Beyond Mom Interviews

Shannon Takushi

Chief of Staff at the University of Southern California’s Shinso Ito Center


Living in a controversial modern world Shannon Takushi believes that many of our problems would be solved if we took the time to understand one another. As a half Japanese and half Irish-American woman who grew up in the Philippines and now currently lives in Los Angeles, California, Shannon is used to being surrounded by diversity. Through her work at the University of Southern California she celebrates diversity and promotes understanding and communication between nations. Shannon recently became a mother to her son Theo and she is now embracing motherhood with the help of her family and favorite grounding companion, her dog Baxter!

What makes you a Beyond Mom?

I am mommy to my one-year-old son Theo while also serving full-time as Chief of Staff at the University of Southern California’s Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. As a half Japanese, half Irish-American woman born and raised in the Philippines, one of my favorite projects to work on at the Center is the study and promotion of mixed-race people. This year, we executed the 5-day Hapa Japan Festival (Hapa is a term for a person of mixed ethnic heritage) in Los Angeles which featured jam sessions with Hapa Japanese performers including Kina Grannis, Marié Digby, Meiko, Andy Suzuki & the Method, and others. We also hosted film screenings and interviews with Hapa Japanese cultural icons like the half-Senegalese, half Japanese model Marie Nakagawa. In conjunction with the festival, we ran the 3-day Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference.

I love the idea that our world is becoming more mixed. We don’t live in a monoculture world anymore. I feel that mixed-race people and those raised in more than one culture are the future. These are the people who can identify with more than one culture, social system, and way of life. They have a global vision and skills in intercultural communication. We live in a world where so many of our problems could be solved if we just took the time to understand each other. In my work at the Center, I feel the notion that the future is hapa and the future is mixed-race!

I love seeing how this parallels in my personal life. At Theo’s daycare, 3 out of the 4 kids are of mixed-race! I love operating from a different and unique vantage point. I hope Theo does too! 

What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?

I am young in my journey as a mom, but I have learned about patience and openness. You learn to deal with new and different thresholds of stress. You learn to let things get a little out of control and be okay and comfortable with it. Until being a working mom, I have always done most things on my own. As a working mom, I have learned to admit I need help and to ask for it.

Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?  

Oh my goodness! There are so many! Most recently, I’ve really enjoyed working with Athena Asklipiadis. Athena (who is Japanese, Greek, Egyptian, Armenian, and Italian) works to advocate for mixed-race people who need bone marrow transplants through her organization Mixed Marrow. Athena has been instrumental in helping our Center execute the Hapa Japan vision. If your interests align with anyone, you can change the world.

What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?

My relationship with Baxter my dog. He is also, hapa, (part labrador, part poodle). I believe animals have a mystical magic. Spending time with an animal makes me feel grounded, centered, and at peace. Also, I’m grateful to have such a supportive husband BJ who is very active in our family.

Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing? If so, please share…

I want to be someone that my kids, and my family will be proud of. My background is in public diplomacy. The idea behind public diplomacy is to promote understanding through engagement and communications between nations. I hope to continue executing this mission whether it is at my job now, or maybe working for the city of Los Angeles in a city diplomacy capacity, or beyond at the country level. Ultimately, my Beyond dream is to spread happiness and cultural understanding and awareness.

What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you? 

I love walking daily with my dog Baxter at the Arroyo Seco. I also love dropping in on a spin class.

How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?

Dry shampoo, eyeliner, and sunglasses. That’s all. Maybe a hat. Home wise, I love Joanna Gaines. She has vision and sense of style and home that I just adore.

Favorite Los Angeles Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:

Donut Friend in Highland Park, LA. The Huntington Library in San Marino is also a favorite spot for the whole family. I can tap into my artistic side while Theo can splash around in the children’s garden. 

Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:

I love the Penicillin drink at Perch in Downtown LA. Always makes me feel fabulous!  

Beyond Workout:

I love Breakthrough Fitness in Pasadena.

Beyond Shopping:

Anthropology and Amazon all way!