Lisette Islas MAAC


At Southwest Airlines, we want to be more than just an airline. We want to be your neighbor. One of the ways we do this is to partner with individuals that share our passion of loving people, living responsibly, and building resilience. This month, I am honored to highlight Lisette Islas whose enthusiasm and dedication is leading all San Diegans to a brighter, stronger future.

Lisette Islas

There are individuals and organizations who are doing their best to make San Diego somewhere we can all thrive -including Lisette Islas who has taken on vital leadership roles at two local organizations. She is the Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer of MAAC, a nonprofit that provides life-changing services to over 75,000 people – most of whom are facing severe economic and social hardships. MAAC’s programs are focused on education, workforce and economic development, health and well-being, and housing. This past year, the families they serve were among the hardest hit during the pandemic. In response, MAAC distributed more than $400,000 in direct aid; provided care and education for 1,800 children under the age of five; provided $84,000 in scholarships to first-time college students; and helped nearly 12,000 individuals get vaccinated – and that is just the beginning. MAAC was also one of the organizations that cared for the unaccompanied immigrant children that were temporarily sheltered at the San Diego Convention Center this spring. During that time, they cared for 2,400 kids around the clock.
Islas shared, “Caring for these children was the most physically, emotionally and mentally draining thing I have ever done. It is also something that I will always consider to be the highest honor of my career.” With such important initiatives, they also require partnerships, and Southwest Airlines is a proud supporter assisting with MAAC’s annual trips to Sacramento and Washington D.C. where high school students and other community members are able to meet legislators and share their insights on their communities – an experience that highlights the importance of their voices and builds their confidence.
In addition to her role with MAAC, in September, Lisette was appointed as the Vice Chair of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) whose focus is Inclusive Growth. In 2019, the Inclusive Growth Steering Committee established their three main goals to meet by 2030: address the affordability crisis, equip small businesses to compete, and build a strong, local talent pipeline. With a coalition of nearly 200 of San Diego’s leading organizations in place, Lisette shares, “Our region’s leaders are more apt than ever to support and adopt inclusive economic development strategies across a number of key sectors because the strength of our region depends on it.”
Lisette plays an integral part in driving these initiatives forward and her leadership philosophy, which is founded in the value of listening to others, allows her “see in her blind spots” and take on fresh perspectives. “At my core, I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend who feels a sense of commitment to the community that raised me and is trying to do my part to leave the world a little better for the people that come behind me.”

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Kamran Saeed