Aileen Cassinetto is the first Filipina American poet laureate in San Mateo County, California. She is also the first Asian American and foreign-born poet appointed to the post.
Cassinetto said her appointment reflects the diversity of the largest county in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"In San Mateo County, there are over 126,000 households where English is not the main language so I wanted to highlight different stories, celebrate our diversity because that's what makes us stronger as a community," Cassinetto pointed out.
Cassinetto is the founder of Paloma Press and author of two poetry collections and three chapbooks, with her work featured in various prestigious publications. She also helped establish annual youth poetry competitions and youth poet laureate programs in the county. Cassinetto curated the fundraising community poem, 'Love in the Time of Covid-19,' which was read in Connecticut on Memorial Day in 2020, and used as a resource by the Alzheimer's Poetry Project Minnesota and the Montgomery School District in Texas.
"The beauty of poetry is that it has the power to flesh out issues whether personal or socio-political. It also has the power to bring a community together," Cassinetto said.
The Manila-born poet added that she is proud to be mentored and influenced by fellow Filipino poets and writers. "I was just fortunate to meet Filipino poets like the late Ed Maranan who mentored and also Eileen Tabios, Remé-Antonia Grefalda who are pillars of Filipino literature who kind of showed me how poetry can be part of our daily lives."
On December 7, 2021, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors appointed her to the Commission on the Status of Women, with her term ending on December 31, 2025.