Claudia de Leon, VP of Soroptimist of Downey

DOWNEY - In the 10 years she's worked in real estate, Claudia de Leon has demonstrated focus, determination, and capacity for hard work - qualities that have not only helped satisfy her clients' needs to buy or sell most probably their biggest asset but at the same time brought her satisfying financial rewards.

Her involvement with the Soroptimist Club of Downey since she joined up in 2010 hasn't been exactly uneventful either. Currently club vice president, she would normally be in line to succeed the current incumbent (Donna Bishop) to the presidency, but because she'd desperately wanted to attend the upcoming June-July World Cup in Brazil ("I've been a soccer fan since I was a kid"), she begged off on the opportunity but hopes to again be offered the chance to lead the club in the future.

She kids that, in this instance, she's got her priorities right.

Born in Guetamala and immigrating to the U.S. in the early '80s during Guetamala's civil war, Claudia was raised in Hollywood by her single mom, Consuelo de Leon. Graduating from Hollywood High in 1988, she got a BS in psychology (with studies in biology) from Cal State L.A. in 1999, and promptly began working for the Braille Institute, "helping people adjust to vision loss." She worked there for seven years.

She helped sell magnifiers, the sales to benefit needy people, especially the elderly with their vision problems. She began to realize that she could be of greater assistance to more people the more money she made. Her mother hinted that real estate just might do the trick, and it wasn't before long she joined RE/MAX Premium here in Downey.

Her first husband's surname was Camarena, and has daughters Sylvia, 29, and Lauren, 21, by him. They had a little boy, but after the boy's untimely death, they moved to South Gate in 2001. The marriage ended up in divorce after 14 years, at which time Claudia and her two daughters moved to Downey in 2004.

The decision to try real estate turned out to be a good one. After joining RE/MAX in 2004, Claudia achieved the validating 100% commission target level two years later. She has consistently topped this target since.

Since remarried to photographer Jorge Trujillo in 2007, Claudia has teamed with him to form Magical Moments Photography, which specializes in weddings and parties.

Claudia has thus a second business project going-and she says it's good one. She says she's actually able to spend more time with her husband than most married couples. They even have breakfast together often, something that doesn't usually happen nowadays.

Daughter Lauren, currently a student of film at Santa Monica College, also works as a part-time photographer for Magical Moments. Older daughter, Sylvia, who took the medical assistant course at Downey Adult School, works at a hospital.

The Soroptimist Club occupies much of her time, too. Right now, the club is in the midst of preparations for their biggest fundraiser of the year-Casino Night-the proceeds of which go to scholarships for girls, women's opportunities, various charities, etc. The blockbuster fundraiser, she says, will take place on May 2 at the Rio Hondo Event Club.

She is involved in other community events benefiting the city as well, especially Café Quill, the dinner dance regularly held for seniors at the Barbara Riley Center. One is scheduled for this Jan. 15.

She has an important role in the city of Norwalk as well: she is vice president of the Soroptimist Village Foundation, which provides housing for low-income seniors. A member of the foundation board, Claudia represents Soroptimist of Downey.

Two years ago, she became involved with the Downey Elks Club as well.

"I truly enjoy helping other people," she declares. "At a very young age, I was particularly drawn to the needs of the elderly."

She says her favorite quote is from Napoleon Hill: "The truly great man is a servant - not a master."

********** Published: Jan. 9, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 39