The Team


Organizing Team

Our Organizers are a group of Pin@y community members, student leaders, and young adults from a range of professional sectors in the San Jose/South Bay Area.  They meet monthly to develop LEAD Filipino’s programs such as Awareness in Action, Fly Pinays, and our various policy advocacy initiatives and campaigns. The Organizers develop strategic collaborations, community outreach, and identify critical issues that LEAD Filipino works to address year-round. If you have any questions, please reach out!

The organizers meet the second Sunday of each month from 4PM-6PM in San Jose.

Gel Sq

Angelica Cortez

Influenced by the importance of cultural identity, political participation and public interest issues, Angelica founded LEAD Filipino in 2015. Since LEAD Filipino’s formation, the organization has grown to serve hundreds of community members each year. Angelica’s professional background blends nonprofit work,  local government, and policy advocacy. She previously worked for California State Assemblymember Rich Gordon and a number of policy organizations in the Bay and Los Angeles Areas. She’s currently a Director at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – a business trade association – and is active in many political and nonprofit groups in the South Bay. She has been recognized by regional organizations for her work with Asian Pacific Islander communities, including receiving Asian American Recovery Services’ Sister-to-Sister “Legacy Award”, the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club’s “Rising Star Award”, the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women’s “2018 Outreach Award”, and by NBC Bay Area. Angelica holds a BA from San Jose State University, an MPA from the University of San Francisco, and is a current doctoral student at the University of Southern California.

Daniel Sq

Daniel Lazo
Design & Branding

Daniel has always had a profound love for San Jose and Filipino community.  Born and raised in the diverse Silicon Valley, he continues to grow his identity as a Filipino American entrepreneur in the arts, graphic design and fashion.  During high school, he served as a president for Piedmont Hills’ Filipino Parent Student Association for two years, and a core member of the Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC) for three years.  He currently attends San Jose State University where he is working toward his BS in Advertising.  Continuing his social, political and creative involvement in college, he is an active member of Akbayan SJSU and Anakbayan Silicon Valley.  Through LEAD Filipino, his goal is to give back his knowledge and creativity to the community.  Feel free to get to know him on Twitter @dinomandaniel.

Jay Sq

Jay Page
Education Team

Jay is the Co-Director for our Awareness in Action Program.  She played a key role in the curriculum development of our “Coalition Building & Student Led Movements” class this past summer, where she invited two seated Commissioners to speak to our students about Public Service.  Born in Pasay City and raised in Milpitas, Jessica has always been proud of belonging to two vibrant cultures.  Because her family comes from one of the least colonized parts of the Philippines (Kalinga), she has a love for learning about pre-colonial histories of the Philippines and other countries.  She likes to study how Pilipino culture interacts with the mental wellness of Pilipino-American youth and women.  From high school outreach to advising in state prison, she’s long been passionate about advancing her community.  She holds two A.A. degrees from Mission College and a B.A. in Psychology from UC Davis.  Jessica is working toward her MSW to become a counselor for young Pilipinos and similarly underserved youth.

Kevin Sq

Kevin Suarez
Civic Engagement Team

Kevin currently serves as LEAD Filipino’s Naturalization Ceremony and Voter Registration Organizer. Born and raised in San Jose, Kevin hopes that his work will provide the local Filipino community with a much needed voice in the political process. In the past, Kevin served as Executive Vice President of De Anza College’s Student Government (DASB) Senate. He has also worked on several political campaigns in the South Bay, and most recently, completed an internship with the City of San Jose’s Council-member Lan Diep. Besides his work with LEAD Filipino, Kevin also serves as a NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations) EPYC Ambassador. He currently attends San Jose State University, where he is working towards a B.S. in Economics. Outside of his professional and academic career, Kevin enjoys music, tennis, and developing his skills in Filipino Martial Arts.

Vanessa Sq

Vanessa Carr
Civic Engagement Team

Vanessa is a legislative staffer for CA State Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian. She received her B.S. in Political Science from Santa Clara University. Her work with the Filipino American community ranges from serving in her local church to working with Filipino American youth through Filipino American Youth Ministries. She previously worked for Congressman Mike Honda in Washington D.C. and in Santa Clara, CA. She worked closely with the congressman and his staff on a resolution recognizing October 2015 as Filipino American History Month. Vanessa plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy or a JD in the near future.

James Sq

James Binauhan
Education Team

James oversees our Linguistics and Philippine centered material which empowers our leadership programs and workshops.  Through L.E.A.D, he has led workshops on the influences of Spanish Colonization in the Philippines and Regional & Colonial Mentalities in the PI.  He received his B.A., Asian Studies and Masters of Public Affairs from USF. James‘ interaction with the Filipino-American community includes: interning at the Philippine Consulate General, Bayanihan Center, and West Bay. He also worked as an outreach coordinator at the Pilipino Senior Resource Center. In 2013, James was given the opportunity to engage with Filam community leaders and orgs in Socal with his involvement with APIEquality-LA. During his tenure at USF, James conducted societal and cultural studies in the Philippines as a Fulbright scholar. His volunteer experience in the Philippines galvanized him to embody social justice. Currently, James works at SalesforceIQ. His goal is to incorporate the value of social justice and social awareness with his career in tech, by working to bridge corporation entities with communities members. Aside from LEAD Filipino, James serves as a member of FANHS and an advisor with Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity.

Jenna Sq

Jenna Edra
Civic Engagement 

After participating in our Awareness in Action Leadership Program, Jenna shadowed meetings, joined the IBOTO Pilipino Collaborative, and then became an Organizer. She is working toward a B.A. in Social Work and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at San Jose State University, where she creates social justice programming, mentors other students, and facilitates a meet up for asexual and aromantic people. Outside of school, she volunteers at YWCA as a sexual assault crisis line counselor and organizes with Anakbayan Silicon Valley. Jenna‘s work is grounded in a passion for helping women and combatting sexual violence, as well as a growing interest in issues pertaining to the LGBTQ+ and Pilipinx communities.

Ian Sq

Ian Crueldad
Civic Engagement Team

Ian Crueldad grew up in East San Jose, CA. He was raised by a single mom. After being bullied in high school, Ian grew a passion for helping others. He did not exactly know how to pursue his passion at first, but after volunteering on his first campaign, Ian realized that he wanted to help people through politics. Ian has worked on local campaigns, non-profits, and other government institutions. He also has been involved in the democratic party through being an officer of local democratic clubs as well as being a state delegate. The issues he has worked on over the years include the environment, housing, education, immigration etc.. Through scholarships, Ian studied political science and eventually graduated from the George Washington University in 2015.  Also having a passion for business, Ian was able to receive investments for his first company, which he started before graduating from college. On his free time, Ian likes to read philosophy, volunteer in the community, and simply getting to know others.

Katrina Sq

Katrina Figueroa
Fly Pinays Team

Katrina serves as LEAD Filipino’s Naturalization Ceremony and Voter Registration Organizer. She recently graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Political Science and Minor in Human Rights. During her time at San Jose State she joined Akbayan’s Kuya/Ate Ading Mentorship Program (K.A.A.M.P) which inspired her to continue her cultural learning. She is the campaign manager of eRace, a student founded initiative that aims to institute a “Diversity Day” at San Jose State. She’s currently interning at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in San Jose, CA.

Katie Sq

Katie Mendoza
Fly Pinays Team

Katie, originally from Carson, CA, moved to San Jose where she attended San Jose State and received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Child and Adolescent Development. She is a sister of Kappa Psi Epsilon where she found her interest in learning more about her culture and found a love for working with the Filipino Community as well as advocating for womxn empowerment. After attending the 2nd annual Fly Pinays Leadership Summit as a workshop facilitator, it inspired Katie to want to work with the South Bay community. Her passion for helping people drew her to intern with LEAD Filipino in 2016. She’s interested in working with our Fly Pinays team in being able to help empower young Pilipinx womxn as well as working with our Civic Engagement team learning more about how to get the Filipino community more involved civically. Katie hopes to get a Master’s in Public Administration in the near future with her goal to keep serving the community.

Celeste Sq

Celeste Francisco
Education Team

Celeste is a queer Pinay raised in Fremont, CA. She is a daughter of immigrants, with roots in South Cotabato, Philippines. In May of 2018, Celeste received her B.A. in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. She is continuing her education at SFSU, and currently pursuing her M.A. in Asian American Studies. On campus, she works for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Retention and Education program as a Peer Mentor. Celeste is also an educator for Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP), teaching Ethnic Studies through a Filipinx lens to urban youth at Denman Middle School in the Excelsior. Celeste’s involvement with LEAD Filipino started when she participated in the Spring Training Program. LEAD has heavily contributed to Celeste’s passion for education, and hopes to provide accessible Filipinx Studies to her home of the East Bay.

Michelle Sq

Michelle Nelmida
Education Team

Growing up as a young Pinay, Michelle was raised in Union City, CA. She hopes to educate the youth in East Bay through the Awareness in Action Program. Michelle currently attends Cal State East Bay studying towards her BS in Health Sciences, Community Health with the aspiration of blending her interests in advocating for health equity and social justice. From being active in PASA CSUEB and later beginning her involvement with LEAD Filipino through the Spring Training Program, she has a loving and growing passion for serving the Fil-Am/Filipinx community. Michelle also serves as NCPASA’s (Northern California Pilipinx Student Alliance) Human Resources Chair, where she is able to spread resources and awareness among Fil-Am collegiate organizations. Through LEAD, Michelle wants to continue keeping Filipinx hxstory alive and the importance of Ethnic Studies known.

Eleaine Sq

Eleaine Reyes
Fly Pinays Team

Eleaine first became involved with LEAD Filipino after participating in the summer Awareness in Action Program. Driven by her passion for community outreach, activism, and spreading social awareness, she found herself being involved with both LEAD Filipino as an intern and Akbayan SJSU as an External Solidarity Agent for Collegiate Organizations in their Community and Political Affairs Core. As an intern, Eleaine is responsible for assisting the other LEAD organizers in their projects, such as events concerning Filipino-American History month, our piloting high school Awareness in Action program, and other community events. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology at San Jose State University.

Jeren Sq

Jeren Penalosa
Education Team

Jeren is a 4th year Social Science Teach Prep: Single Subject major with a minor in Sociology at San Jose State University. His involvement in the Filipino community began in his first year of college as he became very active within AkbayanSJSU as an intern, Public Relations Officer for the 39th cabinet, and now actively on several cores. His dream is to one day teach Asian American/Filipino Studies either at the high school or college level. He is very passionate about helping the Filipino community through addressing culture, struggles, identity, and history of individuals. As an intern, Jeren will be assisting other LEAD organizers in their projects, projects relating to Awareness in Action Program(education), promoting Filipino-American History month, as well as events occurring in the community.

Alan Gouig
Civic Engagement Team

Currently a graduating senior from San Jose State University, Alan is pursuing a B.S. in Business Management and Administration, with a minor in Hospitality Hotel and Restaurant Management. During his time at San Jose State University, Alan had joined AkbayanSJSU, a Filipino-American based organization. From being Akbayan’s KAAMP (Kuya Ate Ading Mentorship Program) Coordinator ’18 – ’19, Alan had served over 1,000 members, standing as San Jose State’s largest student ran mentorship program.Through KAAMP, Alan had deepened his love for his Pilipinx identity and discovered his passion for community building. After participating in the Awareness in Action Leadership Program, Alan had been eager to further his involvement with L.E.A.D. Present day, Alan strives to serve and further connect to the Fil-Am community by being involved on both L.E.A.D’s Civic Engagement Team and Queer Pilipinx Committee.

Board of Directors

LEAD Filipino’s Board of Directors are pivotal to the direction of our organization.  They provide guidance and stewardship, while offering hindsight (and insight) that informs the strategic and programmatic paths taken by our Organizers. The Board is composed of a small group of Filipin@ professionals who have proven histories of organizing, engaging, and inspiring young Pin@ys in the San Jose/Silicon Valley and Greater Bay Area communities. Most currently, our Board is helping our organization successfully file as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation!

Aurelia Bailey
City of San Jose

Aurelia is a San Jose resident and received a B.A. in Sociology from San Jose State University.  She worked several years in the nonprofit world, for the Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC) and Asian American Recovery Services (AARS) just to name a few.  She also worked briefly for Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation with the Milpitas Police Department.  15 years ago, she started working for the City of San Jose, Parks Recreation Neighborhood Services (PRNS) leading and creating various programs such as the Safe School Campus Initiative, Youth Programs, and Anti-Graffiti and Litter Program.  She was also able to create and design the Youth Obesity Prevention Initiative that promotes physical and nutritional standards implemented in all youth camps and after school programs.  Aurelia is currently working with the City of San Jose’s Housing Department, managing the Place Based Initiative Program in several neighborhoods.  Her work addresses various neighborhoods’ needs and looks to create “Clean, Safe and Engaged Neighborhoods”.  When Aurelia is not working with families to improve their quality of life, she loves running around town, exploring restaurants, and site the Bay Area has to offer.

Razelle Buenavista

Razelle is the Managing Director of Clinical Services for Asian American Recovery Services, a program of HealthRIGHT 360.  She oversees the operations of Santa Clara County and East Palo Alto programs.  Razelle attended San Jose State University and the College of San Mateo where she studied Social Work and Addiction Studies.  For nearly two decades, Razelle has served Asian/Pacific Islander and Latino communities as a social worker and youth advocate.  Most notably, she has been an advocate for gender responsive services, and has taken the lead in coordinating the annual SISTER-to-SISTER:  Celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Women of Tomorrow Leadership Conference.  In 2011, Razelle was recognized for her work with girls by the Asian American Women’s Alliance and Congressman Mike Honda.  In 2016, she was awarded as an “Innovator for Change” by the New Leaders Council.  Razelle is often invited to speak on various topics, including:  Filipino community issues, effective outreach strategies, girls and gangs, and substance abuse among youth.  Her work has led to the development of the Teens Teaching Teens Handbook, and various culturally and ethnically specific programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Razelle is an active member of the City of San Jose’s Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force Technical Team, Behavioral Health Contractors Association of Santa Clara County, Innovative Partnerships, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits’ Leadership Team, and has dedicated countless hours to volunteering at several Bay Area programs.

Tony Santa Ana
De Anza College

Once upon a time, I was a De Anza student finding my way. As a community organizer, artist, educator, and globe trotter, I seek to contribute to humanity. I am an Intercultural Studies part-time instructor teaching “Intro to Pacific Islander History and Culture.” My research interests include education, critical pedagogy, youth studies, global citizenship, indigenous rights, spirituality, ethnic studies, Hip Hop, Pin@y scholarship, transformational education & experiential learning. As I come full circle, I found my way back to De Anza hoping to inspire the next generation. Come to my class and experience fun, interactive, and thought provoking classes!

Dr. Jennifer Briscoe

Dr. Jennifer Briscoe (“Dr. B”) is the Administrator for Telecare’s Partners in Wellness Program that provides adults with a diagnosed mental illness with supportive and intensive mental health, nursing, psychiatric and housing services to the top 3% of the highest utilizers of emergency mental health services in Santa Clara County. Jennifer is also a licensed Marriage and Family therapist. Currently, Jennifer serves on the Commission on the Status of Women for Santa Clara County and in 2018 was awarded Commissioner of the Year. Jennifer is a 2017 New Leaders Council Silicon Valley Fellow and has served on the Executive Board since 2018. Lastly, she is an Advisor for LEAD Filipino and participated in the first ever Filipino Advocacy Day in Sacramento in April 2019.  Jennifer holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Health Sciences from California State University, Hayward, a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and a Doctor of Education degree in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University.

Vern Caruz
Stipe Elementary

Vern is the Principal of Stipe Elementary School in the Oak Grove School District.  Vern has spent the last fifteen years of his educational career focusing on socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities.  He believes that schools are centers of their communities.  While schools primarily provide academic guidance, they also ensure that student’s basic needs are met, including social and emotional care while at school.  Prior to his current tenure, Vern held positions as a teacher where he presented at multiple conferences in employing Exercise Physiology instruction within the Physical Education Curriculum.  Previously as Academic Dean and Assistant Principal, his area of focus was the implementation of Early College High School programs and transformational Small Learning Communities.  Vern received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Kinesiology from San Jose State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the Principal Leadership Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

Alexandria Chu

Alexandria (Alex) Chu is a Program Manager responsible for designing and consulting on mobility programs across Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Prior to relocating to the Bay from her native New York City, Alex worked in Financial Services, focusing on investment banking compliance. As an alumnus of the leadership development organization, Prep for Prep, she had firsthand experience of the impact of access to opportunity and information. This drove her to establish free after-school computer science programs across the Bay, become the Filipino Googler Network’s (FGN) K-12 Global Lead, and fly across the U.S. with Google’s CS First and Grow with Google programs to teach coding to students and adults. When Alex is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.