|Honoree’s Name: Rhonda Ducote
Award Category: Economic & Workforce Development
Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:
My 15 years of working alongside Rhonda Ducote at Apriem Advisors has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience- professionally and personally. Her leadership as President has propelled the company to an award-winning wealth management firm where giving back is second nature. Rhonda stands as an inspiration to those around her to become better, more aware, and give back to those who are in need.
Rhonda Ducote is an invaluable member of the advisory board of Southern California Hospice Foundation (SCHF). In 2018, she helped secure two anonymous $100,000 matching grants that helped SCHF raise the first $400,000 for the Heavenly Home Project, the first hospice house in Southern California. In 2021, SCHF met and surpassed their $1 million goal through an anonymous donor that Rhonda singlehandedly secured. The endowment will be used to help the continuity of care and creating a permanent source of income for the Heavenly Home. Besides the capital campaign, she inspires the staff to get involved by promoting Apriem-sponsored events such as their annual gala and golf tournament. Firmly believing in the mission of SCHF, she also introduced the cause to our “Women of Wisdom” (WOW) program. Founded by Rhonda, WOW focuses on the unique financial needs of women and aims to encourage, empower, and educate them through our free monthly seminars. Aside from SCHF, Rhonda also serves on the advisory board of the University of California, Irvine Center for Investment and Wealth Management as well as Art4Kids, Inc.
Throughout the years, Rhonda’s leadership has created programs in our firm to motivate the staff to give to causes they are passionate about. Younger employees, who may not be able to afford monetary donations, are encouraged to volunteer their time to a nonprofit and have Apriem match it with a donation through our “dollar-for-doers” program. For those with the ability to make monetary donations, we have the “”donation matching”” program where the firm matches donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000 every year. We also have our “board membership training” program where Rhonda and the management team introduces our staff to charitable organizations so they can be a part of their board. One success story was in 2019, when one of our youngest staff members, Alan, became a founding member of the Jessie Rees Foundation (JRF) Young Professionals Group and was able to bring JoyJars to the country of El Salvador for the first time. Rhonda decided that Apriem would pay for their team’s airfare and give him paid volunteer time off to accomplish this amazing opportunity. This opportunity has opened doors for JRF to create relationships with El Salvador and could potentially open more doors in Latin America.
Rhonda initiated the “Apriem Cares” program and “Apriem Charitable Services” to deepen meaningful partnerships with charitable organizations. Apriem Charitable Fund was established in 2018 to fund “Apriem Cares.” Through “Apriem Cares,” we were able to help organizations such as World Vision, Casa Teresa, Big Brothers Big Sisters of OC, Jessie Rees Foundation, and Working Wardrobes via sponsorships, fundraising, volunteer time, and pro-bono work of our staff. Recognizing that charitable organizations are underserved by financial services firms, she launched “Apriem Charitable Services” where the Apriem helps charities start their endowment and perform investment management services for free until the endowment has grown to $1 million or more.
Rhonda has invested in relationships that strengthen and empower our communities at every level. She has empowered our Apriem family to volunteer our time and invest our resources with those who are on the front lines of helping others lead more abundant lives, provide pro bono work to support a diverse array of philanthropic endeavors, and connect people so that, together, our communities will thrive leaving a more hopeful future for all.
For all these reasons, Rhonda Ducote exemplifies all that the OC Volunteerism award represents.