Bora Laci – 20 Under 40

SMU Tower Center for Public Policy
29 | Education: SMU

Bora Laci was 4 in 1996 when her Albanian-immigrant parents immigrated to the U.S., bringing with them an emphasis on the importance of education that would inspire her career and desire to get involved in her community.

“My family understood the endless opportunities education would open for my brother and me. So, during my first year of college, I signed up and participated in all the events that SMU offered,” she said. “During this experience, I finally realized the power of being involved in a community.”

Laci went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications from SMU in 2013 and an M.B.A. in finance from SMU’s Cox School of Business in 2019.

Her connection to SMU continues with her work as assistant director of programs and director of studies at the Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs.

“I grew up with two cultures (Albanian and American). I found it difficult to understand how to utilize these identities to share my voice, especially in a leadership setting during college,” Laci said. “But I embraced my cultural diversity and used it as an advantage.”

She remains involved with SMU’s Young Alumni Board, but her community service extends beyond campus. As a Crayon Club member, she supports Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. She also got involved with the Think Ahead Group Center for Brain Health and helped start Shot of Generosity to spotlight different nonprofits each month at Union Coffee, with 15% of sales going to the charity.

Biggest business/career success in the past 12 months:

My brother and I launched a podcast called VentureWorlds … We are beginning the journey by highlighting stories from successful Albanian-Americans and beyond to many other cultures. We started this podcast to honor my father, Gezim Laci, a storyteller at heart, who inspired us to share impactful stories that could create and change new ideas.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

My first job was interning at a law firm at 14. … The firm was jam-packed with many tasks, and I learned how to build responsibility and execute my work with little guidance. At first, it was frightening, but with time, I walked out with the ability to adapt and take on responsibilities with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Where do you see yourself and your career 10 years from now?

I see myself working with start-ups in an investor relations role and helping guide their way to the right investors, mentors, and resources. … Dallas is growing in the entrepreneurship realm. I want to make someone’s dreams come true and create the next generational leaders.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

I love meaningful movies. Good Will Hunting is of my top 10 favorite movies. “The meaning of life is to give a life a meaning.” Reminder to grab a box of tissues and ice cream!

What is your favorite local store?

My favorite local store is Loveshackfancy! I love the whimsical and romantic floral prints that are in every piece.  

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Learning when to say no, I never want to miss out on an opportunity, but I learned early on that saying “no” does not mean you do not care, but you do not have the capacity to do that now.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

To travel as often as possible, say yes to many opportunities, build authentic relationships, and continuously write and share your ideas.

Biggest business/career success in the past 12 months?

My brother and I launched a podcast called VentureWorlds, where we feature humans who have created life to make a positive impact on this world. We are beginning the journey by highlighting stories from successful Albanian-Americans and beyond to many other cultures. We started this podcast to honor my father, Gezim Laci, a storyteller at heart, who inspired us to share impactful stories that could create and change new ideas.

What’s on your bucket list?

To travel to South America! I would love to go to Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Peru, and Chile!

How do you motivate others?

I love this question, and I would say two things, by listening and being there for them to remind them how far they have come and how much more than they do.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I am most excited about the uncertainty. I think we all fear the future and create life plans to stay on track. However, let’s welcome the future’s uncertainty. I am excited to see what will happen next year, what new adventurers I will experience, and the memories from those moments.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I was born in Albania, and my name means snow.  

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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