Alex Panlilio - CEO, Vantage Insurance Partners Inc.

Originally, I am an immigrant from the Philippines (came to the US when I was 5 yrs old) and have been fortunate to be “living the American dream”.  For the first 7 years in the US, I grew up in the lower east side of NYC in a 2-bedroom apt with my immediate family (mom, dad, sister, grandma), which turned a bit tight when my aunt, uncle and 2 cousins also came to America and lived with us for 9 months.  After the 1st year where my family was working odd jobs (i.e., my dad delivered dry cleaning and flowers, my mom worked for a freight forwarder), my parents started a trucking and warehousing business that was able to gain clients & opportunities as a minority and woman-owned business in NYC.  It was the family business that we all worked in from the very beginning (I was in the warehouse at 7/8 and was working the forklift when I was 10) and it enabled our family to provide for a middle class lifestyle in my teenage years.  As a result, my family and early childhood experiences instilled certain values in me from the beginning – hard work, family support, being smart/thoughtful in your work and more importantly appreciating the opportunities afforded to you.  I have been fortunate in life and benefitted from these opportunities, which has led me to be involved with several altruistic/charitable organizations over the years:

  • High school — I became an EMT at 16 years old (in NJ) and was a volunteer EMT in my town’s ambulance corps. 
  • For 2 summers during high school, I was a volunteer (2x/week) at my local hospital visiting with the elderly and assisting with transport.
  • From 2002-2007, I was a volunteer for the Coalition for the Homeless under their Grand Central Food Program where I drove a van filled with food every Friday night (7pm – 9:30pm) that made stops around the city and fed between 350-400 people that night.
  • From 2007 – 2015, I was on the Board of Forestdale, Inc., which is the largest Queens based foster care agency in NY with oversight over 500 children. 
    • I originally joined the agency to help turn it around as it was losing ~$1mm/year in 2007, was exhausting its endowment of approx. $10mm at the time and was not well-run with 50% turnover of its social workers each year.
    • I served in various roles of the board including Finance Committee (Treasurer and Chair), Strategic Planning and Executive Committee.  For my last 3 years, I was the Chairman of the Board.
    • Prior to my departure in 2015 (needed to focus on my career and my wife having our first child):
      • Forestdale was regarded/ranked as a top 3 agency in NYC;
      • The endowment grew to $20mm;
      • I lead the succession of both the retiring Executive Director and also of my position as Board Chair with the current ED and Chair in place today. 

My younger daughter Ella is a true miracle in my family. When my wife was 20 weeks pregnant, our daughter in utero was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (Hypoplastic left heart syndrome) and for many weeks of the pregnancy, her status to survive after birth was questionable.  The doctors at our local hospital NYU helped us to understand that Ella’s condition was manageable and operable after birth, so she had open heart surgery at 6 days old.  There has been a decent amount of time spent at NYU and various doctors officesbut Ella has been growing up in a reasonably normal childhood.  My wife and I understand what it is like to raise a child with this condition and it has not been easy from an emotional and mental aspect, but we also recognize and appreciate that we have the financial resources to support our family and more importantly Ella as she grows up with residual symptoms of her condition…so I want to help and be part of a solution to support other families who have to face a similar dilemma.