Make It Count: Transforming Mindsets for 2020 and Beyond

August 15 – 18, 2019

2019 National Empowerment Conference

Bianca Nepales

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.

Denise Panaligan

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.

Godfrey Plata

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, or follow him on Facebook (@godfreyforassembly), Twitter (@godfreyplata), or Instagram (@godfreyplata).

Justin Tandingan

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.

Linked-in: @justin0202

Krystle Canare

Capital Region Chair

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.

Noel Omega

Noel Omega

Region 9 Chair

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.