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A Leap of Faith

By Houa Vang

“It’s when you step out of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” – Roy T. Bennett

It’s almost been two years since I’ve started at Valley Vision as a Project Associate, supporting the Healthy Communities portfolio and their first major statewide project. This project, Listos California, was initiated by Governor Newsom to prepare diverse and vulnerable Californians in emergency preparedness activities – including COVID-19.

I took a leap of faith to dive into the field of emergency preparedness that was beyond my initial career path. However, it was the core mission of the project to have a people-centered approach to help diverse populations that drew me in.

With our small but mighty team at Valley Vision, a strong team of consultants, hundreds of passionate community-based organizations and vendors across the state, and two visionary Listos California Co-Chairs with their own small but mighty team spearheading this effort, we surpassed the goal of preparing 1 million Californians for natural disasters and have, instead, reached 2.4 million Californians to education and engage on emergency preparedness for fire, earthquake, and more. We also overcame the pandemic by pivoting our strategies and adapting to the current turn of reality in the middle of it all.

As with each milestone comes reflections and lessons learned as it is essential to growth. Below are three key takeaways that I’ve gained to embrace change and hope this would be beneficial for those who are also on this journey of transformation at any point of their lives – while recognizing that this is easier said than done:

  1. Change is inevitable. The only thing that is predictable about change is that it will always be there (I know, the irony!). By accepting this, you release yourself from self-doubt.
  2. “Be formless, shapeless – like water.” – Bruce Lee. There are some events that are not controllable nor predictable and, quite frankly, sometimes flowing with the waves is easier than going against the currents.
  3. Give yourself compassion. You could be your own worst critic. If you’re learning something new, don’t beat yourself up for not perfecting it immediately. It takes time so please do forgive yourself.

As the project was wrapping up, I am pursuing an opportunity that fits my interests and next-step plans for career growth. My new position will give me the opportunity to work directly with small minority businesses to support their success.  

Overall, I’m grateful for Valley Vision for the leap of faith in trusting me with the opportunity to support this work. If it weren’t for Valley Vision’s belief in me, I wouldn’t be poised for my next adventure. Valley Vision provided ample space to contribute my thoughts, be valued, learn from mistakes, and welcome any questions that I may have. I’d like to thank staff members who have been very supportive. To highlight a few, I’m thankful for Grace Kaufman and Kari MacDonald for being my cheerleaders on the field. I have Evan Schmidt’s words of encouragement readily in the forefront of my mind that I did the best I can today and can always do better the next day. Ultimately, there are no words that could express my deepest respect and appreciation for Alan Lange, deliberately managing the project with a calm and even-keeled hand that supported us all. 

This is by no means goodbye to everyone I have engaged and connected with while at Valley Vision, but an ‘until next time’ or ‘see you later.’

The camaraderie developed during these past two years will never be forgotten and I know, going into my next experience, I will bring that camaraderie along with all that I’ve learned – launching into it more prepared and more resilient than ever.

Take care.


Houa Vang was a Project Associate supporting the Listos California project and Valley Vision’s Healthy Communities Impact Area.