Home · Blog · NAAHP Member Spotlight : Larissa Liburd

What is your occupation and academic background and how did you come to work in this field?

I went to Yale, where I majored in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. I currently the Social Responsibility Coordinator for White & Case LLP, a global law firm headquartered in New York. I applied for a paralegal position at the firm, but because of my background and experience with international relations, my resume was passed along to the Social Responsibility team, which interviewed and eventually hired me.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The changing field of corporate social responsibility and pro bono makes it difficult in general to feel complacent at work. I spend a lot of my time working with my teammates to research and educate ourselves on the newest ideas and initiatives within these fields. On a more personal note, my commute has been getting more and more challenging every day – someone really needs to work on reducing NJ Transit delays!

Identify one or two of your proudest achievements?

I’m still working on this, so ask me again in a couple of years!

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

This past weekend I went to the #Law4BlackLives conference and had the pleasure of hearing Thenjiwe McHarris, the current Home Campaign Director at the US Human Rights Network, speak on multiple occasions. Thenjiwe has campaigned extensively for social justice and human rights for at least a decade, and has done so with a relentless perseverance that speaks to her belief that there is a better future out there, for everyone. I would suggest that any young woman of color look to her and her sister Tynesha for inspiration in the fight for equality for all.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Tough question! I think I reassess my goals every month on the regular. Some days I’m sure I’m going to be an attorney, others I think I’ll be an author…but I do know that what stays constant in any future I consider is my involvement with the Haitian community. I’m really hoping to see the Haitian-American diaspora develop into a socially and politically active entity, and I’m very happy to work alongside the many other talented individuals who have expressed interest in this goal for as long as it takes to accomplish that.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have impact?

As clichéd as this may sound, I would tell them to follow your passions where they lead you. But that’s not where the cliché ends – follow your passion outside of your job, because what you do to make money and what you do to live happily will often not match up. Volunteer – as I am doing with the NAHP and other organizations – and get the critical experience you will need to develop into the person you want to be. Let your passions go for a while – during my first two years on campus I did not actively participate in Haitian-affiliated organizations, nor read and write as much as I used to, because I was exposing myself to new and myriad opportunities that otherwise encompassed my time. But I returned to that soon enough! Your passions will change and they will augment – but they will always lead you to an impact that is often immeasurable but almost always incredible.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

I have a good friend who is a year older than me and who has, for as long as I’ve known her, achieved her goals quietly but with consistency. She graduated from college, found a job a few months down the line, was promoted more than once in her first year with the company, and though her visa ran out and she had to move back to her home country has since been successful in procuring job offers hat she has now tabled so that she can spend a bit of time exploring the world. Her attitude has always been something like, “If I think it, I can do it.” That is a profound and incredibly positive way to look at life, and it has led to an attitude in her that allows her to rest her confidence in herself – not in what others think of her, not in the goals anyone else sets for her, and not in a warped sense of what she has to do – just what she wants to.