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Filipino Young Leaders Program Announces Summer 2023 Class of Tayo Fellows

July 11, 2023

For Immediate Release:


TJ Simba-Medel

Filipino Young Leaders Program Announces Summer 2023 Class of Tayo Fellows

The Tayo Fellowship Program is excited to announce the selection of twenty-four Filipino American young leaders into its Summer 2023 cohort. Through the fellowship, Tayo Fellows will have the unique experience of contributing to the growing work of Tayo's online misinformation and public health projects and spearhead the development of the Tayo Courageous Conversations Pilot Program.

"In order to find something that's never been found, you need to be lost first," said TJ Simba-Medel, FYLPRO Tayo Fellowship Director, "In that spirit, I am excited to go into the unknown with this historical cohort as we embark on a journey of reimagining what it means to be courageous in our conversations with one another."

The 2023 Tayo Fellows are:

  • Alexa Lauve Simon (she/they)- Fremont, CA
  • Alexandra Reyes (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA
  • Alyssa Caldito (she/her) - Ann Arbor, MI
  • Angela Labador (siya/she) - Tempe, AZ
  • Angela Rose David (she/her) - Los Angeles, CA
  • Angelica Ahmann (she/her) - Madison, WI
  • Ania Ty (she/her) - Washington, DC
  • Caitlin Jayne Agnes (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA
  • Danielle Mangabat (she/her) - Atlanta, GA
  • Dasha Pates (she/her) - Aurora, IL
  • Erika Acosta (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA
  • Faye Suficiencia (she/her) - San Antonio, TX
  • Janeen Simon (she/her) - Arroyo Grande, CA
  • Janeva Nicole Dimen (she/her)  - Wellesley, MA
  • Jayson Cayanan (he/him) - Chicago, IL
  • Jazmine Alcon (she/her) - Jersey City, NJ
  • Jelynn Tatad (she/her) - Providence, RI
  • Katrina Itona (she/her) – New Milford, NJ
  • Katrina Manrique (she/her) - Los Angeles, CA
  • Keala Marie Marasigan (she/her) - Corvallis, OR
  • Kim Navarro (she/her) - Washington, DC
  • Lily Varilla (she/her) - Madison, WI
  • Malakai Espinosa (he/him) - Los Angeles, CA
  • Nina Mondero (she/her) - Chicago, IL

This year’s cohort marks the Tayo Fellowship Program's fourth cohort and its largest cohort to date, nearly tripling in size to recognize the diverse talent, perspectives, and motivations of Filipino American young leaders within this year's application pool.

This cohort consists of fellows who are in high school, college, and working professionals.  This year’s cohort includes new regions represented with fellows from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.

This program will allow our fellows to participate in various projects, research, events, and professional development opportunities. Some projects include web content writing, event planning, organizational development, surveys and research, audio and video production, and misinformation and  disinformation tracking. These projects will directly relate to focus areas our Tayo fellows are interested in, including civic engagement and policy, solidarity across communities, mental health, and public health and health disparities.

To support this year's cohort, the Tayo Fellowship Program Team will consist of TJ Simba-Medel as Fellowship Director, Krystle Canare as Mental Health Advisor, and the addition of former Tayo Fellows, Sarah Mae Dizon and Joed Garbo, who will serve as Fellowship Program Managers to support fellows in their day-to-day operations and Courageous Conversations curriculum development.

“As a former Tayo fellow, I'm excited to rejoin the fellowship and support this summer's programming. I'm thrilled to welcome the largest cohort of Tayo fellows, each bringing unique backgrounds and experiences that will contribute to our reflective discussions and purposeful projects. I can't wait to witness the incredible synergy among this inspiring cohort of Fil-Am leaders from all corners of the country,” said Joed Garbo.

“I’m excited to see how this year’s group of bright, talented leaders will shape Tayo’s vital work,” said Sarah Mae Dizon, FYLPRO Tayo Fellowship Manager and former fellow from the 2020 cohort. “The diversity in this year’s cohort will certainly help us address the unique, nuanced needs of Filipina/o communities across the country and the diaspora.”

All of these endeavors expand Tayo’s ability to achieve its mission and vision of becoming an Innovative data hub that empowers Filipina/o communities by collecting data, fostering partnerships, publishing culturally relevant insights, and developing leaders to create an equitable and sustainable future.

FYLPRO’s Summer 2023 Tayo Fellows include:

Alexa Lauve Simon (she/they) - Fremont, CA

Alexa Love is a versatile creative with a background in political science, theater, and creative arts. With a degree in Political Science, they possess a deep understanding of social issues and the power of advocacy. As a theater technician, they excel in organizing and problem-solving, ensuring seamless productions. Their creative skills in drawing, photography, and writing have created an outlet for them to express their voice and ideas. Dedicated to making a positive impact, Alexa brings together their multidimensional skill set to contribute to various non-profit initiatives, promoting social change and sharing diverse stories with the world.

Alexandra Reyes (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA

Hi! I’m Alexandra Reyes (call me Alex!), an incoming senior in the 4+1 BS/MPH program at Temple University, and I am so excited to be a part of Tayo! I am eager to contribute to projects that address the unique health needs faced by Filipino Americans, and especially ways that cultural and social factors impact health within immigrant communities. In my free time, I love trying out new restaurants with my friends, crocheting, and going to the beach.

Alyssa Caldito (she/her) - Ann Arbor, MI

Alyssa Caldito is a rising junior at the University of Michigan studying Community and Global Public Health with minors in Asian/Pacific Islander American (A/PIA) Studies and Community Action and Social Change. She hopes to pursue a joint Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work (MPH/MSW) Degree with aspirations to work with community organizations to advocate for systemic solutions to health disparities in marginalized communities. As a first-generation Filipino American, Alyssa has always sought to involve herself in the AAPI community, regardless of where she is. On campus, her involvements include the Filipino American Student Association, where she has served as the organization's previous Co-Cultural Chair and current Co-President. Additionally, as a Museum Assistant at the U-M Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, she worked closely with the ReConnect/ReCollect Project to explore creating reparative connections to the Philippine archival collections at the University of Michigan. Off-campus, she is an intern for The American Citizens for Justice, a non-profit advocacy organization whose mission is to advance racial equality for all, especially the AAPI community.

Angela Labador (siya/she) - Tempe, AZ

Angela Labador (siya/she) is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at Arizona State University. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Angela is a Pinay educator and researcher working with Filipino community organizations in Texas and Arizona. Angela's work spans communication research, critical pedagogy, and arts-based workshops and performance.

Angela Rose David (she/her) - Los Angeles, CA

Angela Rose David is a first generation Filipino American, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, with familial ties to Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology and a double minor in Spanish and Public Health. After spending two years interning with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on projects related to public health education and COVID-19 preparedness, she went on to complete a yearlong research fellowship at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Utilizing these research experiences, Angela Rose now works at UCLA full-time as the project manager for a lab that explores health disparities affecting the Filipino immigrant population.

Angelica Ahmann (she/her) - Madison, WI

Angelica Ahmann is a first-generation, Filipino-American third-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is studying Neurobiology with certificates in Global Health and Southeast Asian Studies in hopes to pursue a career in Neurorehabilitation for incarcerated teens in underrepresented communities around the world. Angelica is also currently serving as Cultural Chair for UW-Madison’s Filipinx-American Student Association (FASO) and spent this previous semester working as an intern for the organization. Angelica takes great pride to have the opportunity to be in a position where she can both celebrate and enlighten herself and others about Filipino culture.

Ania Ty (she/her) - Washington, DC

Ania is highly passionate about the intersections between economic mobility, environmental and climate justice, race, gender, public health, and migration. Prior to serving as a Tayo Help Fellow, Ania was an Analyst at Bell Creek Consulting where she cultivated upward economic mobility in localities by supporting the adoption of job quality frameworks, researching ways local leaders could use new federal grants to advance environmental justice and build green economies, and more. She has also interned at climate and environment-focused organizations and identified the disparities in pollution burdens among low-income communities of color, advocated for the passage of critical state-level legislation alongside other youth organizers, and researched and co-authored a report on environmental justice efforts from US Climate Alliance states.

Throughout college Ania was highly involved in the Asian and Pacific Islander community at the local and national level. At her university, she served as the president of her campus Filipino American student association and worked at the campus’ Asian and Pacific Cultural Center for several years, helping to usher in the center’s first Pacific Islander director; at OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates, she created a permanent part of the organization’s youth curriculum that aims to train college and university students in equitable and effective leadership. She is incredibly proud to be a 1.5 generation Pinay immigrant and is especially energized to serve Filipinos impacted by the gendered nature of labor and labor-driven migration.

Ania graduated summa cum laude from Oregon State University through their dual degree program, earning a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Bachelor’s in Public Policy (environmental and energy policy) with minors in Public Health and Ethnic Studies.

Caitlin Jayne Agnes (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA

Caitlin Jayne Agnes is a upcoming junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health at Temple University. Her involvement in the Filipino Curriculum Project, where she collaborates with high school students and educators in Hawai'i to construct a curriculum emphasizing the importance of Philippine history and culture in shaping cultural identity, has ignited her passion for promoting cultural awareness and education. As the Event Coordinator: Cultural Chair at the Temple University Philippine American Council (TUPAC), Caitlin ensures inclusive and engaging presentations that foster cultural understanding. These experiences inspire her pursuit of a degree in public health, where she aims to address health disparities, promote cultural sensitivity, and advocate for equitable healthcare access within marginalized communities. Caitlin is grateful to be chosen for this year's TAYO fellowship and looks forward to gaining new skills that may benefit her in the future.

Danielle Mangabat (she/her) - Atlanta, GA

Danielle Mangabat, a recent graduate of Emory University with a B.S. in Human Biology and Anthropology, is an interdisciplinary research scholar and activist. Her areas of interest encompass ethnoracial health disparities, health equity, Philippine sovereignty and democracy, and environmental justice. Currently, as a Research and Communications Intern at the Frontline Resource Institute, Danielle supports frontline communities facing environmental and climate injustice.

During her undergraduate career, Danielle founded Emory University’s Filipino Student Association and hosted the first Georgia Filipino Student Association Summit - attended by over 80 students across 5 Georgia universities - with a focus on community-building, cultural awareness, and education and advocacy. She envisions Filipino Student Associations as not just safe spaces for Filipino-American students to celebrate their shared identity but also as platforms for learning, engaging, and mobilizing around social justice issues. In her fourth year, she conducted global ethnographic fieldwork in the Philippines and earned highest honors for her thesis titled, “Confronting Colonial Legacies: Imagining a Decolonial Future for the Philippines through Reproductive Health”. This year, Danielle will continue research and engagement with human-rights-based community organizations as a Fulbright student under the guidance of the Anthropology department at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.

In her free time, Danielle likes to travel, learn new recipes, hike, read, make art, and shop for sustainable fashion! Danielle is excited to make connections with the Filipino community at home in the New York/New Jersey area.

Dasha Pates (she/her) - Aurora, IL

Dasha Pates is a recent graduate of Aurora University with a B.A. Political Science and concentrations in Spanish and Pre-Law. She immigrated from the Philippines to Chicago, IL when she was 9 years old, and is very passionate about immigration rights for the Filipino community. At AU, Dasha was President of the Pre-Law Student Association and she plans to eventually attend law school. Currently, she is interning at the Kane County Public Defender's Office, and starting in the fall she will be dedicating a year of service as an Illinois JusticeCorps Fellow for Kane County helping self-represented litigants in the courthouse. In her free time, Dasha enjoys baking desserts, dancing to K-Pop, and watching horror movies!

Erika Acosta (she/her) - Philadelphia, PA

Erika Acosta (she/her) is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Health and Societies with a concentration in Health Policy and Law and minors in English and Asian American Studies. She is passionate about minority health equity, violence prevention, and AAPI empowerment. As former President and current Executive Board Member of the Penn Philippine Association, she is also especially passionate about promoting Filipino culture in the Philadelphia community and beyond. In her free time, you can find her cross-stitching, playing the bandurria, or daydreaming stories in her head that she promises she'll write someday.

Faye Suficiencia (she/her) - San Antonio, TX

Faye Suficiencia is a senior majoring in political science with a concentration in international law and a minor in communications at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Originally from General Santos, Philippines, Faye hopes to combine her passion for people with her interest in uplifting international communities through the nonprofit sector. Upon finishing her bachelor’s, she hopes to attend law school to eventually become an international human rights lawyer.

Janeen Simon (she/her) - Arroyo Grande, CA

A current senior in high school and sixteen years old! I live in the Central Coast of California and in my spare time, I enjoy listening to music, hanging out with my friends, and shopping.

She is incredibly thrilled and proud of myself to be joining Tayo this summer as she is able to immerse herself into something new and have the opportunity to learn from others!

Janeva Nicole Dimen (she/her)  - Wellesley, MA

Janeva Nicole Dimen recently graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Classics. At Wellesley, she was dedicated to building the AAPI community on and off campus as the Co-President of the Filipinx club, a volunteer researcher for Tayo, and a member of the Council of Young Filipinx Americans in Medicine. She is passionate about issues concerning health and educational equity, mental health, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially in the context of Filipinx communities.

In her free time, Janeva can usually be found in the water, swimming or playing water polo. Janeva also loves the ocean and conducted research on the effects of climate change on the rocky intertidal. In her post-graduate life, Janeva hopes to explore the beaches of Maryland, where she will be conducting research on health disparities.

Jayson Cayanan (he/him) - Chicago, IL

Jayson (he/him) was born in the Philippines and raised in Southern California. He is a recent Master of Public Policy graduate from the University of Chicago. He is a non-profit professional as a program manager at Reading Between the Lines, a non-profit providing incarcerated individuals with reentry services that bolster job readiness and workforce development.

Jazmine Alcon (she/her) - Jersey City, NJ

Jazmine Alcon is an Ilocana immigrant, mental health advocate, and community builder who uses digital platforms to share stories rooted in vulnerability that help nourish collective healing. She is the co-founder of Risen Zine, a global online sociopolitical magazine by and for young creatives and AAPI Mental Health, a digital platform dedicated to redefining the mental health conversation in the Asian and Pacific Islander community. She is currently the co-executive producer of a video production focused on bridging generational gaps in BIPOC mental health funded by a TikTok grant and continues to empower young creatives of color by sharing her authentic self online.

Jelynn Tatad (she/her) - Providence, RI

Jelynn Tatad is a rising senior at Brown University studying Biochemistry with a master’s in Biotechnology. At Brown, she is a co-president of Filipino Alliance, where she organized a group independent study about Filipino language and culture and led efforts to petition for Tagalog to become an official class. She is also an outreach coordinator for Brown Science Olympiad, a leader for the Biochemistry undergraduate group, and an active member of the Southeast Asian Studies Initiative. She is passionate about scientific research, community building, and education, with the intention of pursuing a career intersecting these fields to address health disparities. Outside of school, she loves cafe hopping, watching K-dramas, and scrolling through Pinterest.

Katrina Itona (she/her/hers) – New Milford, NJ

Katrina Itona is a rising Sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Comparative Literature with minors in Fine Arts and Data Science. She is currently the District V Secretary of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND), Inc. and an active member of the Penn Philippine Association (PPA) at the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she is on the Executive Board for the PEER Mentoring Program, a one-to-one mentorship matching program for first year Asian Pacific Islander students at Penn. Through her interdisciplinary interests and love of her culture, she advocates for arts engagement and community building. Seeing the arts as a medium of healing, Katrina aspires to investigate the ways literature, art, and technology can inspire hope and connection in others. Outside of her academics, Katrina is a creative writer and artist. She is a designer at her school’s premier student newspaper and art magazine, and on the student advisory board of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia. Katrina was inspired by Tayo’s mission to reach Filipino youth and the theme of “kwentuhan.” She hopes that she can share her love of storytelling to other Filipinos in the diaspora and collaborate with the other fellows to create something that allows youth to express themselves freely.

Katrina Manrique (she/her) - Los Angeles, CA

Katrina Manrique is an incoming management consultant based in Los Angeles, California. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy and a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics from the Marshall School of Business. Prior to USC, Katrina received a Bachelor of Arts in History and English from the University of California, Davis and brings half a decade of experience interning and leading public interest organizations.

Her incoming role as a consultant is informed by her prior experiences as a student organizer, public health advocate, and daughter to Filipino immigrants. While attending UC Davis, Katrina co-founded a student-run mental health campaign to increase the number of on-campus mental health counselors and generated support from 1,000+ students and families. This subsequently led to her nomination on the Chancellor's Student Mental Health Care Task Force where she co-authored campus-wide mental health reforms for UC Davis's 30,000+ undergraduate students.

Since then, Katrina continues to be at the forefront of social change and advocacy amidst an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, through the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Katrina co-authored several countywide motions for Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell to address various health concerns affecting Los Angeles County. This includes the rise of sexually transmitted diseases, increased youth mentorship for at-risk girls of color, and the shortage of county health workers in Los Angeles County. These experiences have informed her subsequent internship at LA Care, which provides healthcare coverage to over 2.5 million Angelinos. Katrina is now excited to direct her experiences towards uplifting the broader Filipino diaspora as a Tayo Fellow.

Keala Marie Marasigan (she/her) - Corvallis, OR

Keala Marasigan is a third year pharmacy student at Oregon State University. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Keala has been active in the Filipino community since her days at Seattle University, participating in the United Filipino Club, as well as through other organizations such as the National Federation of Filipino American Federations (NaFFAA). She is interested in bridging her career in healthcare with her passion for community advocacy, gaining skills and resources to share with communities that have historically been unserved.

Kim Navarro (she/her) - Washington, DC

Kim Navarro is a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, with an interest in sustainable development, global health, and climate resilience. She is currently interning with Oxfam America and working on her capstone project in community-based adaptation to extreme weather and seismic events in the Philippines. Prior to graduate school, she spent two years as a health volunteer in rural Madagascar, working with local partners on improving child and maternal health outcomes. She also has five years of experience in the public sector at the state and federal level providing social services for vulnerable populations.

She spent her early childhood in Pasig, Philippines, and has also lived in Yokosuka, Japan, and Naples, Italy. She hopes to return to the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region to work in sustainable development and climate change adaptation. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing video games.

Lily Varilla (she/her) - Madison, WI

Lily Varilla is a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is pursuing a major in Communication Science and Rhetorical Studies with minors in Digital Studies and Asian American Studies. This past year, she has gotten involved with UW-Madison's Filipinx American Student Organization (FASO) and was recently elected to serve as FASO's Secretary for the upcoming academic year. Lily is extremely excited to work with the FYLPRO team and work towards uplifting the Filipinx community.

Malakai Espinosa (he/him) - Los Angeles, CA

Malakai Espinosa is a rising 4th year student at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Human Biology and Society with minors in Anthropology and Public Health. After finishing undergrad, Malakai plans to pursue a career in Health Policy and Management, with an intention of receiving a Master's in Public Health. At UCLA, he has been involved with Samahang Pilipino, the largest Pilipinx organization on campus, with over 400 members. Malakai has served as the External Vice President for the past 2 years, taking on the role of President for the upcoming academic year. Malakai also loves working with youth, as he currently serves as an intern for the project All Children Thrive California, as well as teaching children and teenagers how to program. Malakai is excited to work with the TAYO team and other fellows this summer, hoping to gain more insight on the experiences of Pilipinx and Pilipinx-Americans from other parts of the nation!

Nina Mondero (she/her) - Chicago, IL

Nina Mondero is a rising senior at Brown University studying Health and Human Biology on the pre-med track. She is passionate about health disparities research and learning about the social determinants of health. She is interested in possibly specializing in pediatrics, and has previous experience in pediatric clinical research at Brown and Northwestern University. Nina is so proud of her Filipino identity and is Co-President of Brown's Filipino identity club, Filipino Alliance. She helped organize and lead a group independent study course in Filipino language and culture in which 20 other students enrolled. She was previously chosen to be the youngest participant in the inaugural Midwest Youth Leaders in Diaspora (YouLeaD) Immersion Program sponsored by the Philippine government. In this program, she was given the opportunity to travel to the Philippines to meet with members of the Philippine legislature and civic leaders, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for her Filipino heritage. Outside of school and work, Nina loves running along the Chicago lakefront, playing ukulele, and watching movies with friends.

About Tayo

Tayo, a project of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), is an innovative data hub that empowers Filipinx/a/o communities by collecting data, fostering partnerships, publishing culturally relevant insights, and developing leaders to create an equitable and sustainable future.

For more information, visit

About Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO)

FILIPINO YOUNG LEADERS PROGRAM (FYLPRO) is a network of high performing, next-generation leaders who advance the Philippines and the Filipino people through their advocacy and expertise in various industries.

We continually expand the pipeline of Filipino young leaders in the diaspora.  By connecting them to the motherland, we foster collaborative multinational  relationships that create innovations and support the socio-economic progress of the global Filipino community.

For more information, visit

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This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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