JOHN Eric Swing, the late executive director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), was awarded with the first-ever Joseph Ileto Courage Award during Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles’ virtual gala this week.
The organization’s 37th anniversary gala was held virtually on Thursday night, October 22, bearing the theme “United in Action.”
Swing, 48, died from COVID-19 on June 28, and is remembered for his infectious smile, generosity, and ability to connect with others upon the first meeting.
The Joseph Ileto Courage Award was created last year in honor of Joseph Ileto, a Filipino American postal worker who was tragically killed in a hate crime in the San Fernando Valley on August 10, 1999. Years later, the Ileto family continues to be advocates for gun control and hate crime awareness.
“Together with the Ileto family, we are honored to celebrate the life of John Eric Swing as the inaugural awardee of the Joseph Ileto Courage Award. May we continue to let the spirits and legacies of both Joseph Ileto and John Eric Swing guide us as we continue to serve our communities and create positive change,” Advancing Justice-LA said in a statement.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Swing joined SIPA in 2015 and served as its director of small business development before assuming the top leadership role in April. When the pandemic hit, he led a food delivery project for seniors and families in Historic Filipinotown and continued advising entrepreneurs in the community online.
Swing is survived by his wife Ellen Rodriguez-Swing and their children, Zachary, Joshua, Chloe, Mackenzie, Nico and Sasha. His work with SIPA will further be memorialized with the “John Eric Swing Small Business Center” at the organization’s forthcoming redeveloped headquarters in Historic Filipinotown.