Meet Larrissa & Ashlan

Celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month by highlighting our staff.

We asked our staff to reflect on thier intersectional identities as women and AANHPI. Here's what they shared with us.

What inspires you about Xcelerate's work/mission?

Larrissa: What’s not to be inspired by? It’s women lifting up women. It’s a community that understands that we go further when we support each other and share knowledge and resources. I love when women realize the hardships they face as an isolated business owner can feel lightened when surrounded by a community of like-minded friendly folks. I am truly so inspired by the encouragement, creativity, connection, and collaboration I so often see.

Ashlan: As a woman business owner, I resonate with Xcelerate's mission to help women overcome the systemic barriers and obstacles to business success and build our own economic power and generational wealth. Having coaches, mentors, and technical assistance programs during my journey as a business owner has helped me to navigate growing and scaling my own business to where it is today. I hope through my work in communications and as a coach with Xcelerate that I can assist even more women with achieving their business goals and dreams of financial independence and freedom.

How has your identity as a woman and any and all other intersectional identities impacted your career journey? 

Larrissa: Oof, what a loaded question. I grew up as a first generation Asian-American in an immigrant household that modeled a very hard-working and self-sacrificing culture. I’ve found that I have this underlying need to prove myself, people please, and be of service to others. These are traits already stereotypically associated with women, but they are also amplified by being an Asian woman. It doesn’t help that I’ve tended to work in start-up cultures in my early career that have capitalized on my work ethic and need to prove myself. I’ve often felt tokenized and as if I speak for all people of color when asked for my input on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and there is indeed a wrong answer that people do not want to hear. It’s tiring to have to constantly advocate for yourself and feel like you represent your community at large while also trying to navigate your own career. I’m grateful to currently work in a space where all intersections of my identity are valued and heard, and that’s why it's so important for me to help women who experience similar things now.

Ashlan: My identity as a Native Hawaiian, Filpino, and Japanese mixed race woman, has often had me feeling like I am not "Asian" enough or just completely misidentified as Latinx. Hearing things like "Where are you from" and needing to explain my origins as born in Hawaii and a U.S. Citizen after moving to the U.S. mainland showed me that I was thought of as "other" in career spaces. As I continued to move through multiple industries – advertising agencies, corporate America, and nonprofits – my identity as a woman created barriers. Being passed over for promotions because of assumptions about wanting to stay close to my partner after we were married, to being asked when I would be having children as if that was an important life decision that would impact my work. Ultimately, these types of microaggressions inspired me to create my own company. Now as a business owner, I'm building a digital marketing agency with a mission, culture, and policies of a workplace that I would truly want to work at.

If you could pick any superpower, what would it be and why? 

Larrissa: The ability to sleep restfully anytime and anywhere. Restful sleep is freaking magic for the mind and body - I feel like an actual superhero when I am well rested; I am alert, kind, caring, energetic, and overall more alive.

Ashlan: Flying or teleportation. I love to travel, however, sitting on a long flight to get somewhere is not my favorite thing in the world. It would be nice to quickly get to more sunny places around the world.

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