By Ninette Cheng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Sesinando Cantor is a unique and valuable member of the community. With three degrees and certifications, his heart is as big as his resume, including 13 years of volunteer work with numerous organizations.
Though the Top Contributors honoree is now a retired accountant and lawyer, his volunteer activities are vast and keep him busy. Cantor is the president of the Filipino American Community of Renton and the International Drop-In Center, the founding president of the Filipino American Association of CPAs, and a past executive board member of Therapeutic Health Services (THS). Cantor has used his unique professional and educational background to give back to his community for nearly 40 years.
Cantor first became an attorney in his hometown of Manila in 1965. In 1968, he received his Masters of Finance at the University of Puget Sound before his first position in Washington in 1974.
“I worked here in the U.S. as a corporate accountant, first with a construction company, then with a manufacturing company, a public accountant firm, and as an international accountant at Microsoft,” Cantor said.
Cantor’s first major volunteer role came with THS, an organization dedicated to rehabilitating individuals and healing families affected by drug and alcohol dependence and mental illness, in 1985.
“We were looking for a finance person and I had Tony Paz come in my office,” THS director Norman O. Johnson said. “He knew a gentleman at that particular time who worked at Microsoft. Cantor was unusual because he had three degrees that you rarely see in one person. I don’t think in 40 years of this business have I been lucky enough to come across someone with all three of those skills.”
Cantor brought connections and resources from all over the world to THS, including the Philippines.
“He was very open minded, very resourceful, and had many connections,” Johnson said. “Thanks to connections Sesinando has, we now have a relationship with one of the oldest universities (University of Manila) in Asia to have interns.”
Cantor ultimately held the role of director, treasurer, and head of the finance committee. He was a member of the executive committee before leaving in 2007 to focus on his role with the Filipino American Community of Renton.
There, Cantor established the Filipino American Scholarship Fund, providing financial and education grants to students who are in college.
“We are planning to expand our services, and to renew and increase our ties with various agencies that are serving many minorities,” Cantor said. “To me, I think it’s nice to be able to link and network with these organizations and other ethnicities.”
When asked about Cantor’s motivation, Johnson cited his Filipino heritage.
“I think it’s a cultural thing of wanting to work with people, help others, and look outside yourself,” he said. “I’ve worked with Filipinos in other countries and here and they have the cultural background of wanting to help other people.”
Cantor sees it in a different, yet similar way.
“I believe in sharing my talents, my professional expertise and sharing with them and assisting them whatever the needs in which I will be able,” he said. “One of my philosophies is I have to be involved with a community bigger than myself.”
He also cites a cultural influence.
“Remember we are all Americans,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we, in the Seattle area, are a very viable and enjoyable place, where we as Asian Americans can live and work together and are empowered. Let us all be vibrant and empowered and do it for a common cause for all of us here in the Seattle area.” (end)
Ninette Cheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.