In Hawaiʻi, Filipinos have had an impactful presence in the labor force, influencing economic growth, and vitality over the past 100+ years. While Filipinos are strongly represented in labor and service positions, their representation in leadership and executive management positions has been marginal. The FCCH Fellows program hopes to generate and uplift emerging leaders, specifically influential decision-makers who have a vested interest in the Filipino-American community. It is the hope of the founders of this program that the population growth of these specific leaders will create equity in the broader community of Hawaiʻi.
The core mission of the FCCH Fellows Program is to:
- Create a leadership and mentorship program that is self-perpetuating and grows exponentially;
- Identify and develop emerging leaders of Filipino descent that show potential to be impactful in the community, business, and industry;
- Expand the Fellows' breadth of knowledge in various industries throughout Hawaiʻi;
- Promote a civic-minded mentality in all Fellows;
- Inspire and enhance leadership skills for personal and professional development;
- Increase the Fellows’ social capital by connecting them to prominent leaders and resources they might not otherwise have access to;
- Encourage an entrepreneurial mindset;
- Creates a platform for all participants to uplift and serve the Filipino community.
- Unite the Filipino community and diaspora to elevate our position in life, in the community, and our own self image.
- Cultivate authentic leadership grounded in Filipino values such as bayanihan (communal cooperation), maparaan (ingenuity), and matatag (resilience).
- Create a legacy of leaders that develop and empower the next generations of leaders.
The program kicks off each year with a retreat for the FCCH Fellows to meet each other and develop their own group identity. Afterward, Fellows participate in a variety of activities including skill building opportunities, talk story sessions with prominent leaders, and mentorship. Throughout the program, Fellows enhance their leadership skills; gain a deeper awareness of social, business, and industry issues; and, have access to a community of support. A concerted effort will be made in this program to include successful Filipino-Americans as mentors to serve as role models who can share their unique experiences and challenges of being a Filipino-American. Each class will participate in a graduation ceremony which will be held at the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaiʻi’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year event.
- Orientation: December 13
- Program: January - April 2024: 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month
- January 11
- January 25
- February 8
- February 22
- March 14
- March 28
- April 11
- April 25
- Graduation: May 2024
Each class of Fellows will be selected by a committee with certain characteristics taken into consideration. Generally, the Fellow:
- Shows leadership qualities;
- Displays potential for higher success;
- Is of good character;
- Is of good standing in the community and profession;
- Is self-directed, and is aware of self (strengths, vulnerabilities, and triggers);
- Experiments beyond self’s comfort zone;
- Has the professional business or executive management acumen [discretionary trait];
- Preferably, is civic-minded.
- Individual diversity within each class is imperative in order to bring a variety of viewpoints and opinions. Varying professions, contracting stages in one’s career, differing upbringing, and diverging interests are criteria that may also be considered in forming the cohort class. Each class is anticipated to range between 4 to 8 participants each year.
- Application period: Through November 29
- Candidates are required to complete an application form and submit a resume, bio, and headshot
- Application form: https://bit.ly/fellows-app24
- Interviews: Ongoing through December 1
- All candidates will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than December 4
Jerome H. Adarna Jr. is the founder/CEO of Visionary Views LLC, a Real Estate media company that utilizes proptech to create marketing solutions for real estate professionals. With advanced 3D-capture technology, VV produces Virtual tours and 360° virtual experiences so viewers can be virtually present on a property. They also use augmented reality technology to virtually stage a variety of spaces. Visionary Views is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate drones for aerial perspectives. The company also provides HDR photography, 4K Videography, and professional editing services.
As a strategic visionary and forward thinking entrepreneur, Jerome focuses on research, development, adopting technologies, and making decisions to empower his team. As a strong believer in the giver's gain philosophy, Jerome gives time to support youth programs, charity drives, community clean ups, and philanthropic causes in hopes that the act of giving back will encourage others to do the same.
Eusebio (U-Say-Bee-O) Agcanas Jr. was born and raised on the island of Oahu and lived in Waipahu his whole life. He graduated from Waipahu High School in 2012 and got his BSBA in Business Management from Hawaii Pacific University in 2016. Currently, Eusebio is a District Sales Leader Designate for PepsiCo in their FRITO LAYS division. His previous jobs include Liberty Mutual Insurance, Vector Marketing/Cutco Cutlery and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Eusebio is a first generation Fil-Am and owe many of his traits, characteristics and values to his parents. His biggest goal in life is to become a philanthropist and give back to the community he was raised in. Eusebio is very passionate about serving others and making a difference in this world.
Jennifer Aquino is a highly motivated and driven young leader who seeks growth opportunities in her career and personal life. Her drive and willingness to learn in her job made her land her current role as VP, Senior Branch Manager, HomeStreet Bank.
In addition to being a part of the FCCH Fellows program, she is also a part of the First Hawaii Bank Emerging Leaders Program. She serves on the board of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. In her role at FCCH, she had the opportunity to co-chair the 2022 Trade Mission to the Philippines and the 2022 FCCH Christmas Party. She also designed the souvenir books for the trade mission and Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jennifer recently formed her own business, Lunavieré Incorporated. She plans to launch her business sometime in September. She plans to incorporate a community give-back initiative during the launch of her business. Jennifer is excited and looks forward to uncovering more opportunities, whether career-related or for her personal development.
Randy Cortez is a Securities Investigator for the Securities Enforcement Branch, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. In this capacity, he investigates violations of securities and franchise laws. Recently, Randy and his business partner founded Palaman Purveyors, a business selling artisanal jams, jellies and beverages (i.e. ube jam, pandan-flavored jam and pandan iced coffee) to popularize Filipino cuisine.
Randy graduated from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UHM) with two Bachelor of Arts degrees – 1) Philosophy and 2) Filipino and Philippine Literature. Additionally, Randy was selected as a Fulbright-Hays Scholar leading to his participation in the Advanced Filipino Abroad Program (AFAP), a three-month cultural immersive study abroad program. He studied at De La Salle University – Dasmarinas, Cavite. In 2014, the Philippine Consulate General – Honolulu selected Randy as a FYLPro scholar. FYLPro is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization of leaders passionate about advancing the Philippines and Filipino people. Randy then earned his J.D. from the UHM William S Richardson School of Law (WSRSL). At WSRSL, he was Staff Editor for the Asia Pacific Law and Policy Journal.
Currently, Randy is pursuing his MBA at Chaminade University and graduates in 2023. During his downtime, Randy enjoys swimming, working out and volunteering with Tekniqlingz, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to strengthening ethnic identity and cultural awareness through Filipino art, music, and dance.
Lalaine Ignao moved to Hawaii after undergraduate school in 2016 with hopes of becoming involved with the Filipino community. She began writing for The Fil-Am Courier and was inspired to further her education which led her to obtain a Masters in New Media Journalism. Lalaine centered her graduate school portfolio around Filipino and Filipino American narratives and transformed it into Pusong Filipinx, a pop-up market created to uplift young Filipino entrepreneurs and creatives, build community, empower culture and give back to nonprofit organizations. In May 2021, she and her fiance, Eric Ganding began Sama Sama, a Filipino inspired boba business to honor her late maternal grandmother and her middle school dream. Earlier this year, she opened up Sama Sama's first cafe at Leeward Community College. Lalaine was awarded the 2022 Young Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Filipino Chamber of Commerce. When she’s not doing business, Lalaine reports for The Filipino Channel and represents the state of Hawaii.
Su Lazo is a first generation Filipina American born and raised on the island of Kauaʻi. She started her career as a Big Four auditor in Washington, D.C., and is now a National Certified Counselor (NCC) with areas of expertise in career counseling, employment coaching, program management, and student leadership development. Su is currently the Director of Career Development for the education technology nonprofit Purple Maiʻa Foundation, where she gets to do work that doesn't feel like work and is her passion: supporting the career development of under-served communities in Hawaiʻi and improving their economic mobility.
Since 2020, Su has served on the Board of the Filipino Jaycees of Honolulu and has been honored with various chapter, State, and national awards for her leadership and service to the Jaycees; including most recently the JCI USA Charles Kulp Jr. Memorial Award for Outstanding President in 2022. Her next big adventure? Chairing the 2024 Flores de Mayo & Filipino Fiesta.
Randy Soriano is a non-profit executive with over 15 years of marketing and management experience at proven industry-leading companies in Hawaii. He specializes in program development, project management and fundraising. He is currently the Executive Director at Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation. Prior to the Foundation, Randy spent nearly a decade leading the marketing department at Title Guaranty Hawaii, the state’s largest and oldest kamaaina title and escrow company.
Randy has a passion for connecting people and serving the community, which is demonstrated in the countless hours he dedicates to various non-profit and community organizations. He is a Past President of the Rotary E-Club of Hawaii, serving a two-year term that oversaw an aggressive strategic plan to grow the Club’s membership and community partnerships. He is also a board member at Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, serving on the marketing and fundraising committees. In 2022, Randy served as the Chairperson of Honolulu Pride, leading the organization to its largest parade and festival to date. He has also previously served as Board Secretary of the Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation.
He was an honoree at the 2019 Business of Pride Awards presented by Pacific Business News, which recognizes individuals who excel professionally and are leaders in advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2022, Randy was the recipient of Pacific Edge Magazine’s Young Professional of the Year award.
Arthur was born and raised in Seattle, WA, and has lived in Las Vegas, NV and across the ocean in the Philippine Islands. Now he resides in Honolulu, HI where his family first landed as foreigners from the Philippines. Arthur started his career at the bottom of the corporate ladder as an Administrative Specialist and worked his way up to a construction Project Engineer. He later realized his passion for helping people in his community and his interest in real estate investing. Strengthened by his entrepreneurial spirit he took a leap of faith and got his license to become a full-time Realtor & Property Manager. He loves learning new financial and real estate strategies, exercising his creativity, trying new things, and teaching the concepts to others. He has a passion for turning dreams into reality for first-time homebuyers as well as working with investors to build their dreams.
Laren Eustace is a commercial real estate advisor in Honolulu, Hawaii with NAI | CBI Hawaii. Laren grew up in the small town of Batavia, Illinois in the western suburbs of Chicago. He played several sports throughout high school and eventually earned a scholarship to play college baseball at Indiana University in the Big 10 conference. Laren was a four-year letter winner in baseball at Indiana University while receiving his BS from the Kelley School of Business with a double major in Finance and Real Estate.
Laren first fell in love with Hawaii when his baseball team played UH-Manoa during his junior year in 2017. Immediately upon graduation in 2018, Laren packed all his belongings and moved to Hawaii to pursue a career in commercial real estate.
After living in Hawaii for two years, Laren has become heavily involved with community organizations such as the Filipino Junior Chamber, the Rotary Club, and the Building Industry Association. Laren likes to spend his free time hiking, running, and coaching youth baseball.
In the future, Laren aspires to become more involved with real estate development on Oahu with a focus on affordable housing. He also plans to start a non-profit organization to support young adult mental health.
Merlinda Garma is a modern-day Renaissance Woman – a lawyer, a television host, an actor, and an artist.
Merlinda graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Hawaii. She is the proud daughter of Filipino immigrants – her father, a U.S. Army Veteran and her mother, a retired Registered Nurse. She was crowned Miss Honolulu and competed in the Miss Hawaii pageant.
Merlinda became the Television Host of Hawaii Skin Diver, which made her a local household name. Hawaii Skin Diver has been airing since 2004 – over 15-years later! In the infancy of her acting career, Merlinda decided to enter and later graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Merlinda worked in private practice before embarking on her journey as a Trial Lawyer and Deputy Public Defender. She is an advocate for the underrepresented and fights to uphold individual rights under the Hawaii and U.S. Constitution. Merlinda also serves as President of the Hawaii Filipino Lawyers Association.
Never one to neglect her artistry, Merlinda dances Tahitian; plays the piano; and trains in boxing. She is the lead singer of a rock band. Merlinda also landed a coveted co-star role on an episode of Hawaii 5-0.
Natalie Millon is a young professional, entrepreneur, and active community leader with eleven years of experience in the nonprofit field.
With a business degree, she started her career at the Hawaii State Bar Association (HSBA), worked closely with the Young Lawyers Division Board on community projects, and also helped with the HSBA Leadership Institute, a program developed for promising attorney leaders.
She is a Community Grants and Initiatives Program Associate at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and provides grantmaking and client support for the Omidyar programs and other funds. She works with Pillars of Peace Hawaii, Census 2020, and Ulupono Initiative.
Owner of PhotoLuxe and Event Services and manages all operations of the business. PhotoLuxe oﬀers photo restoration, photo digitizing, portrait services, photo booths, and other aspects of event planning for all occasions with the mission to "create and beautify your vision".
An active member of the Junior Chamber International, she serves on the Hawaii state board as the Community Development Vice President; elected 2021 Executive Vice President; 2020 Chairman of the Filipino Junior Chamber of Commerce (FJC) and incorporates UN Sustainable Development Goals. Directed Kamayan Feast, the FJC's cultural immersion and signature event. 2018 Outstanding Chapter Oﬃcer and 2019 JCI Hawaii Outstanding President.
Natalie is family-oriented and values time with her beagle-spaniel Almond. In her free time, enjoys reading, gaming, creating media content, and listening to music.
Jeff Orig is a writer, director, producer based in Honolulu. He is of Filipino descent. He owns and runs a boutique production company in Honolulu. They film events, local commercials, short films, web series, feature films, and a local TV show. One of his Youtube channels has over 53,000 subscribers.
He has been honored with several awards for his commercial and creative work. Including 2 Pele Awards for best local commercial and official selection at the 2018 ITVFest. Plus, he was a finalist in the 2018 Sundance Youtube New Voices Lab as well as the 2018 Sundance Feature Development track. He recently completed the Sundance Fiction Directing Collab and Sundance Writing Collab and is a two-time Creative Lab Hawaii Fellow for Web Series and Producing. Jeff was also voted as the president of the Creative Entrepreneurs of Hawaii.
In addition, he completed Entrepreneur 1 and 2 at the Wharton School of Business. He was also a past winner of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce - Young Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year.
In his free time, he spends time with his wife, Lisa, and their two cats. Jeff hikes, plays basketball, and geeks out on vintage lenses.
Danicole Ramos is from Waialua, Hawai‘i, and a graduate of Kalani High School. He is a first-year law student and Ulu Lehua Scholar at the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law. He also serves as a Military Equal Opportunity Officer with the Hawai‘i Air National Guard and the Young Democrats of Hawai‘i's Vice-President.
Before attending law school, Danicole was the Government Affairs Analyst for Elemental Excelerator, a cleantech startup accelerator. He lobbied for clean energy and carbon-neutral economic policies at the State and county levels in his role. In 2019, GreenBiz recognized him as one of ten emerging leaders in climate change and sustainable business.
Before moving back to Hawai‘i in 2018, Danicole worked in Washington D.C. with United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led network, advocating for the DREAM Act and rights of young people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy (DACA). He attended Seattle University on a full-ride scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University and earned a Master of Public Administration from American University.
In his free time, Danicole enjoys surfing, playing volleyball, and watching basketball.
Born in Manila but raised in Hawaii, Doctor Marel Ver is a graduate of Maryknoll Schools in Honolulu, and completed her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Southern California. After working in a research lab at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland, she attended medical school at New York Medical College and completed her general surgery residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago Mount Sinai Hospital. She completed her fellowship in advanced laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic. She came home to Hawaii to practice in 2014. Dr. Ver is very engaged as a physician holding many leadership positions in the hospital, including Trauma Medical Director, developing Pali Momi into a Level 3 Trauma Center by 2016. She was a Pacific Business News 40-Under-40 Awardee in 2017. Dr. Ver is passionate about patient care and performing surgeries but is also highly involved with community outreach. She is an invited speaker for a variety of topics including medicine and surgery, trauma, obesity, women's empowerment, cultural education, leadership, and mentorship. Dr. Ver is currently President of the Philippine Medical Association of Hawaii, an organization that is actively visible during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In Hawaii, Filipinos have had an impactful presence in the labor force, influencing economic growth, and vitality over the past 100+ years. While Filipinos are strongly represented in labor and service positions, their representation in leadership and executive management positions has been marginal. The FCCH Fellows program hopes to generate and uplift future leaders, specifically influential decision-makers who have a vested interest in the Filipino-American community. It is the hope of the founders of this program that the population growth of these specific leaders will create equity in the broader community of Hawaii.