Loan came to the US with her family from Vietnam at the age of 6. Both of her parents have been through several tragic and heartbreaking events in their lives – including the loss of a son. Loan tells us: “My parents have been an inspiration to me. They would work 2-3 jobs just to give their kids a better life.” Loan is very bonded to her family, and attributes the close ties with them as one of the reasons for her success.
The other important character-building milestone in Loan’s life was her participation in the “Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation” program as a youngster (known as "Dreamers") starting at the age of 10 at Valverde Elementary School - which she continued on with through high school. Loan says: “I learned so much from the “Dreamers” program about giving back. We would go help out at nursing homes, day cares and do trash pick-up, and this helped give us the life skills we needed to decide what we wanted to do with our lives.”
Loan now serves on the Colorado "I Have A Dream" Foundation Board of Directors and is busy planning several fundraising events for them. Loan believes that in this economy: “Even if you give $20 to the charity of your choice, it can make a difference.” Loan adds: "What I love about ‘I Have A Dream Foundation’ is that from an early age, students are given role models and the will to believe in themselves." The very entrepreneurial and gifted Ms. Vo dreams of running her own business in the near future. Loan advises young students today to "Never give up and keep following your dreams."
Already well-connected with Governor Ritter and Mayor Hickenlooper as contacts on her Facebook, Loan Vo is an enthusiastic burst of sunshine and a ray of hope for the challenging world of today - and tomorrow.
What non-profits are you involved with at this time?
On the board of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. Prior to being on the board, I was one of the Dreamers and was adopted into the program at the age of 10 at Valverde Elementary School. This foundation has been with me through my childhood, and now I am giving back.
What is your personal philosophy on “giving back”?
Giving back does not necessary have to be monetary, but about dedicating to something that is important to you by giving it your time and energy.
Can you share with us one of your most inspirational moments?
When I think about how far my parents have gotten us, when we first came to the US with only $2 in their pockets, wondering how they were going to feed 5 kids, and their daily struggles to give us what we needed and wanted in life through their hard work. I think about this when I feel like giving up, and I keep telling myself mom and dad were in a much worst situation, and they can create success for themselves and their children, so why can’t I do it.
How about one of your favorite childhood memories?
Hanging out with my little brothers, Bin and Thanh during summers in our grade school years and playing sports, cards, GI Joe's - whatever we could come up with. We did everything together, we were the 3 musketeers.
What can make you laugh?
Looking at my schedule every morning and wondering, “how the heck am I going to get all of this work done?”
What can make you cry?
Really sappy romantic movies. Watching children in poverty struggling. Success stories, such as Freedom Writers (Erin Gruwell). I had the pleasure to meet Erin at our 20th Anniversary Gala for the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. Erin and her student, Maria Reyes came to give a speech about their amazing success stories, and everyone, all 800 or so people cried, including me of course.
Wow, Loan, you know so many dignitaries and high-profile people in Denver. How did you get acquainted with most of them?
I met a lot of these people through my charity work with the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. I try to fundraise for the foundation as much as I can, and I am always reaching out to people in my community for support.
How did you get into the investment business?
I wanted a job that is very entrepreneurial and challenging and constantly changing. The stock market, especially lately, reflects this constant change really well. The investment business is not an easy one – especially at this time.
How do you stay focused and balanced during periods like this?
During this turbulence period of time, it’s really critical to keep in touch with clients to understand their needs and concerns. To prepare for making calls to clients during difficult times, I have to really research on what is going on in the marketplace. Because most of the fears really come from not knowing, so keeping clients engaged on current market conditions is really important.
Describe a typical (week-day and week-end) day for Loan Vo?
The week is full of meetings, research, building portfolios, monitoring portfolios, going to charity events in the evening or working on charity events. Right now I am organizing a Wine Tasting to benefit the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation and Open World Learning. I am also a co-founder of Tennis with the Stars, and I am always looking for sponsorships, celebrities and players to
participate in the event that happens in late summer.
What’s your favorite book of all times - and movie?
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice – It is a love story that occurs among the different classes of people in society and how sometimes we are easily judged by our cover. Serendipity (John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) - it is a very cheesy movie, but I love it because it is a story about destiny. As I grow older, I believe more in destiny and that everything happens for a reason - as it should, that nothing is by chance or random. Destiny definitely plays a huge role in love relationships.
What magazine or publication can’t you live without?
The Wall Street Journal gives me a brief idea of what is going on in the marketplace.
What’s your favorite junk food – or do you always eat healthy?
My favorite junk food is ice cream, chocolate, cake and fruits. I guess it can be healthy, right?
Who is the wisest person you know – and what advice did they give you?
My mom because she has been through so many tragedies and hardships in her life but somehow she manages to keep her head up and moving forward. She really taught me the concept of: it doesn’t really matter how many times you fall, it only matters how many times you get up. She also taught me the value of hard work and reward.
What do you love most about Denver?
I love the rapid changes in the weather, although I like the rapid changes to be to warmer weathers most of the time. I love the beautiful mountains in which you can see as you are driving.
Would you ever consider living somewhere else – maybe someday?
I would consider living in San Francisco or New York for a year, just for the experience of living in a big city.
What can we all do to get more young people involved in the community?
Creating events that are fun and inexpensive for young people to attend. For example, I have hosted wine tastings where I would invite my friends to come have some fun, pay a small fee, or not pay (if they cannot afford to) and learn about the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. They have an opportunity to support us with our Dreamers by volunteering or mentoring. I actually have gotten a lot of my friends to support the events by having them volunteer their times.
What advice do you have for the young job seeker right out of college today?
Find what you love to do, something that you are passionate about or at least like. Because when you wake up every morning, you want to go to work at a place you can enjoy and more importantly, a place that will enable you to grow as a person.
What do you still want to learn how to do?
I still want to learn everything! Especially learning how to play the piano.
What would be a “dream get-away” for you – and when are you going to make it happen?
I would love to go travel Europe and hope to very soon.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself with a husband, 2 kids and maybe a dog. Being able to support more of my community through my charity work. Also, being an established career woman.
How do you hope to leave your mark on this world?
I hope that I can make a difference by impacting youth at risk, such as the Dreamers, through my volunteer work. I grew up as a kid who had everything working against me, such as language barriers and poverty. But somehow I was fortunate enough to be adopted by the Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation which has drastically changed my life and taught me life skills that were very important. One most important skill was community service and how important it is to make our community a better place for the younger generation. With my small role in giving back to the community and getting others to play a small role, together we can create a much bigger role in which we can really make an impact.