HISTORY & FOUNDERS

Founded in 2016 by Christine Start, Mari Bandoma Callado, Lorna Garcia De Guzman, Vanessa Candelaria and Jennifer Sta. Ana, with the support of the women of FBANC Laurie Rose Lubiano, Katrina Romero, Jeanne Grove, Vanessa Leonardo, Angelica Leonardo and Carmelita Miller, the Inaugural Pinay Powerhouse Conference 2017 hosted by the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California in San Francisco, California was attended by over 100 Filipina judges, attorneys, and aspiring attorneys from all over the country.

For more information on the Inaugural Pinay Powerhouse, please go to:  https://westcoastpinaypowerhouse.wordpress.com/

Christine Mari Palma Start is a Deputy Public Defender with the Solano County Alternate Public Defender. She proudly represents indigent individuals charged with crimes from arraignment through jury trial and post-conviction. Christine is featured as one of nine women criminal defense lawyers in Andrea Lyon’s newest publication, The Feminine Sixth: Women for the Defense, a book that probes the non-fictional accounts of women criminal defense lawyers across the country.

As the Visionary Founder of the Pinay Powerhouse Conference and with the help and leadership of her sisters-in-law and co-founders of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC), Christine organized and led the country’s first-ever inaugural women’s conference focused on the empowerment of Filipina attorneys and aspiring attorneys as leaders in law.

Christine is Immediate Past President of FBANC and currently serves on the Advisory Board of FBANC. Christine is also the Co-Committee Chair of the Women Lawyers Network for the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), Co-Director of the Minority Bar Coalition of the Bay Area, Vice-Chair of the Women’s Committee for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Advisory Board Member to the Public Interest Law Foundation of the University of San Francisco School of Law and sits on the Racial Justice Committee at her place of employment.

Christine is also a proud leadership and life coach for women and runs her own business, FireStarter Coaching. She is a devoted certified yoga and social justice teacher and practitioner. Christine is excited to be teaching a yoga class with her sisters-in-law at this year’s conference!

Christine was recently recognized as a “Best Lawyer Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) in 2017. Also, in 2017, she was honored with the Minority Bar Coalition’s “Unity Award” for working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession.

Christine received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law where she was honored with the “Pursuit of Justice Award” of her graduating class. In 2015, the Solano County Public Defender and Alternate Defenders’ recognized Christine with the Thurgood Marshall “Intricate Planner and Defender of the Poor” Award.

Lorna Garcia de Guzman is an in-house counsel litigator with Farmers Insurance Exchange, where she proudly represents small business owners and homeowners against workers’ compensation claims. Lorna is also a core member of Farmers’ Claims Inclusion Council, a company-wide inclusion initiative created to promote inclusion throughout the company. Currently, Lorna is operating as the co-head for Claims Litigation, helping to spearhead their inclusion and diversity initiative nationwide, over 52 legal offices. Prior to working for Farmers Insurance Exchange, Lorna was employed with Laughlin, Falbo, Levy & Moresi. Lorna’s positive attitude and fearlessness in serving Farmers is clearly demonstrated by the lasting relationships she has developed within the legal community.

Graduating Magna Cum Laude, Lorna received dual bachelor degrees in Political Science and Business Administration, with triple concentrations in Management, Finance and Economics from Notre Dame de Namur University. She was also awarded the Presidential Scholar award. She received her Juris Doctorate from Golden Gate University.

Outside of FBANC, Lorna has also been interviewed on several occasions on the ABS-CBN network and the Philippine News for her work in the community. Lorna has also served as an executive board member for several years, for North Valley Little League, where her children participate in baseball. She was also a member of the 2015 alumni class for the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy in Minneapolis.

Lorna is a native of the Bay Area, where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

Lorna truly believes that hard work and substantial commitments are the key to success and continuing to grow.

Mari Bandoma Callado is an attorney at the Dolan Law Firm, PC.  She represents employees in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation cases. She also represents individuals injured and families of loved ones who have died due to the fault of others, including in hate crime, elder abuse and neglect lawsuits. In 2017, Super Lawyers recognized Mari as a Rising Star among Northern California attorneys.  

Prior to joining the Dolan Law Firm, Mari represented employees in significant class action lawsuits involving minimum wage pay violations, improper denial of overtime pay and meal and rest breaks, and misclassification of employees as exempt and non-exempt. She also worked as a research attorney for the Honorable Judge Stuart Hing in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda.

Mari has been an active member of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (“FBANC”) since 2010 as a law student and has served on the FBANC board since 2013.   She currently serves as FBANC’s Treasurer and Women’s Committee Co-Chair.  In addition to her work with FBANC, Mari volunteers at Legal Aid at Work’s Workers’ Rights Clinic.  She also serves on the California Employment Lawyers Association’s Barristers Committee, the Consumer Attorneys of California’s Diversity Committee and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association’s New Lawyers Division.

Mari graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2012 and was recognized for her Pro Bono work.  During law school, she served on the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal and was President of the Pilipino American Law Society and Employment Law Students Association.  She earned her B.A. in Ethnic Studies and minor in Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Vanessa Candelaria is a seasoned California Family Law attorney with experience helping her clients manage a range of stressful and complex legal challenges. She handles divorce matters, child custody disputes, paternity actions, domestic partnership dissolutions, spousal and child support actions, prenuptial agreements and domestic violence prevention.  Ms. Candelaria helps her clients navigate the family law process in an effective and strategic manner. Her goal is to resolve her clients’ matters in the best possible outcomes and in the least cost to clients. Ms. Candelaria provides legal services throughout the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Prior to earning her Juris Doctorate degree from Golden Gate University, Ms. Candelaria earned dual degrees in English and Psychology and Social Behavior and a minor in Political Science from the University of California – Irvine. At Golden Gate University, Ms. Candelaria was accepted into the Honors Lawyering Program and she was a judicial extern for retired family law Commissioner, Marjorie Slabach, of the San Francisco Unified Family Court.

Ms. Candelaria is also an active member of the legal community. In her local community, she serves on the Board of the Family Law Section of Contra Costa County Bar Association. She is the Regional Governor for Northern California for the National Filipino American Lawyers Association, Past President of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC), Past District Representative for the American Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division and was a former Co-Chair of the Family Law Section of the San Mateo County Bar Association.

Ms. Candelaria has been selected in 2015, 2016, and 2017 to the Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star list. Each year, no more than 2.5% of lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Jennifer Sta.Ana is an associate attorney at Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP, a plaintiff-side employment law firm committed to advancing workers rights and social justice. Jennifer graduated from USF School of Law, where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the USF Law Review and was an Advocate of the Year finalist. In 2015, Jennifer worked as an extern to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the California Supreme Court. Upon receiving her license, Jennifer worked as a Bay Area Legal Incubator Attorney, helping low-wage Filipino workers with their labor trafficking and wage theft claims.

In another life, she worked at the intersection of science and policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC. Disillusioned by the unidirectional production of ideas for “progress” emanating from Washington, Jennifer completed a Master’s from Georgetown and pursued a Ph.D. at Northwestern (which she did not complete), studying the neo-colonial effects of international development standards onto the Philippines. However, she left academia and pursued law to directly help Filipino migrants workers disenfranchised by a political economy that caters to the developed world.

Jennifer is honored to have co-emceed the 2014 FBANC Installment Dinner and to receive FBANC’s Raymond L. Ocampo, Jr. Family Scholarship in 2015.

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