#iumienwomenmoversandshakers: Alexis Phan
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think the most significant barrier to female Iu Mien leadership is the lack of faith we have in our abilities and in ourselves. I think this stems from our culture’s tendency of being risk-adverse, especially if the outcome isn’t guaranteed to be positive. With some safety measures in place and a strong support team, we just need to take that leap of faith. If we fail, it’s not the end of the world. We’d just have to pick ourselves up and try again. If we succeed, it will be a win for not only ourself but also for our community.
What is one event that helped shape your life?
Choosing to become a mom at a young age has definitely shaped my life. I had to grow up fast and did not get the same young adult experience or life lessons that my peers had. In a sense, my life experience is on the opposite end of the timeline than my peers. It was difficult at times to juggle a full course load, a full-time job and kids but it was not impossible. Having a strong support circle helped tremendously. It has been so rewarding to be able to be there for my kids and watch them grow into their own person. However, I can’t imagine myself at this age now, doing what I did then. After running on little to no sleep in my teens and early twenties, I cherish the luxury of being able to sleep in!
What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life? One of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make was to leave an unhealthy relationship. I was encouraged to stay for the sake of our kids. I’d convinced myself to stay because I didn’t believe I’d be able to financially support us on my own. It would have been so easy to continue to keep my head down as I’d done for so long and “save face” but I had reached a point where I could no longer do it. With some safety measures in place, I took a leap of faith and got out of that relationship. I ended up losing some people whom I had considered family/friends but what I gained was even more valuable: my autonomy, a new community of friends, and restored faith in myself and my abilities. I was going to be alright.
What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
There are so many things that I’m proud of but personally, nothing beats the feeling of independence and being able to support yourself. It’s an ongoing process and takes work but having a place of my own to come home to is the best feeling. In the professional sphere, I feel like my creativity, which had been dormant for so long, has been reignited. I am proud of the work that I do for my community; whether it’s helping to bring visibility to the Iu Mien and API community through volunteer work and various social media campaigns or helping to pull off a project successfully.
If there was a young girl out there who wanted to do what you did, what would you tell her? You are in charge of your own life. Remember that any decision you make, you will be the one that will have to live with it so make sure you’re okay with that. And if you’re not happy with how things are right now, take charge and make the change. If you don’t do anything different, nothing is going to be different. Lastly, believe in yourself and persevere towards your goal.
How can people get a hold of you? i.e., social media, phone number. Social Media works best: I am @alexisphan on both Instagram and Facebook.