2017-2018 Board of Governors


David Mesa is an associate at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He is an experienced litigator defending major drug and medical device manufacturers in complex product liability litigation in multiple-state jurisdictions. He represents Fortune 1000 companies and manages cases as lead associate in all phases of the litigation, including developing case strategy, deposing witnesses, arguing motions, working with experts, handling mediation, and preparing cases for trial. He also defends clients in consumer class actions.

From brick-and-mortar retailers to online merchants, luxury retailers to big-box stores, start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, and fashion retailers to hotels and restaurants, David also represents many of the largest retailers in the world in a wide range of legal matters. He advises clients in compliance with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and agency mandates, including weights & measures, ADA website accessibility, pricing, gift cards, and packaging laws and requirements.

David is a founding member of NFALA and has previously served as VP for Communications and VP for Programs and Operations. He is also serving his fourth year on the Board of Governors for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) as Regional Governor for the Northern California region. Regionally, David is a past President of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) and currently serves on its Advisory Board and Judiciary Committee.

In 2017, NAPABA selected David to receive its Best Lawyers Under 40 Award, awarded to eighteen APA lawyers under the age of 40 who have achieved prominence and distinction in their respective fields and demonstrated a strong commitment to APA community. In 2014, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) named David a “Rising Star” and featured him in Diversity and the Bar magazine. Only 12 “Rising Stars” were selected from across the country. In 2013, David received the Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition. For the past three years, Super Lawyers Magazine selected David to its “Rising Stars” list. In 2012, he won the Wife Lottery when San Francisco Deputy Public Defender, Abigail Rivamonte married him. David and Abigail are the proud parents of their 3-year-old son, Wolfgang, and four-month-old daughter, Charlotte.



Eric C. de los Santos is Associate General Counsel and Senior Director of Employment Law for TrueBlue, Inc., a leading provider of specialized workforce solutions. TrueBlue connects as many as 800,000 people to work each year. He leads a team that responds to all employment law issues domestically and internationally. He is also the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. He chairs TrueBlue’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and works directly with the CEO to advance the company’s D&I strategy to achieve goals focused on improved employee retention, increased client engagement and innovation.

He is a frequent speaker on employment and labor, and diversity and inclusion issues at the national and local levels. Last year, the Washington Diversity Council presented Eric with the Leadership Excellence Award. In 2015, the Association of Corporate Counsel presented him with the Matthew J. Whitehead, II Diversity Award, which is the highest award given to an in-house attorney for improving the employment, retention, advancement and career path opportunities for lawyers of diverse constituencies.

He is a co-founder and Past President of the Filipino Lawyers of Washington (FLOW). He is also a founding member of NFALA and previously served as VP of Programs and Operations.

Eric was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and received his degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law.

Vice-President for Programs & Operations


Garylene “Gage” Javier is an attorney in the Washington, DC office of Buckley Sandler. She assists financial services clients in a variety of federal and state regulatory compliance matters. An active member of the firm’s pro bono program, Gage provides legal counsel related to economic development, small business initiatives, and domestic violence. Gage is also experienced in government and commercial contracts.

Gage previously served NFALA as the Southeast Regional Governor and is the Chair of the Scholarship Committee. She is a founding member and is currently the President-Elect of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of the District of Columbia. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Career Development Committee for the Women’s Bar Association of DC and is an active pro bono attorney with the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Gage received her M.B.A. from Cornell University, her LL.M. with dual specializations in Intellectual Property and Criminal Law from American University, her J.D. from the Appalachian School of Law, and her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Vice-President for Membership


Jeri Gonzales Abrams is a Partner for her family’s immigration law firm, Gonzales, Gonzales & Gonzales Immigration Law Offices. Her father, Jeffrey, began as a solo practitioner over 35 years ago. Her older brother, JJ, practiced in Miami, Florida for a number of years before joining their father’s practice in 2009. Jeri joined the practice in 2012; and since then, the Firm has grown to 17 attorneys with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. The Firm practices exclusively Immigration law, with a primary focus on Family-based Immigration and Deportation Defense. Prior to joining her family’s Immigration law firm, Jeri was an associate for a large Pacific Northwest law firm, and also practiced as an in-house attorney for a Seattle-area healthcare organization.

Jeri received her undergraduate degree from Rice University, cum laude, where she attended on a tennis scholarship. She received her J.D. from University of Washington School of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Board, the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic, and served as Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. Jeri is a founding member, Past President, and current board member of the Filipino Lawyers of Washington (FLOW). A founding sponsor of NFALA, Jeri also previously served as Regional Governor for the Northwest region. In her spare time, Jeri enjoys spending time with her family (even though she works for the family business), particularly with her husband and their two sons.

Vice-President for Communications


Mark J. Calaguas is a staff attorney at the Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, where he is a member of the Discovery practice group, which focuses on using technology to improve legal services in litigation, investigations, due diligence, compliance audits, government second requests, and other projects involving the preservation, review, and production of electronic data. He has also advised entrepreneurs on information privacy and data protection matters.

Mark is a founding board member of both NFALA and the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago, where he currently serves as Communications Officer. Mark is board member of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) and sits on the associate board of HealthConnect One, a nationally renowned nonprofit that promotes maternal and early childhood health. He is also an active member of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs and served as a Young Professionals Network Ambassador for several years. Additionally, Mark is the Community Relations Manager for Kultura, a contemporary Filipino American food and arts festival organized by the culinary media and events company, Filipino Kitchen.

Mark is a 2016 alumnus of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), which connects outstanding Filipino Americans to government officials, business executives, cultural experts, social entrepreneurs, and other innovators in the Philippines via an annual immersion trip sponsored by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and Ayala Foundation, Inc.

Mark received a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan and a J.D. with Certificate in International Law and Practice from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.



Mark Punzalan is a Partner at Chan + Punzalan LLP, a full-service law firm that provides a wide range of business counsel, and he advises clients on trade secret disputes, trademark matters, complex business litigation, and intellectual property and technology litigation. Mark has represented U.S. and international clients from a wide variety of industries, and he has successfully prosecuted and defended his clients in complex litigation matters across the country.

Mark has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer in Intellectual Property Litigation numerous times (2015, 2016, and 2017), and he is also a two-time recipient of the Minority Bar Coalition’s Unity Award for his contributions to diversity in the legal profession. Mark is a former president of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) and currently serves as Vice-President of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley (APABA Silicon Valley) and Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA).



Kristy Michelle Gonowon is in-house counsel at Allstate Insurance Company. Kristy performs a dual role within Allstate’s Law & Regulation department, both as the sole ERISA/employee benefits counsel and as part of a team of claim litigation management counsel. On the employment side, her practice focuses on providing advice and counsel on health and welfare plans and wellbeing programs in compliance with ERISA, PPACA, EEOC, and the Internal Revenue Code. On the claim litigation side, she oversees and approves legal strategies within six states on claims involving bad faith, excess verdict, and coverage issues. She also provides legal opinions on pending legislation for the Southern region (Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana) and for the New York region. She is also the department’s subject matter expert on the topics of diminished value claims and Medicare issues.

Prior to becoming in-house counsel at Allstate’s corporate offices, Kristy was a litigator handling both insurance defense and the recovery aspect of subrogation matters on behalf of Allstate in the Chicago staff counsel office for two years. Prior to that, she was a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney for 10 years with a boutique law firm in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

Kristy recently served as NFALA’s Central Regional Governor under President Jhanice Domingo and is presently Co-Chair of NFALA’s In-House Counsel affinity network. Alongside her current role as Secretary for NFALA, Kristy is also serving a second term as Secretary for the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago.

Immediate Past President


Jhanice V. Domingo is a Partner at Einhorn, Harris, Ascher, Barbarito & Frost, P.C., where she has had over a decade of legal experience specializing in family law. Since 2011, she has been appointed to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court Family Practice Committee, and since 2009, has been recognized by New Jersey Super Lawyers for her work in family law. Jhanice’s practice encompasses litigation of complex, high-conflict divorce matters, and alternative dispute resolution of low-conflict divorce cases. She has successfully represented a broad range of professionals, including physicians, attorneys, high-level business executives, self-employed business owners and others in divorce cases involving intricate business valuations, complex analysis of executive compensations and financial forensic evaluations. Jhanice also supervises and handles the litigation and settlement of family law matters involving child custody, alimony, child support, equitable distribution, palimony, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, same-sex marriage and domestic violence. Jhanice is uniquely suited to represent the firm’s diverse clients given her diverse background, active engagement with the Filipino-American and Korean-American communities, and understanding of important factors that impact cases in a cross-cultural context.

Jhanice is a distinguished leader in the legal community, both in New Jersey and nationwide. She is a Past President of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ) and the Immediate Past President of NFALA, where she also currently serves as Co-Chair of the Judicial and Executive Appointments and Nominations Committee. In 2013, Jhanice was one of 50 New Jersey attorneys selected by New Jersey Law Journal to receive the New Leaders of the Bar Award and was one of 100 early- to mid- career minority attorneys to be selected to the Lawyers of Color Inaugural Eastern Region 2013 Hot List. Last year, Jhanice was selected by APALA-NJ and the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law as a recipient of the 2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year Award. Jhanice was also selected by the New Jersey Law Journal as a recipient of the 2017 Diverse Attorneys of the Year Award.

Jhanice’s commitment to diversity in the legal profession and in government, as well as her advocacy for people from diverse cultures and backgrounds is reflected in her civic and community activities. She has served on the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Diversity Committee. As Chair of APALA-NJ’s Judicial & Prosecutorial Appointments Committee since 2012, she spearheads efforts to identify, encourage and support qualified Asian Pacific American candidates for nomination to the judiciary and other appointed positions in state and federal government, working alongside the Governor’s Office and various senatorial offices. She has authored commentaries and op-eds for New Jersey Lawyer Magazine and the New Jersey Star Ledger regarding the need for a more diverse bench and bar; has served on Host Committees for Asian Pacific American political candidates; and has moderated a continuing legal education seminars which discuss the judicial and appointments process in New Jersey. She is the Vice President of the legal section of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Korean American Family Service Center, has served as a pro bono volunteer attorney for programs such as Citizenship Rutgers and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Somerset Community Action Program.


Northeast Region | NOEL VALES

Northwest Region | ELAINE PASCUA

Southeast Region | DARREN FERNANDEZ

Southwest Region | CAMILLE KILMARTIN


Northern California Region | VANESSA CANDELARIA

Central California Region | PHILIP NULUD

Southern California Region | MELISSA DELEON

Eastern California Region | EMMANUEL SALAZAR





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