Michael Lizárraga’s passion is to empower people with the tools they need to build and manage their own lives.
He is the President and CEO of The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU), the largest Community Development Corporation in the United States.
“My passion is really to see people have the tools that they need to build their own life,” Lizárraga said. “The people that we serve, they are not asking us to be given anything. They want a job; they want an affordable place to live; they want to have a loan for which to buy a house or other assets that we need. They need good schools and they need access to other education opportunities so they can use those as tools to build their own lives.”
He has managed the successful growth of TELACU for more than 25 years and has ensured its mission statement of creating jobs, affordable housing, access to capital and educational opportunities within California’s neediest and most underserved communities are fulfilled by the organization.
“So my passion is to empower people with those tools, to serve them, to advance them and ultimately for them to be completely self-sufficient that they can build and manage their own lives for generations to come that is my passion,” he said.
Lizárraga was honored on May 1 at the state capitol by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with the 2017 Latino Spirit Award in business.
“This award is truly an honor for me,” Lizárraga said. “Our organization serves the community and it’s done so for nearly 50 years, creating jobs, creating affordable housing, creating access to capital, creating educational opportunities for Latino young people.”
“It’s all based on a business model. Our organization is completely self sufficient. We don’t take any resources from any government agency to run our operations and we create these outcomes in our community,” said Lizárraga who was born and raised in Los Angeles.
So my passion is to empower people with those tools, to serve them, to advance them and ultimately for them to be completely self-sufficient that they can build and manage their own lives for generations to come that is my passion,” he said.
Michael Lizárraga, president and CEO of The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU)
“So to be recognized by the Latino Legislative Caucus for achievement in business is truly a great acknowledgement for me in that the outcomes are community services, community-based outcome for low-income families, but based on a business model. So for me that is a great recognition,” Lizárraga said.
For young Latinos who are still trying to find themselves, Lizárraga offered some advice.
“I would say to young Latinos, and let’s use as an example a young DACA student, I would say that you have the role models and they exits right inside your family. They are your mom, your dad, they are the courageous immigrants that came to this country in search of exactly what you are on the pinnacle of being able to achieve, which is the American dream,” he said.
“They came looking for a better life and nothing,, not anything, scared them or kept them from seeking that as a future. That’s where you come from. So you need no look no further than your own mother or father, grandparents,” Lizárraga said. “Any members of your family can make that big journey and made a life possible for you to now take it to the next level and that what is about. It’s about taking it to the next level. The same level of courage, you can do anything.”
Lizárraga also serves as President of the TELACU Education Foundation, which provides scholarships and educational programs to thousands of low-income, first generation Latino scholars each year.
He is a Trustee of Azusa Pacific University, Treasurer of the California State University Foundation Board of Governors, and is a Board Member of the USC Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber), the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and Faith Community Church.
María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782