Today we feature a few of the women at On Lok and the female role models they admire.

Grace Li, Chief Executive Officer

“I would say my mother. In 1966, She immigrated to this country from Taiwan at 23 years old with a one year old baby. She came to join her husband (my dad) in Texas, who was the first in our family to come to the US (in our entire family) for post graduate study in electrical engineering. She spoke no English and had no friends or family. 

Later, they moved to a college town in Florida where my dad worked at his first and only job, as a professor for the University of Florida. My sister and I were born there and she raised all three of us to be caring, well rounded, successful people. She passed away from cancer at 60.

She didn’t get to meet her grandchildren, but the three of us all live in SF and are raising our families and taking care of each other just as she raised us to do.

She would be proud to see where each of us is in our lives today. 

I admire her for her courage and strength to face the hurdles she did and to leave behind a legacy that we will build on for our children and our children’s children and so on.”

Marie Lee, Reception Supervisor

“I would have to say our co-founder Marie Louise Ansak. I have learned so much from her. She’s my mentor. She is a tough woman who never gave up. She is 81 and still active in her community, I really look up to her.”

Kristie Chan, Administrative Assistant

“Katie Ladecky-she’s the best Olympic swimmer of this generation. As a swimmer myself I really admire her.”

Chrystal Chow, Social Worker

“My Mom-she is very strong and is battling end stage liver disease for 40 years. She encourages other people with health tips on how to fight the disease. She is so positive!”

Annie Tien, Social Worker

“The women here at On Lok. Without all these women, On Lok wouldn’t be able to operate.”

Crystal Ngai, Human Resource Coordinator

“My sister-she is ambitious, when she sets her mind to something she does it.”

Samiyah Fassette, HR Generalist

“I think the biggest challenge facing women today is having to fight twice as hard to earn respect as a leader to be seen as a woman of power.”

Mary Li, Administrative Assistant

“My mother-in-law. Most people say that they couldn’t live with their mother-in-laws, but mine was so nice and considerate. She treated us so well. Her cooking was amazing-we miss her every day. We know she is up there taking care of us.”

Romny French, HR Coordinator

“There are so many to choose from. From arts, science, history, and there are so many stories that have still never been told.”

Joy Moore, Chief Human Resource Officer

“Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist guru who has taught me about emotional balance and courage. My favorite book of hers is “The Places that Scare You”. She inspires me to pursue my dreams.”

Alicia AbubakerExecutive Assistant

“Grace Li, our CEO. She is so humble. She stays true to herself, which is amazing to find in a female leader. The majority of CEOs are men; so to work for a woman CEO who is the ultimate go-getter is an honor. She is willing to tackle anything and never leaves you hanging. She is a role model to a lot of people here. Everyone embraces her management style. Grace is a wife, she is a mother, and she is CEO of this amazing non-profit. To me, she’s my role model.”

Alyssa Cortez, Activity Leader

“My Mom. She is so caring and family oriented. She always puts us before herself.”

Ruby Wu, Receptionist

“The writer Sanmao. She writes about her journey through life which is very inspiring.”

Patricia Buckner, Data Management and Information Specialist

“The Queen of England. She used to work in factories and throughout time she stands up for what she believes in. Recently, her sense of humor has begun to come out. She has seen a lot of change and is an important icon for me.”

Violette Karavul, Director, Learning & Development

“My younger sister. She is beyond family to me; she is my inner soul. She is a breath of inspiration, my walking Earth angel, full of love for the world, peace and giving.”

Rita Fabrizio, Executive Assistant

“My grandma. She came here by herself on a boat from Italy and raised three amazing sons. She was such an awesome lady. She was fully, always in good spirits. Even when she was very sick she never complained about anything.”

Christina Vincent, Quality Assurance Associate

“My 96 year old Super Gram. My paternal grandma and I were sidekicks since I was born. One time she took me fishing and she got a fishhook stuck in her finger. She said, “Don’t worry I got it covered”, yanked out the fishhook and kept on rowing. She said to me, “You have to keep going, there’s a lot more fish to catch.” She has taught me how to overcome the obstacles that life throws at you. And of course my mother, Hilda. We call her our Earth Angel. She taught me to dance through the hardships and to always look for the joy. She said everyday is a celebration and it is much better when you’re dancing.”

Kelly Sheldon, Volunteer Program Manager

I do not have just one woman I could call an inspiration, there are just so very many inspirational women who have accomplished so much. From Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gloria Steinem to Joan Jett and Michelle Obama. I am so grateful to the generations before us who fought for the rights we sometimes take for granted. People forget that it was not that long ago that we couldn’t vote, 1920 is just not that long ago. My mother, who is only 71, was not allowed to take an architectural drawing class in high school, it was only for male students. Again, not that long ago. I am so grateful and I thank them for all they achieved.”

Silvia Baroni, Marketing Communications Manager

“My pick is Malala Yousafzai. At the age of 15 she risked her own life to courageously stand up and fight for the right to an education and self-determination, reminding not only women, but all people, that knowledge is feared by despots because it sets people free.

Micki Cianciosi, Director of Enrollment

“I would say Bessie Coleman. She was the first African American woman to pilot an airplane. She had to go to France to be allowed to pilot, so she had to become fluent in French. She never took “no” for an answer and showed determination.”

Happy International Women’s Day!