The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is on the cusp of a generational shift. At least in terms of leadership.
The umbrella organization recently elected Brendan Flores, a banker from Jacksonville, Florida, as its first millennial national chairman.
At 31, Brendan's age is nearly half those of many of NaFFAA’s old guards and long-time members. It would be curious to see how a millennial leader would introduce fresh concepts to a nearly 20-year-old organization and how those ideas will be received by the rank-and-file.
Brendan Flores taking his oath before Vice President Leni Robredo.Photo by Ma. Luz-Ruby Bernardo/The FilAm
Formed in 1997 in Washington, DC, NaFFAA was born out of a need to promote civic engagement and community empowerment among the nearly 4 million Filipinos in the US. Its advocacy initiatives have focused on securing equity benefits and recognition for Filipino World War II veterans, voter registration, overseas voting and dual citizenship rights. NaFFAA is part of national Asian American coalitions working for comprehensive immigration reform and other civil rights issues.
"It's an absolute honor," said Brendan on taking over the reins of NaFFAA from immigration lawyer J.T. Mallonga of New York. He told The FilAm in an interview how his age is not an issue: "I have over 11 years of management experience where I've led extremely diverse teams of all generations and was able to bring them together to achieve a common goal."
He said his election is "an immense opportunity for different generations to hold the baton together and collaborate to move the Filipino community forward."
Brendan is currently a Regional Banking District Manager and Vice President at Wells Fargo in Florida. His bio says he oversees some 120 direct and indirect employees and represents more than 300 team members in two counties. This allowed him to "develop certain organizational management skills."
Both his parents come from Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. In the US, the family made their home in Nevada. His father Jack is a retired cop, and worked in the casino business for more than 20 years. Marilyn, his mother, is employed in retail at Excalibur Hotel and Casino. He has four siblings, Roldan, Ana Theresa, Annalyn Grace and AJ.
"My parents instilled specific values in all of their children, that through hard work anything could be accomplished," he said.
A decade with NaFFAA
Brendan’s involvement with NaFFAA began 10 years ago with positions and responsibilities that carried him through state and national levels of leadership.
He was a State Youth Coordinator for Region 11 (Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico) and later became a member of the Board of Governors for Region 1 (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania).
He became National Treasurer after holding numerous state positions. As treasurer, he was able to prove his mettle as someone who can lead on a larger scale. His subsequent election to the National Board of Governors paved the way for his current role as National Chairman.
“We have made history,” the NaFFAA leadership said in a statement announcing Brendan’s election as NaFFAA’s “millennial chair.”
“I am a true millennial by age with a Gen-X’s heart and passion, a work ethic like a Baby Boomer and strong values similar to traditionalists,” he said in a press statement.
At the 12th National Empowerment Conference, held August 4 to 6 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, he pledged to “to make positive change, to create hope, to build up our community, and to bring us together.” In that gathering, Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo gave the keynote address and installed NaFFAA’s newly-elected national officers led by Brendan.
As chair, he wants to start his term by restructuring the National Board.
As he explained to The FilAm: “We need to invest time in the leadership team, educating and empowering board members through a leadership curriculum and also rewarding them based on experience,” he said. “Our board needs to evolve with the organization’s growing needs and increasing diversity. I want us to diversify not only age but also experience and backgrounds.”
He continued, “I will be creating (the position of) an integrated Marketing and Branding Director to focus on our internal structure and the consistency of our external presence, a director solely focused on sponsorship in order to create opportunities and funding for internships and programs, and finally a director to address diversity in four segments: young professionals, women’s networks, LGBT, and veterans. I want us to cater to the growing needs and diversity of our members, and that comes with strong leaders.”
Here’s a little-known fact about Brendan. Do you know that there is a Brendan Flores’ Scholarship Foundation for Clark County, Nevada?
"The scholarship is for students who faced and overcame adversities. They are eligible to apply for the scholarship in partnership with the Public Education Foundation if they are pursuing a degree in business, accounting, economics or finance. It is given every year to 2 to 3 students.
Brendan said the idea for a scholarship started when his grandmother died and his family didn’t have money to send him to the Philippines to attend the funeral.
"I was devastated so I made a commitment that I’m going to work hard and provide small scholarships to students who overcame adversities when I have the capacity to do so,” he shared.
Brendan recognizes that bridging the gap between generations of FilAms and ensuring their continued collaboration will always be high up in the chairman’s order of priorities.
"I welcome this challenge with open arms,” he said. —The FilAm