Ces Espiritu Javillonar is a Business Development Executive at PitchBook Data, a MBA student at Foster Business School UW, the recipient of 2019 PSBJ Women of Influence Scholarship, and a committed YWCA supporter. She ardently champions women and is passionate about creating community. Read more about her experience below.
How did you first get involved with YWCA?
I was invited by my mentor, Sue Peterson, who is on the Board of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish to visit Family Village Redmond (FVR) in the winter of 2018. I was deeply moved by our tour of that location because of my personal experience.
Being a single mom with a very young daughter, I empathized with the women who were dealing with hardships like divorce/separation and worrying about how such a difficult transition could impact my girl. I was very blessed in many ways: my parents were nearby and very supportive, I was college-educated, and had financial stability. Even then it was very trying to get through that chapter. Then I learned about YWCA’s clients: women who are also single moms, some of them have experienced domestic abuse, homelessness or unemployment. Throughout the tour, I kept thinking, “We could have been one of these families. I could have been one of the women who YWCA serves.” It was only some good fortune that allowed me to be where I was, and some misfortune that these families needed help.
That said, what was inspiring about the FVR visit was that the apartments felt like homes with dignity: clean, furnished, and fresh. FVR felt like place where someone in such dire circumstances could really rebuild their lives. I know how important this is to someone trying to move forward from dark chapters.
From that day on I dedicated myself to supporting YWCA. Given my background in finance, I joined the Investment Committee last year and am now leading the GenRising Committee.
Why did you get involved with YW’s young professional association, GenRising?
I got excited about the initiative because I know so many peers, friends, classmates, and coworkers who, like me, value supporting the community and using our time to do something more meaningful. Our generation also values networking and making professional and personal connections. GenRising brings the best of both intentions: a group where one can network with other young professionals AND those you will meet here place high importance on doing good in our community. Folks no longer need to make the difficult choice of using their time outside work and family life to either volunteer OR network professionally.
What does being a GenRiser mean to you?
Being a GenRiser means giving my time and talents to positive causes AND having a solid group of young professional peers who do the same. It means having fun with fellow GenRiser friends, either at the Mariners Game or a wine event, while supporting YWCA and partnering organizations.
Name a woman who has inspired you in your life and share why.
The most inspiring and influential woman in my life continues to be my mother, Guia Espiritu. She showed me from a very young age what it means to love and care for our family. Ever since I can remember, my mom always worked to support our family.
In my early years, we were living in a small suburb outside of Manila (Philippines), and she had to commute two hours each way to work in the financial district. This meant that she would leave before the sun rose, and she came home after dark. Despite her demanding work schedule, she did her best to be present for us in the evenings and weekends. She would attend my brother’s parent-teacher conferences and bring me to the flea markets I loved.
My mom had ways of making her family, friends, and community feel important and seen. Be it giving small Christmas presents to our neighbors, classmates, and extended family, or just remembering someone’s milestones or hardships, she would do these thoughtful gestures that would make others feel special.
Every day I try to be like my mom: I hustle and persevere so I can provide for my girl. As best as I can, I am present for the things that matter to my daughter. My mom’s influence shines in how I treat others: I make it a point to do the small, thoughtful gestures that she would do to make others feel special, like sending thank you cards or remembering someone’s favorite sports team. My mom taught me that it is possible to be a loving parent AND build a career – but you must give yourself grace and accept that it is an imperfect process.
What makes you feel empowered?
I feel empowered when I know that who I am and the work I do is serving a larger, positive purpose beyond myself.
If we take my job for example, which is one part of who I am: I am part of the sales team of a reputable financial tech company. I feel empowered not only because my job is engaging, but also because I recognize its larger purpose: hopefully as young girls in business school see more women like me in traditionally male careers, it will encourage them to pursue these paths. It is empowering to help others open-up their view of the world and what is possible.
How can we help empower others in our community?
Empowering others is about giving them what they need to be in control of their own future. I believe disempowerment comes from feeling that you are trapped in your current predicament, especially in dire circumstances. For our clients at YWCA, we empower women by providing wrap-around services that allow them to break the trapped-in-a-hopeless-situation mindset: childcare so that they can work, training so that they can pursue better jobs, and apartments for them to feel safe and secure.
If we truly want to empower others, we need to help them gain the skills to change their lives for the better.
If you’re interested in mentorship and networking opportunities, while also connecting with the next generation of philanthropists, consider joining our GenRising program today. Also, join us at the official program launch, GenRising Reloaded, on November 14! Tickets are available here.
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