"Changes require

inclusion of diversity."

Leighann%20Miko

Leighann Miko

Leighann Miko33

Founder, Equalis Financial

Fast Facts

  • Was a background actor for two seasons of "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman."
  • Owns a cat named Queso.
  • First job was in telemarketing.

In January, Leighann Miko finally put to work the business plan she'd been refining for five years, opening Equalis Financial to provide financial planning to the LGBTQ community, women and young professionals.

Even though the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage almost two years ago and eliminated many of the unique financial planning situations that gay couples had faced, the community still wants to work with advisers who they feel comfortable with, Ms. Miko said.

Being gay, she said she understands the struggles other LGBTQ individuals and couples have gone through.

"They appreciate not having to go to an older, male, pale-and-stale adviser," she said.

Having her own business after a decade of working at other advisory firms gives her the flexibility to dedicate hours each week to volunteering with LGBTQ youth and women who have been victims of domestic abuse, a dreadful situation she watched her mother endure.

Ms. Miko's proud of helping the Los Angeles Financial Planning Association launch a program with a women's emergency shelter where she and other advisers host basic finance classes and one-on-one mentoring.

"I want to help these women get their lives back on track," she said. "I want to give them the knowledge and resources to break that cycle and show them it's possible to get away from it."

– Liz Skinner