When asked if she wanted to have kids, my friend said, “I just don’t want to be limited.” Exhausted, challenged, and usually covered in dirt and dinner? Definitely. But limited? No, at least not in the ways you’d expect.
I still travel, still spend weekends exploring, and still try to pursue my passions. Of course, I have to be flexible with where and how I do these things, but I can still do it all. I just do it with my munchkins. Where I find myself constrained is with child-care, pursuing a career, and engaging in service. I want to be the best mother to my kids. I want to do meaningful work. I want to create positive change in my community. But very real institutional and social obstacles obstruct me. Should I lean in or lean out? Will I face the motherhood penalty at work or face judgment for leaving my children during a critical time in their lives? As a woman, can I have it all or is it an ideal that can’t be obtained?
After two kids and experiencing the joys and struggles as both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom, I decided it doesn’t have to be either/or. We can and should be able to be the parents, professionals, and people we want to be. But we can’t do it unless we transform the way families engage in parenting, work, and in service. The Community Impact LAB is my effort to empower parents, especially mothers to live, give, and grow to their fullest potential. We thrive on family-friendly practices and design our projects to engage everyone, young and old. We include children where we can (they help cook meals for a women’s shelter) or provide childcare (co-parents help watch kids so other parents can participate in workshops and talks), we plan events around naps and bedtime schedules, and we have inclusive conversations about parenting, health, and careers over a spread of goldfish, juice boxes, wine, and coffee (all essential for fueling parents and kids).
All of this matters. We’ve been able to collect and give over $200,000 in goods to help families in need, facilitate women-led workshops on everything from physical therapy and mental health to cooking and addressing imposter syndrome, and build a village of 700+ families that supports one another, ALL while caring for children. My hope is that the Community Impact LAB helps mothers seize the agency to pursue it all, have it all. We’re all capable and called to be the difference and I believe the more support we provide each other, the bigger the impact. Together, we can remove the constraints that limit us, and we can improve our communities. --Xouhoa Bowen, Founder & CEO
Our Team of Changemakers
Xouhoa Bowen Founder & CEO, Board President
Pax, Tom, Roxana & Xouhoa (Photo: Malicote Photography)
Before founding Community Impact LAB, Xouhoa served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, taught refugees in inner-city Milwaukee, and worked as a teacher, faculty manager, and curriculum designer in South Korea. She’s mama bear to two clever and energetic kids and credits them for inspiring her to redefine the way we see parents and creating a landscape were parents can thrive. Xouhoa spends her days completing NGO vetting for Fortune 500 companies as the Manager of Corporate Client Services at UniversalGiving, a SF-based nonprofit. Xouhoa has a B.A. in Psychology and International Affairs from Marquette University, an MBA from Norwich University, and a Certificate of Completion in Social Sector Leadership from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Excels at: Turning obstacles into opportunities and nudging people to act. She also gave up on sleep after the kids were born and has fully embraced coffee and wine to do more than she has time and energy for. Favorite Parent Perk: Being able to help her amazing, little humans explore, grow, and laugh. Loves about CIL: The dynamic and generous families that support one another, the many way our projects improve lives, and our approach to integrating family, work, and community life.
Caitlin has been working in data analytics for over 10 years in various fields, including economic development, energy, software as a service (SAAS), and most recently the grocery industry. She earned her BA in Economics at Sonoma State University and MA in Economics at CSU Sacramento. Caitlin’s family consists of her husband, 2 daughters, and dog. Excels At: Working with numbers, analyzing data, and organizing. Favorite Parenting Perk: Getting to watch her daughters explore the world and learn new things. Loves About CIL: The opportunity to get involved with her local community while also including her daughters. Being a parent can make volunteering tough, but CIL allows her to get time with family while still helping out.
Carolynn Marie Gray Langsdale Learning LAB Project Director, Systems & Impact Manager, Board Director
Chris, Wesley & Carolynn
Carolynn is a licensed Child and Family Psychologist (PSY26218), with more than a decade of experience partnering with and working for nonprofit organizations. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2012, and has specialized in working with children and families, and helping them navigate a wide variety of difficulties that arise both in the normal course of parenting and in extreme circumstances. Her growing-too-fast 15-month old son has helped her to clarify her life's goals and reaffirm the importance of family (of which she has an abundance). Excels At: Helping projects reach completion, developing systems, tracking numbers, and providing support to others as they work to reach their goals. She's good at clarifying what needs to be done and finding a path to success. Favorite Parenting Perk: How it highlights the importance of mindfulness and cherishing exactly what is happening in the moment, from the soaking up the feeling of sleepy baby to remembering to put away the phone when interacting with others. Loves about CIL: The focus on filling a known need in our own backyards while enriching both the recipients and givers of the LAB's good deeds. Creating and capitalizing on a wish that others have to do more and be a greater part of their community is incredibly powerful and inspiring.
Megan Mayer-Rothbarth Board Director
Tocco, Eve, Emil, Megan & Helena
Megan was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. She earned her Master's degree in Education and taught elementary school for ten years. While on a summer break in Berlin she met her now husband, Tocco. After a year in San Francisco they bought and renovated a home in San Leandro, just in time to welcome their daughter and two years later, twins! Now weekends are spent adventuring with their kids and enjoying the spectacular West Coast with friends. Excels at: Connecting with others, understanding what makes people thrive, and uncovering creative ways to improve our shared and individual experiences. Parenting Perk: Supporting my children as they become more of themselves each day is so rewarding. I feel happier, stronger, and more myself since becoming a mother. Loves about CIL: It's full of kind, funny, dynamic women who are determined to make this world a better place.
Christina Means Social Good LAB Project Director, Board Director
Archer, Christina, Justin & Gryphon
Christina is from Virginia but is happy to have called Oakland home for the past 9 years. She’s a parent to two great little boys, co-owner of a small retail and design business with her husband, and a proud Savannah College of Art and Design graduate.
Excels at: Multitasking and prioritizing, whether it be in a corporate office dealing with vendors and sales reps around the world or at home juggling dinner, a barking pup and a two year old’s train track design while nursing her newborn. Favorite Parent Perk: Discovering the world from a brand new perspective. Loves About CIL: Families are challenged to go slightly out of their comfort zone and in return they get to help others, meet new people, and teach their children that you are never to old to learn and give.
Jessica van Soest Learning LAB Project Director, Board Director
Derek, Brooklyn, Rylie, & Jessica
Jessica was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and moved to the Bay Area with her husband, daughter, and dog over a year ago. She’s a physical therapist, outdoor enthusiast, and animal lover.
Excels at: Taking on new projects, completing tasks like a champ, and making people feel welcomed. Favorite Parent Perk: Seeing her daughter’s eyes light up when she discovers something new or accomplishes a task she was not able to previously achieve. Loves about CIL: It allows me to meet incredible like-minded individuals, to share our ideas and work together to do amazing things.