FilAms among Carnegie Corporation’s inspiring immigrants

At least 6 Filipinos made the esteemed Carnegie Corporation of New York’s The Pride of America, immigrants who have made “notable contributions to the progress of our society.”

They are Executive Chef of the White House Cristeta Comerford, photographer Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Seton Hall University President A. Gabriel Esteban, fashion designer Josie Natori, CEO of TLC Beatrice Loida Nicolas-Lewis, and retired Army Major General Antonio Taguba.

They are among Carnegie’s “inspiring group of naturalized citizens” that also includes author Isaac Asimov from Russia, singer Helen Reddy from Australia, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour from England, Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington from Greece, diplomat Henry Kissinger from Germany, and physicist Albert Einstein from Germany.

“America is a land of immigrants,” states the Pride of America series. “Carnegie Corporation of New York has saluted the legacy of Andrew Carnegie and other immigrants every July 4th since 2006.”

Carnegie came to the U.S. in 1848 from an impoverished village in Scotland. By the time he died in 1919, he was a steel tycoon and a respected philanthropist, his support and generosity bestowed on leading institutions, such as Carnegie-Mellon University and the New York Public Library.

crisCristeta Comerford is the White House’s executive chef, the first ethnic minority to serve in that position. She arrived at the White House as an assistant chef during the Clinton Administration but was promoted to her current position by Laura Bush, in 2005, and reappointed by Michelle Obama in 2009. Previously, she worked in several fine restaurants in Europe and America. She has served as the keynote speaker for the International Women’s Leadership Conference and other events, and in 2010 she appeared on Iron Chef America.

Cheryl_Diaz_Meyer-410x307Cheryl Diaz Meyer, who immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1981, was one of the few female photographers to cover the beginnings of the wars in Iraq and Afghan. For her photographs of the war in Iraq, she won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. She also won acclaim for her documentation of the adversity facing women around the world. In addition to her continued work covering world events and issues, Meyer lectures widely.

Gabriel-EstebanA. Gabriel Esteban is the first lay president of Seton Hall, a Catholic university, in two decades; he is also its first Filipino president. As president, he spearheaded the university’s strategic planning and collaborated with faculty and academic leaders on enhancing and adding undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as strengthening the centrality of academics at Seton Hall. Esteban is a founding board member and vice chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Association of Colleges and Universities, a new national organization established to advocate on behalf of minority-serving institutions.

Josie_Natori-410x307Starting her career in business, Josie Natori studied economics at Manhattanville College and worked to become the first female vice president of investment banking at Merrill Lynch. She turned to fashion when a Bloomingdale’s buyer suggested that she transform a blouse from the Philippines into sleepwear. She went on to launch the global brand Natori, with products including lingerie, evening wear, and fragrances. She is the recipient of the Lakandula Award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, and the Humanitarian Award from Fashion Group International.

loida (2)Loida Nicolas-Lewis served for 10 years as general attorney in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and co-authored the bestselling book How to Get A Green Card. Afterward, she became the chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice Foods, a business conglomerate owned by her husband, Reginald Francis Lewis, until his death in 1993. She serves as chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, chair emeritus of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and co-founded the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund.

Antonio-TagubaAntonio Taguba, a retired army major general, was the second American citizen of Philippine birth to be promoted to the general officer rank. He is well known for the Taguba Report, an internal U.S. Army report he issued in 2004 after being assigned to investigate accusations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The report was later leaked to the press by an unknown source. Taguba, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal among other accolades, retired in 2007. He is the chairman of the Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentors.

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