Diversity is a catalyst. VSEDC actively employs this principle, utilizing staff from various walks of life who converge at Marva’s gates to uplift South Los Angeles. We’re a symphony of voices, each with a unique melody harmonizing into a chorus of community direction. 

Among our voices, a resonant Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community shares its talents and commitment. We invite you to enter VSEDC and experience these voices shaping our work and the perspectives that fuel our innovation.

Terry Gubatan, a Filipino American and the longest-serving VSEDC employee, symbolizes a legacy of service. His career has spanned roles in finance and business development, leading to his nurturing of hundreds of developing entrepreneurs. 

As a Senior Business and Loan Coach, his deep understanding of South LA’s eclectic qualities and his AAPI heritage enable him to forge meaningful connections with business owners.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of Black and Brown business owners, and I’ve seen firsthand the transformative ability of entrepreneurship,” Terry says. “But I also recognize the hurdles AAPI entrepreneurs face, who may prioritize stability and hesitate to scale their businesses beyond their comfort zone.”

Terry’s work propels entrepreneurs to expand their vision and achieve long-term financial stability. He is tireless in advocating for property ownership and emphasizes building strong customer relationships.

“It’s not just about making a living, it’s about creating a legacy that will last for generations,” Terry emphasizes.

Terry’s commitment to AAPI representation is evident in his admiration for historical figures like Larry Itliong, a Filipino labor leader who fought alongside Cesar Chavez for farmworkers’ rights. He finds inspiration in the resilience and resourcefulness of his clients, like Kook Kim, a Korean American entrepreneur who used a VSEDC CDFI loan to mold a 5,000 sq ft space into a thriving hub of small businesses.

For Terry, being a part of the 2,500 Filipinos working for the City of LA (under EWDD contracts) is a source of pride and a reminder of the AAPI community’s significant contributions to the region. He sees his work at VSEDC as an extension of that legacy, proof of the effectiveness of diversity.

Accuracy and efficiency in processing invoices and collecting payments are crucial to VSEDC’s financial health. Francine Cua ensures that our economic engine runs smoothly, while her warm personality entrenches her in the company’s communal fabric. It’s a rhythm that beats to the tune of numbers and spreadsheets, which she orchestrates with 25 years of accounting expertise.

“Being able to pay our vendors and consultants is rewarding,” Francine says. “It’s like taking care of family.”

Francine, the youngest of 10 siblings, understands the value of community and family. She found another family at VSEDC, where she values a supportive atmosphere and liberty to be authentic.

“There is trust on my part that my colleagues are willing to accept me as my most vulnerable self,” Francine explains. She believes AAPI representation at VSEDC fosters understanding and a sense of belonging, which is vital for addressing unique challenges facing the community.

Beyond the ledger, Francine’s melody tells an appreciation for a flock’s warmth, the aroma of adobo, and a connection to her AAPI roots. She advocates that AAPI representation extends beyond visibility and embeds an understanding of the community’s culture and challenges. By building coalitions and raising awareness, she envisions a financial sector that serves AAPI individuals and truly understands their needs.

For Francine, VSEDC is akin to family. “They invest in our growth and development,” she says. Her strong AAPI identity is intertwined with her work, allowing her to connect authentically with colleagues and the community.

Federico’s path to VSEDC began in Ormoc City, Philippines, and wound through Guam before landing in Los Angeles. Today, as Director of Finance and Administration, he drives a complex web of financial operations, drawing on years of experience in accounting and finance at organizations like Bluebell, the Salvation Army, and Toberman Neighborhood Center.

Fed, as he’s colloquially known, boasts a resume with the titles of accountant, controller, and chief financial officer. Still, his true north is steered by a persistent passion for helping others.

“I find it surreal and fulfilling to help those who need it most,” he shares. It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to change someone’s life positively,” a sentiment echoed from the depths of his Filipino upbringing.

Family values solidify Fed’s core as he champions unity, visibility, and a more substantial AAPI presence in the financial world. He draws inspiration from Filipino success stories like Jollibee, a global fast-food giant that proudly celebrates its heritage.

While Fed is busy leading VSEDC’s financial team, he eventually hopes to lend his expertise to the Filipino Community of Southern California.

After arriving in Los Angeles from Cambodia in 1997, Namoch Sokhom embraced education and community engagement opportunities. His early career, shaped by roles at the International Monetary Fund and the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, laid the groundwork for his dedication to economic empowerment.

Namoch joined the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) in 1999, where he spearheaded small business development, secured critical funding, and built a robust lending infrastructure. His 21-year tenure culminated in establishing a CDFI, stimulating economic opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs.

In 2021, Namoch joined VSEDC as Director of Lending Services, hauling a wealth of experience and a profound understanding of the challenges faced by AAPI entrepreneurs. He leads a team dedicated to providing access to capital and recognizes the vital role small businesses play in revitalizing communities. Through VSEDC loan programs, he helps sustain and scale their businesses, creating jobs and augmenting neighborhoods. 

Motivated by AAPI mentors like Kerry Doi and Yusa Chang, Namoch envisions a future where the number of AAPI-owned businesses funded by VSEDC doubles. His commitment to supporting AAPI entrepreneurs is evident in the numerous companies VSEDC has helped, from corner stores to ice cream manufacturers.

“To truly strengthen AAPI representation in the financial sector, we need more CDFIs led and operated by AAPI individuals,” Namoch affirms. “It’s a relatively new field for AAPI non-profits, but it has immense potential for our communities.”

Namoch’s influence resonates through his board memberships and community engagement, fostering financial literacy and empowering future generations.

VSEDC is committed to amplifying AAPI voices and continuing our work to create a more inclusive and equitable community. A special thanks to all the AAPI employees and consultants, past and present, who have helped VSEDC achieve its mission and enhance the community!

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