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Joan Laguatan, principal broker and owner of Canvass Properties, recognized from an early age that people need secure housing to feel a sense of dignity and safety. Her parents immigrated from the Philippines before she was born, and they built an immigration law practice that let her see firsthand what it took for people to establish themselves in the U.S. Watching the struggles many went through to find housing, reunite with family members, and obtain legal status is part of what motivated her career as a real estate broker and her involvement with Hebrew Free Loan.

Canvass Properties is a boutique real estate brokerage that provides residential services to buyers, sellers, investors, and lenders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Joan graduated from University of San Francisco with a degree in business administration and obtained her real estate broker’s license in 2004.

Joan’s path to Judaism is uniquely her own. She grew up in San Francisco and the Philippines, where she was raised Catholic. As a young adult, Judaism resonated with Joan on an intellectual, spiritual, and emotional level. She eventually converted to Judaism through Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, and later met her husband through a program of the Jewish Federation.

Joan knows what a difference a loan can make. With roots in two worlds — having witnessed extreme poverty while living in and visiting the Philippines — Joan empathizes deeply with the struggles of others. Her mother was an oncology nurse before joining her father’s immigration law practice, so the value of helping others was ingrained in her from a young age.

Hebrew Free Loan’s focus on maintaining people’s dignity while assisting them to overcome challenges inspires Joan to support the organization. The roots of interest-free lending in Torah teachings are important to her, and she values being able to help provide a safety net for community members who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

Joan joined the Hebrew Free Loan Business Circle to connect with like-minded individuals who share these values. She appreciates the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting the Jewish community.

In addition to being a member of Hebrew Free Loan’s Business Circle, Joan is a Wexner Heritage Program Fellow and sits on the board of Menorah Park, a senior affordable housing nonprofit. She is a member of Chevra Thilim Congregation, AIPAC, and the Filipino Women’s Network. She is also vegan and lives with her husband, two children, and labradoodle named “Tov.”

“My parents came from the Philippines and built an immigration law practice that taught me how important it is to share our resources. Through the Business Circle, I support my Jewish community that I care about so deeply.”