This Millennial is Reconnecting With Her Cultural Heritage Through Food and Living It Right

Meet Adrienne Todela, Knowledge Management and Learning Manager at Creative Associates International, an organization that “provides development services and forges partnerships to deliver sustainable solutions to global challenges”.

“Fearlessness is the mother of reinvention”- Arianna Huffington

Apart from being a learning manager, Adrienne is an avid traveler and lover of all things food. She spent the initial years of her life in the tropics of the Philippines. Her family was big on farming, education, and fiestas. They had a deep connection with food and she always enjoyed the arrival of mango season, followed by jackfruit and Madang season. She was raised around food and associates it with identity and community. This is very much evident in her food blog Table for Who

She had a very textbook childhood with an emphasis on education, discipline, and hard work. Her Filipino parents taught her that she could overcome any barriers once she set her mind and heart to what makes her happy. She was inspired by her maternal grandfather, who also added to these lessons. Together with the extended family, they used to put up donation drives for underprivileged children and contributed to the betterment of the community. Adrienne was still in school when her family moved to America. She is a first-generation immigrant and settled right outside Washington DC. She majored in both International Relations and Journalism at Boston University. Internships in the capital, multimedia features, semester abroad filled with travel, and her love for food piqued her interest in finding a unique career for herself. “I wanted to find synergy between these passions and interests: a career path around information collection for social change with travel perks”; she says. Her search ended with the development sector (NGO and multilateral work), specifically in Knowledge Management and Learning. At Creative Associates International, she and her team support developmental programs to enhance an organization’s work by ensuring that they are learning from the implementation. She helps teams document their best practices for the dissemination of knowledge to young learners worldwide. 

Being raised around food, Adrienne loves a dining and drinking experience no matter where she is in the world. She is always giving recommendations to her friends and family and has finally started a food blog Table for Who with one of her best friends and Founding Feast as its sub-element. Founding Feast is going to be a video series showcasing identity through food. “Founding Feast is the tangy love child from my eternal relationship with food and my long overdue reunion with my Filipino heritage”, she says. She might have left the Philippines long back, but through this venture, she is trying to relive and reconnect with food that is a huge part of her cultural heritage.

Initially, she struggled with finding her voice and assuming leadership roles at the workplace. She suffered from Imposter Syndrome. But with the right guidance from her boss and mentor, she got through this mental block. Resilience and reinvention have been the underlying themes of her life. Adrienne has faced many ups and downs in life. Losing her mother at 17 and father at 28 made her really wonder about her purpose in life. She found her answer in fearlessness. She believes that through fearlessness you can let go of things jeopardizing your happiness and peace and that hold you back. For her, it has been freeing. 

Adrienne notes that it is really important for young professionals to have a network to connect and grow with each other. She is excited and is looking forward to new milestones in life, both in her career and blog. Leaving a message to inspire her readers, she says, “Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Recognize and say yes to people, places, and things that make you feel good, give you space to be and inspire you to grow. Recognize and say no to people, places, and things that make you feel small. Trust your gut. Be fearless. I read this somewhere on the Internet and it rings true to me. The two people in your life whose opinions you should care about are your 5-year-old self and your 85-year-old self. How would you like your 5-year-old self to react when they see you, and what would you like your 85-year-old self to tell you?”