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August 11, 2021 37 min

Carissa Begonia is a Filipina-American who left a safe corporate job to start her own business.  Until I met her, the only examples I had of entrepreneurs or people following their passions were completely unrelatable for me. Because they were almost all white folks who didn’t have the same immigrant, survival-based, play-it-safe mentality that defined my world.

With Carissa, I’d finally found someone who faced similar cultural barriers and self-doubts, whose story I resonated with, who was believable and relatable because we had similar backgrounds. Today, she is a sought-after speaker, coach and DEI consultant who’s been recognized by TIME Magazine (among others) for her impact, e.g. co-founding AARISE.

To me, Carissa is a role model for breaking what I call the “model minority bamboo mold”. In this episode of Changing Lenses, she shares with us how she did it, and how she’s supporting BIPOC folks today to follow their dreams too.

Contact me and find JEDI resources at:

Full transcript here.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Being a daughter of Filipino immigrants turned entrepreneur
  • Why we need more BIPOC coaches
  • Carissa’s first racist experience – at Disney World
  • Finding self-liberation by going against the grain
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion next steps: beyond unconscious bias training
  • Advice for young racialized women today

    Guest Bio and References/Links

    About Carissa Begonia:

    Carissa is a first generation Filipina-American daughter of immigrants. After nearly 15 years as a successful intrapreneur and head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Zappos, Carissa decided to follow her own light and seek out sparks in others. She is a leadership and business coach specializing in helping BIPOC leaders and entrepreneurs pursue meaningful careers, build their own values-driven businesses, and design a life of purpose. 

    Whether it’s dancing on the beach, hiking with friends, or supporting schoolchildren in the Philippines through her non-profit, Green Mango International, Carissa continues to value the connectedness and inner peace found in simply doing good. She also co-founded AARISE ( Asian American Racialized Identity and Social Empowerment) for AAPIs, a program and community focused on justice and liberation for all.

    Find Carissa on:

    AARISE (Instagram):

    Conscious Exchange:


    If you enjoy the podcast and want deeper ways to Change your Lens in work and business, check out the free resources on my website, I also offer workshops and keynote speeches on JEDI topics like Decolonizing Corporate Workplaces, recruiting more inclusively, anti-Asian racism, and many more. How can I  support your JEDI journey? Contact me at

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