New PAFCOM President Ledy Almadin reaches out to youth, emphasizes inclusivity

‘I have my faith, I pray a lot.’

‘I have my faith, I pray a lot.’

Daughters Ellie and Elena Velez

Daughters Ellie and Elena Velez

By Cristina DC Pastor

Beginning January 1, the Philippine American Friendship Committee will welcome its new president: accounting professional, long-time pillar of the community, and mother of two teen daughters Ledy Almadin.

Ledy, 47, becomes the 26th president of the Jersey City-based PAFCOM, an organization that seeks to unite Filipinos in the Garden State to become one, strong community. It hopes to do that by organizing and providing social services to the Filipino immigrant population, especially the marginalized, the youth and the elderly.

“Am I nervous, excited? All of the above,” replied Ledy when interviewed by The FilAm. “I want to focus on what we want to accomplish and that is to bring the community together.”

The community of Jersey City, where PAFCOM is currently headquartered, has about 20,000 Filipino Americans, many of them professionals, health care workers, and entrepreneurs.

“Our community is on the rise,” said Ledy, an accountant for the CPA consulting firm EisnerAmper in Manhattan. She acknowledged socio-economic issues and immigration are issues affecting some Filipinos “though not as badly as the others.”

As incoming president, Ledy would like her one-year tenure to focus on attracting young FilAms to the organization, and also to extend greater services to senior citizens. Her board and officers have agreed to host two events – a foodie festival for New Jersey’s chefs and a bike race – that will hopefully get younger FilAms acquainted with PAFCOM.

Her fellow officers are Vice President Rose Javier; Secretary Susan Lagmay; and Treasurer Lita Roxas. The advisory PAFCOM Board is led by Dr. Connie Uy, with members including Victor Sison, Gani Puertollano and Helen Castillo.

“That is our challenge, to get the younger generation involved,” she said.

Elderly Filipinos, on the other hand, need to know more of what services are available to them in New Jersey. PAFCOM is ready to connect them with those services, said Ledy. “We want to do more for senior citizens. We want to care for them.”

Ledy’s involvement with the Filipino community originated from her Faith. She was one of the movers behind the Santacruzan for about five years. The Santacruzan is said to be the longest running Maytime religious procession on the East Coast. It is an annual event organized by the Catholic Action of Mary.

Her grassroots engagement through CAM led her to meet many of Jersey City’s community leaders, such as Gani Puertollano and Gerry Austria, two gentlemen who remain active with PAFCOM. Ledy became the treasurer in 2011 when Gani was elected PAFCOM president.

“As treasurer, I saw the challenges and the potential (on PAFCOM) to help the community,” she said. “At first I was intrigued at certain things going on. As an accountant, I help clients fix their books, so it was natural for me to see how we can fix or improve things considering that Jersey City is the most condensed Filipino community, outside of Queens.”

First on her agenda as president is to refine the leadership structure and build on what the organization has accomplished in the last 25 years.

“We want to build on what we have done,” she said. “We have set the foundation. We’re grateful to Atty. Victor Sison (outgoing president) for helping us implement and stabilize the new structure following the amendment of the by-laws in 2014. Now we can move along.”

Change, Ledy reminds herself, does not happen overnight.

Her low-key style and mild-mannered disposition are the rock to two other organizations where Ledy has a committed presence: the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce where she is the treasurer and the Sta. Cruz Laguna Association which she currently heads.

Although she and her daughters are now residents of Summit in the last three years, Jersey City has always been home to the Almadin family since they moved to the U.S. in the 1980s. Her father, an engineer, was the first to immigrate, but the entire family would join him a year later in 1986. Ledy just turned 18 then. She earned her Accounting degree from Rutgers University in Newark in 1994 and began to work with the Gutkind accounting firm, initially as an accounting clerk. She rose through the ranks at the same time that her company sailed through a series of mergers until it became EisnerAmper in 2009.

In her public as well as private life, Ledy is one nurturing, steadfast leader. She is single-parenting two daughters — Elena who is studying college in Rhode Island, and Ellie, who is in high school – at the same time balancing a demanding job and multiple roles in the community.

“I have my faith, I pray a lot,” she said.

She is also meticulous with planning and anticipates potential hitches.

Ledy said she would like her leadership to be remembered for its campaign for inclusivity. Right now, the outreach is for Filipinos in South and Central Jersey to be part of PAFCOM. One of them is Gwen DeVera from Voorhees, a Jersey suburb close to Philadelphia, who was named 2016 PAFCOM Grand Marshal. A retired registered nurse, she is an active member of Camdem County, serving as vice chair of the county’s Human Relations Commission.

“Everyone in the community can join. We want to emphasize it. We are looking to have more or all (Filipinos) of Jersey to join us,” she said.

PAFCOM’S women leaders, Ledy with Board Chair Dr. Connie Uy

PAFCOM’S women leaders, Ledy with Board Chair Dr. Connie Uy

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One Comment

  1. Gino D. wrote:

    Nice read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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