word, it takes a lot of money to make a big change and being a capitalist helps Fiona support a lot of causes whether personal and within her family and circle or those on a global scale.
Founder & CEO, Gina Alexander, Inc.
Gina Lopez Alexander born and raised in Los Angeles to Cesar and Melda Lopez. Growing up in the Family hotel and restaurant business at the young age of 12 taught Gina to have Great work Ethics. Gina Alexander started her own business 20 years ago making handbags www.ginaalexander.com. Gina focus on building, branding and marketing her business and to date has over 28 million google impression and searches, and over 40,000 subscribers and followers, who are loyal www.ginaalexander.com handbag lovers, some buying for over 20 years. She has developed private license collections for Kobe Bryant, Jimi Hendrix, Mama Mia, Faith Hill and more. Her handbags have been sold at Nordstrom, Saks, QVC, HSN, 2000 photographers studios, over 500 boutiques thru the 20 years.
Gina is also the Executive Director for FASIP a Foster Adoption non-profit organization that focuses on helping Asian-Pacific Islanders kids in foster care in Los Angeles County. Her biggest accomplishment is her family, married to Richard for 25 years and her two daughters, Katelyn 16 and Makena 11.
She is building something spectacular and will be sharing it at the conference!
Anna Marie Cruz
Founder, Entrepinayship & Business Development Officer, CFC Small Business Finance
Anna Marie Cruz is the founder of Entrepinayship, a platform that elevates Filipina entrepreneurs through community and inspiration. She is also a Business Development Officer for CDC Small Business Finance, the nation’s leading Community Advantage lender, and supports businesses with access to much needed capital to launch and grow. Anna Marie leads in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem throughout the LA region by connecting resource partners and industry leaders that serve business owners.
Anna Marie is a first gen Filipina American born in Bataan. She is a 2015 FYLPRO delegate and a former Business Counselor at SIPA. She has an MBA from the University of Michigan and BA in Sociology from CSU Long Beach
Co-founder, SoCal AANHPI Educators
Godfrey Santos Plata is a Filipino immigrant and an alum of Los Angeles and Long Beach Unified School Districts; he is a former public middle school reading teacher himself. After working in teacher preparation for nine years, he shifted to systems-change work, building community organizing experience in volunteer and paid capacities, to change inequitable law and policies impacting educators, kids, and families. He currently works for Leadership for Educational Equity to design and deliver high-impact leadership development opportunities for current and former educators interested in creating systemic change in their own communities. Godfrey is proud to have organized with multiple volunteer efforts to curb/eliminate exclusionary discipline policies like in-school suspension, suspension, alternative school referrals, and expulsions in local districts, and to mobilize middle and high school students to advocate for policy solutions they care about, including ones impacting immigration rights and safe routes to school. He currently organizes with LA education organizing group Angelenos Organizing 4 Education (AO4E); API Equality LA (organizing around LGBTQ API interests and issues); and SoCal AANHPI Educators, a group of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander educators he has helped to form over the last year and a half. Godfrey has also launched a people-powered campaign for a seat in the California State Assembly, aiming to represent the 483,000+ residents of our 53rd assembly district, including Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon. You can find out more about him and his campaign at godfreyforassembly.com, or follow him on Facebook (@godfreyforassembly), Twitter (@godfreyplata), or Instagram (@godfreyplata).
Director of Corps Member and Alumni Impact, Teach For America, Los Angeles
Bianca was a 2011 Los Angeles Teach For America corps member who taught high school special education in South L.A. She is currently a Director of Corps Member and Alumni Impact with Teach For America Los Angeles where she focuses on coaching and developing our special education teachers while also managing our Community Leadership Days. Prior to this role, she was a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development on the TFA-LA team for three years where she supported more than 100 first and second year teachers in reaching their vision for their classrooms in marginalized communities. Bianca additionally teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in special education at Loyola Marymount University as a part-time faculty member. She worked on a national level as the co-chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Corps Member Summit which brings together about 100 first year AAPI teachers each summer to discuss what it means to be an AAPI educator in our diverse and stratified society. Bianca also was a Teach For All Learning Differences fellow where she partnered with East Asia Pacific regions to increase access for diverse learners. Bianca received her B.A. in Public Health with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice at UC Berkeley and her Master’s in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Middle School English Teacher, RFK Ambassador School of Global Leadership
Denise Panaligan identifies as a daughter of immigrants, an intersectional feminist, and an educator that makes her the Pinay she is today. Denise finds passion in developing scholarship around access and retention of marginalized communities in higher education. Moreover, she is dedicated to creating spaces in which fellow undocumented and immigrant community members center dialogue on community resilience, love, storytelling, and healing. Her favorite things in the world include spending quality time with her family, developing creative ways to express herself through dance, and eating food as a means of connection. Denise currently serves as a middle school English teacher at RFK Ambassador School of Global Leadership.
Managing Director, Southern California Recruitment , Teach For America
Justin Tandingan grew up in Portland, Oregon and received his BA in Planning, Public Policy, and Management and his BS in Ethnic Studies and was a student of the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and has his master’s in public policy from the University of Southern California. He is currently the managing director of Southern California recruitment for Teach For America, where he makes his impact finding our next generation of leaders to advance education equity. His previous role was as the director of Teach For America’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander Alliances. He has served on the board of API Equality – Los Angeles as the Education Chair and co-founded USC’s Price Education Network. He likes to sing and play the piano and teaches a group fitness class in downtown Los Angeles.
Chair, NaFFAA Northern California
Mr. Rudy Asercion Is an elected official in San Francisco and is no stranger to the Filipino community having served as the former Executive Director of West Bay Filipino Multi Service Center for eight years. Through his work, he served disadvantaged, at risk youths by helping them transition to responsible, productive adults. He currently serves as Commissioner of the Veterans War Memorial Commission and continues to advocate for Filipino WWII veterans in San Francisco. Before West Bay Mr. Asercion worked as an engineer with over 18 years experience as a senior level business executive actively engaged in providing consulting and energy conservation services to clients located in the United States and Asia. He has held senior executive positions in both international and domestic organizations, serving as President and CEO of the Environmental Energy Management System of Singapore, President of EMS Hong Kong, Principal of AB Engineering- USA, and President of EMS-USA. Mr. Asercion is a board member of the Philippine American Press Club and the San Francisco Filipino American Chambers of Commerce.
Chair, NaFFAA Capital Region
Krystle Canare is the President of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC), the largest community organization to represent the growing 91,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the Washington D.C metropolitan area since 1996. Since 2009. Krystle has worked with PAFC and other non-profit organizations and federal agencies to improve the health and well-being of Filipino Americans in the Washington D.C, Maryland, and Virginia capital region.
Krystle is a strong advocate for mental health and addressing disparities experienced by underserved and under-represented communities. Krystle is currently a Program Specialist for Georgetown University’s National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC), consultant for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within their Office of Behavioral Health Equity, Health Equity Ambassador for the American Psychological Association, and Steering Committee Member for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health.
Raised in the D.C metropolitan area, Krystle graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S in Neurobiology & Physiology. Krystle attributes much of her passion for community building to her early beginnings with the university’s Filipino American History & Biography course, Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy office, and Filipino Cultural Association.
Melinda Sarmiento Bender
Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco School of Nursing
Melinda Sarmiento Bender, RN, PhD, PNP-BC is an Assistant Professor at the UCSF School of Nursing (SON), Family Health Care Nursing Department. Dr. Bender is one of the few Filipina researchers focused on health promotion and chronic disease prevention for Filipino Americans. Her area of research is centered around community-based Filipino lifestyle interventions augmented with digital technology to reduce obesity, diabetes, and heart disease risks. She recently completed two mobile phone-based randomized controlled trial lifestyle interventions studies with Filipino Americans: 1) Filipinos Fit & Trim Weight Loss for Diabetes Prevention for pre-diabetic Filipinos, and 2) Pilipino Americans Go4Health Weight Loss Program for Filipinos with type 2 diabetes. Future studies are now planned to implement culturally adapted lifestyle intervention programs in Filipino community churches providing a broader reach and a sustainable culturally relevant program to improve health outcomes for Filipinos Americans. Moreover, Dr. Bender offers research internships to help advance and encourage more Filipinos to achieve advanced degrees and careers in health care and research focused on Filipinos.
M. Danet Lapiz Bluhm
Registered Nurse, University of Texas Health, School of Nursing
Dr. Bluhm is a registered nurse of Asia-Pacific heritage with a graduate degree in neuroscience. Having been raised in the Philippines and educated in different parts of the world, she has seen how stress and trauma transcend social boundaries and affect health. This has influenced her program of science which involves biopsychosocial studies in vulnerable populations.
She has had a track record research on animal models for neuropsychiatric disorders, investigating their neurobiological, behavioral, and neurocognitive components in relation to stress. At the School of Nursing, she has been engaged in translational clinical research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as education-based and community service-based diversity research. Her main goal is to inform the development of interventions to treat, or even prevent, the negative consequences of trauma exposure among vulnerable individuals.
Ester C. Aure
Health and Wellness Program Director, NaFFAA Northern California Region
Ester C. Aure, is the current Health and Wellness Program Director for Northern California Region (R8) of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Ester has over forty years business experience, most of which has been within the Financial Division of the California State Automobile Association (AAA). Her senior managerial assignments have been conducted primarily within the Fiscal Administration, Accounting, Payroll and Financial Control sections of the organizations. She has been actively involved in strategic planning, organization and staff planning, project management, accounting, financial analysis and financial control activities. Ester retired as their payroll manager after 34 years of service.
As NaFFAA’s Director of Health and Wellness, Ester is in charge of the overall health of the seniors and children in San Francisco .She is also a member of the Board of West Bat Pilipino Multi Service, Inc., and a member of the Community Advisory Board of a Diabetes research grant at UCSF.
Assistant Professor, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, USC Keck School of Medicine
Joyce Javier, MD, MPH, MS, FAAP is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. She is a primary care pediatrician and physician scientist whose research over the past 18 years has focused on optimizing the well-being of Filipino American youth. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Health’s Eunice Kennedy National Institute for Child Health and Development and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Javier leads Team Kapwa, a multidisciplinary team of health professionals and community partners whose vision is to create a culture of mental health and healthy parenting in the Filipino community. For more information on the Team Kapwa’s initiatives, see filipinofamilyhealth.com or Facebook: @filipinofamilyhealthLA
About Team Kapwa: Team Kapwa is a multidisciplinary team of health professionals and community partners whose vision is to create a culture of mental health and healthy parenting in the Filipino community. They were chosen for the first cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship, a national leadership program aimed at creating a culture of health for all. The Kapwa Team includes: Joyce Javier MD, MPH, MS (leader), Dean Coffey PsyD, Jed David MS, OT, Horacio Lopez MD, Aviril Sepulveda OTD, OTR/L, and multiple community partners/members.
Occupational Therapist, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, USC Keck School of Medicine
Jed David, MS, OTR/L, SCFES, SWC is an occupational therapist at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellow. Jed completed his Public Policy degree at USC, and his Occupational Therapy training at Columbia University. He is a national board certfied specialist in the field of feeding, eating, and swallowing and serves multiple specialty care clinics at CHLA. Jed was born in Cebu, Philippines and was raised in the Historic Filipinotown and Silverlake area. Jed is an active member of Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts and serves as their Associate Director of Programming. Jed serves the Filipino community in Los Angeles to bridge the gaps in mental health disparities with an interdisciplinary team approach to building a culture of mental health.
Director, Client Management, AARP
Leah has 37 years at AARP with progressive experience in all phases of service and project management. She currently leads two business units: Client Advisory & Support Services, which maximizes the AARP Membership Contact Center as a strategic enabler to help drive greater impact, relevance and revenue throughout the Organization; and Consumer Care Ombudsman, responsible for ensuring the accuracy of AARP guidelines, public policies and legal standards within CEO, Board of Directors, and Executive Team correspondence escalated to the team for response.
Prior to her current position, Leah provided strategic leadership to AARP’s insourced contact center operations located in Washington, DC, and Lakewood, CA as Director of Operations and Member Analytics.
Leah is certified in Contact Center Management and is a graduate of University of LaVerne with a BA in Organizational Management.
AAPI Hero Award
Denny joined Justice in Aging in 2014 in our Los Angeles, CA office. Denny is a member of Justice in Aging’s health team and his major focus is the population of seniors who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Among other projects, he works to ensure meaningful language access for LEP seniors in their healthcare. He also helps seniors and their advocates fight improper billing and educates providers on the law around billing practices. During law school Denny founded APALSA (Asian Pacific American Law Students Association) to focus on issues facing Asian American communities. After graduating from UC Irvine School of Law, Denny has committed his career to social justice as a public interest attorney.
Denny previously served as a rotating law clerk for the US District Court in Los Angeles and participated in the Fulbright English Teaching Program as a fellow in Macau, China. He received his BA from the University of Michigan.
Loida Nicolas Lewis is Chairman of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation. The first Filipina and Asian woman to pass the New York bar without having studied law in the United States, Mrs. Lewis served for 10 years as General Attorney in the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (currently U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services). After winning her discrimination case against INS in 1978, she co-authored “How to Get A Green Card” with Ilona Bray, now on its 12th edition. A philanthropist and civil rights advocate, Mrs. Lewis co-founded the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) in 1997.
Mrs. Lewis speaks often about her late husband’s legacy, promoting the WNET documentary, “PIONEERS: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire.” The film premiered in the US last February 16, 2018 in celebration of Black History Month. The documentary is also available for online streaming via RFL.film.
She and Mr. Lewis have two daughters (both graduated cum laude from Harvard University) — Leslie is an award-winning actor and producer, and Christina founded AllStarCode.org, a nonprofit computer science education organization focused on motivated Black and Latino young men. For more info, visit LoidaLewis.com or Like her Facebook page @LoidaNLewis.
Romeo Marquez Jr.
Romeo Marquez Jr. is a sought-after international speaker, #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author of “The Success Messages”, and master trainer of Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.
Over the past decade, Romeo has delivered more than 1,000 presentations to over 1 million audience members across the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe helping organizations, entrepreneurs and CEOs achieve extraordinary results.
Romeo has paved the way in many ways for his culture and the next generation of leaders. He is one of the first Filipinos in the United States to have a career as a professional speaker and as a result, he became the first Filipino selected to be the Youth Chairman for the National Speakers Association. Not only that, but he is one of the first Filipinos in the world to do a TEDx Talk.
Romeo is currently the Head of TFCU, an initiative of ABS-CBN International to empower Filipino-American college students and young professionals realize their full potential in relation to their cultural identity.
From speaking tours worldwide to working with notable names such as the Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Clarkson and Jim Carrey, Romeo’s mission is to help people maximize their greatness so that they live a life with purpose and passion.
Carissa Villacorta began her career in the Internal Communications Department of Globe Telecom, where she created and implemented an award-winning and trailblazing campaign employee-fundraising campaign for Habitat for Humanity.
When she was 22, she moved to New York City to study fashion design and styling, until she found out she could not sew or draw.
She walked in the Philippine Consulate General on Fifth Avenue in New York when then Consul General Linglingay Lacanlale engaged her to help form a network of young Filipino American professionals and set up the Read Philippines book collection in New York/New Jersey public libraries. In 2004, the network of young professionals called CORE (Collaborative Opportunities for Raising Empowerment), lit the Empire State Building in the colors of the Philippine flag, becoming the first Asian country to do so.
In 2008, she founded and ran her own PR firm, CVPR, based out of New York City since 2007. She worked as the PR Consultant of high-profile business executives, philanthropists and multi-national corporations, organizing events in the Hamptons, The Harvard Club, Lincoln Center Yankee Stadium. The events that Carissa organized publicized has attracted attendance and coverage from the New York Times, NY1, Bloomberg, etc.
She is the author of Surreality, a collection of essays about life in NY from the perspective of a young Filipina publicist. She became the only Filipino author to have had a book launch and signing at a Borders book store in 2006.
In 2013, she returned to Manila and joined Ogilvy PR to represent the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, helping to boost the popularity of Cebuano entrepreneurs, from the founders of startups like Loudbasstard and The Chocolate Chamber to industry leaders like Kenneth Cobonpue. After leaving Ogilvy to return to her personal practice, she also helped jumpstart the popularity of Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu.
Through compelling stories, valuable connections, and a personal approach, Carissa has built bridges to connect various businesses with their target audiences, and contributed to their success — such as original campaigns like the Eat and Greet Tour of Cebu in 2015, creative events like CreatePH Pop-Up in 2016, and community philanthropy through product design of the Global Filipino Watch by Philip Stein in 2017.
In 2018, Carissa created ReachUs, LLC and staged #PHTimeIsNow at the Harvard Club in NYC, once again bringing people together in a time and space of collaboration, motivation and inspiration through digital marketing, event planning and PR.
She is elated and hopeful to continue doing purposeful work for the Filipino American and Asian American community as she joins the National Federation of Filipino American Associations as Executive Director.
U.S. Congresswoman, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
Judy Chu was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009. She represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley of southern California.
Rep. Chu currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation pertaining to taxes, revenues, Social Security, and Medicare. In that Committee, Rep. Chu is a member of the Subcommittees on Health and Human Resources, giving her oversight over healthcare reform and crucial safety net programs, Worker and Family Support, and Oversight.
She also serves on the House Small Business Committee, which has oversight of the Small Business Administration, and is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations.
Chu was first elected to the Board of Education for Garvey School District in 1985. From there, she was elected to the Monterey Park City Council, where she served as Mayor three times. She then was elected to the State Assembly and then California’s elected tax board, known as the State Board of Equalization. In 2009, she became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history.
CA State Senate, 62nd District
Steven Bradford brings a lifetime of experience to the California State Senate. In over two decades of public service – first as a Gardena City Councilman, then as a State Assemblyman and now as a State Senator – Bradford has proven himself to be a great citizen activist. He views himself as a public servant and not a politician. Public service was instilled in him by his parents who taught him the value of giving back to the community.
Prior to his service in local and state government, Bradford was a Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Edison, as District Director for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and as Program Director for the LA Conservation Corps.
He made history when he became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over the 12 years that he served on the City Council, he presided over robust job and economic growth, along with a balanced budget for the city. When he was elected to the Council, the City of Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy and was $27 million in debt. There was no money in the bank and employees had not been given raises in over seven years. By the time he left Gardena’s City Council, they had eliminated the debt, had $8.5 million in reserve, gave employees raises without raising taxes or cutting services, and secured millions of federal dollars for various improvement projects for North Gardena- something that had never happened prior to him being elected to the Council. As a former solid waste director, he brought those skills to bear in helping negotiate some of the lowest trash rates in the county while serving as a City of Gardena councilmember.
Bradford was elected to the 51st State Assembly District in a Special Election in 2009, reelected in 2010, and reelected again in 2012, but this time to the newly created 62nd District. While in the Assembly, he rose to prominence by becoming Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which had jurisdiction over electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, private water corporations and other issues related to commerce. In his role as chair, Bradford garnered national attention by presiding over hearings investigating devastating power outages across California.