Jelon Billion, Tribal Advisor
A pioneer and tireless advocate, Jelon has served Badjao communities for almost two decades.
Having grown up in a tribe in the rural Philippines, Jelon’s heart for indigenous people was formed early on. In his early 20’s, Jelon made the decision to live among the Badjao where he learned the language and befriended the tribal clan leaders. He is a respected leader and mentor to many in the tribe and over the years he has worked as a government liaison, often mediating issues between the tribe and the local authorities.
He has advocated for educational opportunity and worked to raise funds for the first three Badjao youth to attend college.
Jelon has partnered with Badjao Bridge since 2011 and serves as our special advisor concerning tribal affairs.
Dan Johanson, Founder and Executive Director Badjao Bridge (U.S.) email
Dan lived in The Philippines for more than 10 years, just a few miles from a Badjao community. He was disturbed by the degree of suffering, much worse than any other poverty he had witnessed before in his travels.
After approaching large development organizations that could not adapt their programs to help, Dan founded Badjao Bridge in 2009.
Dan is conversant in Tagalog, Visayan, and is learning Badjao. His wife Hazel is from The Philippines and they have two children. He derives his income through photography and personal donor support.
Board of Directors
Wency dela Vina, General Director (email)
After earning his Masters in Agricultural Engineering, Wency coordinated international training on water management and taught high school before joining The Navigators, an international Christian ministry. He eventually became the National Director in 1998.
Having stepped down from that position in 2007, he now helps oversee The Navigators work in six counties and serves as Director of Community Hope Alternatives, an organization he founded to help the rural poor in The Philippines.
Nadia Wirolubowich, General Director (email)
Nadia Wirolubowich immigrated to the U.S. as a child and grew up bi-culturally. This experience shaped her world view, her global interest, and her ability to speak several languages fluently. A graduate of both UC Berkeley and Pepperdine University, she earned an MBA in management and has worked as a consultant in I.T. education for Fortune 500 companies for over 20 years, designing, developing, and deploying systems training and communication programs globally.
Pursuing her avid interest in global concerns and multicultural contexts, Nadia has been involved in secondary and university education programs in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America. She also has enjoyed involvement in numerous multicultural outreach endeavors for the under-served.
Janet Tsuchiya, General Director (email)
Janet Tsuchiya was born in Chicago, Illinois. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and an MBA - Finance from UC Berkeley. In 1983 she became an enrolled agent. Janet left engineering to become a full-time homemaker while working as a part-time tax preparer. She has been involved in various community activities, including board member of a women’s shelter and treasurer of several youth organizations.
She and her husband, Gordy, have two adult children and reside in Oakland, California.
Kim Huggett, Chairman (email)
Kim Huggett is president and CEO of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce and a longtime supporter of ministry in the Philippines. As the former director of government relations for California State University, East Bay (Hayward, Calif.) he spoke at universities in the Philippines to promote international student exchanges on behalf of the university’s Center for Filipino Studies.
Past career positions include working as director of public relations for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District and as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee and Sacramento Union newspapers. He is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Hayward.
Joseph Lee, Treasurer (email)
Joseph Lee is a technologist and entrepreneur with a passion for leadership development and serving under-represented people and communities. He’s held varying roles in the corporate Telecommunications sector for 14 years and passionately serves as the CEO of a vertical-specific BPO in Manila, Philippines. Having the opportunity to visit the Philippines regularly to meet with his team to promote and create new jobs for the local people and economy, Joseph brings valuable insight to culture, business and human resources. He and his wife, Josie have three children, and they reside in the San Francisco bay area.
Vickie Panko, General Director (email)
Christopher Tom, General Director (email)
Board of Directors - PHILIPPINES
Ronnie Saguit, General Director (email)
Licensed Civil Engineer –Agricultural
MA in Urban and Regional Planning
PhD. Candidate in Public Administration
In 2018 Ronnie Saguit was installed as the National Director for The Navigators, Philippines. Prior to this he has served as a coordinator overseeing multiple ministry areas in the Visayan region. He also served Badjao Bridge as the interim Executive Director in 2016-17.
A Certified Public Accountant with a MBA, Jonar has an extensive background in finance management, human resource development, systems and processes improvements. He has expertise in business planning, forecasting, budget management, product development, project evaluation and auditing.
Having served in various capacities for 15 years at World Vision, he has been equipped with both leadership and people management skills in diverse settings. The combination of extensive professional experience and education in finance and accounting has equipped him with a strong command of operations, administrative, system and finance management in an organization gearing for growth.
Marie Demafelis, Secretary (email)
Marie is a entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in development and relief work. She has also significant knowledge and experience in non-profit management.
Based in Manila, she has served Badjao Bridge as a volunteer utilizing her gifting in the following areas:
➢ Strategy management
➢ Human Resource Administration
➢ Training and Development
➢ Coaching and Mentoring
➢ Christian Commitment and Integration
➢ Change Management, Program and Project Management