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Hi, I’m Ellen.

I was born and raised in Toronto by my Chinese immigrant parents. Because I was Asian, queer, broke, and broody, I grew up hyperaware of my intersectionality. I learned young that circumstances can be hard, and navigating them can be complicated, but complexity is no excuse for sitting on the sidelines of your own life.

I received my liberal arts education at McMaster University’s interdisciplinary Arts & Science program, where I studied biochemistry, economics, philosophy, and religion. The older I get, the more grateful I am for this education.

From 2011 to 2014, I was a disease researcher at SickKids Hospital. I studied cystic fibrosis in silico and helped develop Orkambi – one of four available treatments for cystic fibrosis today. To this day, I am proudest of this work.

From 2015 to 2021, I did product design and operations at Shopify. In that time, I helped shape and ship Shopify’s approach to sales channels, internationalization, developer experience, and in-person retail. Six years, working with some of the brightest and warmest humans, taught me so much.

In 2021, I left Shopify to learn and build on my own terms, primarily focusing on local businesses, social impact, and working with people I love to be around.

Currently, I am (not exhaustively) interested in:

My favourite quote is from Nelson Mandela: “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” It captures a lot of what I value: self-awareness, agency, and courage. I am also compelled by love and friendship: “we’re all just walking each other home.”

I collect bits that inspire me. Here’s a small collection. I believe what we’re moved by reveals more about our inner worlds than About Me pages ever can, or will.

Thanks for dropping by to learn about me. See my now page to learn more about what I’m up to lately, or find me elsewhere: Strava, Goodreads, GitHub, and Nomad List.

Last updated March 25, 2024.