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Olivia Nakkash Demissie

Director of Operations

My view of this industry and servicing our clients stems from the environment I grew up in. Born from two immigrant parents, I was exposed to a wide variety of cultures and practices. My father was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States in the 1970s to escape the civil war back home. Because of the exchange program with the American University – Beirut, he was able to finish his Ph.D. program in Statistics here at the American University – D.C. My father worked hard to save as much money as possible to support his family back home and helped relocate them to a safer, more stable life here in the United States. My mother was born in Uruguay and moved to the D.C. area when she was in middle school. Although faced with language barriers at first, she eventually became a CPA and ran her own tax business from home. Since the day I was born, I watched my parents work hard and save money to achieve their financial goals.

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My first memory of the stock market was in third grade when my teacher asked us to use any set of data to depict the different graphs we were learning about. My mother encouraged me to track the prices of a stock and plot the changing prices on a line graph. I, like my father, was intrigued by statistics and making sense out of random data, which led to me studying Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park (go Terps!). In college, my favorite class was “Current Issues in American Economic Policy,” which spoke to my interest in taking theoretical concepts and translating them into real world scenarios. I enjoy working with formulas in Excel to see how changes in certain variables will change the overall function, and it is not uncommon for me to ask what your favorite Excel formula is as an ice breaker upon meeting me. I joined AFS as an intern in 2008 and rejoined as a full-time employee in 2012.

At AFS, I enjoy adding value through investment research and operational aspects of the industry. I work with Alp and Jason to ensure our client’s investments are in line with their goals, timeframe and risk. I also work closely with the team to refine processes as they relate to account management, trading, onboarding, and pending client requests.

I am passionate about keeping both the analytical and creative sides of my brain active. I spent all of my childhood involved in dance. I started with ballet, tap, and jazz, but I regularly explored different variations and genres of movement. Dance taught me that there are many different ways to express yourself and your ideas. I strive to always think outside the box and remember that even hard-coded data can be expressed and interpreted in nonconventional ways. I also enjoy incorporating running into my weekly routine and have completed two half marathons and several other road races so far.