In August 2020, Mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria visited The Filipino School to talk about voices historically unheard. Photo Courtesy of The Filipino School.

In August 2020, Mayor of San Diego Todd Gloria visited The Filipino School to talk about voices historically unheard. Photo Courtesy of The Filipino School.

Bennett Peji, has had a career-long focus on innovative design solutions, strategic brand marketing, and sustainable community engagement.

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Bennett Peji, Chief Innovation Officer, Filipino School

A native of the Philippines raised in Clairemont, Peji’s early life is a common story of immigrants. He had little money growing up but plenty of love. Like many working-class families he bounced from apartment to apartment, neighborhood to neighborhood.
In 1987, Peji went on to found Bennett Peji Design and has been at the forefront of some important undertakings in the San Diego region.
“I am a passionate advocate for a sustainable organization and community development through innovative thinking and creative design,” said Peji. “Across my career, I’ve had the honor of driving high-performance teams to succeed in mission-critical projects focused on social responsibility, impact investing, and public partnerships.”

International Design Expert
Today, Peji is one of San Diego’s top creative minds and an expert of civic and culturally minded design, civic engagement and brand consulting. His mantra is “Form follows culture,” which he encompasses in the work he does at his firm, by creating branding and spaces that cross cultural divides.
In 2003, he was the master planner for a 1-mile stretch of National City that embraced far more than a singular Filipino cultural identity, representing the diversity of over 200 Filipino-American organizations in multi-generational designs along Plaza Boulevard.
In total, he has received over 200 awards for the design and execution of public campaigns. Notable clients include the City of San Diego, Scripps Research Institute, MAAC, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and Hewlett-Packard. The firm operated for roughly 27 years before shutting down in 2014.
Peji’s career has taken him around the world to lecture in 11 countries and led him to be civically engaged as a board member of California Humanities, La Jolla Playhouse and Urban Discovery Academy Foundation.
“I am an advocate for diversity and inclusion. I’m proud to say that my employees at my own design firm over the years have come from 22 different countries and have brought their unique cultural perspectives to helping generate truly innovative solutions,” said Peji.

Making Impact
In 2014, Peji joined as vice president at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation for six years. Peji led the winning proposal for $2.5 million to create the first city-funded, diversity-focused business entrepreneurship center and accelerator in San Diego, called Connect All @ the Jacobs Center.
Peji’s work is the manifestation of a push to make our economy much more inclusive. “I firmly believe that innovators can come from any neighborhood, even our most underserved and overlooked neighborhoods,” he said.
Stepping down last year, he now spends a majority of his time serving as the chief innovation officer of the Filipino School and chairman of the board of California Humanities.