Fil Am longtime aide to President Clinton dies at 70

by Kobakila News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Maria Mabilangan Haley, the executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton, died Tuesday, Sept. 13.  Gov. Mike Beebe said in a statement that she had suffered from an aneurysm.  She was 70.

Haley, who emigrated from the Philippines more than 30 years ago, was the sister of former Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Felipe Mabilangan Jr.  Their father, Felipe Sr., was likewise a former ambassador to the U.N. Born in the Philippines, Haley was educated in India, Pakistan, France and Spain, and has run Arkansas offices in Brussels, Tokyo and Taipei.

She had worked for Clinton both as governor and when he was in the White House. From 1994-1999, she served on the board of the Export Import Bank of the United States.

Haley served twice in the White House at the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). From January 1993 to October 1994, as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director of PPO, she participated in the development of personnel systems and hiring processes of the Clinton/Gore Administration. She was the White House point of contact for the selection and approval of three economic development agencies: Commerce, Transportation and HUD and 12 independent executive agencies.

From 1999 to 2001, she returned to the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of PPO. She managed the day-to-day operations of PPO, participated in legislative strategies on confirmation of Presidential nominees, and was in charge of the Schedule C operation, which is the selection and approval process of more than 1,500 junior-level appointments.

After leaving the White House, she worked at Kissinger McLarty Associates, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s consulting group. In 2001 and 2002, Ms. Haley served as an advisor to President Gloria Arroyo and the Philippine government on wide ranging topics such as money laundering, government transparency, Philippine American issues, and the political and religious ramification of the September 11th tragedy.

According to a statement released by President Bill Clinton, he said Haley was “a great public servant, a wonderful person, and my friend for more than 30 years”.

Gov. Mike Beebe who appointed her as Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDCO) said:  “Maria Haley did more for the State of Arkansas than most people will ever know. Her tireless mission to create and keep jobs in Arkansas was a primary factor in our ability to ride out the recession as well as we have. After living all over the world, Maria made Arkansas her adopted home, and dedicated herself to its betterment for more than 30 years. She was one of the first people I wanted on my team when I became governor, and she will be dearly missed as a friend and colleague.”

Tom Kirk, Chairman of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said:  “Maria was an inspiration to everyone she came into contact with. She was a woman of the world who brought a unique perspective to economic development, with an absolute laser focus on doing every possible thing she could do to create jobs for the people of Arkansas. We will miss her guidance and her friendship. On behalf of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission I want her family to know the important place she held in so many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

In a statement by the National Federation of Filipino-American Association (NaFFAA), it acknowledged Haley as a “…faithful advocate for Filipino World War II veterans and a proud mentor of women and youth.”  

NaFFAA also said that “Ms. Haley was a strong voice for Filipino American empowerment, providing much needd advise, assistance and encouragement to community leaders in their efforts to build a national presence in Washington, DC in the mid 1990s.  As the highest-ranking Filipino American in the Clinton administration, she always made sure that our issues are in the radar screen of policy makers.  She played a key role in President Clinton’s White House initiative on AAPIs, shepherding its birth and helping guide its work.”

After leaving the White House, she worked at Kissinger McLarty Associates, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s consulting group, and as an adviser to the president of the Philippines, her home country.

Ms. Haley moved to Arkansas in 1971 when she married John Haley, a lawyer. She divorced her husband in the early 1990s. He died in a plane crash in 2003.

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