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The Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed) welcomed 30 young leaders for its 2021 Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Fellowship. The LEAD Fellowship is a two-year program and the first-of-its-kind in the Philippines that strengthens the capacity of its Fellows to become champions of democratic values, participatory governance, and civic engagement.


“The YouthLed LEAD Fellowship is a unique opportunity for 30 young Filipino leaders from around the country and from diverse backgrounds to strengthen their capacity to lead, navigate, engage, and optimize platforms for change and for the improvement of governance across all arenas of engagement. With the help of issue experts, partner organizations, and mentors, the 30 LEAD Fellows will gain access to high quality training and mentoring, grant support for their project ideas and unmatched networking opportunities.” said Jeffrey Goebel, Supervisory General Development Officer of the Office of Economic Development and Governance, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines.

For the inaugural 2021 cohort, 30 LEAD fellows were selected from all over the country.


This includes fellows from the National Capital Region Capt. Ma. Melissa Bo, 27 years old, from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Riz Comia, 22 years old, Teach for the Philippines fellow; Alexis Glenn Espina, 23 years old, from the Department of Information, Communication, and Technology; Wynona Galvez, 22 years old, from Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, Inc.; Jullia Claire M. Matienzo, 20 years old, student from the University of the Asia and Pacific; Patricia Matute, 26 years old, Executive Director of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations Awards; Arianne Bettina Morales, 24 years old, from the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines; Alexander Miguel Tianco; 21 years old, student from the University of the Philippines – Diliman.


North Luzon fellows are John D.R. from Bulacan and Elvin Laceda from Pampanga. Hernandez, 26 years old, is a teacher from Colegio San Agustin – Makati. Laceda, 26 years old, is the Chief Executive Officer RiceUp Farmers Inc.


From South Luzon are Maria Korina Bertulfo from Batangas, John Albert M. Caraan from Laguna, Rod Charlie Delos Reyes from Batangas, Angela Maree Encomienda from Camarines Sur, John Joseph Torralba Ilagan from Cavite, Samuel C. Madriaga from Laguna, Saje Miguel R. Molato from Albay, and Dexter Yang from Laguna.


Bertulfo 27 years old, is CEO and Founder of Filipina Homebased Moms. Caraan, 24 years old, is a Graduate Research Associate University of the Philippines Los Baños. Delos Reyes, 28 years old, is Managing Co-owner of HH San Pascual (HH San Pascual and Associates, Inc. Encomienda, 21 years old, is a student from Ateneo De Manila University. Ilagan, 22 years old is an Environment Management Specialist from the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of GMA, Cavite. Madriaga, 21 years old is a student from the University of the Philippines – Manila. Molato, 24 years old is CEO and Founder of Siklab Pilipinas. Lastly, Yang, 24 years old is Engagement Founder & Executive Director of GoodGovPH.


From Visayas are John Marlou B. Salido from  Aklan, Shaine Solidum from Negros Occidental, Marc Helton Sua from Cebu, and Richelle Verdeprado also from Negros Occidental.


Salido, 24 years old, works at the local government unit of Kalibo. Solidum, 23 years old is with the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Villamonte in Bacolod City. Sua, 29 years old is an educator from Ateneo Science and Art of Learning and Teaching Institute. Verdeprado, 30 years old, is Chairperson, Board of Trustees of Sowing Legacy Movement, Inc.


Lastly, fellows from Mindanao are Fatimatuzzahra Abdulmajid from BARMM, Nekka Lorelle Dagunan Abueva from Misamis Oriental, Suwaidi Alba Ebrahim from Maguindanao, Ezel R. Lambatan from Cagayan de Oro City, Fatima Malate from Davao City, Rodolfo Matucan from North Cotabato, Jalilah S. Hadji Sapiin from Lanao Del Sur, and Queenie Pearl V. Tomaro from Iligan City.


Abdulmajid, 23 years old, is a member of the faculty of Notre Dame of Jolo College. Abueva, 20 years old, is a student from the University of the Philippines – Visayas. Ebrahim, 20 years old, is also a student from Mindanao State University. Lambatan, 27 years old, is Communications Officer of the Agricultural Productivity Operations Office of Cagayan de Oro. Malate, 23 years old, is Country President of AIESEC Philippines. Matucan, 23 years old, is a student from University of Southern Mindanao. Sapiin, 29 years old, is a Peace Education Coordinator from the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education, Lanao del Sur I.  Tomaro, 25 years old, is an instructor from Mindanao State University- Iligan.


The LEAD Fellowship was developed to support young Filipinos in creating a positive impact in their communities. The Asia Foundation, in partnership with USAID, along with several organizations, institutions, and experts are working together to support and strengthen the capacity of these 30 LEAD Fellows for civic participation and democratic governance,” said Sam Chittick, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation in the Philippines.


The 2021 LEAD Fellowship aims to support informed, engaged, and empowered YouthLed leaders in their ability to participate in democratic governance through issue-based campaigns and development programs. For two years, the LEAD Fellows will have access to grant support for their respective advocacies, participate in development trainings, establish their own agencies as youth leaders, join a network of mentors, and be recognized as a member of the YouthLed network of young leaders in the Philippines.


They will also have access to full scholarships for training programs with prestigious institutions including, Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM)’s Future Bridging Leadership Program, Ateneo School of Governments (ASOG)’s Executive Education Courses, and Ayala Foundation Inc.’s (AFI)’s Servant Leadership Program. Selected YouthLed Young Leaders will also undergo mentorship activities with Makati Business Club (MBC) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).


Over 300 applications were received, and candidates underwent a rigorous and competitive selection process which included the submission of project proposals and a panel interview consisting of youth development experts, mentors, and YouthLed partner organizations.


For more details about the LEAD Fellowship, visit or e-mail the secretariat at


YouthLed (Youth Leadership for Democracy) is a five-year program implemented by The Asia Foundation in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).




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