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JoAnn Fields: A leader in San Diego's growing AAPI community

Fields organized the first Filipino American Friendship Festival last month, bringing thousands from the AAPI community together.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif — A local leader in the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community is being recognized for the work she does to educate, empower and unite this growing population in San Diego.

Last year, she was nominated for the Inclusive Leadership in Action Awards and this year she’s received another honor.

JoAnn Fields has been in San Diego most of her life. She says after working with multiple elected officials, she noticed a need for more involvement and leadership within the AAPI community. So, she got to work. 

Since June of last year, on a typical Friday afternoon, this is where you’ll find JoAnn Fields: helping distribute food donations at the Bay Terraces Senior Center in San Diego.

“Because they were limited when they could go in the grocery store, and in partnership with I am My Brother’s Keeper and Paving Great Futures, the Filipino Resource Center brought this program to the Bay Terraces Seniors,” Fields said. 

When she’s not helping seniors as Director of the Filipino Resource Center, she’s working in Government Relations for the API Initiative. When hate crimes against Asians jumped in 2020, Fields was at the forefront of organizing community forums.

“Hate crimes are happening in San Diego but is it a hate crime? Is it a hate incident? We weren’t sure so that’s why we had to reach out to the District Attorney’s Office, we reached out to our Pan Pac (Pan Pacific) and Phileo Police Associations, and to the Chief of Police. Please educate our community so that we can better report,” she said.

With a dedicated team to help her, Fields also organized the inaugural Filipino American Friendship Festival last month, bringing thousands from the AAPI community together in San Diego. 

Fields said she’s worked with Mayor Todd Gloria before and knew he’d be in attendance, but she had no idea what he had planned.

“When he started to read and announced it was “JoAnn Fields Day” all the hours behind putting together this festival, in three weeks mind you, all of that was just released with tears of joy,” Fields said. 

So, what’s next for Fields? She says she’s gearing up for the next voter registration push and redistricting campaign in San Diego. 

WATCH RELATED: Filipino American Friendship Festival aims to promote positivity over hate (August 2021)

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