Financial planner and Athena Award recipient explains her love for Rochester and why she is passionate about mentoring other women
By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Q. How did it feel to win the Athena Award?
A. It was so interesting because you have all these amazing women in one place that are nominated and you are just happy to be in the company of incredible people. You never know who is going to be honored with the award until they start reading the winners’ resume. I was sitting down listening and all of a sudden as I was hearing the biography and I was just in shock realizing that they were talking about me. I think I went blank for a second because I was humbled and very touched to be selected. A friend called me last year and said, ‘I’d really like to nominate you for this, and I need to have names of people that you’ve mentored.’ I was pleasantly surprised that I was among the people selected from a lot of accomplished people. I’ve been to several of the luncheons before to honor the women. I’m just grateful they included me.
Q. What are some of the reasons you give back?
A. We are all a community here. Nobody got to where they are today alone. There were so many people who have been involved in my success and I truly believe it is the right thing to do to give back to others. Everyone should be sharing their thoughts, ways to improve and their personal stories to others as a way to help.
Q. How do you go about helping your community?
A. My passion is mentoring other women whether they are members of my staff or others out in the community. Among my staff, I help them with their continuing education whether that is a bachelor’s degree or master’s. If they work hard and do their best, I pay for their education. I really believe that is the key and I wouldn’t want financial burdens to hold anyone back. When I was young, my father died early when he was 39 years old so my mother raised us by herself. She would not have been able to help me with my education if I didn’t receive the educational scholarships. I’m glad I’ve mentored people, because I’m genuinely interested in helping people reach their fullest potential. I think everyone could use a hand, and if we can help each other out, that’s a good thing. I also give back to the Rochester arts community because I think it is a real jewel here that people should really appreciate.
Q. What has been the reason for your business success?
A. I credit a lot of things. First, I am a Cornell University alumnus. There are so many of them who have become my clients because they gave me a chance decades ago and they trusted me. That kind of support early on was incredible. I have a special connection to the school and the people I have met there. One of the women there interviewed me when I was 15 years old about coming to the school and she became my second mother. She even has the same birthday as my mother. Also to go back to the idea that you can’t do it alone, my four siblings always champion me and refer me to people. And when you do a good job, word of mouth becomes your friend. I have never been the kind of person who actively markets or advertises. I don’t even like to ask my clients for referrals because I believe it should be confidential who you are working with unless they want to recommend you to others.
Q. You often talk about your love for Rochester. What about the community impacts you?
A. My family came here in 1976 and I attended St. Agnes High School. The nuns were so warm and welcoming and so were the other students. That set me up for an incredible love affair with Rochester. I ran for student senate as a high school senior and won. Coming here from the Philippines it was such an incredible feeling that you could just come to America, put your best foot forward and great things could happen to you. Rochester will always be a special place for me.
Q. What do you do with your spare time?
A. My husband and I enjoy the arts all of Rochester. We attend the Nazareth College Arts Center, Geva and all the incredible arts that you can find here. We live in downtown so we can walk to so many venues. People should really take advantage. There are not many places where you can see high quality plays and musicals, find a parking spot right around the corner and it only takes you 15 to 20 minutes to get there.