Transcript of the Speech delivered by Mariela Fletcher at the NaFFAA 14th National Empowerment Conference | August 6, 2022 | Las Vegas, Nevada
By day I am a real estate broker, but my real passion is in my volunteer work as a board member for 2 organizations:
One is a 51-year-old senior center called, International Drop-In Center in Seattle. I have the great good fortune to co-pilot our senior center with our ED, and it gives me the opportunity to share history and be sure that we understand and appreciate the
people we serve that come before us.
The second is NaFFAA, which is celebrating its 25th year anniversary. I have been with NaFFAA since 2005, served three national chairs side by side, and I have seen a lot. Tonight, I took my oath as the new President of NaFFAA and am ready to fill their shoes (whether I like it or not). I feel very lucky to be a part of this organization that offers so much to our community, evidenced by the recently concluded successful conference.
These last three years have been one of the most challenging as a leader and for all of us. But I wouldn’t have changed my role. There were days when I wanted to quit for several reasons. However, it is difficult to ignore when I get that gentle push from up there. It is difficult to ignore because we must continue the work that was started by our founders. It is difficult to ignore because I do it for my children and their children. Lastly, it is difficult to ignore when I know our FilAm community needs us – to show them the how’s and why’s of being relevant and why we need to step up to the plate because we need representation.
NaFFAA is recognized as the national voice for Filipino Americans by the White House, Congress, corporations, and coalitions. We build our network of national and regional partners to increase the community visibility and unity and develop collective campaign strategies that encompass all aspects affecting us and the general Asian community, such as Asian Hate Crime, Mental Health, Health Care, Immigration, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy to name a few. Our civic leadership forums are used as a vehicle to build Filipino American representation and power by identifying leaders to run for office and participate in candidate training programs. Imagine, we only have 1 Filipino African-American Member of Congress out of the 535 voting members. NaFFAA also develops young leaders through NaFFAA’s EPYC Ambassadors Program (Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration), training and encouraging FilAm youths to take on leadership roles. NaFFAA has so far graduated 40 youths in the program.
We do our work, not on a very big budget, but I’d like to take this opportunity with a big shout-out to our grantors, donors, and sponsors who believe in what we do and continue to invest in us. Thank you for supporting us and helping us accomplish our goals.
Belonging and committing yourself to an organization means pouring your heart and soul into it. These last few months were busy months planning the conference with the National and Las Vegas teams. Thank you for a great job. We are all exhausted, but you know what, our hearts are full.
Founders, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Officers, Trustees, Region and State Chairs, and Councils – It has been my honor to work with you and get to know you as leaders, and I look forward to continuing the work. The work we do is a thankless job, but now I get the chance to thank you for the huge humility in each one of you. I hope you will continue to share your awesome practices with each other. Remember that we grow when we share our thinking and actions. I celebrate and appreciate the difference you make as leaders. With you, I sincerely look forward to the work that is ahead of us.
To our guests, thank you for supporting us and if you would like to know more about NaFFAA, whether it is membership, donating, volunteering, or simply giving us the opportunity to inspire you, let’s start the conversation. Our doors are open.
This is my ask as President of NaFFAA: Let’s hold our north star vision together, build our people with genuine relationships, make deeper connections with our partners, and continue forging together in shaping the future of NaFFAA in the next 25 years. On behalf of the new leadership team, Happy 25th, NaFFAA. Today we survive and thrive!
Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the evening.
Since 1997, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) has
been the standard-bearer for promoting the welfare and well-being of the four million
Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the United States. NaFFAA is the largest
non-partisan, non-profit organization and national affiliation of Filipino American
institutions, umbrella organizations, and individuals. Its fourteen-member regions cover
the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands.