BOOST is turning 15! As we approach our 15-year anniversary, we are reminded of how much we value and appreciate our TEAMBOOST partners and want to share their stories – their journeys through the in and out-of-school time field, their goals and aspirations, a few fun things about them, and some of the amazing things they are doing in their communities.
We will be spotlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of the year to thank our wonderful team members for their contributions to our incredible community!
Get to Know BOOST Leadership Member Cindy Lizarraga
Cindy is the CEO of INSIGHT Youth Program & Event Design in Los Angeles, CA. She has been a BOOSTer with us since 2022!
How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?
At the age of 19, I worked as the Summer Camp Supervisor at a Park and Recreation site in LA. When I returned to LA in 2003 I began working with LA’s BEST as a Program Leader. That fall I became a Program Coordinator at a site in East LA and I never looked back.
What motivates you to do this work?
I am motivated intrinsically and extrinsically. As I reflect on my childhood, growing up in the 80s, I realize I didn’t have the experiences or opportunities that other youth in more resourced communities did. My parents did the best they could to expose us to museums, sports/dance, summer camps, and the like but more often than not they had to take us outside our community and away from the kids that looked like me or simply couldn’t afford it.
I have been doing this work for over 25 years because I want to ensure that families have the same opportunities to participate in all the extra-curricular activities that are not always accessible to them IN their own communities. I also have a responsibility to my community to be a resource and advocate. I did not have any mentors as a youth outside of my parents and didn’t find my first until I reached high school and can’t say I’ve had any since then. I want to make sure I am helping develop young adults working with youth to see themselves as mentors for the younger generation. And lastly, seeing our youth develop into the best, most successful, and happiest versions of themselves is why I do this work.
What are you currently reading or watching?
I am currently reading The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. It is a dystopian science fiction novel that centers around a young girl trying to preserve our humanity through the art of storytelling. Reservation Dogs, Atlanta and Abbott Elementary are the shows I am currently watching.
Share some of your greatest accomplishments.
The launch of my consulting business, INSIGHT, has been both my greatest professional AND personal accomplishment. Taking the leap to work for myself while still maintaining my connection to the communities I have served for years has been inspiring and terrifying but I am looking forward to what it brings.
What are some big goals you are working toward?
Some big goals I am working towards are to secure partnerships with the city of Los Angeles to bring greater opportunities to the youth of this city. Aside from partnerships in culture and the arts, I want to delve into the realm of environmental justice, land preservation, and the concept of outdoor classrooms.
I am also getting all my re-certifications to be able to once again work with preschool-age children. This is the age group where my work in education started many years ago. With the push for universal preschool in CA, this is a great time to get back into early childhood education.
What are your top three leadership qualities?
Integrity, Hardworking, Open-Minded
Name a leader that you admire and why?
bell hooks would fit this category as she was a leader in the discussion and critique in many areas that affect our society. I admire her for her strength and conviction and ability to speak on topics, not just from an intellectual perspective but also through the lens of compassion and hope.
Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.
“When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix
As a child, what were your career aspirations?
As a child, I wanted to be a flight attendant. As a teen, I wanted to be a lawyer. Interesting that this work has allowed me to both, travel and be an advocate for my people.
What causes are you passionate about?
Climate change, reproductive rights, educational reform.
What is one of the highlights of your career?
Connecting with alum and seeing the paths their lives have taken.
How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?
I always try to show kindness to others by meeting them where they are, being non-judgmental, and only offering advice/help when asked.
What career legacy do you want to leave?
The legacy I want to leave is a community that continuously builds and grows from self-advocacy and a collective responsibility that will lead to self-sufficiency and generational wealth.
What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?
The biggest mistake I made on the job is believing that I didn’t belong at the decision table. What I learned is that speaking up and disrupting the status quo is necessary regardless of the uncomfortableness it may cause.
Tell us what you had for breakfast!
Mushroom, spinach, and tomato scramble on sourdough with black coffee.
From all of us here at TEAMBOOST, thank you, Cindy, for being a wonderful team member and for sharing your leadership with us!