Lisette Islas, non-profit executive, starts her day with a dance party



Lisette Islas has a life secret: Joy and success go hand in hand.

She is a first generation student who graduated from UC Berkeley and UCLA. And she’s responsible for impact at MAAC, a San Diego anti-poverty nonprofit that helps families develop financial mobility.

Islas attributes her success to her parents, who left a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico to give their children more opportunities, and to a teacher and principal she had in elementary school.

Her first grade teacher taught her to read in English and Spanish and instilled in her that she was intelligent. Then, her principal got her a scholarship from the League of United Latin American Citizens in her second year, which set her on the path to college.

“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy with people,” Islas said. “If you tell them they’re smart then they’re going to start behaving that way, so more people reinforce that.”

At MAAC, Islas works to improve the lives of San Diego residents through programs in affordable housing, workforce development and training, education, addiction and recovery, and more.

To keep morale up in serious work, she starts each day with a dance party with her daughter and tries to live by the motto “do what makes you happy”.

“I try to find joy in my job every day,” Islas said. “I think it’s because I found so much joy in it, I also found success.”

Listen to the full interview on the player above or find it wherever you get your podcasts.



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