When Kim Ngo came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1993, she barely knew her father.
He had fled Vietnam in 1986 to escape persecution. Ngo was 10 years old when she arrived in Marin County, Calif., and she didn’t know a word of English or virtually anything about American culture.
By the time she was in high school, Ngo had taken junior college courses, so she entered college with sophomore status.
Since then, Ngo has attained a B.S. in finance and an MBA, and she’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in business administration.
Ngo is a branch manager at $6.9 billion asset Patelco Credit Union in Pleasanton, Calif., and an adjunct professor at Meridian University in nearby Petaluma, where she teaches advanced accounting and finance courses.
She's also an active volunteer in the Bay Area.
“I really love to give back. I love to teach and give back to the students and people who want to do well in society,” she says. “I’m very busy on weekdays, but I recharge on the weekends. I do believe you have to take care of yourself before caring for others.”
Taking care of others seems to be the hallmark of Ngo’s professional and personal life. Her largest project is supporting Senior Vice President/Chief Retail Officer Melissa Morgan in overhauling the credit union’s financial health initiative.
Ngo was nominated to help run the task force through her commitment to serving as a financial literacy coach.
Colleagues marvel about her ability to coach members who are experiencing financial difficulties. As part of the task force, Ngo is developing a model around the concept of “earn-save-spend”—helping members recognize the importance of living within their means while having a plan to accomplish personal goals and achieve financial health.
Adversity comes in many forms. Last fall, Ngo’s home in the Santa Rosa area was nearly consumed by a massive wildfire. Nearly 90% of the homes on her block were destroyed.
The night of the fire, Ngo had just 10 minutes to evacuate. It was 3 a.m., and with the power out, high winds, and heavy smoke, she could barely see.
However, as she ran to her car, she saw a dim light outside her neighbor’s house. Curious, she ran next door to find her elderly neighbor, Mary.
Ngo and her boyfriend rescued Mary, who otherwise might not have survived. Ngo’s home survived the fire, but during the time when she was displaced, she volunteered at a fire relief event at Patelco’s Santa Rosa branch.