Founders’ Background

Michelle and Hans Huo: An Engineering Approach to Career Development

In the heart of Skid Row, amidst the stark realities of homelessness, Michelle Huo’s expertise as an executive recruiter and Hans Huo’s innovation as a Design Innovation Strategist converged on a shared vision: to break the cycle of poverty and empower individuals to achieve safe and sustainable career paths.

Their volunteer work at the Union Rescue Mission in 2007 exposed them to the complex challenges faced by marginalized individuals, particularly women, trapped in a cycle of poverty. Witnessing firsthand the barriers these individuals faced in securing meaningful employment—due to lack of education, experience, and systemic challenges such as the risk of losing welfare benefits upon gaining employment—sparked a shared determination to create change.

Driven by their compassion and professional expertise, Michelle and Hans envisioned a future where every individual, regardless of their background or circumstances, could access opportunities for personal and professional growth. They believed that employment should not only provide financial stability but also serve as a pathway to dignity, empowerment, and a better quality of life.

Their shared vision encompassed creating innovative solutions that addressed the root causes of unemployment and poverty, while also fostering a supportive and inclusive community where individuals could thrive. Through their collaboration and dedication, they set out to establish Urban Connection as a beacon of hope and opportunity, transforming lives and communities one career at a time.

The Genesis of Urban Connection

Driven by their firsthand experiences and a desire to address the urgent needs of the homeless community in Skid Row, Michelle and Hans Huo took their first steps by applying their professional skills to the complex issue of sustainable employment. They faced the challenges head-on, determined to break the cycle of poverty by creating pathways to meaningful, high-paying jobs.

Our Collaborative Process

At Urban Connection, we offer two main programs that work in tandem to empower individuals and address societal challenges:

  • Launch Accelerator: Our Launch Accelerator program helps businesses utilize design thinking and agile principles to quickly launch innovative products and services. By applying these methodologies, companies can navigate complex problems, iterate rapidly, and bring their ideas to market more efficiently, leading to the creation of new job opportunities.
  • Career Hacking: In our Career Hacking program, we provide advanced career development strategies aimed at quickly launching individuals into high-paying, in-demand jobs. Through personalized coaching, skill development, and job placement assistance, we empower participants to fast-track their career paths and achieve financial independence.

Together, these programs create a symbiotic relationship, where the successful launch of innovative products and services generates demand for new job opportunities, while our Career Hacking program ensures that individuals are equipped with the skills and resources needed to capitalize on these opportunities and secure rewarding employment.

Mission and Philosophy
Urban Connection is built on the belief that true empowerment comes from the ability to sustain oneself through meaningful work. The organization’s philosophy is that everyone deserves to work in an environment where they are safe and valued. This belief is the driving force behind our mission to provide advanced career development strategies and modern job hunting methods, all founded on principles of design thinking and agile methodologies.

Impact and Growth
Urban Connection’s influence expanded globally after a feature by KTLA 5. This exposure led to partnerships with churches and nonprofits worldwide, from Los Angeles to Uganda, empowering vulnerable communities with the skills for remote careers. The organization’s impact is a testament to the power of human dignity and the pursuit of a better life.

Looking Ahead
Urban Connection is dedicated to broadening its reach and adapting its programs to the ever-changing job market. The founders envision a world where opportunity is universal, and they are committed to making this vision a reality.

Personal Reflection
“Every individual we help is a step towards a better society. We see a future where the term ‘disadvantaged’ is obsolete because opportunity is universal. Our dream is to see Urban Connection as a bridge to that future.” — Michelle and Hans Huo

Invitation to Join the Mission
Join us in this transformative journey. Your support, whether through volunteering, donations, or spreading the word, makes a significant difference. Be a part of Urban Connection, where every contribution leads to a life changed.

On Building Relationships:

“It’s just me making another friend and if I can find a way to help them in the process, that’s what I do… what a volunteer can provide on a very real level is them and the gift of conversation, the gift of a relationship, the gift of coming back on a regular basis.” — Ashley Nolan

On Finding Purpose in Volunteering:

“I just saw the potential and I was just blown away… something was just stirring in my heart like I couldn’t get it out of my head, couldn’t get Urban Connection out of my head, and just started coming down once or twice a week and serving coffee or just doing whatever I could to help out.” — Kenny Dallas

On Her Perception of Skid Row:

“Coming here is the reason why I get through my week… it humbles me so much to come here and just see what’s happening here and see God work through every little thing that happens.” — Barbie Mabee

KTLA 5: HEROES A HOME

“In 2008, nestled beside the Union Rescue Mission, Urban Connection established a beacon of hope on Skid Row in a 15,000 square-foot facility dedicated to empowering the homeless with vital skills for a fresh start. The remarkable transformations didn’t go unnoticed, capturing the attention of downtown LA and beyond. It wasn’t long before KTLA Channel 5 spotlighted Urban Connection’s impactful work, honoring Hans and Michelle Huo’s initiative as a ‘Hero at Home’ for their significant contributions to the community.”