Linh Dang, chief development officer of Addition Financial Credit Union, shares what made Orlando her home and why she thinks the region should get an NFL team called the Orlando Astronauts!

The Orlando Regional Chamber, a core component of the Orlando Economic Partnership, recognized a need in the community to unify resources into a strategically coordinated campaign to propel women forward. All Women Empowered (AWE) is comprised of private, public, and nonprofit partners working to unify our community resources into a strategically coordinated campaign to propel women forward. AWE seeks to amplify stories of women’s initiatives, programs, women in business and women entrepreneurs in the region with a goal of providing resources and programs that equip women with the tools to build the future they envision. 

Be sure to sign up for the Chamber’s weekly newsletter for timely and relevant information to help small businesses and female leaders accelerate growth. You can also find more information on All Women Empowered, including how to add your resource to the women’s business resource directory, here.

In this edition of AWEsome Women in Orlando, we profile Linh Dang, chief development officer of Addition Financial Credit Union, who shares what makes Orlando her home and why she thinks the region should get an NFL team called the Orlando Astronauts. 

Please introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Linh, Chief Development Officer of Addition Financial Credit Union. I count myself lucky to work for Addition Financial. Not only do we provide financial products and services, we also focus on community outreach and financial education to our community.  

What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here? 

I was born in Vietnam and came with my family to the U.S. in 1975. We were fortunate to call Winter Park our first American home. Our move would not have been possible without the kind and compassionate parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. The family of Mr. Ray Greene, a former Winter Park mayor, and Mr. and Mrs. Curtis were our sponsors. The Bennett, Timmes, Daley and Englehardt families were a coordinated team to help my family adapt to life in America. Their unwavering love and support helped us thrive in this country we now call home.  

After three years living in Winter Park, my parents moved the family to Akron, Ohio to be closer to my grandmother. We lived in Ohio for 10 years, but I always yearned to be back in Florida. In 1988, I finally got my wish. I graduated college, got married, and started my family in Central Florida. I love the sunshine, the beach and the people.  

I grew up experiencing such support and a sense of community in Central Florida, and I will never forget the compassion afforded to my family. Calling 2020, and now 2021, tough years is an understatement. So many families were impacted by the pandemic, and the pandemic did not discriminate. The wave of AAPI hate that Asian Americans are currently experiencing in this nation deeply saddens me. Diversity should not divide but unite us. As a nation and a region, we are stronger and better together.  

At the end of the day, what has kept me in the Orlando region is our great community! 

Who has influenced you in your career the most?  

My parents and my husband hands-down influenced my career the most. Their unconditional and unwavering support is immeasurable. My parents instilled the importance of education and hard work in all their children. My dad was my sounding board and my mentor, and my mom was simply adorable and loving! She always sent food home with me after work to ensure my family was well fed, since cooking skills skipped a generation. My husband of 26 years has been unwaveringly supportive of whatever choice I make in my career. He has removed roadblocks to help me be successful. I would not be where I am today without them.  

Why is it important for you to be a member of AWE? What do you hope to accomplish? What will it take to make that a reality? 

World Vision says it best that, “women’s empowerment is about promoting a women’s self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.” Women make a positive impact to their community when they are included, respected and empowered.  

I remember my dad telling me that when women are valued, treated fairly and with respect, the nation prospers. I want women to know there are resources and support systems such as AWE to achieve their goals for themselves and to propel them beyond their fullest potential. Women’s successes are essential to the wellbeing of society. 

How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?  

The state of Florida was ranked the number two top state to start a business by Forbes. The business tax structure, the lower cost, the multitude of resources for entrepreneurs that are available especially for small businesses, minorities and women is a huge advantage. The population migration into the region drives so many opportunities for entrepreneurship and an increasing robust and talented workforce. 

What makes the Orlando ecosystem unique for women in business?  

Orlando has a robust ecosystem with a need for a wide range of industries in order to support the community and the more than 75 million visitors coming into the region annually. Due to this, Orlando’s infrastructure and access is very business friendly and has resources and support available for women in business.   

Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?  

Only in Orlando will a 30-minute drive land you in a bustling theme park or a 60-minute drive will allow you to relax at a beach. Whatever your mood, it’s a relatively short distance away. 

What’s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?  

I love football and I wish Orlando had an NFL football team! Florida has two NFL teams named after animals – the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. If we have two teams named after adventurers, we would be complete! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Orlando “Astronauts”… maybe? I have no idea what it will take to make that a reality, but just throwing it out there. 

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?  

Orlando is surrounded by so much. We boast beautiful beaches, world-class theme parks, incredible school systems, high quality colleges, and arts and culture galore. Orlando is a melting pot of such cultural diversity. People are adventurous to dive in and embrace the culture, experience the food and support one another. Orlando is a friendly community where people experience a sense of belonging. We are one big, gigantic family that live, work, learn and play together.   

How would you describe your leadership style? 

Multitudes of leadership styles exist. I feel identifying and confining into a single style can be unproductive and unrealistic in any industry. Leaders balance a multitude of relationships to lead effectively. I find success in leveraging various styles to influence the outcome. 

Visionary and forward thinking defines my industry leadership style. In instances where direction is needed and decisions rendered, I take on the role of a visionary leader to communicate the initiative and motivate the team. During a merger, a transformational leader is needed to inspire people to embrace change and provide a pathway to transition smoothly to the new organizational vision and culture. To encourage favorable results, I assume the role of a strategic leader to challenge the team and their assumptions. It has always benefited me when I analyze the situation and balance rigor with speed, consider the trade-offs involved and take both short- and long-term goals into account. Ultimately, a leader must display courage for their convictions and confidence in their decision process.  

Regardless of which leadership style I apply, success is imminent when you lead firmly but fairly and with integrity. Leading with integrity is an integral component of all my decisions. I consistently motivate, challenge, influence and inspire to bring out the best in myself and everyone around me.  

What are some or best practices that you would give to other women?

  1. Don’t harbor, internalize or over-analyze your failures. We all have failed. Evaluate, learn and move on. Fixating on it is not productive or mentally healthy. Don’t let it paralyze you. Learn from your experience and move forward confidently.  
  2. In all that you do, do it for more than just yourself. Think of others and how your actions can impact them. 
  3. Work life balance is extremely important. Don’t let being over worked and stressed negatively impact you and others. Compartmentalize work from life and make time for your loved ones and most importantly, time for yourself.