KAYA Leadership Program Summer Recap

KAYA Leadership Program Summer Recap

We had a hugely successful KAYA Leadership Program this summer! From the happy hour kick-off in June to the last session in August, interns and professionals were engaged throughout the summer in informative sessions focused on community activism, Filipina leadership, personal and career development, and public service. Each KLP session averaged 40-50 participants. One participant commented, “I enjoyed the panelists! They were down to earth and real with us. They were very willing to offer advice, no matter our career interests or place in our career paths.” Another appreciated “the interactive qualities of the session–it wasn’t simply people talking at us, but people engaging in activities together.”

Community Activism – June 23rdIMG_0302

Our opening workshop featured advocates working on issues such as the Filipino World War II Veteran’s recognition project and comprehensive immigration reform

  • Jon Melegrito, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Communications  Directorate & Manila Mail columnist
  • Ben de Guzman, National Managing Coordinator for the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) and  former Co-Director of Programs for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, Legislative Assistant, Office of Rep. Madeleine Bordallo and former National AAPI Outreach Director

Filipinas in Leadership – July 7th

  • Nani A. Coloretti, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Irene Bueno, Co-Founder and Partner, Nueva Vista Group, LLC
  • Laureen Laglagaron, Civil Rights Attorney, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Inside-Out: Looking Inward to Be Your Best Outward, Developing a Plan for Personal Growth & Professional Development – July 21st

This interactive workshop was facilitated by Jude Dizon, Charita Castro, and Leilani Padua.

Careers in Public Service – August 4th

This session opened with a panel featuring speakers with experience working the White House, Capitol Hill, federal agencies, political campaigns and a networking session to give attendees the opportunity to connect directly with the speakers and with other KAYA members working in public service.

  • Sylvia Cabus, Gender Advisor at Bureau of Food Security, United States Agency for International DevelIMG_3516opment (USAID)
  • Gregory Cendana, Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
  • Joe Montano, Northern Virginia Director for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine
  • Mario Salazar, National Legislative Director USPIRG/West Regional Field Director DCCC (October 2015)
  • Jason Tengco, Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders

In addition, this year we launched our KLP Mentorship program through which nearly 30 interns and young professionals were paired with mentors from among KAYA’s membership.

Providing critical knowledge and skills is at the core of KLP, but the amazing capacity of our DC community to foster genuine connections and provide needed mentorship truly made this summer a success.


Fostering Connections, Building Leaders

“The KAYA Leadership Program’s Filipinas in Leadership panel introduced me to honest speakers about their path to become some of the most powerful influences in the District as AAPI women. The panelists empowered me to become a stronger Filipina leader in my community and to keep fighting for AAPI social justice issues.”

– Paulene de Mesa, Interned at DC Mayor’s Office of Asian Pacific Islander Affairs

“The KAYA Leadership Program has allowed me to gain invaluable insight from Filipino American professionals on career prospects, professional advice, and on the importance of Filipino American representation and involvement among a wide range of disciplines. This couldn’t have been further realized without my mentor through the program. As a recent college graduate, my mentor has provided me with the impetus to pursue my combined passion of writing and empowering Asian American communities, with indispensable life advice and a direct opportunity to work with KAYA Communications. I couldn’t recommend more for young Filipino American professionals to sign up for a mentor through KLP to expand your mind professionally and personally.”

– Alicia Soller, University of Florida graduate, Interned at Education Week



Our program could not have been possible without your generous donations.


Rosie Abriam

Gem Daus

RJ Diokno

Marita Etcubanez

Laureen Laglagaron

Romeo Ymalay


Gregory Cendana

Erwin de Leon

Melvin Tabilas

Jason Tengco

Hector Vargas

Rizalyn Vargas

Victor Zapanta

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