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Celebrating Ayu: "My mother taught me that being an ambitious woman is good"

Describe your role at Bellwether:

As an Asset Management Analyst, along with the Asset Management team, I’m oversighting the performance of properties in Bellwether’s growing portfolio.

My team is actively involved in the direction and strategically plan for the intended outcomes of the properties. As a non-profit affordable housing provider, Bellwether has relatively more complex goals compared to private real estate companies – we have not only business-based goals but also have mission-based goals. My team helps steering the properties toward these goals. Often, we have to take a wide and long-term view, looking beyond just what is happening at the properties to the broader environment and how this will impact the properties.

In my day-to-day basis I actively collaborate with other departments across the organization as well as our stakeholders – generate data to inform property management decisions, maintain compliance with lender and investor requirements, and ensure the long-term financial health of the portfolio.

Aside from that, I’m also a member of Bellwether’s Equity Committee, where along with 11 other members, I’m actively proposing changes that need to be made within Bellwether to hold the organization accountable to become a more inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist organization – as part of our Strategic Plan.

What do you find most meaningful about your work:

I found meaning and satisfaction from quite different things over the course of my time and several roles at Bellwether. I started as a temporary compliance assistant. Then I got a permanent role as Property Management Administrative Assistant where I got to meet and speak with our residents and prospective residents daily. What I found to be the most meaningful of my work at that time was my role acted as a bridge that connects people who have the needs and reached out to us, to the affordable housing, services, and any other kind of resources that we have to offer.

Later, I took the chance to join the Asset Management team. I studied and have work experience in finance, and I fell in love with Bellwether’s missions and what we do. I thought that I could use my skills and experience to contribute more to the organization that could be amplified and extended to the residents we serve, although it might not be as direct as in my previous role. I find it’s really meaningful to me that every day, the work I do along with every single employee at Bellwether, directly or not, touches and affects the lives of residents we serve for the better. Even though I work behind my desk, my team ensures the properties perform and comply so the organization can continue the work it’s doing – providing affordable housing. It motivates me every day imagining all of the lives touched by living in our properties, those who call it home – home that provides security for themselves and their families, so they can focus on other aspects of their lives.

I also find the work that Equity Committee does is deeply meaningful to me. We center residents and employees on our work towards becoming a more inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist organization.

Tell us about a woman that you admire or are inspired by (can be past or present):

I admire and am inspired by my mother; by women trailblazers and women leaders who paved the path for other women behind them and who gave the real examples that women can lead and should lead; by every amazing woman and those who identify themselves as womxn around me – most of them are the ones I have the privilege of working with at Bellwether; as well as by those who crossed my path, because every woman has their own story worth learning.

My mother taught me to be resilient, to have principle, to believe that being an ambitious woman is good – it’s not bad, that it’s something to be proud of, and to believe that I can be whatever I want so long that I keep making the effort to get there.

One advice that I hold dear to my heart, my mother said, “Respect yourself, only then people can start to respect you; and always treat people the way you want to be treated.” Many times, the way someone makes us feel, tell us more about that person than it does about us. A vessel can only pour out what it contains. So, I make sure that I take care of myself including my mental health, so that I can only give the best to others.

My mother also made me believe in good karma and bad karma, so that I’m aware that everything I do will come back to me, as she said, “What you give is what you get – but make sure to give more than you take.” This not only applies to material things but also all the things beyond that. Charity does not decrease our wealth. Humility does not decrease our honor. She told me that gratitude and giving were the keys to happiness. That, for me, is a pure fact. That is what it means to have an “abundance” mindset over a “poverty” mindset. To not letting the temporary and quantifiable hold us back from what is permanent and priceless. She taught me to be an independent woman ever since I was a kid, as if she knew someday I would be living all alone far away from her, and here I am more than 8,000 miles away from her – fortunately not all alone.

The Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of women trailblazers and women leaders that I admire and am inspired by. One of the most memorable and powerful quotes of hers to me is, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” I am a strong believer of it. And I am proud of the fact that this is what I’m witnessing every day at Bellwether.

What Colleagues Say:

"Ayu is a natural leader with a deep commitment to advancing our equity and antiracism work. She has been an inspiration to work with!"
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