Padilla Invites Frontline Nurse as “Virtual Guest” for Presidential Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), announced Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN as his “virtual guest” to President Biden’s first address to a Joint Session of Congress. Triunfo-Cortez has practiced as a nurse for more than four decades and currently works in the post-anesthesia care unit at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center. She is also a member of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee’s Council of Presidents, where she serves as the first Filipina president of the union.

“I am honored to have Zenei Triunfo-Cortez as my virtual guest for President Biden’s first address to Congress,” said Senator Padilla. “The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on communities across the country over the last year, and nurses like Zenei have been on the frontlines through it all, advocating for the wellbeing of their patients and their coworkers. In the first 100 days of the new Congress, the American Rescue plan has given communities throughout the state the resources they need to recover from the pandemic by providing PPE, putting vaccines into arms, kids back in schools, and money in the pockets of those who need it the most. But the work is far from over, and I’ll continue working in Congress to support essential workers like Zenei and help our communities recover equitably from this pandemic.”

“As a nurse who’s been working on the frontlines over the last year under grueling and unrelenting circumstances, I am grateful for the leadership of President Biden and Congress in passing the American Rescue Plan, which provides significant funding for badly needed economic support for the American people, state and local governments, as well vaccines and Covid-19 tests,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco, President, National Nurses United. “The President’s strong commitment to workers’ rights, including the ability to exercise a collective voice through organizing unions and collective bargaining, is a refreshing sea change. I’m especially proud of Senator Padilla’s advocacy on the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act in support of our AAPI communities in California and across the country.”

When Triunfo-Cortez emigrated in 1974 from the Philippines to Chicago at age 19, she joined a Filipino-American community thriving with nurses, including many of her family members. The decision to become a nurse was a natural and easy one, and she earned her nursing degree from South Chicago Community Hospital School of Nursing shortly thereafter. Triunfo-Cortez began her involvement with CNA/NNOC in 1980. She serves as chair of the Kaiser Joint Area Bargaining Council, which negotiates CNA/NNOC’s largest contract, covering more than 19,000 Kaiser nurses and nurse practitioners. She has also held roles as nurse representative, chief nurse representative, chair of her facility’s professional practice committee, region director, and vice president. In 2007 she was elected with a panel of three RN colleagues to serve on CNA/NNOC’s first Council of Presidents and has been reelected for subsequent terms.

The first 100 days of the Biden presidency and the new Senate Democratic Majority has seen the country turn a corner from the pandemic and deliver for the American people. Senator Padilla proudly voted to pass the American Rescue Plan which secured urgently needed COVID-19 relief to millions across California, including direct checks for struggling families, increased testing and vaccinations, support for small businesses, and resources for schools to reopen safely and quickly. Padilla also advocated and worked to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to combat anti-AAPI hate crimes and violence.