Alissa Sears, Amazing Human

 “At the most fundamental level, the ability to overcome barriers lies within each of us.”

 

I sit down to have dinner with Alissa one night during a work trip (full disclosure Alissa is both a friend and colleague) and ask her if she’s ever run a half-marathon. “Once I accidentally ran an ultra-marathon,” she tells me,” I was meant to pace a friend for a few miles, but he was struggling, so I just kept going.”  She tells stories of being trapped in a tent atop a mountain for 50 hours with giggles. She is dedicated to alleviating the suffering of others all over the planet and has more enthusiasm for life than anyone I’ve ever met.

Alissa Sears is an amazing human.

Personal Life. Alissa is relentlessly caring and radiates intense positivity. She has friends all over the world who she cares for deeply. She adopted an old dog with behavior issues who had been returned to the shelter 5 times before she met him and has loved him into his senior years. She has an adventurous spirit that is so fierce and immense that it made me do a double take. She has summited Mt. Shasta twice, Mt. Whitney five times, and nearly reached the top of Mt. Cotopaxi (she was forced to turn back when the volcano started to erupt while on the mountain) and Mt. Rainier (they encountered high winds once they approached the summit and their ladder fell down into a crevice).

“I have always seen adventure as the embodiment of the human spirit - so often peeling away layer upon layer of who we consider ourselves to be, often laden with misconceptions, labels, opinions, constraints, perceived limitations. We go to the wild to experience and realize all that truly matters…for it is never in spite of the rough edges but because of them that we dig deeper and transcend perceived limitations, making the impossible possible and realizing our potentials. It is because of the rough edges that we reach higher. Do more. Achieve more than we ever thought possible.” – Alissa Sears, Reflections on Rainier

Professionally. Alissa is the co-founder of adVentures Academy, an incredible experiential program that harnesses the spirit of the outdoors to redefine due diligence and revolutionize how truly great, resilient companies are grown. Alissa is also VP of Strategy & Navigation at Christie & Co a full-service branding, marketing and PR agency that focuses on growing conscious businesses. She is the Vice President of The California Coast Venture Forum/Clean Business Investment Summit, Founding Partner of KIWA Investment Summit: Latin America, and serves on the Board of Directors of Channel Islands Outfitters and serves as an advisor to New Hope’s NEXT Accelerator, CircleUp, the Karma Project Nepal, Safe Water International, Antioch University’s MBA Program on Social Enterprise, Cal State Lutheran University’s MBA in Sustainability, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, and more. She was recognized as Forbes 25 Most Influential Kingmakers in Consumer and Retail and Pacific Coast Business Times 40 under 40.

 

Giving Back. While in college, Alissa traveled to Northern Sri Lanka to help develop Sri Lankan-run educational and leadership/sustainable development programs in the war-torn North East. She worked with schools, universities and orphanages to improve education standards and increase communication and engagement. She has also helped to create social enterprises and sustainable development programs in communities in Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Malawi, Chad, Bolivia, Mexico, in the US, and beyond.  Alissa first began working in Northern Sri Lanka helping to develop Sri Lankan-run educational and leadership/sustainable development programs in the war-torn North East.

How does she do it? “In the midst of a war zone [during her time in Sri Lanka], I found the essence of optimism – the silver lining, as my grandma used to say,” she says, “at the center of one of the most protracted and brutal civil wars in history, it couldn’t be more obvious that there are always barriers in life. But what I found matters most is the realization that all barriers are perceived. In my experience, it is all about perspective - how you perceive barriers (as problems or as challenges providing the opportunity for creative solutions), your dedication to overcoming them, the perseverance to stick to it through even the most unforeseeable challenges, and the wisdom to learn from those challenges and modify course accordingly. At the most fundamental level, the ability to overcome barriers lies within each of us. As I mentioned, I've lived and worked in war zones, disaster areas, and regions filled with seemingly "insurmountable" barriers. Yet time and again, I have seen challenges turned into triumphs through very creative solutions and a hell of a lot of perseverance. Keep your eyes, mind, and heart open - learn, give, grow and you find the solutions you need. Sometimes in the places you least expect them.”