AB 331 Clears CA State Senate Education Committee!

We’re delighted to share that yesterday – June 26, 2019 – Assembly Bill 331 passed with a 4-0 vote out of the California State Senate Education Committee!

This means that AB 331 continues through our state’s legislative process in its journey to hopefully becoming California state law.

The next hurdle for AB 331 will be the State Senate’s Fiscal (Appropriations) Committee. Legislative bills that have a dollar amount tied to them, in which case AB 331 is estimated to cost ~4 million to implement, all need to clear the Fiscal Committee.

Our organization will continue to engage with our partners and statewide networks to bring updates to our members, students, and families. We thank everyone for the ardent support and enthusiasm being brought to our shared advocacy efforts.

Should AB 331 pass, California will be leading the way in ensuring that our diverse state of 40 million equally celebrates and recognizes the historic contributions of minority communities that built and shaped our shared culture, society, and successes.

About AB 331: Authored by Assemblyman Jose Medina, a lifelong educator and former Ethnic Studies teacher in K-12 education, AB 331 would mandate Ethnic Studies as a California public high school graduation requirement in the 2024-25 academic year. Students could fulfill this requirement via Social Studies, English, and Art classes, where shared learning on the histories of multicultural and multiethnic communities would be celebrated and understood.

Register for our 2019 AAP!

Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfJgNs7dYeNz-VZa4Or56U_6NprZZCsH82OYW2g0IMblVSmAw/viewform

Since 2016, we’ve been rockin’ with y’all to bring the South Bay community an eight week Filipino Studies and Civic Engagement course.

From topics on Fil Am Identity, Psychology, to our Waves of Immigration, and today’s Political context, AAP is where you’ll find our group this summer – in both San Jose AND Union City.

The program is curated, created, and led by organizers that have studied and practiced in the fields of Education, Sociology, Asian American Studies, Psychology, Political Science, Public Health, and much more.

Shadow Day with Cisco’s FPN

Last Friday, May 31st, the members of Cisco Systems’ Filipino Professionals Network (FPN) hosted ~15 of our student organizers and leaders in a day of roundtable conversation on professional development, personal journeys, and the importance of community participation in choosing one’s own profession.

The day began with brief introductions between our students and the FPN members. It was clear from the beginning that San Jose State University was in the house! (2/3 of our group are/were Spartans and 1/3 of the FPN members were alums).

Shortly after, we were joined by Fly Pinay Lorissa Horton, Cisco’s Vice President and General Manager of their WebEx Team Collaboration. She called into our session from Europe — how fortunate we were! In her role, Lorissa oversees ~700 employees across the globe. Tying in elements of her personal and educational background, growing up in Washington State, Lorissa shared how mentor influences exposed her to opportunities that personally interested her, and by virtue, nourished her professional ambitions.

Lorissa shared several substantive and inspiring remarks for our group. Among the most salient for our group — that she purposely hires individuals to her team that have studied disciplines and have worked in fields entirely different from her own to ensure the diversity of thought, opinion, and leadership, across her international team.

After meeting and engaging in a conversation with Lorissa, our group was led by Natal with the Cisco Team, a leading Product Engineer with the company. Natal took our group on a series of interactive mini-tours, where we learned about the hardware and software that Cisco develops that touch our lives in ways unseen, yet wholly felt.

Next, Ron Snyder and his team that lead emergency response — as part of Cisco’s broader Corporate Social Responsibility — volunteer deployment and strategy took our group on a private tour of one of Cisco’s Emergency Network Response Vehicle (NERV). We learned about Cisco’s technological and communication-infrastructure assistance offered abroad in areas that have been struck by natural disasters.

Cisco’s Emergency Network Response Vehicle (NERV)

Following our tour, we were treated to a spectacular lunch and informal roundtable conversation with FPN’s members. The dialogue traversed topics related to college leadership activities, transferring skills obtained in extra-curricular initiatives, and everyone’s respective paths into Cisco (we had Psychology, Communication, and Organizational Development majors sharing their journeys into Cisco).

Our day was concluded in an intimate conversation with a leading HR professional with Cisco. Among her words, she provided insights on Cisco’s hiring process, recruitment methods, and future opportunities for working with Cisco. After a day spent with many, many familiar FPN faces — many of which that have supported LEAD Filipino in a variety of our community programs — we all saw how we could contribute to an ethos, mission, and value system such as Cisco.

After all, they were founded in San Jose AND their logo is based off the Golden Gate Bridge. 🙂

A huge shout out to Jenn Mendoza with Cisco and FPN — from start-to-finish she organized a wonderful day for our Fly Pinays mentees, organizers, and student leaders. Thank you to Jenn and the FPN members!

In Community,

LEAD Filipino

Civic Leadership Forum

On May 3rd, our founder, Angelica “Gel” Cortez, guest spoke at Ding Ding TV’s “Civic Leadership Forum” on the the Issues Impacting Asian Americans Heading into the 2020 General Election. Gel participated alongside other esteemed leaders in the Asian American community, including Cathy Peng, the CEO and Founder of ROCS Global and Soma Chatterjee the Diversity Ambassador with India Currents.

In a 50-minute panel session that was filmed live at Ding Ding TV’s studios in Santa Clara, California, Gel, Cathy, and Soma spoke about issues impacting electoral engagement, voter education, and civic leadership across Asian Americans.

Centering the conversation on the importance of coalition building and creating alliances across Asian/Pacific Islander communities, each panelist shared their perspective on the principles and values of supporting each other in light of the 2020 General Election and Census, which unleashes a series of implications for Asian American communities nationwide.

A huge shout out to Civic Leadership USA for inviting Gel to participate in such a valuable and timely discussion. We look forward to our continued work together!

Recap: Fil Advocacy Day 2019

A day of symbolism.

The Filipino/a community is the largest Asian Pacific Islander group in California. At a population of ~1.5m, with the deepest concentrations residing in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Areas, the time to incite our community to collectively touch the existing electoral processes that shape our lives, was yesterday.

After months of planning, coordinating, and strategizing alongside our partners at UC Davis’s Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, Little Manila Rising in Stockton, SOMCAN in San Francisco, Kumare Culture, Sinag-Tala Dance Troupe, NCPASA, PICO California, and the Domestic Workers Coalition of California, we joined a chorus of Fil Am nonprofits, student organizations, and grassroots groups from across the state in the first Fil Advocacy Day at California’s Capitol, Sacramento. With our entire Civic Engagement Team and one of our advisors, Dr. Jennifer Briscoe, in attendance, we were excited, nervous, and ready for the day’s events.

Our home base for the day was to be at the California Endowment on K Street in Sacramento. Up bright and early, our team huddled with our Bulosan Center partners to get hyped for the morning kick-off where we welcomed the participating high school youth, college students, and nonprofit clients and staff from across the state.

Gel Cortez, LEAD Filipino, and Dr. Robyn Rodriguez, Bulosan Center, co-lead an advocacy team at the first Fil Advocacy Day!
Vanessa Carr and Dr. Jen Briscoe, LEAD Filpino, pump up their advocacy team for the day ahead!

Our team debriefs consisted of co-captains running down the day’s events, our advocacy items, and their team’s specific schedule of legislator meetings! (For some, this was an advocacy crash course of sorts, but for others that had attended our trainings the past four months, they also lended a hand in guiding others on tips when speaking with legislative staff and elected officials!)

The day began with our delegation meeting with Assemblyman Jose Medina, the author of Assembly Bill 331, which was the centering narrative for our Advocacy Day: Seeing all communities represented in public curriculum via academic textbooks, literature, media and film, and other study materials that support California’s public education and learning.

Assemblyman Medina shared of his decades of experience teaching Ethnic Studies in Riverside Unified School District. He then ran and was elected to serve as a Trustee for Riverside’s Community College District. We thanked him for his leadership in continuing to advance Ethnic Studies via statewide legislation.

The first stop on our Advocacy Day: Thanking Assemblyman Jose Medina for authoring AB 331 (Ethnic Studies).

Following our meeting with Assemblyman Medina, our teams set off in separate directions and our collective delegation proceeded to meet with 25 legislators and staff on passing AB 331 (Ethnic Studies), allocating $5m for a Domestic Workers Education and Outreach Fund, and increasing tenant protections (ABs 36 and 1481).

“Stop and pose for that quick photo in the Capitol!”
“Let’s bring all 1.5m of us to the Capitol next year.”

Shout out to our friend and supporter, Genevieve Jopanda, nonprofit executive and political organizer, and Chief of Staff to California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, for hosting a small group of the nonprofit leaders and youth for a roundtable lunch. Genevieve was joined by her Legislative Director, Kasey, in sharing their reflections on Treasurer Ma’s authoring of AB 199, which was among the first series of legislative bills that gained visibility for the Filipino/a community in public education.

Gen and Kasey, thank you for hosting a small group of us in State Treasurer Ma’s Office!

Last Tuesday was the first Advocacy Day of many. The event was symbolic of our community’s growing presence and advancement in participating in a democracy that we have also fought for.

We look forward to developing our relationships with the many organizations that touched last Tuesday’s event. The beauty of movement and coalition-building is knowing that your community stands alongside your cause, because if it’s affecting your folks, it’s impacting us.

On behalf of LEAD Filipino, maraming salamat sa lahat, kami ay magkasama!


Gel Cortez
LEAD Filipino

2 Weeks Away: Filipino Advocacy Day!

Register for the Filipino Advocacy Day!

Hi Kasamas — 

Sacramento, we’re coming for you!

On Tuesday, April 30th over 20 Fil Am serving nonprofits, student organizations, and grassroots groups will gather in Sacramento in a series of legislator meetings, policy dialogues, and educational workshops and we want you to join us. 

We are currently coordinating carpools from San Jose to Sacramento for the 1st Annual Filipino Advocacy Day. 
If you are a student organization, professional association, or concerned community member on issues relating to Ethnic Studies, Workers and Tenant Protections, we want you with us in Sacramento. 

Since last year, our organization, LEAD Filipino, has been working alongside UC Davis’ Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies to co-spearhead an undertaking that was new to both of our groups: A Filipino Legislative Advocacy Day in California’s Capitol, Sacramento. 

Ethnic Studies, Workers’ Rights, and Tenant Protections
We’re calling on all students, young adults, families, and professionals to join us for our community’s Filipino Advocacy Day! We will be lobbying on:

  • Passing AB 331 (Medina):AB 331 would mandate Ethnic Studies as a California public high school graduation requirement, beginning in the 2024-25 academic year. 
  • Domestic Workers Outreach & Education Fund: Led by our partners at the Domestic Workers Coalition of California, we’re advocating for a $5 million ask to support the establishing of a Domestic Workers Outreach & Education Fund in the state of California. 
  • Stronger Tenant Protections:With organizations like SOMCAN and PICO California at the helm, we’re emphasizing the importance of increased renter protections in a high-cost housing environment. 

Background: The Beginning of our Advocacy Day
These efforts have been over a year in the making. Our first goal post was to organize a Filipino Policy Symposium with the Bulosan Center last September 2018. The purpose of the Symposium? To gather Filipino/a American (Fil Am) serving student groups, nonprofit agencies, small businesses, and grassroots organizations to address issues that are impacting Fil Am communities statewide. 

Our Symposium featured elected and appointed officials and civic leaders, including former City of Davis Mayor Manang Ruth Admundson, Manang Cynthia Bonta, Mona Pasquil, and Geneveive Jopanda. The nuts and bolts of the Symposium was led by agency leaders from organizations such as Migrante Northern California, South of Market Community Action Network, My Sister’s House, Pilipinx Sacramento, Ramar Foods, the Filipino Googler Network, and many more. 

Filipino Advocacy Day Partners
Thank you to the leading agencies, student organizations, and grassroots groups from across California that have helped us to make April 30th a reality.

Anakbayan Santa Cruz Chapter

Domestic Workers of California Coalition

Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities

Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ)

Filipino Migrant Center

LEAD Filipino 

Little Manila Rising

Migrante Northern California

My Sister’s House

Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance (NCPASA)

PICO California

Philippine National Day Association (PNDA)

Pilipinx Sacramento

Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women

South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN)

UC Davis’ Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies


National Federation of Filipino American Associations

The California Endowment

Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club

A Wrap! 3rd Annual Fly Pinays

Over a week ago on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 our small organization hosted its 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit as part of our broader Fly Pinays Mentorship Program. The day included a series of keynote addresses and panels, workshops, and interactive group discussions.

Check out the official event photos from the Summit here.

A day that is held in celebration of Pinayism during Women’s Herstory Month, our Fly Pinays work is a symbolism of the shared belief that our community holds in the importance of positive modeling, mentorship, and above all: sisterhood.

Our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit attracted over 200 guests from across the Northern California region and was held at Mission College in Santa Clara, California. Of the 200 attendees, almost 150 were Pinay professionals – serving as mentors – and mentees – many of which were either current students, young adults, or professionals looking to pivot and/or transition.

For some context to those unfamiliar with LEAD Filipino and our Fly Pinays Mentorship Program, the Leadership Summit is a follow-up to a Pre-Session that we organize internally for our mentor and mentee participants. The goal of Fly Pinays Mentorship Program is to provide fora on Pinay experiences, women advancement in the workplace and public leadership, and personal/professional development.

Our Fly Pinays co-emcees returned for a repeat performance at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays. Our crowd favorites that aren’t shy about singing and wobbling in front of large audiences, our San Jose sheroes: Ate Ann Reginio and Carina Orozco were in the house and led us throughout our ceremonies all day!

To kick-start our ceremonies, Chef Chel Gilla, the founder of Tselogs opened our day with remarks on integrity, accountability, and leadership. She shared of her own story on founding Teslogs (she just opened a location in SF and another will open later this year in Milan, Italy) and how principles of mental framing and positive thought patterns guided her decisions and risks in venturing to found, own, and operate Tselogs.

Throughout the day, our mentors and mentees also engaged in small group icebreakers at their tables including conversations on inspiration, mentors they’ve had, and other fun questions to get our ladies talking!

Our “Bring It” activities had everyone dancing, wobbling, and singing!

The twin themes for this year’s 3rd Annual Fly Pinays were: “Bossing Up” and “Breaking Expectations.” These themes were derived from a series of focus groups that LEAD Filipino’s Fly Pinays Director Team led throughout the Bay Area at colleges and community spaces with mentees and mentors alike. The simple focus group question: “What are you facing today?”

Based on these focus group outcomes, LEAD Filipino’s response to curating reflective content was to organize our workshops on these two resonant themes. Thank you to our workshop leaders that led distinct breakout sessions at our Leadership Summit: Cheryl Cruz with Asian American Recovery Services, Anakbayan Silicon Valley, PAWIS, HeyBerna, Francesca Mateo of Empire in the Air, Erin Pangilinan of Silicon Valley FASTER, Kristen Dominguez, Tracy Pascua Dea of St. Mary’s College of California, Cheska Dolor, Ian Zamora of UC Davis. Here are a few photos from our workshops:

Cheryl Cruz, LCSW, workshop on “Emotional Intelligence” at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit!
HeyBerna’s “Money Twerkshop” at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit.
Erin Pangilinan’s “Sulat Kumay Reality (Baybayin VR Occulus Launch Pad Project)” workshop at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit.
Anakbayan Silicon Valley’s “The Basic Women’s Orientation on the National Democratic Movement.”
Kristen Dominguez, Culinary Extraordinaire and Acro-Yoga Instructor, leads her workshop on Boss Babes being Mindful and practicing Self-Care.
Tracy Pascua Dea, Evette Castillo Clark, and Jocelyn Banaria lead their “Pinay Power: Kaya Ko, Kaya Natin, Kaya Mo (“I can, we can, you can”) workshop!
A photo from our community partners that joined us in tabling at the 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit.

We closed out our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit with back-to-back guest speakers, including a panel on “Empowerment through Creativity” with artists and creatives Kate Dash, Melanie “DJ ThatGirl” Panergo, and Lauren Garcia.

To end the day with a bang we were joined by Micah “DJ Noodz” Mahinay, a tastemaker, influencer, and DJ for recording artist and performer, Kehlani. In her closing keynote, she addressed our group of 200 attendees on the importance of commitment, dedication, and support in defying the odds and persistence in the face of doubt — or Breaking Expectations and Bossing Up. 😉

Success has a thousand contributors. The same rings true for the successful putting on our largest event of the year, our Fly Pinays Leadership Summit.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, our Tech/AV and catering teams, Mission College staff, workshop leaders, tabling community partners, organizers, advisors, donors, and sponsors, our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays wouldn’t have happened without each of you.

We look forward to seeing all of you for our summer Fly Pinays activities.

In community,

Angelica Cortez, (on behalf of) LEAD Filipino

Recap: Filipino Advocacy Day Statewide Training

On Friday, March 8th, we hosted our second statewide training on our upcoming Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento. Maraming salamat to Filipino Advocates for Justice for hosting our group and providing a space of community!

On Friday, March 8th, we co-led our second statewide training on the planning, development, and strategy of our upcoming Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento next month!

For some background, last fall, we co-led a uniquely Filipino Community Policy Symposium (read recap here) in tandem with our partners at UC Davis’ Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. The goals of the Symposium were three-fold:

  • Host at least 20 Fil Am organizations, nonprofits, and grassroots groups in discussions around their agencies and what public interests were important to them;
  • Provide a space for base-building and networking;
  • Define a handful of public policy priorities from the discussions and workshops hosted at the Symposium.

The outcomes from the Symposium resulted in 27 organizations in attendance and the development of a distinctive “8 Policy Area Platform” (viewable here) that were representative of the diverse voices, experiences, and stories of the organizations that participated.

With this information, we continued our work with the Bulosan Center well into the winter with the intention of hosting a Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento.

Serving primarily as organizing leads, we have worked with the Bulosan Center to push forward the dialogue with the 27 organizations that attended last fall on envisioning, planning, and defining a Filipino Advocacy Day.

Since January, we have hosted one statewide Advocacy Day training and a conference call with our 20 partners. During these two convenings, we identified that our Advocacy Day items would be:

  • AB 331 (Ethnic Studies)
  • Requesting $5 million in General Fund support for the establishment of a Domestic Workers Education and Outreach Fund to be administered by the California Department of Labor Enforcement Standards (DLES).

At our first training, the partners reconnected, and we reviewed the purpose of the Advocacy Day which is:

  • To establish a Filipino/a presence in California’s Capitol.
  • To engage a delegation of 20 organizational leaders, staff, and clients in our democratic public policy process.
  • To advocate on passing AB 331 and a $5 million budget ask for domestic workers in California.

Our next statewide conference call, where we will begin planning our legislative visits will be in late-March. If you are interested in engaging in these efforts, we want to hear from you!

Support AB 331 (Ethnic Studies)

As a community organization that is founded on the guiding tenets and inspirations of building civic leadership through cultural and ethnic education, LEAD Filipino has legacy positions of supporting, advocating for, and dedicating organizational resources to advancing Ethnic Studies in California.

Three years ago, we collected and submitted support letters to California Governor Brown to pass Assembly Bill 2016, which he signed into law in late-2016. A huge victory for our shared advocacy partners, AB 2016 funded the development of an Ethnic Studies curriculum to be made available as an elective to California public high school social science teachers that could want to teach the course. Note that under AB 2016, Ethnic Studies is still an elective and not a requirement.

AB 2016 resulted in a statewide coalition of educators and academics that have worked collaboratively with the California Department of Education to construct a curriculum based on critical pedagogy that represents the untold stories, histories, and experiences of ethnic minority communities in California. The Ethnic Studies curriculum should now be available for instructors with an interest in teaching this elective to their students.

LEAD Filipino Supports AB 331

Building on the momentum and need to teach cultural pedagogy that reflects the diversity of California’s 39 million population, AB 331 would fund a pilot program across 11 school districts, with the intention of mandating Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement by 2024.

The combination of the head and heart – California is the state of the majority minority. In a heterogenous state that benefits from our rich multiculturalism and multiethnic communities, we support the movement toward updating public instruction to include the historic contributions, struggles, and successes of minority communities whose roles are currently diffuse across scarce literature and diminished in our system’s textbooks, discourse, and coursework.

The status quo is that, in our K-12 public system, U.S. and world history is taught from a Euro-centric perspective. We combine our heads and hearts in our outlook on this current reality and future opportunity. Hear us out on our perspective and position:

Our globalized society that has sanctioned mass immigration – which we see evident in our workplaces and hence, our workforce; through this prism, national conversations celebrate diversity in the name of labor, skilled workers, and competition (by way of profits). We ask you to consider the moral imperative of supporting a diverse population in another key public sphere: our public education system. California particularly, celebrates a workforce that is 76% foreign born. In a majority-minority state, the time to revisit our educational system’s values – defined by core instructional content and coursework – in exposing our students’ hearts and minds to wider and deeper views of our country and world’s history is now.

Growing evidence supports that, from self-efficacy and motivated behavior frameworks (Eccles, 2006; Schraw & Lehman, 2006), students construct identity based on meaning, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes (Bandura, 2001). Cue positive images and convictions of achievement, where strong corollaries have been tied to cultural pedagogy and vicarious learning of minority communities seeing their stories uplifted in the same regard as high-achieving, high-performing, leaders with social mobility across all public contexts.

From the head and heart perspective, we support AB 331 and are currently collecting support letters from any of our members, families, or students that share the belief in supporting the passage of this bill. Read more about AB 331 here.

If you would like to submit a short statement for why you support AB 331, to be shared with elected leaders in Sacramento at the Filipino Advocacy Day on April 30th, please submit here.

In community,

Angelica Cortez
LEAD Filipino

Recap: Fly Pinays Pre-Session

To launch Women’s Herstory Month and celebrate our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Mentorship Program, we hosted half of this year’s Fly Pinay mentors and mentees on Saturday, March 2nd at San Jose State University, in a Revealing and Pre-Session!

The staple of our Fly Pinays Mentorship Program is just that: facilitating mentor-mentee relationships and modeling positive sisterhood for the Pinays that enliven our community. Our Pre-Session was an extension of our “Revealing” event where our women and girls, paired in mentorship, not only met but also learning meaningful tips and practices on continuing their friendships beyond our Fly Pinays Mentorship Program.

Our mentors and mentees engaged in group exercises and icebreakers.
In addition to facilitating dialogue, our mentors and mentees set intentions for their journey through our Fly Pinays Mentorship program.
Look at these Fly Pinays!
What’s up, Fly Pinays!

At the Pre-Session, our 2019 mentors and mentees not only had a chance to meet and get acquainted, but they also engaged in leadership activities, group discussions, and received best practices on building their mentor-mentee relationships. We were joined by women and students from across Northern California in celebrating sisterhood, mentorship, and shared experience.

We look forward to seeing everyone this Saturday, March 23rd, at our 3rd Annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit!