Damayan’s staff is composed of full-time and part-time organizers who are responsible for implementing the programs, campaigns and other operations of the organization on a day-to-day basis. They work closely with, report to, and are directly accountable to the Board of Directors (BOD) and the Secretariat. Some BOD members also serve as Damayan staff members.
Founding Member and Executive Director
Linda Oalican discovered her passion for serving the marginalized sectors as a student activist in the University of the Philippines at the height of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s. She later became a community and labor organizer, but had to shelve her organizing work to focus on supporting her children to go to college. She migrated to the US eighteen years ago to help ensure her family’s economic survival and became a domestic worker in New York City. In 2002, Linda became one of the founding members of Damayan, has been with Damayan since its founding and currently serves as its Overall Coordinator. Linda became a Union Square Awardee in 2004, and was awarded the Leading With Love – Dedication Award by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). She was elected to the first two Coordinating Committees of the NDWA, was instrumental in the establishment of its infrastructure and democratic processes, and was elected to its first Board of Directors in 2012.
Administrative and Communications Coordinator
Leads: Admin, Finance, Communications (Media Requests, Speaking Requests, and ECommunications), and Interns and Volunteers
Lydia Catina Amaya
Leads: Case Management, Membership and NY DW Coalition
Lydia Catina Amaya started working at a factory in the Philippines at the age of 16, was recruited to be a missionary for an international church, and was eventually brought to the US by the church to raise money in 1998. Lydia was forced to work as a domestic worker, for no pay, for one of the church leaders for three years. In 2010, Lydia became a member of Damayan. In 2011, she received a T visa as a trafficking survivor and has been an active member and leader since, testifying about her experience and encouraging other women to fight their case. Lydia has extensive training in community organizing and gender rights, through Damayan’s Abante Babae (“onward women”) Peer Training program, the National Domestic Workers Alliance two-year intensive capacity-building program, Solidarity-Organizing-Leadership (SOL), and in volunteer and member supervision through the New York Cares volunteer management training.
Organizer and Case Manager
Leads: Case Management, Monthly Legal Clinics, and Hate Free Zone
Lead Organizer and Case Manager
Leads: Case Management, Workers Academy, Baklas: Break Free from Labor Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery, and Beyond Survival
Born and raised in the Philippines, Riya Ortiz was uprooted from her motherland and transplanted to New York City in 2000 where she has taken roots in the Filipino American community since then. As a queer immigrant Filipina butch and daughter of a domestic worker, she has 18 years of organizing experience with the most marginalized Filipinos in the Philippines and in the US, including Filipino migrant workers and their children. She served as the Founding Chairperson of the Gabriela Youth chapter in her college in Manila and a founding member of Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland) in NYC. Her other passion includes photography, running, and taking care of her cat Kabang.
Jade Palma Gil
Supports: Damayan Workers Cooperative and Political Education
Organizer and Case Manager
Leads: Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (TVAP) Case Management, Damayan Workers Cooperative, Workforce Development, and OSHA Trainings
Sade Swift attends Eugene Lang at The New School where she is pursuing a major in Urban Studies and a minor in Gender Studies. Sade is highly motivated and spends a lot of time organizing around current issues and being a catalyst for women and young people to discover their leadership and make a change in their communities.
Interns and Volunteers
Mikolaj Berestko, Intern
Laura Cabochan, Volunteer
Sofia Dadap, Volunteer
Daniela Pila, Volunteer
Terri Nilliasca, Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (TVAP) Coordinator
Leah Obias, Community Organizer and Case Manager