A family journey through war, immigration, and new opportunities

May 16, 2022 Chelsey Sleator
Schwab Charitable leader Sam Kang attributes much of his success to the opportunities he's had thanks to sacrifices his parents made while growing up.

Sam Kang, President of Schwab Charitable, attributes much of his success to opportunities he’s had thanks to the sacrifices and struggles of his parents—like growing up during the Korean War and immigrating to the United States through their own means.  

Sam’s family history has deeply impacted his perspective on the world, which led him to prioritize giving in his own life.

The generational impact

During the war, Sam’s father was displaced from his family and spent nearly two years as an orphan on a U.S. military base. Sam’s mother—who’s Korean but was born in Japan—fled Japan to Korea due to disruptions stemming from the war. 

There, in Korea, the two met and began their story together. But when their families wouldn’t allow them to marry, Sam’s father ultimately immigrated to the United States. He found work washing cars, where he gained the skills and means to buy his own gas station, send for Sam’s mother, and start a family. 

“I try to explain to my kids how we have the opportunities we have now due to the struggles our family went through,” explains Sam. “My kids’ experience has been much different than mine because of what my family’s journey has afforded them.”

A career in finance meets a passion for giving

Sam has led a successful career in financial services, spanning 25 years. He started at a small brokerage firm, which went through a series of acquisitions before culminating in TD Ameritrade. Throughout, Sam refined his skills, eventually reporting directly to the COO. 

In 2016, prior to the Schwab acquisition of TD Ameritrade, Sam joined the Schwab Charitable team. 

“I’m in a unique position to see the benefits of the combined firm,” says Sam. “I can see the power of both firms coming together to be even greater.”

Pictured: Ashley Muniz, Sam Kang, Anthony Jackson and Walter Lindsey

Sam Kang, President of Schwab Charitable, with fellow employees at a Schwab volunteer event.

The role brought all his skills together—digital, operations, and strategy—but also added the philanthropic component, which was important, as philanthropy is a passion for Sam and his wife. 

In July of 2021, Sam was promoted to President of Schwab Charitable. “When I started in this role, I really wanted to celebrate all the great work from our previous leaders but continue to think about our strategy and how we evolve and grow.”

Paying it forward

Since then, Sam has reinforced the intersection of financial planning and philanthropic giving, and he remains steadfast in the commitment to increase charitable giving in the United States through Schwab Charitable. 

“Our clients and donors have causes they care deeply about,” says Sam. “And philanthropic giving is becoming a deeper component of overall wealth management.” 

Outside of work, Sam has extended his passion for philanthropy. He’s currently the Executive Sponsor of the Community Ambassador Team in Westlake, TX, and stays connected with other Schwab employees of similar heritage through activities and speaking events with Asian Professionals Inclusion Network at Schwab (APINS). 

“Because I got to see the impact of my parents’ immigration story, I have so much appreciation for them and the opportunities I’ve been given. Their story has helped define me and allowed me to help others.”