Board Member since 2011
Excelsior College, B.A., 2006
Associate Actuary, Life & Protection Division, Transamerica
Fellow, Society of Actuaries
Member, American Academy of Actuaries
Elder, Church at Covenant Park, Ellicott City, MD
Behind the Door:
Allan Wong is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Open Door America.
Allan is an Associate Actuary at Transamerica in downtown Baltimore. In other words, he’s really good at math. From his office window in the Transamerica skyscraper, he has one of the city’s best views looking directly over Oriole Park at Camden Yards, also known as baseball heaven.
At 32, Allan is the youngest member of the board of directors and most certainly its best violinist. In fact, Allan is a very talented musician, playing in both community orchestras and “garage bands” over the years. He’s a fan of hip hop, classical and Broadway musicals -- his two favorite are The Newsies and Les Miserables.
When asked what drew him to and keeps him involved in ODA, Allan responds with some very insightful comments:
“I was initially drawn to ODA because I work in the city and I was driving through urban poverty to get to work. I felt like something needed to be done. I feel ODA is a very thoughtful organization. Instead of just trying to do anything, we’re really trying to find solutions. When I first got involved, we were still refining the process. I liked being part of that process. Right now, I feel we’ve really found the right approach for our clients.”
As a self-described “mixed-nationality person,” Allan is keenly alert to the racial dynamics of ODA’s work. Born to an American mother and a Chinese father, Allan knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider in certain groups of people. “I’ve spent a lifetime questioning who I am on a racial level, trying to blend both of my cultures, and knowing that some people will always see me as something ‘other’ than their group. This experience has led me to identify with people who are marginalized by our racial politics.”
Allan adds: “On the surface, there are lots of easy answers, but my main take is that we really don’t have a grasp on it – there’s just too much racial history in America. I don’t get a sense that race can ever be easily understood. If I read everything I could get my hands on for 10 years, I still don’t think I could ever really understand what it all means. It’s so complicated. I just feel the need to do my part by reaching out to others. I feel ODA is a special organization that is seeking to bring positive solutions to the race issue, especially as it pertains to poverty.”
Allan’s inclusive worldview and his willingness to reach across the divide to other people and groups are undoubtedly connected to his extensive travels around the globe. He has visited France, Germany, England, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Hong Kong, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada. Still on his target list (he’s too young for a bucket list) are the continents of Africa, Australia and South America. We’re just glad he found his way to Baltimore.
Allan and his wife Emily are the proud parents of sons Dante (6) and Paul (4), and Micah - born on September 23, 2014.
From Our Blog
2018 Poverty and the Urgency of Prisoner Reentry and Life Restoration
Since 2005 Open Door America has worked to unlock the secret codes of intergenerational poverty in America’s inner cities. Now in year thirteen, our story has greater meaning and urgency than ever before. Having come on line just nine years after metamorphic welfare reform in 1996, we were an immediate beneficiary of the raised social awareness generated by the faith-based initiative movement of the early 2000's. By the end of our first decade, however, a sharp decline in nationwide community development investment, especially in the key area of federal housing, shifted our thinking away from traditional block-by-block redevelopment strategies to individualized programming targeting heads of households, young fathers, and in particular, ex-offenders and current offenders who hold sway in the poorest neighborhoods. Today, 22 years into the nation’s endless rancorous debate over poverty and government spending, we operate in a political and cultural environment where the very existence of entrenched poverty is now openly and counter-factually questioned in Washington. We believe the lessons learned from our improbable survivor's journey and the promising potential of our current efforts to retrieve first-time offenders and restore vetted recidivists are essential to this discussion and critical to America's social and economic future.