Paolo Leon is acutely familiar with the odds that are stacked against kids growing up in impoverished, crime-ridden areas like his former Shalimar/Costa Mesa neighborhood. As a fifth grader, Paolo joined the Shalimar Learning Center (which would later become THINK) with the simple goal of getting homework help. At the time, the seeds of his dream to become an architect had already taken root, and the program offered Paolo academic support, mentoring and even scholarship incentives when an anonymous donor offered “Scholar Dollars” for good grades.
Paolo’s eventual academic success afforded him the opportunity to attend the prestigious college-prep Sage Hill School, where he served as student body president, and upon graduation, received acceptance letters from 10 universities. Paolo proudly earned his undergraduate degree from University of Southern California and went on to earn his MBA from Chapman University.
Today, Paolo has achieved his career goals; he is Associate Partner at MVE + Partners, Inc., an architectural firm in Irvine. When not designing multi-family residential and mixed-use hotel and condo projects, Paolo enjoys raising awareness for THINK (he is the first alumni to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors). “I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the organization and it’s rewarding to share my experience and ensure the same opportunities that were afforded to me are available to a new generation of youth.”