“Need makes you find a way to really do the impossible. And in doing so, you find that in fact you are not powerless, that you have it in you to shape your destiny.”
Born and raised in Ecuador, Vivian Bolaños got the chance to visit Texas as an exchange student during high school. Realizing her opportunities would be greater in America, she kept in close contact with her host family and was able to move to the United States, settling in Henderson County in 2000.
“I knew if we came here, we were going to have better choices,” explains Vivian, who attended law school at the University Estatal of Cuenca in Ecuador. “When we moved, we had nothing. My husband and daughter couldn’t speak any English, but people gave us an opportunity and took a chance on us.”
Vivian first worked at Roper Insurance Agency and as a GED instructor for Spanish-speaking students at Blue Ridge Community College. She then became vice president and business development officer for First Bank & Trust Co., where she developed business relationships in the Henderson, Transylvania and Buncombe County banking centers. Today, she is vice president of business banking at First Citizens Bank and focuses on business and commercial lending in the Asheville market.
Along the way, Vivian has become a committed community advocate and volunteer, serving as a board member for the United Way of Henderson County, Safelight, Pardee UNC Health Care and Blue Ridge Community College.
“I feel very privileged that I can be a bridge to connect those in need with someone who can help,” she said. “We live in an incredible community and a very giving community, but there are also so many struggles.”
Asked about her vision for Dogwood Health Trust, she added, “I want us to be the type of organization that people look up to and see that the educated choices and decisions we are making are moving the needle. I want us to collaborate with existing nonprofits who are already working to address the challenges facing our community, so they can be stronger and affect even more families.”