Thank you for joining us to celebrate 25 years of financial education and inspiration, to honor our founder, Victoria Collins and celebrate in high style. I want to recognize our board and advisory board and spouses, without their hard work, we would not be celebrating. Special thanks to our major underwriting sponsors this evening, Mark and Cherilyn Moehlman, who also arranged for this stunning venue, Nella Webster, Victoria and David Collins and David Karachuk, our pianist and others on our board. Big thank you to our 25th anniversary committee, Kasey Buharie, Jody Killion, Trae Lewis, Jennifer Stewart.
In 1997, a small but powerful group of women met right here in OC to put on an investment conference for women – over 500 registered and they knew they were on to something. Fast forward 25 years, a lot has changed but one thing has not - we remain faithful to our mission of financial empowerment for females of all ages and all socioeconomic backgrounds.
We do this via workshops and partnerships with community organizations, such as Girl Scouts, Girls Inc and universities including UCI, UCLA and Chapman.
For our community partners we host workshop on budgeting, credit and investing. Aimed at college bound girls where our goal is to give them the tools to last a lifetime. One of our workshop participants is here tonight and tells us a wonderful story. While hearing a presentation, something clicked. She sought out one of our panelists, got more information and within five years, was able to purchase a condo on her own, here in the OC. Sasha, kudos!
We partner with universities to host our groundbreaking series, Tearing Down the Pink Wall, which educates and inspires young women to reach their full potential and some to seek careers in finance to be ambassadors for WISE. It is a truly unique series with She Suite panelists and a celebrity moderator. Imagine these young women getting career advice from women in the top echelons of finance. What a fantastic group of role models we present – all under the mantra, she can be what she can see!!
Each year we organize and participate in 15-20 workshops, involving over 80 volunteers. How do we do this with a part time administrator and part time CMO? Our Board donates over 2500 volunteers hours to get this done and that’s a low ball estimate. That’s worth over $250,000 – another low ball estimate. And we have 100% financial contribution from our board. They are our secret sauce. We reach 1000s each year with our message and we are not stopping here – our plan is to take our successful business model and expand our footprint. But with our current volunteer model we are capacity constrained. We have accomplished so much with limited resources, imagine what we could do with substantial funding. We have a goal of $100,000 tonight, fingers crossed!!
Some have asked if there is a place for gender specific financial education in today’s world and the answer is a resounding yes!! Women lack confidence in investing, according to a Fidelity study only 9% say they are better investors than men – despite many studies to the contrary. A really troubling statistic says 56% of millennium females have a fear of investing. Then there are the gender specific issues - Women deal with divorce, widowhood, longevity and the fact that they earn less than men. We all know stories about women left alone that fall prey to unscrupulous advisors. This happens no matter what the education level. Our goal is to stop this and equalize the playing field, by giving women the tools they need for financial security. As proud as we are of our past, we are more excited about our future!
It was difficult in a few minutes to give a snapshot of WISE but more challenging to give a snapshot of Victoria, who is impossibly wonderful, generous and a role model to all of us. We all want to be Victoria. We admire her accomplishments, but most of all we admire her character, integrity, graciousness all attributes unfortunately in short supply today. Many of you are long standing great friends of Victoria and know well her professional accomplishments. Her three decades as one of the most admired and respected wealth managers and her role in founding First Foundation. The professional recognition she has received by national media: including Barron’s, WSJ, USA Today and Worth. She authored or co-authored six books on managing wealth and estate planning. Just an amazing professional resume!
But what distinguishes Victoria is her community service and love of family and friends. Many of us know firsthand how generous she is with her time, always there to give WISE advice. Victoria is a charter member of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management at the University of California Irvine., served on the board of Orange County's United Way and is a founding member of United Way’s Women’s Philanthropy. She served on the Board of Human Options and is a big supporter of the Orange County Community Foundation. Just to mention a few of her boards.
25 years ago, Victoria co-founded WISE and she continues to provide leadership to us. She encourages us to achieve our full potential!
For all these accomplishments and much more, On behalf of the Board and Advisory board, WISE is proud to establish the Victoria F. Collins WISE Legacy Fund, which will provide scholarships for the underserved and ensure the sustainability of WISE for another 25 years and beyond.
- Angela Dailey, WISE CEO
Photos Courtesy of Tony Lattimore Photography