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Celebrating Filipino-American Leaders in our Community

This past October marked Filipino American Heritage Month, celebrating Filipino culture and the immense impact and contributions that the Filipino (and Filipino-American) community have made. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting three incredible staff and corps members who have left their mark on City Year Los Angeles, not only in the work that they do, but the way that they lead with their values of culture and community at the forefront.

Samantha Eco

AmeriCorps member, John Liechty Middle School

“My parents immigrated from the Philippines in the 90s, which makes me a first generation Filipino-American woman. Now as a first year corps member, I feel like I can relate to many of my students who are also children of immigrants. I see how they fit in the same roles as I once did: an interpreter, organizer, and overall navigator for our parents in this country. I also see how they are facing the challenges of belonging to two different cultures at home and at school. This year, I aim to empower my students to fully embrace this role because it took me a long time to embrace it myself. I want to show them that the position they are in is powerful and very much needed in our ever-growing and diversifying world.”

Samantha Eco (she/her/hers) is a first-year AmeriCorps member currently serving the students in Pico Union at John Liechty Middle School (JLMS). She is originally from Seattle, Washington, but relocated to Los Angeles this past August to work with City Year Los Angeles at JLMS. Go Sharks! Before City Year, Sam studied biology and music at the University of Washington, and after City Year she will be starting medical school in the fall of 2022.

Dana Mangaliman-Perez

Managing Director of Development, City Year Los Angeles

“I am so proud to be the first Filipino American woman to hold this position, and being a member of the Senior Leadership Team at City Year Los Angeles is incredibly meaningful to me. I think about how I didn’t see anyone like me in executive roles throughout my career, and I hope it signals to women of color like me, especially APIDA women, that it is possible, and that you are worthy. In my job, I have lots of meetings and interactions with people outside of City Year, and I also believe strongly that it is so important for me to show up as my authentic self and not shy away from my identity as a Filipino-American in all the spaces I am in.”

Dana Mangaliman Perez serves as the managing director of development for City Year Los Angeles. She is a Los Angeles native whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines in the 80s in search for a better life. She shares, “My mom and dad put a big emphasis on the importance of education, and I appreciate that so much now, especially as a mom myself. I appreciate all of the sacrifices they made in order to put us in good schools as they knew it’d provide us more opportunities in career and life. As they navigated living a new country where they knew no one, they started a Filipino community in our local church (whose membership is still going strong today), and I feel blessed that this has afforded me to grow up steeped in the value of service and in the Filipino culture – speaking Tagalog, eating all of my mom’s, Titas’ and Lolas’ (aunties and grandmothers) homemade Filipino cuisine, and partaking in our rich cultural traditions. I graduated from UCSD with a degree in human development.”  

In her 12-year career in nonprofit fundraising and working for various education-focused organizations, she has blended her passion for people and business with a mission that she deeply believes in – supporting youth from her hometown and helping them reach success.

Andrian Torres 

Managing Director of People and Operations, City Year Los Angeles

“In my current role, my identity as a Filipino comes with a lot of responsibility. I constantly recognize and remind myself that what I do, and any accomplishments I want to achieve, are only as important as how I support folks that look like me. I hold that responsibility with interactions I have with folks period, regardless of them being Filipino. As a person of color, I use my positionality in the organization to be a sounding board, an advocate and a voice at the decision-making table.”

Andrian Torres proudly serves as the managing director of people and operations. He was born in Los Angeles; raised in Pampanga, Philippines, where he lived from ages five-11; and grew up in the Bay Area after the age of 11. As he shares, “My upbringing and my lived experiences in the U.S. and Philippines have given me tremendous perspective on what ‘culture’ means. My culture is welcoming, forgiving and full of faith. It’s knowing that wherever I go, Philippines is called HOME. My culture is what grounds me; it’s what keeps me humble and human.” This is his 13th year with the organization, and during that time, Andrian has served in many staff roles. Prior to joining City Year Los Angeles as staff, he was a P.E. teacher for Oakland Unified School District and teaching at his middle school alma mater. He is also a University of California Santa Cruz graduate – shout out to all my Banana Slugs!

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