In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, LLNL is celebrating the contributions of AANHPIs to our legacy of reaching new discoveries through cutting-edge research. The Lab will highlight several staff members during May 2022. To support and engage on social media, follow the Lab on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Bianca Toledo, UX designer in the Computing directorate at LLNL, helps make government applications more human-centric, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing. She came to the Laboratory in 2019 to find meaning in her work and to make a greater impact.
Toledo grew up in Fresno, Calif., the agricultural capital of the U.S. Her multigenerational household consisted of her parents, immigrants from the Philippines, along with three other siblings born in different countries and her grandparents. She went to Biola University in La Mirada, California, and graduated in 2018 with a degree in computer science with a minor in theology.
Toledo said that getting into her specific field was a little challenging at first. “Pursuing UX design was a bit difficult to start because I was completely self-taught. There weren’t any majors for it and bootcamps were uncommon at the time,” she said. “Despite the challenges, I was able to learn a lot without direct guidance and was able to get my foot in the door.”
Before coming to work at LLNL, Toledo had been working with tech startups creating products. “The work I was doing prior to the Lab didn’t feel necessarily meaningful or impactful,” she said. “This left a deep dissatisfaction because my passions lie within the realms of innovation, especially in sects related to energy conservation and environmental sustainability. When I was recruited into the Lab, I was ecstatic beyond belief at the opportunity to use my UX design skills to contribute to the Lab and the world.”
Toledo values diversity and inclusion and appreciates the way LLNL invests into its community of employees and for the work-life balance it offers. “Diversity and inclusion is important because all voices are valuable and should be welcomed at every table,” she said. “When all voices are heard, even when there are differing opinions, there will be not only greater innovation but also greater empathy in our communities.”
Toledo currently serves as the vice chair of the Asian Pacific American Council (APAC) Employee Resource Group (ERG) at the Laboratory. “I love this community and all the hard work they put into deepening our love for our diverse heritages and helping our communities overcome limiting beliefs through workshops and seminars,” she said. “APAC has done an amazing job of increasing cultural awareness within the Lab and beyond our gates: not just during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, but all year long. The negative impacts of lack of cultural awareness became clearer to me over the past few years. It’s important to me to have a positive impact on those around me so that people of all backgrounds, including Asian Americans, can grow past our harmful limiting beliefs. All the Lab’s ERGs are contributing to the high morale of employees.”
Toledo credits her parents as her role models in life. “As immigrants from the Philippines, they sacrificed so much to bring me and my siblings here, and for that I am eternally grateful,” she said. “They instilled deep values within me, work with honor and excellency, live with purpose and always make others feel loved and welcomed. I hope to always reflect them in my character.”
Outside of work, Toledo loves rock climbing and pottery and producing music. “They’re all such time-consuming hobbies,” she said, “which is why work-life balance is so crucial to me, and I love that I can get that at the Lab.”
Toledo embodies the essence of her favorite quote, said by Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Watch Bianca's lighting talk, Benefits of Human-Centered Design, from the 2020 Computing Expo. The video runs 9:29.