Maileen Dumelod Hamto (she/they/siya) was born in Tondo and raised in Sampaloc, Manila. As a part of the vast global Filipino diaspora, she has called Texas, Oregon, and Colorado her home for the last 32 years. Professionally, she works as an adviser and strategist for organizations seeking to embody racial equity in their policies and practices. She has more than 20 years of experience as a diversity, equity, and inclusion leader in large, matrixed U.S.-based organizations in the higher education, nonprofit, healthcare, and technology industries. Her doctoral dissertation research study at the University of Colorado Denver highlighted the experiences of women of color diversity leaders in advancing racial equity principles in STEM-focused organizations. She is working to integrate awareness of decolonial and Indigenous approaches in the workplace.
Maileen’s lifelong journey of decolonization is rooted in spirituality. She was raised in a close-knit, insular Protestant church in Catholic Philippines. Spending a lot of time in her Lola’s (Mommy) house, she relished the scent of sampaguita garlands adorning the Santo Niños. She found it remarkable that Mommy also kept a statue of a fat, happy Buddha in her kitchen. The experience of being uprooted from the homeland inspired Maileen to question preconceived notions and to unlearn her colonial mindset. Through friends and lovers, she is grateful to learn about Sufism, Hinduism, and Ordo Templi Orientis. She is a longtime student of Buddhism, primarily in the Theravada tradition. As she expands her understanding of how Buddhism spread across Asia, the mystical practices of Vajrayana offer a curious string.
In the cultural centers of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe, Maileen shares her home with her partner Eric, child Carmilla, three canine companions, and a multitude of rescued plants. She relishes opportunities to explore the wilds, to pay homage to trees, and to know feathered friends by their songs and calls. During her last trip to the homeland, she had the opportunity to witness the grandeur of Bundok Makiling, Banahaw, and Taal in her native Luzon.