Walter Wodtke comes from a family based on dedication and hard work. He was raised by his mother, who was a single parent and has had polio since she was six month’s old. “Not only did she raise me, but she also put herself through college and became a social worker with the County of Los Angeles,” Walter states, “She has been a great inspiration to me day in and day out.”
Walter began in the banking...
Celeste O’Brien describes herself as an entrepreneur by heart and passion. She has been a massage therapist for eleven years now and works at Symmetry360 Massage, which she owns along with her business partner, Kina. Symmetry360 Massage began with just Kina and a lone massage room in a Pilates studio. “We had a dream to create a company that was supportive and nurturing to massage therapists,” Celeste explains, “helping to learn and grown within their careers. We also felt, and still feel strongly, that massage helps to reconnect people to the most important thing there is: our bodies.” With these goals in mind, their business has been open for six years and now has three locations and forty employees. They hope to continue expanding and impacting the world in a positive way.
Hayana Kwon is a 1.5 generation Korean American. Her parents immigrated to the United States when she was one year old. She and her sister were both raised with heavy traditional Korean values, which made it difficult for them to fit in. Instead of an occasional night out for a pizza dinner, Hayana’s parents thought it was better to save money and eat home with the family. Spending allowance money on a friend’s birthday slumber party was out of the question. “So growing up was difficult,” Hayana explains, “but thanks to my parents, I learned the importance of money management, saving and budgeting at an early age.” With the help of her parents, Hayana was able to buy a car and pay off her college tuition quickly.
Leisa Boswell, like most Californians, is a transplant originally from the rural cornfields of central Illinois. Leisa came to California after her first failed attempt at college (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign) and went to a community college for a year to gain residency before transferring to UCLA. She loved living in Los Angeles, but moved to the bay area for her job after she graduated. She is passionate about education, photography and snail mail. “I am single-handedly trying to save the United States Post Office by sending tons and tons of postcards to strangers and family alike,” Leisa states.
In 1986, Nicolette Szonday left Hungary with her family as political refugees. Because of how her mother and grandparents were saved, protected and fed by American soldiers during World War II, Nicolette’s family chose to move to America out of the many countries willing to take them in. Starting over was tough, but Nicolette used her Small Business Accounting Certificate and BA to stay on track. She has worked in the financial field for the past fifteen years, working for Bank of America and now for JP Morgan Chase as a Sr. Specialist experienced in handling domestic and international clients with their retail and credit card accounts. Nicolette is also currently in training to become a lender with Chase Credit Card Services in Wilmington, DE.
Donna Swopes has been volunteering since she was a child. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Donna began volunteering as a Brownie in elementary school at Barstow Country Day School. In high school, she volunteered as a girl scout at East High School. “Volunteering was a requirement of my parents,” Donna states, “giving back to the community was important to them.” After high school, Donna attended the American Institute of Banking and Valencia Community College.
Jerry Patrick, a native Houstonian, has a long history of pursuing a better future. After high school, Jerry went to work for a credit union. He worked many departments for ten years and then went to work for Toyota Motor Credit. He attended college in 2004, where he graduated from University of Phoenix in 2007 with a BS/BA degree. Currently, he is employed with Chase Bank and is celebrating his 13th year there this month.
Marcus Chery is from Houston, Texas, and is the youngest of three with an older brother and sister. He is currently in school studying Social Work. After his schooling is completed, Marcus hopes to become a licensed Social Worker.
I was born, in a small country town in North Carolina, to a loving mother and father. I am the youngest of four children. My father was a bricklayer and my mother a homemaker. My parents instilled in us at an early age to help others and to be the best in all that we do. We grew up in the church attending weekly Sunday School or else we were restricted from doing any activities. As an adult I still attend church with a strong foundation developed at an early age. I love playing tennis and golf.
A California woman through and through, Anna Jackson was born in Riverside and raised in Palm Springs. She moved to the Bay Area in 1965. She attended the University of Phoenix and California State Eastbay, after which she began pursuing her career in Telecommunications. She has spent 32 years in this field and is also certified Financial Literacy instructor. She is both a mother and grandmother.
Joshua Harrison was born and raised in San Jose, California. He left California for college and went to The School of Business and Industry at Florida A & M University. Once finished there, Joshua began in the financial services industry. He worked with Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Jackson Hewitt. He also started a music studio in Florida with several of his friends. In 2011, he sold his interest in the music studio and went back home to California. Upon his return, Joshua began building a business in Alameda County, where he now teaches families how to become properly protected, debt free and financially independent.
Francis Lau comes from a country where the literacy rate is low and the people relatively poor. “I was lucky enough to have higher education with help from various sources to complete my Bachelor and Master degrees in America,” he states, “I definitely can see the difference being educated.” With this background, and after having spent over thirty years in the banking industry, with a current position as Vice President and Area Manager for First Bank, Francis feels a desire to invest in the community. “I learned, I gained and benefited a lot from the community and it is time to give back,” he says. Coupled with his passion, First Bank is a great match for Francis. “First Bank is very conscientious in encouraging and supporting its employees helping out in the community and with my self intents,” he explains.
Scott Pickett has a long history in the business and finance world. He studied finance and real estate at the Wharton School of Business and played for the University of Pennsylvania football team. After graduation, he worked for Thomas Properties Group and for a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Company. After many hours of hard work and long hours, Scott currently serves as the Vice President of Transactions for Post Investment Group, which is a real estate investment company that oversees approximately 11, 000 units nationwide.