Meet Our Staff
OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Rossella De Leon is an educator, servant, and community leader. Steeped in experience through education and community leadership, Rossella uses her gifts for the uplifting of those struggling for a full and healthy life. Born in the Philippines, Rossella moved to the U.S. at a young age; after leading multiple missions back to communities in the Philippines, Rossella is seeing her dream to be in lifelong service to the Filipino people come true through the work of the Foundation for Philippine Progress, Inc.
Rossella took up Social Sciences for her Undergraduate Studies and proceeded to focus on Educational Leadership & Policy in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University. She is a contributor in Salem Press’ Great Lives from History: Asian & Pacific Islander Americans.
She has served as the Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board for PSU Kaibigan, the Filipino American Student Association at Portland State University and was awarded the Dr. Mary Kinnick PACE Scholarship, an accolade given to an individual with an outstanding commitment to the advancement of social justice and educational access and equity in post-secondary education. Her life’s work is built on social justice and equity, a reflection of her ongoing desire for healthy and abundant life in the her motherland, the Philippines.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dr. Alma Trinidad, Board President
Roger Rigor, Board Vice-President
Annie Sebastian, Board Secretary
Emily Rice, Board Treasurer
Rev. Jamie Case, Board Member
Ronald Antonio is a semi-retired graphic designer based in Seattle, WA. His work has been recognized by the Zenith International for best innovative packaging in the summer of 2015. His poetry and artwork have been published by The Seattle Review and the Bricolage (University of Washington’s Literary and Visual Arts journal). He prefers Chicken Tinola over Pork Adobo and wishes he could speak more fluent Ilocano. When super typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda) touched down in the Philippines in 2013, Ronald spearheaded local fundraising efforts in Seattle to help provide relief to the most devastated communities. One of his favorite poems is Andres Bonifacio’s Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa.
Public Relations Director
Roger Rigor, as most know him by, is a retired High School Math/Science teacher in the Seattle Public Schools with more than twenty years of teaching at alternative programs, notably the Ida B. Wells School of Social Justice at the University of Washington (UW). He and a Humanities mentor/colleague started that college preparatory school for the underrepresented, students of color back in 1997. This was a project in partnership with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the College of Education. Before relocating to Seattle, Roger was involved in the Philippine music industry in the late 70s. Upon graduating from college, he became project manager for a foundation that ushered in what is now termed “Original Pilipino Music” or OPM. When he settled in Seattle back in 1985, he was promoting a documentary he co-wrote about the Ilocos region in the Philippines, entitled “Aw-aweng ti Amianan” (Echoes of the North). He was born in Quezon City, Philippines and now resides in Seattle with his thespian wife, Eloisa and a family of two daughters and a granddaughter.
Ai Calalo draws from her desire for all Filipinos to have access to their land and basic needs when she’s curating food and event ideas for the Filipino community. While in college, she studied Sound Engineering, Graphics Design and Multimedia, from which she learned valuable skills that she willingly gives back to communities she cares most about. An Event Technology Director by profession, Ai Calalo also spends her time as a professional DJ and as the other half of the popular Filipino-inspired dumplings pop-up in Seattle which she co-owns, That Dumpling Dough. Ai loves to cook, fish, and forage, activities that she loves sharing with her partner, co-parent, two kids, and friends. She has participated in immersion trips to the Philippines and has coordinated fundraisers for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan and the Mt. Taal volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Her involvement with the Foundation for Philippine Progress allows her to serve the underserved sectors of the Philippine society while maximizing her skills and expertise.
Geleen Abenoja is a self-taught dessert and pastry chef, and community organizer borned and raised in Renton, Washington, and currently based in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner and maker at Shop Halo Halo where she sells a curated “mix mix” of handmade Filipino goods and sweets, some of which have been featured in events such as the Portland Stellar Art Showcase, Filipino Eats Week, and the Foundation for Philippine Progress’ Annual Gala. Geleen can speak just enough Ilocano and Tagalog to get by, but definitely understands both. Her favorite Filipino dish and dessert are her dad’s Nilagang Baka (beef stew with cabbage and potatoes) and her Lola’s Bitsu-Bitsu (fried mochi caramelized in brown sugar). Geleen has a deep love for her Filipino roots and honors the migration story of her parents by working towards a Philippines where everyone has access to food, healthcare, education, and basic human rights.