Iris Zalun



Iris Zalun




New York, NY - August 13, 2015 - On August 13, Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UniPro) announced that its Board of Directors has appointed the organization’s new Executive Board for its 2015-2016 fiscal year. Kirklyn Escondo will assume the role of President, Stephanie Chrispin will serve as Vice President, and Alyssa Esteban will serve as Secretary General.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve the Pilipino American community in the capacity of UniPro President,” states Kirklyn. “It is an honor and privilege to work with such a passionate Executive Board and staff, and I look forward to building with other community members, leaders, and organizations towards a truly unified and engaged Pilipino America.”

The new Executive Board brings many years of Filipino American community experience to UniPro’s leadership. Kirklyn is a clinical researcher who has been involved in the community since her undergraduate career at New York University. She joined UniPro in 2009 as a member of the organization’s inaugural batch of interns, and since then, has served in the roles of Director of Community Building and Secretary General. Stephanie, who joined UniPro in 2012, works in the philanthropic sector; she is trained in nonprofit management and earned her MPA in Health Policy and Finance from NYU Wagner while serving as UniPro’s Director of Fundraising. Alyssa also joined UniPro in 2012. A graphic designer, she graduated from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where she was President of Rutgers Association of Philippine Students (RAPS).

UniPro Eboard

(From left to right) Kirklyn Escondo, Stephanie Chrispin, and Alyssa Esteban

UniPro also announced its newest members on the Board of Directors. Co-founder and former Executive Director Bryan Lozano, former President Iris Zalun, and former Vice President Noel Aglubat join incoming Chairperson Steven Raga, Marisa McCloskey, and Maria Cruz Lee on the Board.

Under its new leadership, UniPro aims to continue promoting visibility and equity in the Filipino American community, especially by promoting civic engagement and raising awareness of social justice issues affecting Filipino Americans and other communities of color. The organization also aims to continue celebrating the local artists and storytellers who are sharing and archiving the community's experiences and contributions to the rich fabric of American society. UniPro kickstarted the fiscal year this month by collaborating with My Baryo, My Borough, a community-curated oral history initiative to archive the Filipino American experience in Queens, NY.  

For more information about UniPro, go to For more about My Baryo, My Borough, go to

Photo Credits:
Kirklyn's headshot: Chauncey Velasco (
Stephanie's headshot: Natalia Roxas (
Alyssa's headshot: Rexon Arquiza (


About Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UniPro)

Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) is a New York City-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a unified and engaged Pilipino America. Founded in 2009, UniPro’s mission is to engage Pilipino Americans through collaboration, advocacy and education. It seeks to transform Pilipino students & young professionals into community leaders through its various programs, which incorporate professional development, history, and policy through the lens of the Pilipino experience. The organization allows Pilipino Americans the opportunity to explore their place in the community in the hope of owning their niche. Ultimately, UniPro asks Pilipino Americans to critically answer, “How do you define Progress?”



Rise with UniPro Summit 2013

UniPro Summit 2013 is in just over a month, and we have a few exciting announcements! 1. Our speaker list is up! This year, our distinguished speakers include: Ayesha Vera Yu - CEO & Co-Founder, Advancement for Rural Kids Bernadette Ellorin - Chairperson, BAYAN-USA Hector Logrono - Founder & President, PAGASA Social Foundation, Inc. Isis Arias - Brand Marketer, Strategist, Event Maven Jason Tengco - Advisor on Public Engagement for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Krizia Medenilla - Co-Founder of RedefinedMag; Marketing and Communications of Bayani Tour Matthew Bukirin - Senior Transportation and Budget Analyst at the NYC Mayor's Office of Management and Budget Rina Atienza - Senior Account Manager (Social), Isobar; Writer/Blogger for 30ishme at Perfectly Social Rolando Lavarro - Councilman-At-Large, Jersey City, NJ Rose Rosales - Philippine Nurses Association of NJ Theresa Dizon-De Vega - Deputy Consul General & Manager, Philippine Center-NY Venessa Manzano - Founder & School Director, The Filipino School of NY & NJ Our very special keynote speaker will be Jessica Cox, an international motivational speaker whose many accomplishments include being a licensed pilot and black belt in Taekwondo - all without arms.

More speakers and itinerary will be announced soon!

2. Early Bird Registration ends Tuesday, April 30th! Buy your discounted ticket now for $20 Student Admission / $25 General Admission. Beginning Wednesday, May 1st, buy your ticket for $30 Student Admission / $35 General Admission.

3. Support the development of our community of young Filipino leaders by contributing to Summit! Our fundraising project is up on PhilAmTHropy. Earn awesome rewards!

RISE with us on June 1st!

RSVP on Facebook

Buy your ticket on Eventbrite

#Rise / @UniProNow

Iris and Gecile Co-Chairs, UniPro Summit 2013

Planning Summit 2013


Note from the editor: This text was originally delivered as a speech to the UniPro staff at April's staff meeting as written and performed by UniPro Vice President, Iris Zalun. For more information about UniPro's third annual Summit, or to purchase early bird admission (offer valid until 4/30), visit the event's Facebook event page. Scarily enough, Summit 2013 is quickly approaching. Even though it’s stressful, even though I’m losing sleep over it, even though Gecile and I spend hours and hours every week in meetings talking about logistics, speakers, the itinerary … I still love this shit.

But I didn’t always. Last year, as most of you already know, I was the Summit speaker chair. Which means I was in direct contact with almost 39 community figures and had to make sure they would actually show up on June 2nd. THAT is stressful. The emails, the meetings, the late hours … I asked myself, “Why? Why am I even doing this?” I wasn’t getting paid for what was essentially a second full time job. No one was. How was planning a small conference for a bunch of Filipino kids going to help me at all?

But I realized during last year’s Summit, it wasn’t about just helping myself. Last year, through all that hard work, through my bugging speakers for their bios, photos, magazine responses, and for their commitment to come to Summit at all, through the hard work of our co-chairs Rachelle and Judy, and our entire staff … we contributed to something bigger than ourselves, to the “Renaissance” of our people. It was a day to celebrate the successes of individuals from our community, from Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, which builds sustainable communities in slum areas, to Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant, fighting for immigration reform, to Ayesha Vera Yu, who worked as an investment banker then used her business knowledge to found Advancement for Rural Kids, investing in poor, malnourished children in rural areas of the Philippines to help them climb out of poverty. It was a day to celebrate these individuals and to recognize the progress of the community due to their work, but also to acknowledge that more needs to be done. It was a day to inspire the eager delegates like us, the passionate leaders like us, the ambitious young lawmakers, nurses, and writers like us, who will take up the struggles of our community and the unfinished work of Tony Meloto, Jose Vargas, and Ayesha Yu, to make positive and tangible change.

Being in UniPro, to be sure, is damn hard work. Once in a while, all I want to do is just go home, not talk to anyone, and watch The Walking Dead in my bed. But I can’t b/c more often than not, I’m Google hanging out with at least three of you. Do I really care about watching Rick kill zombies? I mean, a little bit, but mostly no, because at the end of the day, I care about our development as leaders for the ultimate purpose of helping our community.

Filipino historian Renato Constantino said, and I’ve quoted him before, “Leadership is the opportunity to learn.” One reason why we are in UniPro is because in order to solve issues, we have to learn about the issues. Did you know that one in ten Filipina women aged 15-49 has experienced sexual violence? That the voter turnout rate among Fil Ams in ‘04 and ‘08 was at less than 10%? That the Philippines still adheres to laws set in place during the Spanish era? This, and so much more, is the kind of information our peers need to know, and which I learned because of UniPro.

Learn from our own events and from the amazing work of other community organizations. BAYAN-USA and its many chapters confront problems such as the trafficking of Filipino migrants. PAGASA provides programming for our senior citizens. FALDEF, AF3IRM, FACE, Kalusugan Coalition, Leviathan Lab … they all have worthy causes and it is our job as UniPro to provide a platform for them to reach the community.

The “community.” We always talk about the “community.” Who are the faceless and nameless members of the “community” that we are working so hard for? They are our peers - the youth who are curious about the issues, or who feel passionate about certain campaigns but may not have the knowledge or tools to take action. They are the disenfranchised and the underrepresented. They are the undocumented immigrants, hiding and afraid, whose families brought them here to pursue a dream, but whose “illegal” status is preventing them from following their own dreams. They are the migrant workers, vulnerable and eager for jobs, who are tricked into being trafficked. They are the hungry children who drop out of school to sell dried flowers in the streets, already broken by a system that has failed them. We cannot pass up this opportunity to help those whom opportunity has passed over. UniPro is that opportunity. Rise and grab it.

Postcard from the UniPro Eboard


As January comes to a close, the UniPro Eboard couldn’t be more thrilled with the recent successes of our organization. Since November, we finally obtained 501(c)3 status and we welcomed new Program Directors to our board. We launched our new blog, a fantastic source for personal and thought-provoking pieces about the issues that affect Pilipinos locally and globally. On January 9th, we started a petition as a display of our solidarity with the Fil-Am community in American Canyon, CA. On the 17th, we networked with more than a dozen community figures and organizations at our first Meet & Greet of the year at Max’s of Manila in Jersey City. That was only the beginning. On February 1st, we will be hosting Speak & Be Heard!, a spoken word competition and showcase of the many talented poets in our community. (Let us know if you're interested in competing!) February 25th, the 27th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, is fast approaching - and so is our panel featuring guest speakers who will share stories about their involvement in the Revolution. This anniversary event is the first in a series of three events, all under the umbrella program called State of Filipino American Advocacy (SoFAA), an initiative headed by Kirklyn Escondo, our Director of Community Building.

We have so much more in store, with Lester Bosea, our Director of USAPAN, scheduling USAPAN workshops at various colleges, and more events and publications in the works thanks to Ivan Gonzales, our Director of Public Policy and Foreign Relations. While our Eboard, Program Directors and staff are hard at work putting together all of our engaging and exciting events, much of what UniPro does would not be possible without our interns! UniPro internship positions are currently open for Spring 2013 and college credit is available.

Lastly, save the date for Summit 2013! Our third annual Summit will be on Saturday, June 1st, the day before the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade.

We're looking forward to getting to know you in the coming months, whether you're a prospective intern, an individual curious about the People Power Revolution, a spoken word poet or a member of a fellow community organization!