NEW YORK CITY — In celebration of the International Women’s Day, the Philippine Consul General in New York named four Filipinas as 2017 Distinguished Filipino Women awardees at the Kalayaan Hall on Wednesday night.
These women have one thing in common: they all have broken a glass ceiling in their own ways, in their own fields of work.
Filipina Broadway actress Ali Ewoldt became the first woman of color to play the lead role of Christine Daae in the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera.
She made her Broadway debut as the first Filipina to play the role of Cossette in the hit musical classic Les Miserables.
This Pinay Broadway star is also a psychology graduate from Yale university.
“I just want, you know, everyone to believe that they can be whoever they want to be,” Ewoldt said. “Whatever story, in whatever context, if they have the talent and the hard work and the perseverance — that all doors are open and the sky is the limit.”
Analisa Balares is the CEO and founder of Womensphere – an international women’s NGO, that aims to accelerate women and girls to create their future.
Balares, a Manila Science High School and Harvard Business School alum, is the first Filipina “data-naut” in NASA.
As astronauts explore outer space – “datanauts,” or data scientists, explore data to solve problems facing life in space and here on earth.
“We are hosting here a NASA space apps challenge, where we will use data coming from NASA, and basically code applications that make the world better,” Balares shared.
Maria Torres-Springer is New York City’s housing commissioner, and has served as the President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
As commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business, she was the first Filipina-American to be appointed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in all those positions.
With a family who benefited under Section 8 housing, the housing commissioner has a deeper understanding of the city’s housing concerns.
“It always reminds me that behind our programs are real people, people who are affected by the decisions that we make, by the services that we deliver, people I grew up with, and myself… so I remember those experiences that makes me hopefully more effective in my job,” said Torres-Springer.
Batangueña Elaine Quijano not only took command of the 2016 Vice Presidential debate — she broke a glass ceiling as the first Asian American and Filipino-American to have moderated a US debate for a national elected office in the general election.
She is also one of the youngest journalists to do so — at the age of 42.
The former White House correspondent for CNN is currently an anchor for CBS News.
“My parents taught me, just as I’m sure other Filipino parents, all other parents teach their children,” Quijano said. “You put your head down and do your work, and you do the best job you could possibly can. That’s how they taught me, that’s what I try to do.”