Embassy names outstanding youth leaders; 2 from N.Y.

Steven Raga

Two community organizers from New York made the 10 Filipino American Youth Leadership Program awardees.

Steven Raga, founder of the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro); and Michael Vea, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Infinity Charter School, will be joining the Ambassadors, Consuls General, and Tourism Directors Tour from July 11 to 14 as part of their participation in the program. With fellow awardees, they will be holding meetings with government officials, led by President Benigno Aquino, business and entertainment leaders.
Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. announced the names of the 10 FAYLP participants, comprising five men and five women. California has the most representation with four awardees.

Below are the profiles of the chosen FAYLP participants.

Melissa Apuya – District Representative for California State Legislature Senator Leland Yee. Current Director of Community Affairs of the Young Filipino Professionals Association. Member of the Board of Advisors of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and Board of Directors of the San Francisco Filipino American Democratic Club. Graduated from the University of San Francisco.

Louella Rose Cabalona – Senior Project Manager of Walgreen Company. Founder/writer/singer/ creative director of Samasama Project, Filipino Folk Fusion Band and Performing Arts Group. Producer/actress of Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts-Pintig Cultural Group. Vice President for External Affairs and member of One La Salle Alumni Association of the Midwest. Graduated from De La Salle University in Manila.

Cesario Calanoc – President of ActiVentures Philippine Dive Tours and Managing Director of One Virtual Source. Board Member of the REEF Group, which helps raise awareness in the preservation of Philippine coral reefs. Chosen as ABS-CBN’s Balitang America as a Filipino Champion for philanthropic efforts. Graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.

Gregory Cendana – Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO. Founder and President of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Consulting.” Served as President of the United States Student Association and Foundation. At UCLA, involved with Samahang Pilipino as Kabalikat Coordinator. Serves on the national board for Kaya: Filipinos for Progress and the national advisory board for Asian Pacific Americans for Progress. Recently elected a D.C. delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Labor & Workplace Studies Minor.

Alexander De Ocampo – Senior Program and Project Manager of Saban Family Foundation and Saban Capital Group Corporate Affairs. First Filipino American elected as President of California College Democrats and California Young Democrats. Member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Asian Americans Pacifics in Entertainment. Former member of the California Advisory Board on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. Graduated from California State University, Northridge.

Angela Lagdameo – Senior Analyst at the Office of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Founded Maryland Democratic Party’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Leadership Council. Recently elected as delegate to the Democratic National Convention to represent Maryland Congressional District 7. Recognized with a Philippine American Foundation for Charities Dakila Achievement Award for Public Service. At the University of Maryland, where she graduated, served as first Asian American female to become Student Body President following stint as President of the Asian American Student Union. Obtained her Master’s degree at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she started the Religion, Ethics & Public Policy Interest Caucus and was a member of the Diversity Committee.

Francine Maigue – Artistic Director/Public Relations Manager of Mystic Entertainment and Staff Writer/Weekly Columnist/Community Events Producer of Filipino Press. Also works as Creative Director of Star Media and GMA Pinoy TV Networks. Served the Filipino American community in San Diego as Miss Philippines 1999. Graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s Degree in World Arts and Cultures and from Harvard University with a Master’s Degree – specialization in General Management and Operations. Recipient of numerous awards at UCLA and founded the Women’s Empowerment Convention & Network at Harvard.

Steven Raga – Graduate student at Harvard University. Founded and organized Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro). Member of the Board of Directors of the Filipino Children’s Fund. Served as President of the Philippine United Student Organization at Stony Brook University, National Director and National Secretary for the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue and subsequently elected as its National Chairman, East Coast Director for the Sandiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, National Youth Director for the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, President of Cornell University’s Society for Asian American Graduate Affairs and Campaign Officer for Asian Pacific Americans for Actions.

Michael Vea

Michael Vea – Co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Infinity Charter School in New York City and teacher of 7th Grade American History and Journalism. The KIPP Infinity Charter School has consistently received an “A” rating from New York City’s Department of Education. In the 2008-2009 school year, the school was ranked the top public middle school in New York City. Recipient of the Frederick Sontag Price in Urban Education and the Kinder Award for Excellence in Teaching. Graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Social Policy and from Pace University with a Master’s in Teaching.

Katrina Zulueta – Deputy Chief of Staff, Maui County Mayor’s Office (Hawaii). Former Overall Country Coordinator of Papica Foundation, non-profit organization that advocated literacy and education. Owned and operated Play Philippines, a team-building, events and travel company. Consistent champion for multiple Karate tournaments. Graduated from the University of the Philippines, cum laude, BA Film and Audio Visual Communications.

“What really impressed me were the highly qualified applicants and their immense desire to be engaged and give back to the Philippines,” Cuisia said in a press statement. “These achievers are already leaders in their own right and they put forth some terrific ideas in helping solve challenges our country is faced with.”

Close to 400 applications were received by the Philippine Embassy and consulates general throughout the United States, he said.

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