Past Conferences

NaFFAA moves its agenda of unity through its National Empowerment Conferences (NEC) every even year (although it started off holding them every year), and through its Regional Conferences every odd year.

1997 NEC, “Panahon Na!
Washington, D.C.

On August 22-24, 1997, over 1,000 delegates from various Filipino American organizations across the United States held the First National Filipino American Empowerment Conference in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the National Filipino American Council (NFAC), in cooperation with the Philippine American Heritage Federation (PAHF), the conference unanimously endorsed the formation of a new national federation. An interim leadership body, the National Working Committee, was elected to begin the process of drafting the organization’s constitution and by-laws.

Spurred by the conference theme, Filipino-American community and youth leaders, seniors, veterans, civil rights activists, and Filipino-American elected and appointed officials, addressed four major issues: immigration, affirmative action, welfare reform, and equity for Filipino World War II Veterans. To dramatize the urgency of the last issue, delegates marched to the White House on the first day of the conference, led by hundreds of uniformed Filipino veterans, to demand “equity now.” For the first time, the veterans issue became a national campaign for justice.

1998 NEC, “Building the Infrastructure for Empowerment
Marriott Wardman Hotel, Washington, D.C.

2nd NEC

At the Second Empowerment Conference held at the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, D.C. on October 16-18, 1998, delegates unanimously ratified NaFFAA’s Constitution and By-Laws, formalizing NaFFAA’s organizational structure. Elected to lead the federation for a 4-year term were Alex A. Esclamado, National Chair; Gloria T. Caoile, National Vice-Chair; Klaus Buntua, Treasurer; and Rodney Salinas, National Youth Director. Greg Macabenta was appointed Public Relations Officer and Jon Melegrito was re-appointed National Executive Director. NaFFAA’s national board, which included representatives from ten regions, was also formed as the organization’s highest decision-making body.

1999 NEC, “Filipino-Americans Leading the Way to the Millennium
City Hilton and Towers, New York, New York

NaFFAA convened its Third National Convention at the New York City Hilton and Towers on October 15-17, 1999. Hosted by the Eastern Region and chaired by Loida Nicolas Lewis, the convention’s theme, “Filipino-Americans Leading the Way to the Millennium,” affirmed NaFFAA’s vision of establishing a solid and powerful presence of Filipino-Americans in the United States. Its keynote speaker was First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. NaFFAA National Chair Alex A. Esclamado summed up the First Lady’s appearance on a historical note. “Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the first White House resident to honor the Filipino-American community with her appearance as Keynote Speaker at a public function in the entire 412 years of presence of the Filipino in America. As a community, we have finally earned a seat at the table of power. The recognition given us by the First Lady should propel NaFFAA to greater heights in its struggle for national unification and empowerment of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in all facets of American society.”

2000 NEC, “Making Our Power Count
Bally’s Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

NaFFAA moved its agenda of empowerment forward when it held the Fourth National Empowerment Conference at the Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas on September 28 – October 1, 2000. Hosted by the Southern California/Las Vegas Region and chaired by Rozita Lee, the convention’s theme, “Making Our Power Count,” affirmed NaFFAA’s vision of establishing a solid and powerful presence of Filipino-Americans in the United States. At the Las Vegas conference, Alex Esclamado and Gloria Caoile were re-elected to a second term as National Chair and Vice Chair. Jose Montano, Jr. became the Executive Director.

2002 NEC, “Forging a National Consciousness as a Filipino Community in America
San Jose, California

The Fifth National Empowerment Congress in San Jose from August 28 to September 1, 2002 was chaired by Ben Menor and set as its theme “Forging a National Consciousness as a Filipino Community in America.” During the “Y2K2 Conference,” as it was dubbed, Loida Nicolas Lewis was elected to lead the federation as the National Chair, with Greg Macabenta as National Vice-Chair, and Liz de Guzman as National Youth Chair. A revised By-Laws was adopted and the regions were reorganized.

2004 NEC, “Bridging the Fil-Am Community
Chicago, Illinois

The Sixth National Empowerment Conference in Chicago led to further refinement in the by-laws as well as amendment to the constitution to further define membership and youth participation in NaFFAA. Hosted by Ed Navarra, Midwest region chair, and organized by the Chicago community led by Thelma Fuentes, Jerry Clarito, and Yoly Tubalinal, the September 10-12, 2004 conference lived up to its theme of “Bridging the Fil-Am Community. Loida Nicolas Lewis and Greg Macabenta were re-elected to a second term.”

2006 NEC, “100 Years of the Filipino Diaspora: Hawaii and Beyond
Waikiki, Hawaii

The Seventh National Empowerment Conference was held in Waikiki, Hawaii from September 28 to October 1, 2006. Hosted by Region X11, the Pacific Islands Region with Amy Agbayani as conference Chair, the delegates elected Alma Kern as National Chair, Rozita Lee as National Vice Chair and Joan Fields as National Youth Chair. The NaFFAA conference also coincided with the Global Summit which drew the attendance of former President Fidel Ramos and Philippine government officials.

2008 NEC, “Forging a New Filipino American Agenda for the 21st Century
Seattle, Washington

The Eighth National Empowerment Conference, hosted by Region 7 Chair Tessie Atayde and Region Vice Chair Mariela Fletcher, was held in Seattle on September 26-28 2008. Plenary sessions and workshops focused on civic engagement, cultural empowerment and political participation in the 2008 presidential elections. Greg Macabenta was elected National Chair, Rozita Lee as National Vice Chair and Ian Purganan as National Youth Chair.

2010 NEC, “Building the Next Generation of Community Advocates
San Francisco, California

The Ninth National Empowerment Conference was held in San Francisco November 19-21, 2010. Framed by its theme, the conference successfully combined grassroots and online advocacy strategies and tools in building the next generation of community advocates in an intergenerational environment. In his keynote address, National Chair Greg Macabenta clarified the definition of NaFFAA as a “coalition of autonomous organizations and advocacy groups – not a monolithic umbrella organization.” Ed Navarra and JT Mallonga were elected National Chair and National Vice Chair respectively, with Brendan Flores as NaFFAA National Youth Chair.

2012 NEC, “NaFFAA at 15: Celebrating our Identity and Solidarity
Detroit Marriott Hotel Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan

10th NEC

The Tenth National Empowerment Conference was held at the Detroit Marriott Hotel Renaissance Center on August 4-7, 2012. It celebrated the 15 years the organization has made strides in empowering Filipino-Americans; championed causes aimed at securing social justice, equal opportunity and fair treatment of Filipino Americans; and highlighted Filipino American contributions to social, economic, cultural, and political life in the United States. Hosted by NaFFAA Michigan Chair Willie Dechavez and Region 3 Chair Emraida P. Kiram, the conference focused on NaFFAA’s role in advocacy, particularly on issues affecting Filipinos in America. Ed Navarra and JT Mallonga were re-elected to a second term as National Chair and National Vice Chair respectively.

2014 NEC, “We Break the Dawn: Master Planning the Future
Town and Country Resort, San Diego, California

11th NEC

The Eleventh National Empowerment Conference was held at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center on August 7-10, 2014, and was attended by more than 500 delegates and guests. It celebrated the 17 years the organization has been in existence. The conference was aimed at bringing better community organizing to new light by empowering individuals with tools, resources, and a shared network. The goal was to build a new master plan for the next generation of leaders through refined skills and new strategies to help them become stronger advocates delivering more effective programs and services. Hosted by NaFFAA Region 10 Chair Aurora Cudal and 11th NEC Co-Chair Leezel Ramos, the conference included two distinct features:

  1. A pre-conference leadership institute, Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC), to facilitate collaboration between regional Filipino American student organizations and encourage networking and sharing of best practices for student organizing.
  2. Pragmatic and relevant workshops focused on:
    • Capacity Building
    • Civic Engagement
    • Professional Development
    • Cultural Narratives

NaFFAA member delegates elected Emraida Kiram, Brendan Flores, Rozita Lee, Merit Salud, and Romeo Jurani as the newest members of the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors then elected JT Mallonga as National Chair; Emraida Kiram of Madison, Wisconsin, as National Vice Chair; Mariella Fletcher of Seattle, Washington, as National Secretary; and Brendan Flores of Orlando, Florida, as National Treasurer. JT Mallonga appointed NaFFAA Region 5 Chair Giselle Rushford of Denver, Colorado, as National Executive Director.

Past National Chairs | Past Board of Directors | Past Conferences | Past Summits | Past Conventions

11th National Empowerment Conference Corporate Sponsors


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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