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Asian American Pacific Islander Month Spotlight: JoAnna Delfin

24 May 2024

From Raquel Cloma, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - JoAnna Delfin grew up around the military. Her grandfather and mother were both in the Army and many of her family members served in the military.
“I’ve always wanted to give back in the same way my family did,” she said.

Delfin is a deputy director of public affairs for Navy Closure Task Force - Red Hill. She has worked both as a civilian and contractor in public affairs for more than 13 years both in Guam and in Hawaii.

“I love my job because I get to have a seat at the table and provide a unique perspective to people who are not from Guam or Hawaii,” she explained. “Even though I am not Hawaiian, I am Pacific Islander, so there is a shared sense of understanding, as Guam is also an island in the middle of the Pacific with a heavy military presence that affects our island.”

Delfin, who is half Chamoru and half Filipina, was born in Germany and raised in Guam, a U.S. territory in Micronesia. Guam is home to two strategic military bases: U.S. Naval Base Guam in Santa Rita and Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo. She graduated from the University of Guam (UOG), earning a degree in communications. Delfin worked at the UOG College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences while she was finishing her undergraduate education. Soon after graduating, she worked in advertising and marketing, and later got a job as a contract writer for the Navy.

“I like to write, I like talking to people, I like reading, I like telling stories,” she shared.

The job led her to public affairs.

“My career kind of evolved, where I started to get my hands more into public affairs with more strategic tasks, briefing cards, and press releases, and various other items.”

With each career milestone she achieved, Delfin never wavered from sharing her Chamoru heritage or amplifying the voices of her community.

“Guam is a very small community, we are a very small island that’s only about 32 miles long, so whenever I hear that someone is from Guam or if someone is Chamoru, it makes me proud to know that there are other people like me, especially those who are out here in Hawaii, and that we have representation in other places besides our island.”

Delfin takes pride in being a voice for her community and providing a point of view that may otherwise be overlooked.

“Being a local voice in an institution that is not primarily made up of minorities allows me to provide a unique voice and perspective on certain projects with the military and federal organizations,” she explained. “It’s a point of pride for me to be able to have that voice and provide cultural perspectives on what would or would not be receptive to local communities.”

Hospitality is an important part of Chamoru and Filipino cultures. Like Hawaii’s aloha spirit, Chamorus embrace the spirit of Hafa Adai. The traditional Chamoru greeting means “hello” or “hi.” The warm words of welcome reflect the generous spirit of Guam’s culture, where personal connections, family, and community are valued. Hafa Adai is also an invitation to talk story and share perspectives. Having earned her seat at the table, Delfin readily extends the invitation to others.

“I take a lot of pride in being able to share my Hafa Adai spirit here on island with people and in the workplace because it goes a long way in being a hospitable person,” she said.

(In the month of May, we celebrate the contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) across Navy Region Hawaii. In keeping with this year’s theme – Advancing Leaders Through Innovation – we are highlighting leaders who are leaving their mark through innovation and excellence while promoting cultural awareness and fostering inclusivity.)

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