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

New Member Mixer

Last night we hosted our first EVER New Member Mixer – hey, you have to start somewhere, right? – and welcomed 6 new members to our organization!

We enjoyed learning more and meeting each of you and look forward to continuing to build community together into 2021.

Our next Member Meeting will be on Sunday, January 10th from 4pm-6pm.

LEAD Filipino

Post-Election Session

Today marks many, many victorious first for our country — and for those wins, we celebrate. 🎉 

On Thursday, November 12th join our Post-Election Session us as we look at the wins, losses, and lessons learned that the 2020 General Election delivered to our nation, state, and local communities.

Through our organization’s advocacy on Prop 16, we learned that California residents voted to retain the ban on Affirmative Action.  We also saw that Prop 22, the most expensive campaign in United States history, raised $200 million to overturn a law that would’ve mandated that gig workers receive health benefits and livable wages in California. We know that significant power resides in local and state policy and lawmaking, therefore we will learn from these lessons and return, better. 

Join our Post-Election Session with guest speakers and discussions on how Fil Ams turned out in this historic election and how we’ll strategize to advance opportunities for all Californians. 


LEAD Filipino

Special Hearing on PHRA with County of Santa Clara’s Human Rights Commission

The Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA), i.e., House Resolution (HR) 8313, was introduced by Democratic Congressmember Susan Wild in September 2020. The PHRA had numerous co-authors and co-signers that joined in the collective efforts and message to the Congress.

The PHRA calls for the suspension of the provision of security assistance to the Philippines until the Government of the Philippines has reformed their military and police use of force, which we consider brutal and inhumane abuses of power. Moreover, advocates of the PHRA decry and demand an immediate end to the United States’ economic support of the Philippines until systematic accountability measures are integrated into these agreements. The Duterte Administration continues to violate and transgress basic human rights on the regime’s aimless and senseless “War on Drugs.”

While we advocate at the federal level, the movement continues locally. For the past several months, LEAD Filipino has been working in the community to elevate the PHRA in the County of Santa Clara.

Please join us tonight at 6pm in a Special Hearing with the County of Santa Clara’s Human Rights Commission, featuring supporters of the Act including Congressmember Ro Khanna, State Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Ash Kalra, and community leaders, including survivor Brandon Lee, among many others.