Fil-Am journalist Leezel Tanglao named 2020 Women inPower fellow

photo by Theresa Dizon-De Vega

92ND Street Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact announced last week the 2020 class of Women inPower, a fellowship program to help senior-level women advance to the highest levels of leadership across sectors.

Among the fellows selected is Leezel Tanglao, a New York-based Fil-Am journalist and media consultant and a current Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) delegate.

This group of 28 Fellows was selected from a pool of nearly 250 applicants and this year’s Fellows include leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions, including business, nonprofits, law, medicine, media, technology, arts, education, philanthropy, and science. 

“In this fast-paced media industry that’s in total disruption, there’s strength in community. In the past year, I’ve been a part of several different cohorts from different parts of my life, both professional and personal,” she told the Asian Journal.

Leezel Tanglao in Manila during the recent FYLPRO trip. | Photo courtesy of FYLPRO

This one-of-a-kind free program provides women with professional development, executive mentorship, CEO workshops, and membership in an active community of female leaders. The initiative also includes a social impact component, encouraging Fellows to think ambitiously about their role in creating not only more success and power for themselves, but a healthier and more egalitarian society for all. 

“Regardless of the focus, there’s something deep and impactful to be part of a network that supports and empowers women. This program is an amazing opportunity to learn from women leaders at the top of their game and give back. You can’t be what you don’t see,” explained Tanglao, who considers herself as a “bridge journalist at the intersection of editorial, product, business development and sales”.

Tanglao is currently a senior editor at HuffPost and she consults with companies through her company, StatFury. She is also currently a Reynolds Journalism Institute Non-Residential Fellow and is working on developing a tool to measure impact.

The fellowship is now on its fifth year and the program has already served more than a hundred Fellows. Over a dozen Fellows have reached the C-Suite or equivalent in their field and many more have made career moves that deepen their influence.

The number of FYLPRO delegates this year was increased to 15. Tanglao, describing the group said, “The big part of it was the other delegates — it’s rare to be with a group this large and bond so deeply. We talk to each other every day, no matter where we are or timezone. They are really like family – I didn’t choose them, fate put us together.” | Photo courtesy of FYLPRO
Photo courtesy of FYLPRO

FYLPRO Experience

The Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) is a joint initiative of the Philippine Embassy under the leadership of Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, Consulates General in the United States, and the Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI).

To reflect the growth of the Filipino-American population and the expansion of the FYLPRO program, 15 FYLPRO delegates were chosen to participate this year and Tanglao was one of them.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I was selected for the FYLPRO program. I did know it would be my first time back to the motherland in 11 years. It would also be the first time going alone without family,” she shared. “Walking on the land of my ancestors and knowing the sacrifices they made to ensure their legacy lives on is something worth innovating and carrying forward. It’s the first step towards connecting deeply with kababayans, no matter where they are in the world.”

As part of the immersion program, the delegates had meetings with their mentors to discuss their legacy projects and come up with an action plan. Along the way, they visited various communities, including an indigenous Aeta tribe in Pampanga. They also met with representatives from the Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Trade and Industry, before meeting the Mayor of Manila, Isko Moreno.
| Photo courtesy of FYLPRO

The 15 leaders have carried out inspiring work in their communities driven by their passions for the Filipino culture and the advancement of Philippine interests and advocacies in the United States. They now join a prestigious network of 85 young, Filipino-American leaders across the nation to collaborate, exchange ideas, and continue to inspire a wave of diplomatic innovation.

The 2019 FYLPRO delegates traveled to the Philippines last month in a week-long immersion trip to Manila, and were provided with the opportunity to interact with Philippine Government officials and leaders in the fields of business, arts and culture, and civil society.

Tanglao described her memorable trip as a transformative experience.

“I’m still processing the experience but it was a transformative experience that reignited the fire and pride I have as a Filipino American and desire to build ties to the motherland and with our fellow kababayans in the diaspora,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see what a very diverse group of individuals can do together — united by a shared love of family and identity.”

Tanglao has also worked at CNNMoney (now CNNBusiness) as Assistant Managing Editor of Programming where she led a global team and launched proprietary social metric Surge. Among her other previous stints include: Associated Press,, VICE News, NowThis,, KCBS/KCAL and Press-Enterprise. She received her BA at Loyola Marymount University and an MA at UCLA. She was named 2018 Member of the Year by the Asian American Journalists Association.

“We are deeply impressed with the number and quality of applications received this year and the selected delegates all represent the dynamism, passion to serve and contribute, and leadership prevalent among the next generation of Filipino-Americans,” said Ambassador Romualdez. “All of us at the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General take great pride in the current and previous batches of FYLPRO delegates. We are also proud of our continuing collaboration with the Ayala Foundation, Inc., Department of Foreign Affairs, and FYLPRO non-profit alumni organization in designing a transformative and impactful immersion program.”

Tanglao with her fellow delegate Philjay Solar from Boston. | Photo courtesy of FYLPRO

Established in 2012 by the Philippine Embassy in the United States in cooperation with the Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI), FYLPRO annually identifies outstanding young professionals in the Filipino communities across the United States and provide them invaluable community, business, and government insights and access to a distinguished network captains of industry and government.

For the Women inPower, a fellowship program, the Fellows will be mentored by a group of over 45 leaders in NYC that includes: Jimmie Briggs, Co-founder and Executive Director Emeritus, Man Up Campaign; Katy Clark, President, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Zain Habboo, Chief Digital Officer, Fenton; Polly Klane, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel, Capital One; Gillian Lester, Dean Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Tim Maleeny, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Havas; Terri McCullough, Chief of Staff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House of Representatives; Henry Timms, CEO, Lincoln Center; Mai-Anh Tran, Chief Financial Officer, The Ford Foundation; and Kristy Wallace, CEO, Ellevate Network.

Tanglao with (from left) Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, and FYLPRO President JR Calanoc. | Photo courtesy of Ayala Foundation

“Women inPower is about much more than the development of individual leadership skills. Our goal is to foster a community and culture in which Fellows act as champions for one another as they ascend into positions of power and, once there, create real change,” said Jessica Schneider, Director of Strategy at 92Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact. “We are thrilled to welcome our fifth cohort of Fellows and can’t wait to see all that they accomplish this year and in the future.”   Cover photo by Theresa Dizon-De Vega

Momar G. Visaya
Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at

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