Stephanie Chrispin graduated with an M.P.A. in Health Policy and Finance from New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and researches and frames policy issues for the philanthropic sector in her work as Public Policy Fellow at Philanthropy New York. She also serves on the board of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Metro New York Chapter. Stephanie has contributed to UniPro as Director of Fundraising, and most recently in the capacity of Vice President in 2015-2016.
To introduce her as UniPro New York's President, we sat down with Stephanie for a few questions to get to know her better, and her thoughts on the upcoming year.
Q: How did you get involved with UniPro?
SC: My involvement in UniPro came out of my friendship with Iris Zalun, UniPro's current Board Secretary. We both served on the executive board of Fordham's Pilipino American student group, FUPAC, and shared that mutual love for community building and public service. When we graduated, I was looking for a way to stay connected to the community -- one of the founders, Bryan Lozano, tried to recruit me, but I was skeptical. What made this any different from FIND? Iris was the one who convinced me that UniPro built upon our student organizing experience rather than replicating it, and would give the opportunity to develop myself personally and professionally. I joined the newly formed Fundraising team shortly after, and have been with the team ever since!
Q: What are some of the goals you have for UniPro NY to accomplish by the end of your term?
SC: I really want to strengthen Pilipino Americans' relationship with other communities of color. As a multi-racial Pilipino American, I'm very cognizant of the struggles and triumphs we share with Latinx, Blacks, and other Asian American communities. I also want ensure that our work is intersectional, looking at how issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and economic background impact the lives of Pilipino Americans.
Q: Why did you decide to run for President?
SC: I felt like it was my responsibility to continue the work spearheaded by my predecessor, Kirklyn Escondo. Under her leadership, I saw UniPro grow our voter engagement work and arts partnerships, something I'm incredibly proud of and want to develop further. Given my prior role as Vice President, I have experience working in an executive capacity for the organization and saw myself building bridges between the more established staff and new recruits. The presidency allows me to cultivate those connections and maintain the institutional knowledge of UniPro.
I also wanted the Pilipino American community to see that multi-racial Pilipinos can be community leaders too - I'm not any less Pilipino for only having one parent of Pilipino descent.
Q: What advice would you give to a young Pilipino American professional that wants to be involved in the community?
SC: Just get started! A lot of the time, it's fear that prevents us from doing what we love-- getting involved is all about just showing up and learning along the way.
If UniPro isn't the organization for you, I suggest looking at associations aligned with your profession to get started, like the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA-NY). For young Pilipino American Democrats, there's the Filipino American Democratic Club of New York to immerse you in learning the legislative and policy priorities of our community. Looking to learn more about Pilipino American history? Join the Filipino American National Historical Society, Metro New York chapter! There's plenty of entry points, you just need to know which one fits your needs and interests.
Q: What do you love most about UniPro?
SC: How loving and familial we are! There's a saying with our team that "once UniFam, always UniFam," which rings very sincere here. Folks come and go from the organization, but we've managed to maintain relationships with former staff, interns, and founders throughout the years. In fact, one of our former Eboard members flew back from California to celebrate UniPro's 7th birthday during our Summer Soiree. It warmed my heart to see how much we've been able to impact people's lives and that they loved the organization enough to keep coming back, even after career changes, marriages, etc.