Mayor Gloria appoints Fil-Am community leaders to Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group

(L-R) Mitz Lee, Jason Paguio, Kirin Macapugay, Tony Olaes, and JoAnn Fields | Photos courtesy of San Diego Mayor’s Office

Mayor Todd Gloria announced on Tuesday, May 4 the formation of his administration’s Asian-Pacific Islander (API) Advisory Group as a part of his commitment to ensure more diversity, inclusion, and equity in the City of San Diego.

“San Diego is home to a rich and diverse Asian and Pacific Islander community. Having a ‘San Diego for all of us’ means hearing all voices, so I’m particularly proud to announce this API advisory group so we can better address the issues and concerns of our API residents,” Mayor Gloria said. “We have been able to assemble such an accomplished group of individuals who will strengthen our efforts to create a more inclusive San Diego.”

San Diego community leaders will make up this group of API advisers to assist in guiding Mayor Gloria’s administration in tackling the unique challenges facing API communities. The advisory group will meet quarterly and is scheduled to hold its first meeting on May 17.

Among the 15 initial members of Mayor Gloria’s Asian-Pacific Islander Advisory Group are five Filipino Americans: JoAnn Fields, Mitz Lee, Kirin Amiling Macapugay, Tony Olaes and Jason Paguio.

Rounding up the rest of the advisory group are Dr. Allen Chan, Ron Cho, Panna Hazarika, Judy Ki, Lee Ann Kim, Elvin Lai, Connie Matsui, Su Nguyen, Dr. William Tseng, and Natasha Wong.

The advisory group members come from different fields and industries representing a cross-section of the city’s diverse communities.

A second-generation Filipino immigrant and an advocate for communities of color in the South Bay area, JoAnn Fields founded the Lumpia Club Luncheon, a Filipino-American professionals’ network that meets monthly to discuss concerns within the community.

She is also the public relations director for the Asian Pacific Islander Initiative, where most recently, she helped ensure the API community was counted in the census and advocated for disaggregated data during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am happy to be part of Mayor Gloria’s Advisory Group. Much work to do and looking forward to work together to serve our community,” Mitz Lee said in a Facebook post.

Lee has been a community leader, coalition builder, and neighborhood advocate for nearly three decades and has served on San Diego City Human Relations Commission, co-founded several nonprofit organizations and has served on their board of directors as well. Currently, she is spearheading two neighborhood-focused projects as Executive Director of Mira Mesa Senior Center and Chairperson of D6 Night Market and continues to serve as President and CEO of Alliance for Quality Education.

From the academe, Kirin Amiling Macapugay is a professor at San Diego City College who has worked in education, health and human services and various not-for-profit organizations in San Diego since 1998, primarily in organizations serving API and other underrepresented communities. She is the founder of Asian Pacific Islander Community Actions (APICA), serves on the California Commission on Asian American Pacific Islander Affairs and is part of the San Diego API Coalition’s core leadership.

Tony Olaes is the co-founder of TheFilipinoSchool.com in San Diego, whose mission is to educate, awaken and empower the next generation of Filipino Americans to uplift their community and motherland. He is president of Olaes Enterprises Inc., a 25-year corporation that supplies imprinted apparel to national retailers throughout the United States and also serves on the board of directors for Gawad Kalinga USA, a nation-building movement that aims to transform the poverty situation in the Philippines.

Jason Paguio is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Business Association San Diego (ABASD) and the Statewide Strategic Partnerships for the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce. He led ABASD’s Small Business Development Center through the pandemic by assisting thousands of minority-owned small businesses, helping them to receive no-cost technical assistance and tens-of-million dollars in COVID-19 disaster relief capital.

In a historic effort, Paguio partnered to establish the Strategic Alliance, a group comprising the region’s three largest ethnic chambers of commerce: the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Business Association San Diego. Together, the Strategic Alliance successfully advocated with the County of San Diego and City of San Diego for dedicated outreach and technical assistance to disadvantaged minority-owned businesses.

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