Clinton mourns passing of friend

Maria Mabilangan Haley: Photo by Bing Cardenas Branigin

Former President Bill Clinton mourned the passing of friend and former adviser Maria Haley, who died September 13 from a brain aneurysm.

Haley, who was executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, was 70. She was appointed by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to AEDC, an agency with more than 100 employees. A statement said she came to the position with state and international experience.

“Maria was a great public servant, a wonderful person, and my friend for more than 30 years,” said Clinton in a separate statement.

“When I was governor of Arkansas, Maria was invaluable in opening foreign markets to our products, recruiting foreign investment in our state, and supporting my work in the National Governors Association. After I became president, I nominated her to the board of the Export Import Bank of the United States. During her service, from 1994 to 1999, the Export Import Bank doubled financing for small business exports.

“Before and after her time at the Export Import Bank, she served as special assistant to the President and as deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office, helping other qualified and dedicated people serve in important positions.

“Maria was really a world citizen, who never lost contact with her native nation, the Philippines, where she served as an adviser to President Gloria Arroyo. Thousands of people in Arkansas, throughout the United States, and in the Philippines, benefited from Maria Haley’s life-long commitment to bring economic opportunities to more people. As we mourn her passing, we also must be very grateful for her life.”

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) hailed Haley as “a faithful advocate for Filipino World War II veterans and a proud mentor of women and youth.”

She was a strong voice for Filipino American empowerment, providing much needed advise, assistance and encouragement to community leaders, said NaFFAA chair Ed Navarra.

“As the highest-ranking Filipino American in the Clinton administration, she always made sure that our issues are in the radar screen of policy makers,” he said. “She will always remain an inspiration to us all.”

A recollection of Haley’s fun-loving nature was shared by public relations executive Lorna Dietz and community organizer Bing Cardenas Branigin

“She had this impish sense of humor. In Hawaii in 2006, she danced the night away with (an) old buddy,” she said. “(She’s) a great American and one of the finest leaders in the Filipino community.”

“She was a fabulous dancer; her favorite was swing and boogie,” said Bing. “We would go to lunch every now and then. We would talk about mundane things, funny stories. She’s always glamorous, always properly dress, always together from head to foot.”


  1. Perla wrote:

    I love your blog.

  2. Prima Torralba wrote:

    I enjoyed your blog. It’s easy to read, the content is good, and you’re an educated writer. Thanks for writing about Maria.

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