For Immediate Release: Justice for Angelo Quinto

For Immediate Release: February 24, 2021
Contact: Board@leedfilipino

Press Release: LEAD Filipino Demands Justice for Angelo Quinto

San Jose, CA – The Board, organizers, members and families of LEAD Filipino in the strongest terms denounce the actions of the Antioch Police Department (APD) and demand Justice for Angelo Quinto.

Angelo Quinto was a 30-year-old Filipino man (son, brother, cousin and friend) that was senselessly murdered by Antioch police officers on December 23, 2020. He was a former Navy Seal that had recently suffered a head injury.

He was experiencing a mental health crisis when his sister dialed 911 to seek safety and de-escalation for her brother.  When the Antioch police officers arrived to the scene, Angelo’s mother Maria Quinto-Collins had returned from work and calmed her son.

The police officers immediately apprehended Angelo, who was unarmed and compliant, threw him onto the floor, and proceeded to handcuff and contort his legs behind his body.  While subduing him, another officer crushed Angelo with a knee-to-neck restraint for 5 minutes, ignoring his family’s pleas to relent. 

Angelo fell unconscious, blood pouring from his mouth, and died 3 days later on December 26, 2020. 

As of February 24, the APD has not released the names of the officers involved.

We stand in solidarity with the Quinto-Collins family and call for a series of immediate actions by the APD:

  1. That the APD ends knee-to-neck restraints.
  2. Hold the officers accountable for excessive use of force.
  3. Require APD to wear body cameras and use dash cameras.
  4. Invest in mental health response teams.
  5. Cut the police budget by an amount commensurate with the work they will no longer perform.

LEAD Filipino is a community organization based in San Jose that works to increase the representation of Filipinx Americans in civic leadership and public policy advocacy. The organization provides year-round programs to build community and encourage learning, promote Filipinx Studies, and advance state legislation focused on Education, Electoral Reform, Human Services, and Civil Rights.

To read more about LEAD Filipino, please visit


Community Letter:
Instagram: @justiceforangeloquinto

End AAPI Hate Now: Take Action in Santa Clara County

In the first few weeks of 2021, several U.S. cities have reported brutal crimes against Asian Americans, particularly Asian-owned small businesses and our most vulnerable seniors. Between March and August of last year, over 2,600 reports of violence and anti-Asian incidents were filed representing a 1,900% increase in cases since 2019.

We feel these impacts across our Asian American community, but most acutely when it hits the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result of xenophobic attitudes and beliefs at the start of the pandemic, Asian American small businesses and older adults have been targeted in a wave of burglaries, robberies, and attacks. Most recently, an 84-year-old was attacked and killed in San Francisco. In over 20 different instances, seniors were assaulted in Chinatown’s Oakland according to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. An elder Asian American man was robbed in San Leandro and most locally, an elder Asian American woman was robbed in broad daylight in San Jose – a week before Lunar New Year Celebrations were to commence.

Let us be clear: there is no tolerance for hatred, prejudice, and xenophobia in our society.

We condemn perpetrators and encouragers of violence and hateful rhetoric targeted toward Asian Americans.

LEAD Filipino will be working in concert with Asian American-serving and broader community and nonprofit organizations to address this issue throughout San Jose.

These initial activities include participating in listening sessions on AAPI reactions with City of San Jose administrators and coordinating community events for seniors in Japantown and other districts across the city.

Please message to receive more information on getting involved in these efforts.

Tickets Live! 2021 Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit

Since 2017, we’ve had the delight and honor to host our Annual Fly Pinays – a Summit that lifts up our values of sisterhood, stewardship, and mentorship.

Intentionally held in March to observe Women’s Herstory Month, we invite you to join in our virtual 2021 Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit with keynote speaker Soul Shoppe Founder and Executive Director Vicki Abadesco and featured speakers Dr. Rowena Tomaneng, Gayle Romasanta, and many more.

Join us in Doing The Heart Work!

Virtual 2021 Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit
Saturday, March 20th

FASTER | Asian American Recovery Services – HR 360 | ASPIRE at Evergreen Valley College

For Immediate Release: Meredith “Mer” Curry joins LEAD Filipino’s Board of Directors

For Immediate Release: February 1, 2021
Contact: Board of Directors, 

Press Release: Meredith Curry joins LEAD Filipino’s Board of Directors

San Jose, CA – Leadership, Education, Activism, and Dialogue (LEAD) Filipino a San Jose-based nonprofit is delighted to announce that Meredith “Mer” Curry has joined the organization’s Board of Directors. 

“Mer has been foundational to growing the capacity of our Fly Pinays and advocacy programs the past two years.  To have her expertise and incoming leadership on our Board of Directors is a privilege and gift, and one that we’re all looking forward to”, said Gel Cortez, LEAD Filipino’s Founder.

Mer Curry is a Bay Area education practitioner, consultant, and advocate.

With her firm AdvancED Consulting, LLC, Mer supports organizations and initiatives that lead to sustainable systems change for the benefit of disadvantaged communities throughout California. Her clients include organizations working to uplift first-generation, underserved students to reach their highest potential here in California, and across the country. She serves as the Director of Education Partnerships with Moneythink, Fellow for the Northern California College Promise Coalition, and is the current Chair of the County of Santa Clara’s Commission on the Status of Women

In her personal time, Mer volunteers with AAPI Women Lead, is a member of AAUW San Jose, the Filipina Women’s Network, and the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute civic leadership network. She was recently inducted as a 2020 Honoree of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative Eudaimonia Society for “living a life rich in purpose and meaning” and embodying the core concepts of generosity, resilience and overcoming hardship, selflessness, dedication to the common good and society at large, and commitment to long-term goals in the face of obstacles.

Founded in 2015, LEAD Filipino works to increase the involvement of Fil Ams in civic engagement and public leadership through programs and campaigns.  The organization serves hundreds of local and regional community members each year.  

To read more about new Board Director, Mer Curry, please visit


San Jose AAPI Leaders Decry Lack of Representation in Biden’s Cabinet Picks

LEAD Filipino’s Founder, Dr. Angelica “Gel” Cortez recently interviewed with the San Jose Spotlight a local, nonprofit news organization dedicated to political, cultural and business reporting in the greater San Jose/Silicon Valley Area.

In continued discourse on the growing importance of representation and diversity in leadership, she composed an extended opinion piece on the issue.

To extend the discussion on my views published in the original San Jose Spotlight article, which can be read here, I pen this piece to move the conversation from reflection to forward action.

In addition to expressing the importance of continued grassroots organizing and base-building in Fil Am and broader communities, I shared my reflections on President Biden’s Cabinet appointments and the pervasive absence of an Asian Pacific Islander (API) in his 23-member Cabinet. Cabinet Leaders are directly responsible for the administration and implementation of the daily operations of the nation’s federal agencies, which range form the Department of Defense to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior – all credibly critical positions to our country’s heart and spirit.

On several occasions pre- and post-election, President Biden vowed that he would deliver the most “diverse Cabinet in American history.” A tall order – and one that he repeatedly pronounced in talks with the media and press.

It’s incontrovertible that President Biden announced a diverse and gender balanced Cabinet, with nearly all of his nominees having received confirmation of their national leadership posts.

In fact, we celebrate and applaud the many “firsts” that characterize his selections: General Lloyd Austin the first African American to lead our Department of Defense, Deb Haaland the first Native American to lead our Department of Interior and to serve in a President’s Cabinet, Xavier Beccera the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Pete Buttigieg the first LGBTQIA+ leader to serve on a Cabinet will lead the Department of Transportation!

Additionally, President Biden’s Cabinet boasts a proportionate number of female and male secretaries, whereas past Administrations struggled with gender diversity. These significant leaps in diverse representation are underscored by the first few executive actions that President Biden took after he was sworn in – and what he has planned for his next several weeks.

On the flipside, President Biden’s Cabinet-level appointments deliver an equally prominent “first” in being the first Cabinet in 20 years to not appoint an Asian Pacific Islander leader.

In a national moment transfixed on repairing public trust, enforcing accountability, and working toward racial equity, the absence of an Asian Pacific Islander (API) leader on President Biden’s Cabinet is not lost on us.

I recognize that the role of a Cabinet Secretary is to enforce and implement federal policy. On the one hand, their race, ethnicity or gender does not change the fundamental responsibilities of a Cabinet Secretary. On the other hand, what the general public perceives when they see someone that looks like them translates to confidence, trust, and dare I say it – inclusion. This belief undergirds the notion that Cabinet Secretaries uncontestedly hold practical importance to the nation’s economy, security and welfare. However, they hold equal symbolic importance in representing the populations they serve – populations include sectors, industries, socioeconomic classes – which directly connects to my very point on diversity.

Representation Matters.

At 17.4 million, the API community represents the fastest growing minority group in the United States. According to the 2020 Census, Asian Americans grew 30% between 2010-2020, constituting the largest growth rate of all minority groups. Further, the API community consists of over 20 distinct groups that possess unique experiences, contexts and needs in broader American society. For the first time in our national history, the 2020 Census showed that the majority of persons under 16 years old where non-White in the United States.

To the general public, seeing someone that looks like you – that understands your community’s history and if they don’t, carries the humility to seek the answers and discover – matters.

In a national moment punctuated by the rebuilding of public trust, the grave need for economic recovery, and sociopolitical acrimony, I believe that promising to deliver the “Most Diverse Cabinet in History” was a ham-fisted attempt to capitalize on a vulnerable moment in our country’s history.

Turning our attention forward, organizations like LEAD Filipino look to continue our base-building and community-building work of all API leaders at the ground level. We know that investing and promoting our local organizers and contributors drives our fundamental belief that representation matters – and in our case, representation from the bottom up.

This extended piece was written by LEAD Filipino Founder, Dr. Angelica Cortez.

Member Meeting

Happy New Year!

Throughout 2021, we’ll be hosting quarterly virtual Member Meetings to ensure that we continue building community, meeting each other, and sharing positive news.

Please join us this Sunday, January 10th from 4pm-6pm (PST) for our first Member Meeting of 2021.

We’ll be sharing some deep organizational announcements, including new programs and initiatives, and preparing for the Statewide Filipinx Advocacy Day with some special guest speakers – and we want you involved!

Learn more about our Annual Fly Pinays, Queer Lakbay Summit, Awareness in Action Program (AAP), and our statewide civic activities related to AB 101 known as “Ethnic Studies for All” and additional reforms around Police Accountability in California.

For Immediate Release: Angelica Cortez named first Vice President of Racial Justice & Equity for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group

For Immediate Release: January 5, 2021
Contact: Board of Directors, 

Press Release: Angelica Cortez named first Vice President of Racial Justice & Equity for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group
San Jose, CA – University of Southern California’s Doctor of Education, Angelica Cortez, Founder of LEAD Filipino, has been named as the first Vice President of Racial Justice and Equity for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Founded 44 years ago, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group represents nearly 350 technology companies on issues of economic competitiveness. An influential public policy association, the Leadership Group has led critical public infrastructure campaigns that continue to shape the landscape of the broader Silicon Valley and beyond.   
Dr. Cortez will serve as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s first Vice President of Racial Justice and Equity. Recognizing the important role that Silicon Valley holds in catalyzing change, Dr. Cortez will lead the organization’s strategy around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. One of her first tasks will be to structure the organization’s Racial Justice and Equity policy committee, a coalition of over 100 companies, to take action on Board Diversity, Racial Equity, and Justice Reform.
LEAD Filipino’s Board of Directors stated, “We are excited that our Founder and Executive Director continues to be recognized for her civic engagement and community involvement, not just for the Fil Am community but for the entire community of Santa Clara County, the region, and country.”
Dr. Cortez transitions to lead the Racial Justice and Equity portfolio after serving five years on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Investor Relations Team. She holds deep experience in legislative advocacy, nonprofit development, and community organizing, having worked on campaigns around Affirmative Action, Ethnic Studies, and Immigrant Rights. She founded LEAD Filipino in 2015 to increase the representation of Fil Ams in civic leadership. With her direction, LEAD Filipino provides a robust slate of programs, leads high impact partnerships, and serves hundreds of regional and national community members each year.
To read more about LEAD Filipino, please visit

Look Back At 2020

How do you describe a year rife with unexpected – and unparalleled – changes and challenges?

You try your best, but where words fall short, you show.

Just like the rest of the world, the novel Coronavirus brought our organization to its knees. When we canceled our 5th Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit in March (along with all of our future in-person activities), our team committed to finding alternative ways to serve, create, and show up for each other – and ourselves.

Without the support, participation, and love from our members, families, organizers, Board, and partners, we couldn’t have celebrated our collective work that we advanced this year.

Take a look bak at 2020 with LEAD Filipino.

We hope that you enjoy this short highlight video that our team put together. We extend our hands of gratitude and fellowship to our kasamas.

Peace & Blessings,

LEAD Filipino