Geri Alumit Zeldes attended the 14th Filipina Leadership Global Summit in Toronto, Canada this October and she did not return to the U.S. empty-handed. The Journalism professor received a “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award” in the category of Innovator and Thought Leader.
The awards were given to “fearless, passionate, purpose-driven, socially conscious Filipina women who are making an impressive impact in society.” Zeldes is nothing if not the embodiment of all of those traits. In addition to this award, she also brought in her third regional Emmy this year, as well as a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for a radio series on the Flint water crisis and a national award from the Broadcast Education Association for “Hubert: His Story,” a documentary about a Flint resident who uses his story and history to mentor youth in the city.
Zeldes was not the only impressive woman at the summit. She said the recipient bios read like a “Guinness Book of Firsts”.
“The first woman ambassador to the Middle East, first Filipina to serve in British local government, first Secretary of Labor and Employment in the Philippines, et cetera,” said Zeldes. “At the summit, I felt nourished and humbled. As I listened to tales of achievement and struggle, I thought to myself, ‘I’m such a slacker’.”
Those honored in her category also included two surgeons from Manila who introduced robotic technology and specialized surgical techniques to the Philippines, and another woman who innovated an agricultural method adopted in orchards throughout the country.
Though Filipinas came from all over the world to attend the summit and receive awards, Zeldes was able to seamlessly connect with the other women.
“Sharing a common history of immigration allowed summit attendees to skip that layer and drill down quickly into issues that inhibit leadership, such as the tendency of Filipinas to stay silent in circles of political and economic conversations,” said Zeldes.
Despite the scope of the Filipina Women’s Network, she noted that the event hinted at something much more close-knit.
“The summit reminded me of family gatherings when the aunties get together and tell jokes,” said Zeldes. “Some attendees during especially funny presentations by award recipients pounded the table, punctuating their laughter, reminding me of holiday get-togethers.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets