APAP received an overflowing amount of submissions for Top AAPI Unsung Heroes 2009, showing the importance of recognizing community leaders that often organize a good amount of behind-the-scenes work on a regular basis, but do not garner enough attention for all the hard work that they do.
Congratulations to Ben de Guzman and John Delloro for being APAP’s Top Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Unsung Heroes 2009
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and National Coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE). (And National KAYA Political Director)
Ben has been part of at least two historical milestones in AAPI history in 2009. In February 2009, he ran the campaign that resulted in restoration of military recognition of the service of Filipino WWII veterans by the U.S. government. For two years, he ran the day-to-day operations of the campaign that brought out unprecedented mobilization from Filipino and AAPI communities. In August 2009, he led the team that put on what may be the first national, pan-AAPI, multigender LGBT conference when the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance held its inaugural conference, “Transgress, Transform, Transcend.” Additionally, as the Policy Director for Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress, he helped run policy work and programming for this new organization as well, including a slate of events during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. He is also an active member of the DC Cal Alumni Club, the California Alumni Association’s 2009 Chapter of the Year in Washington, DC.
For over 10 years, Ben’s commitment to AAPI communities generally, and Filipino American and LGBT constituencies specifically, has been unquestionable. Since beginning his career in back in 1997, he has been an active member of a number of local organizations in both Washington, DC and Los Angeles, including API Queers United for Action, Filipino American Youth Dialogue, APAs for Progress, and API Equality – Los Angeles. At the national level, he has led national advocacy and public education and leadership programs for organizations such as the Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE).
John Delloro was elected National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, the largest and only national organization of Asian American and Pacific Islander union members and working families and recently moderated the historic first National Public Hearing on Asian American and Pacific Islander Workers Rights, which was held in Washington D.C. He has increased youth membership and leadership in national unions.
He also works as the Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute of the 130,000 student Los Angeles Community College District, where he oversees programs and labor studies classes that train and prepare students to understand their power as future workers and professionals. Additionally, he is a visiting lecturer in UCLA’s Asian American Studies Department, where he teaches regular courses on theories of leadership development and strategy, research methodologies, labor, and current issues in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and also teaches labor studies courses through the LA Trade Technical College. Recenty, he has been appointed by the mayor and approved by city council to sit on the Los Angeles City Taxicab Commission (an industry that employs a large number of south Asian cabdrivers). In addition to his community work, he writes for a national on-line blog for the Asian American Action Fund and the Los Angeles Progressive.
Prior to his current duties, he has worked as a labor organizer for 12 years. He has previously served as a manager of the southwest California area of the 90,000 member SEIU Local 1000, the Union of California State Workers and as a staff director for the acute care hospital division of SEIU Local 399, the Healthcare Employees union. He has also worked as an organizer for the Culinary Union (HERE Local 226) in Las Vegas and AFSCME International organizing Los Angeles Superior Court clerical employees. He was one of the co-founders of the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California (PWC). John also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Strategic Concepts in Organizing, Policy and Education (SCOPE), the Legal Advisory Board of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) and the Board of Directors of PWC and serves as an appointee on the California Assembly Speaker’s Commission on Labor Education.
Largely influenced by his hard-working immigrant parents, he has committed himself to the movement for socioeconomic justice, especially in the AAPI communities, who have the largest economic divide out of all racial groups.