100 Most Influential Filipinas in the United States

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History says that the earliest known record of Filipinos in America dates back 420 years ago when a Filipino-crewed Spanish galleon anchored off the coast of Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. Since then, Filipinos remarkably spread across the boarders of their native land.

The October celebration of Filipino American Heritage Month also marked the Fifth Annual Filipina Summit held at Washington DC. The summit, themed "Filipina Voices: Changing the Face of Power in America", highlighted 100 of the most influential Filipina in the United States. These women emerged from over 200 nominees who serve as catalysts in shaping the Filipino influence in the American society. As acknowledged Keepers of the Flame, they are given the challenge as to help sustain the power of Filipina protégées as well as Filipino community towards the next generation.

There are six categories for the award namely: the Innovators and Thought Leaders; Founders and Pioneers; Builders and Emerging Leaders; Policymakers and Visionaries; Behind the Scenes Leaders; and the "Nicole" (to honor the inspiration brought by a Filipina rape victim's activism and pursuit for justice from her rapists). The list of 100 Filipina awardees are as follows:

Innovators and Thought Leaders

  • Amy Besa, co-founder, Cendrillon restaurant; co-author, Memories of Philippine Kitchens (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) (New York, New York)
  • Angelita Castro-Kelly, Earth Observing System (EOS) Science Interface Manager and International Earth Science Constellation Team Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Maryland)
  • Carissa Villacorta, Author, Columnist, Freelance Writer Surreality,Philippine News, Filipinas Magazine (East Elmhurst, New York)
  • Charmaine Clamor, Founder Jazz Phil-USA (Hollywood, California)
  • Connie Mariano, MD, Founder, Center for Executive Medicine; personal physician to President Bill Clintonand Vice-President Al Gore (Scottsdale, Arizona)
  • Diana J. Galindo, MD, Physician, Geriatrics Specialist, Faculty Cleveland Clinic; President, American Medical Women's Association (Florida)
  • Edith Mijares Ardiente, PE, QEP, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, International Truck and Engine Corporation (Warrenville, Illinois)
  • Elena Mangahas, Co-Chair, Little Manila Foundation; Lead Director, The Vagina Monologues, FWN's V-Day Filipina (Stockton, California)
  • Elenita (Leny) Fe Mendoza Strobel, EdD, Professor, American Multicultural Studies Department, Sonoma State University (Sonoma, California)
  • Gemma Nemenzo, Managing Editor, Filipinas Magazine; Author (Daly City, California)
  • Grace G. Baldisseri, Poet/Artist, Tinig Mamamayan Foundation (E. Norriton, Pennsylvania)
  • Jane Hofilena, Creative & Operations Director, Canal Cl@se Television (Miami, Florida)
  • Leila Benitez-McCollum, Broadcaster, retired (New York, New York)
  • Lilia Villanueva, co-founder TAMA gallery (New York, New York)
  • Malu Rivera-Peoples, Founder and Artistic Director, Westlake School for the Performing Arta (Daly City, California)
  • Marisa Marquez, Actor/Writer (New York, New York)
  • Mutya San Agustin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Clinical Epidemiology, and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York, New York)

Founders and Pioneers

  • Celia Ruiz-Tomlinson, Founder/President, Rhombus Professional Associates, Inc. (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  • Connie S. Uy, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, New Jersey Medical School (Newark, New Jersey)
  • Cora Alisuag, RN, MN, MA, CFP, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aliron International, Inc.; Aliron Philippines, Inc.; Aliron Far East, LLC; Aliron Middle East, LLC; Founder, CORAnet Solutions, LLC; Founder, HEAL Foundation (Washington, DC)
  • Ellen M. Abellera, Executive Director, Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (Olympia, Washington)
  • Erlinda Sayson Limcaco, BSN, RN, Chairman of the Board & CEO PNAPANJ Inc. (Blackwood, New Jersey)
  • Gina Lopez Alexander, CEO - Designer, Gina Alexander Inc. (Burbank, California)
  • Gloria T. Caoile, co-Founder and Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; co-Founder, NaFFAA; former member, White House Commission of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs; Senior Advisor to President of AFSCME (Washington, DC)
  • Joy Bruce, MD, Founder, President & CEO, NANAY (Miami, Florida)
  • Linda Maria Nietes-Little, Owner & CEO, Philippine Expressions Bookshop (Rancho Palos Verdes, California)
  • Loida Nicolas Lewis, Chair & CEO TLC Beatrice LLC, TLC Beatrice (Philippines), Inc., TLC Beatrice (China), Inc. (New York, New York)
  • Ludy Corrales, President & CEO, CLO Funding (Piscataway, New Jersey)
  • Luzviminda Sapin Micabalo, retired RN & Health Care Administrator, Cabrini Medical Center New York, New York)
  • Marietta Aster Nagrampa-Almazan, President Specialty Center, Inc. (Sacramento, California)
  • Mary Carmen Madrid-Crost, President, Law Offices of Mary Carmen R. Madrid-Crost (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Nimfa Yamsuan Gamez, Founder & CEO, Mission Hope Developmental Services Inc., LLC (Dublin, California)
  • Patricia Lim-Yusah, Director, Iskwelahang Filipino (Lexington, Massachusetts)
  • Rozita Villanueva Lee, Business Owner, Drums of the Island, Co-Founder, Asian Pacific Forum, Asian Chamber of Commerce, NaFFAA (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Sony (Resurreccion ) Robles Florendo (Baltimore, MD)
  • Virna S. Tintiangco, Founder, Filipina Women's Network; Director, Greenlight Titles (Eugene, Oregon)

Policymakers and Visionaries

  • Charmaine Arivan Manansala, California Political Director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); former Senior Policy Adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senior Policy Adviser, (NAFVE) National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (Los Angeles, California)
  • Christina Baal, LMSW, Director of Immigrant Family Services, Cabrini Immigrant Services (New York, New York)
  • Eleonor G. Castillo, MPA Elementary School Teacher, Chula Vista Elementary School District (Chula Vista, California)
  • Grace Walker, Commissioner, Commission on the Status of Women, City of Glendale (California)
  • Gwen de Vera, Commissioner, Human Relations, Camden County (Voorhees, New Jersey)
  • Irene Bueno Esq., Principal, Nueva Vista Group, LLC; Legislative Adviser, National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE); former White House Special Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff; Board Member, Asian American Action Fund (Washington, DC)
  • Kris Valderrama, (D) Delegate, District 26, Prince George's County (Maryland)
  • Kymberly Marcos Pine, (R) Representative for District 43 - Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Puuloa (Hawaii)
  • Lillian Galedo, Executive Director, Filipinos for Affirmative Action (Oakland, California)
  • Lourdes Tancinco, Esq., Tancinco Law Office; Chair, Veterans Equity Center; Co-Chair, (NNVE) National Network for Veterans Equity (San Francisco, California)
  • Marissa Barbers Castro-Salvati, Public Affairs Region Manager, Southern California Edison; Commissioner, Board of Civil Service, (Los Angeles, California)
  • Miriam Bustamante Riedmiller, Esq, Law Offices of Miriam B. Riedmiller (Washington, DC)
  • Mona Pasquil, Vice President, MHSC Partners (Sacramento, California)
  • Norma Doctor Sparks, Director, Santa Clara County, Social Services Agency, Department of Family and Children Services (San Jose, California)
  • Rida T.R. Cabanilla, (D) Representative, District 42 - Waipahu, Honouliuli, West Loch, Ewa (Hawaii)
  • Ruth Uy Asmundson, PhD, Mayor Pro Tempore (2007), Mayor (2008), City of Davis (California)
  • Sonia Aranza, President/CEO Aranza Communications, former Director of Constituent Relations, Congressman Neil Abercrombie (Washington, DC)
  • Vanessa Barcelona, JD, immigration attorney (Florida)
  • Velma Veloria, Second Filipina in the continental United States to be elected to a State Legislature (1992), serving 12 years as State Representative for South Seattle’s 11th District; key author of Washington's anti-trafficking legislation (Washington)
  • Vida Benavides, Partner, Leadership Advantage, LLC; Co-Founding Chair, APIAVote, Adviser & Strategist, NAFVE--National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (San Francisco, California and Washington DC)

Behind the Scenes Leaders

  • Asia Yulo Blume, Recruitment Director, Asian American Donor Program (Alameda, California)
  • Aurora Cavosora Daly, Chair, Girl Scout Council of Northwestern Connecticut; Co-Owner/Manager Travel Daly (Torrington, Connecticut)
  • Cheely Ann Sy, Director of Research, D.S. Wolf Group International, LLC (New York, New York)
  • Cora Tomalinas, Chair, First Five Santa Clara County Commission (Santa Clara, California)
  • Denielle Palomares, Quality Assurance, Genentech; Co-Chair, Filipino Americans Coming Together (FACT) @ Genentech (South San Francisco, California)
  • Edna Austria Rodis, RN, Kaiser Permanente (San Francisco, California)
  • Flor Alcantara, Asst. Superintendent, Department of Corrections (New Jersey)
  • Kai Delen-Briones, Coach, The First Tee of San Francisco
  • Laarni San Juan, RN, PHN, MPH, Public Health Nurse San Mateo County Health Department (San Mateo, California)
  • Lolita Kintanar, Program Director, Canon Kip Senior Center, Episcopal Community Services (San Francisco, California)
  • Maria Jocelyn R. Bernal, Budget Manager Carat USA Inc. (Fresh Meadow, New York)
  • Marie Lorraine F. Mallare-Jimenez, Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco (San Francisco, California)
  • Perla Gange Ibarrientos, Commissioner, Daly City Personnel Board, City of Daly City; Vice President, Pilipino Resource Center (California)
  • Rosalinda Medina Rupel, Technical Services Librarian, Clifford Chance; Festival Chair, PAFCOM (New Jersey)
  • Susie Quesada, Marketing Manager, Ramar Foods International (Pittsburg, California)
  • Terry Bautista, TCB Consultant (Oakland, California)
  • Vangie Buell, Author, Activist (Berkeley, California)


  • M. Evelina Galang, Assistant Professor, University of Miami, Author, Her Wild American Self and One Tribe (Florida)

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