Owner, Grace Events; U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance
Community Involvement: Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance. In this capacity, she supports the organization's advocacies to promote upright ethics in public service. She is also actively involved in community programs in Los Angeles for the advancement of Filipino Culture and the Filipino American community as a whole.
First job in the US: Office Manager
FilAm Shero In America: Loida Nicolas Lewis embodies the spirit of Godliness in advocating her favorite causes. In a speech before the Global Summit of Filipinos she said, "Whether we sit in an executive office as a CEO or a babysitter in a private home, our being Filipinos enables us to anticipate how the other person is feeling and we respond positively or react humanely." On many occasions I have partnered with her in advancing many worthwhile programs or projects that have significant impact or influence on the global community, and doing so has made me a firsthand witness to her understated elegance in leadership.
Proudest Professional Achievement: As an immigrant and naturalized citizen, she started from the ranks. Through hard work and dignified performance, she rose to the highest position in corporate America, second to the owners of the companies that she worked for. Without any intent to be braggadocious, she has many proud moments. But, the one that she is proudest about is leaving a trail and reputation of successful leadership in mentoring budding managers who reported to her. These managers continue to be trailblazers in the credit card industry; and they are quick to acknowledge that it was through her mentorship that they learned the ropes.
Biggest workplace challenge as a Fil-Am woman: Throughout the course of her career in America, she was pitted against Ivy league educated men who held equal rank executive positions as her. These men's first impression of a minority, petite woman who spoke with an accent, was less positive than the norm. At the onset, she had to prove herself. When they soon found out that she could hold her own, she could not be intimidated, and what she had to say had substance they treated me with reverence not only as a peer but as a woman of equal competence.
Vivian Zalvidea Araullo
Executive Director, Westbay
South San Francisco, California
First job in the U.S.: Associate Editor, Filipinas Magazine
Fil-Am s/hero in the U.S.: Natalie Coughlin. This Filipino American Olympic gold medalist proudly acknowledges her Filipino Heritage. She is a strong, determined Filipina American woman who is proud of her roots.
Proudest professional achievement: She created a series of public service fairs that brought together service providers who donated their time and talent to give Filipino Americans free service and advice immigration, health, debt, and foreclosure. The events helped thousands by raising funds to help less fortunate Filipinos in the Philippines. They were able to create a circle of giving and helping that crossed the Pacific and created a global Filipino community that exemplified the value of "bayanihan."
Biggest workplace challenge as a Fil-Am woman: As a female leader and a single mother in the corporate structure, she sometimes felt that she had to work harder to achieve respect and credibility within her organization. This also affects her work-life balance.
Five year goal: To create a truly powerful global community of overseas Filipinos who can affect changes in policy in the Philippines. I plan to achieve this by initiating a portal for information and news sharing among overseas Filipino communities across the world, now estimated at about 11 million strong.
The one thing that nobody would guess about me: She is a yoga instructor whose dream is to open a studio that could be a safe, quiet place to help people achieve wellness through yoga and meditation.
Filipino custom or tradition I would like to pass on to others: Bayanihan, which she would define by harnessing the community spirit to help others. In her opinion, Filipinos are generally hospitable, friendly and really want to help others. Bayanihan would go a long way in today's world.