Aiwa Thrive

Laura Violette Dirtadian

THRIVE is an AIWA project dedicated to highlighting individuals who are doing remarkable things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Laura Violette Dirtadian, CEO and Founder of Leap Strategy, Risk, and Advisory Services LLC, Affiliate Chair – AIWA San Francisco.

Laura Violette Dirtadian (She/Her), CEO and Founder of Leap Strategy, Risk, and Advisory Services LLC

Affiliate Chair – AIWA San Francisco

Location: Oakland, California, United States

Occupation: CEO and Founder of Leap Strategy, Risk, and Advisory Services LLC



December 14, 2022

My career has spanned over 20 years, working with financial and technology institutions in all aspects of risk management, business operations, and strategy setting. I have held a variety of roles across industries and companies, most recently as Vice President of Enterprise Risk at Affirm. Over the years, I have enjoyed building programs and teams from scratch and mentoring along the way. I especially enjoy empowering young women and those from underserved communities.

With the encouragement of a special person, I decided in October of 2022 to take a break from corporate America and start my own businesses, including a consulting practice that works with banks and fintechs throughout their partnership lifecycle, as well as the implementation of risk management programs.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Ontario, Canada, into an Armenian family from Jerusalem that was greatly affected by the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The environment where I grew up for the first ten years of my life was small and safe. When I turned 10, I moved to Southern California to reunite with the rest of our extended family.

I have two loving parents and a younger brother who is a talented architect. I went to school at UC Irvine and majored in Political Science, International Studies, and Spanish Literature.

Additionally, I participated in two study abroad programs in Spain; these experiences had a tremendous impact on me and set the foundation for who I am today.

In 2005, I married my husband, one of the most hard-working and supportive people I know and an amazing example to our children. I am blessed to have my in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

As a leader of AIWA’s Bay Area chapter, I know we are making a difference in the lives of Armenian women both locally and worldwide. I am also profoundly grateful for being surrounded by some of the most brilliant and intelligent women. They are my sister tribe, and together, we journey life in ways I cherish.

One of my proudest achievements this year is getting into UC Berkeley’s Executive MBA program, which I will begin in the summer of 2023. Berkeley has been my “what if” from the beginning and a graduate degree has been in the back of my mind for more than ten years. I’m finally doing it!

Q: What is your life philosophy?

My life philosophy can be summarized in 4 quotes, which can be funny for someone who practices risk management for a living.

  1. “Leap and the net will appear,” which is what I do both in my personal and professional life, and I believe companies also need to leap. That is why I named my company “Leap.”
  2. “Don’t be afraid to ask the question.” I have always been inquisitive, and to this day, this trait has helped me in all aspects of life.
  3. “Everything will be alright in the end….so if it isn’t alright, it isn’t the end,” which I remind myself regularly.
  4. “Caminante, son tus huellas el camino y nada más; Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.” We are the architects of our paths, and I love creating the world my family and I live in.

Q: What is your hope for the future?

My hope for the future is to persevere in launching a business idea, for my family to be healthy, and for the war and hostilities occurring in our homeland to end and see our nation thrive.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian/Armenians?

Of course, the food – but I love how vocal Armenians are about being Armenian.

Q: How has Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?

Our work ethic and ability to be resilient have influenced me the most.


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