Episode 406: Centering Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices in DEI with Carissa Begonia


Carissa Begonia is a first-generation Filipina-American who is committed to centering Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices. She is the founder of CONSCIOUSXCHANGE and serves as an executive, leadership, and business coach helping BIPOC leaders and entrepreneurs pursue meaningful careers, build their own values-driven businesses, and design a life of purpose. Carissa is a certified Emotional Intelligence coach and the former head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) of Zappos.

As a fractional COO and equity consultant with over 15 years of experience working on both the operations and the human side of business, Carissa helps organizations develop and operationalize their DEI strategy with an anti-racist, anti-oppression lens. Carissa is the co-founder of Green Mango International, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit supporting educational opportunities for underserved school children in the Philippines. She is also the co-founder of AARISE – Asian American Racialized Identity and Social Empowerment for AAPIs, a holistic program centering Asian American experiences, emotional processing, and somatic healing in pursuit of justice and liberation for all.

Carissa and I met half a decade ago when she had just started a women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), before that was really a “thing”, during her time at Zappos. It’s been a privilege and a joy to watch Carissa find her voice and grow her thought leadership in the DEI space.

In episode 406 of Moxielicious®, Carissa and I discuss her work as a coach for BIPOC leaders and the importance of centering AAPI voices, plus:

  • How the lack of AAPI (and immigrant) business coaches motivated Carissa to pave a path in coaching (and DEI) for those who look like her
  • How Carissa created her position at Zappos as the head of DEI – and her sage advice for other entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who want to do something similar
  • How being an independent contractor first enabled Carissa to merge her experiences in operations & DEI while she began to grow a coaching business
  • Why somatic healing is a core part of Carissa’s AARISE program and community, and why it belongs in racial and social justice and leadership development conversations, coaching, and training

Resources Mentioned in This Episode: