Representation Matters: Celebrating Phetsada Mounnarath

May 28, 2021 Jacquana Beckwith

Acuity Brands is proud to celebrate and recognize our top talent. In May, we will profile Asian American leaders who are lighting the way for our associates, customers, and communities. We sat down with a few of our associates to find out about their professional motivations and get a glimpse of who they are outside of the workplace.

Phetsada Mounnarath joined Acuity Brands over two years ago and oversees the Creative Services team’s operations in our marketing department. While she enjoys what she does and loves being a part of a positive team, her first career love was actually baking! Most people don’t know that she is professionally trained in culinary arts and has made over 100 wedding cakes! She has even made cakes for a handful of high-profile celebrity clients, and her work has been featured in several publications!

Outside of work, Phetsada loves hanging out with her nieces and traveling and eating all over the world. Phetsada has visited 12 countries! However, one place  still on her bucket list is her family’s home country of Laos. “I would love to see where my family came from and experience the food and culture on a different level than what I’ve been exposed to here.” Laotian is Phetsada’s native language. She didn’t learn English until she was in Kindergarten.

Speaking of family, Phetsada only has one brother; however her mother is one of 13 children! Her family didn’t have it easy when coming to the US. In addition to the language barriers and extreme poverty, her father had to jump through hoops  to seek refuge and build a new life to ensure she and her brother would have a comfortable future.

Recently, there has been a spike in Asian hate crimes. When it comes to raising awareness about this and other important issues that impact the global Asian community, Phetsada encourages people to speak out and help others stay informed. “People should practice this beyond AAPI month, but speak out and don’t hold back on informing others on what’s going on in the world. Acknowledge that xenophobia and systemic racism exist even if you are not  directly affected. Don’t dismiss or minimize hate crimes when you see news stories. Read, read, read, and research where racial inequity stems from and how it is still perpetuated today. It's an absolute privilege to be able to educate yourself about this heavy topic instead of experiencing it firsthand. Stop tolerating intolerance and start calling out racism (no matter how casual or blatant)—even if it’s in your inner circle. It starts there.”

To Phetsada, AAPI Heritage Month is a celebration of AAPI communities uniting while also honoring distinctly different heritages. “It’s a time to reflect on the skin we’re in and the rich history that comes with it. It’s a time to remind myself to not minimize my worth to make others more comfortable at my own expense. If your name looks like a big, long typo like mine does, don’t simply accept shortened nicknames others give you for their convenience—fully own it instead. (P.S. the ‘h’ is silent. It’s just pet-sah-duh.) AAPI Heritage Month serves as a reminder that I belong here as I am. We all belong here.”

Want to know more about Phetsada? Check out more from her interview below!

How has the pandemic impacted you (personally and/or professionally)? What have you learned during this time?
Personally, the pandemic has taught me how to navigate a brand-new marriage in quarantine. We quickly learned the importance of having our own space and hobbies to avoid driving each other crazy. Professionally, the pandemic brought light to the importance of taking breaks, actually signing off at the end of the day, and prioritizing work/life balance.

Who is at your dream dinner party (living or not)? Why? What are you serving?
My dream dinner party guests are Mr. Rogers for his benevolence, Mindy Kaling for her humor, and Jack Kerouac for his brilliance. We’d likely just feast on cakes.

Describe your perfect day.
On a perfect day I’m cuddled up with my 60lb pup on a hammock while reading an old school Agatha Christie mystery and stuffing my face with macarons.

What is your favorite quote?
“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses.” -Walt Whitman.

What are some resources that you’d like people to be aware of?

 

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