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Written by MaryAnne Riodique

As an immigrant fleeing Communist Russia in the 90’s, Svetlana Kim, came to the US with virtually nothing in the bank, and little English. Through a combination of luck and hard work, her success story comes down to grit, mental toughness, and unfailing optimism.

Svetlana recounts in her book, White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee, how one of her earliest ambitions was to work on Wall Street. She taught herself the basics of the stock market through voracious reading, but was told that before she got started as a stockbroker, she would first need to establish herself as a sales person. This is where Svetlana’s fearlessness and an ingenuity is displayed – she worked her way up as a department store cosmetic sales associate, to business manager, and eventually into account executive role with Laura Mercier. With proven sales ability in hand, what followed was a series of roles which would prove pivotal in gaining her access to influential friends and mentors: she became a successful stockbroker for UBS PaineWebber, where she promptly won the Western Division Advisor Award, followed by a move to DC working for top PR firm, the Public Affairs Group, where she was mentored by the firm’s CEO, philanthropist Edie Fraser, and entrusted with heading up the Business Women’s Network.

She is now celebrating 10 years as a self-described “solo-preneur,” as a lauded keynote speaker, activist, philanthropist, fundraiser, author, and radio host. Her show “To the Stars Through Adversity” has been in production for 3 years, where she’s interviewed over 200 individuals – selected specifically for their ability to overcome life’s challenges and who’ve embraced their role in serving humanity, themes she knows about first hand.

“Life is like a river,” Svetlana said. “you can either sit on the sidelines and watch it go by, or you can jump in, brave the cold, and swim in it!”

Throughout the course of our discussion, I was struck with Svetlana’s energy – it was contagious and inspiring, even over the phone. When I asked how she found the inner strength to overcome life’s obstacles, she very nonchalantly said, “When you focus on your pain, you become miserable. You either dwell on misery – or, you go forward. This is what defines great people.”

She’s truly walked the talk, as well – she is passionate about nutrition, fitness, and yoga. She’s practiced, and studied mediation for over 7 years, and became a certified yoga instructor in 2015. She states her meditation practice as some of the most difficult training she’s ever done, crediting its role in her success after leaving corporate life.

Meditation “helped me overcome a lot of anxiety, and allowed me to dispel negative thoughts. It grounded me, and allowed me to be my true self,” says Svetlana. “Success requires energy. When you do the simple, good things,” like sleep, exercise, eat right, “you attract the right people, energy – all the good things which equal success.”

She admitted to me, however, that she tends to define success differently than other people.

“Success,” she says, “is when you are at peace. It is about collaboration with others.”

She went on to describe an outlook which revealed a true servant leader, which explains her active role serving on various boards and philanthropic endeavors – to list just a few – the Asian Division Friends Society of the Library of Congress (Board member since 2007, Board Vice President, 2010-2013, Chair of Finance Committee, 2013-present); the Global Executive Board of the Euro-American Women’s Council (2007-2012); the National Council of Asian American Business Associations (East Coast president, 2009 – 2011); the Pacific Coast Immigration Museum (Board member, 2009-present); the National Association of Professional Asian American Women (Board member, 2012-present), the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council (2013-present); in 2011 she was chosen as Spokesperson for MACY’S Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and she volunteered in the Presidential Correspondence Office at the White House for President Obama.

To learn more about Svetlana’s amazing success story, visit her website and her memoir, White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee. She will provide the keynote address to kick off our Dynamics of Leadership Conference this summer.


Early Bird Before 5/31/2017

General Registration After 5/31/2017

Conference Kickoff Reception (Fri, July 7, 7-9pm) | Keynote Speaker: Svetlana Kim, Author of White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee



Gala reception, dinner, and event (Sat., July 8, 6-9pm)



DAY PASS: Saturday Conference (Sat, July 8) | Access to 12 workshops/seminars, breakfast, lunch & Dinner Gala



DAY PASS: Sunday Conference
(Sat., July 9) | Access to 6 workshops/seminars & breakfast



ALL-INCLUSIVE PASS: Best Deal!** (Friday, July 7 – Sunday, July, 9) | Full Access to Reception, Conference and Gala Event




Group Discount is Available, please contact us for more information 

All conference registrations must be purchased online with a credit or debit card. Once you RSVP through, an email with a PayPal link for payment will be sent to the address that you provide when you RSVP. Your registration will be confirmed by an email sent to the same address after we receive your payment. Please ensure that your email address is correct when registering.

Attire: Business professional/Semi-formal.
All tickets are non-refundable. All payments must receive by 4 p.m. on July 1st, 2017 to guarantee your seat.

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ACEL’s vision is to be the proving ground for Asian American Professionals, forging leaders of tomorrow through professional development, cultural awareness, community service and mentorship. To learn more about our member benefits or if you would like to join the ACEL family, you can visit