Lisette Nieves

ALPFA Featured Leader


By: Latino Leaders Staff


Lisette is a seasoned social entrepreneur and widely respected public sector leader. She is a Founding Partner at Lingo Ventures, where she leverages her expertise in education, talent recruit-ment/ retention, enterprise growth, and change management and provides consulting services to the nonprofit and public sectors.

Lisette also teaches an education course at New York University. Lisette also served as the founding Executive Director of Year Up NY, an innovative workforce development program, where in the span of five years she grew the organization from a $250,000 seed grant to a $6,000,000 operation with only 40 staff serving over 1,000 young adults from low-income neighborhoods empowering them to go from poverty to professional careers in a single year. In her government roles, Lisette was appointed by President Obama as a Commissioner on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she served as the Co-Chair for the Higher Education Subcommittee. She also served as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) for the City of New York and, working at the federal level at the Corporation for National Service, she was part of the launch and administration of the AmeriCorps program. Lisette holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and an Ed.D in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar and an Aspen Pahara Fellow.

Can you tell us about your background? 

I am a proud first generation Puerto Rican woman who was born and raised in Brooklyn. My parents were hardworking and even in the toughest of times, they would find a way to help others who were less fortunate. When you are young, you learn many lessons through actions. I can remember family and friends staying with us for stretches of time while they worked to get back on their feet – even if we were not doing well. I also remember my parents participating in a rent strike as a protest to the landlord’s poor management of our building. My parents’ actions taught me that you can always help and serve others and begin taking action against injustice matters. It was no surprise that after high school I joined City Volunteer Corps in NYC where I served for a year on a variety of social issues including working on one of the first AIDS wards in the city. Choosing to serve and be active in your environment is what I know and am blessed to be able to do throughout my professional and personal career.

In my senior year at Brooklyn College, I was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship making me the first Puerto Rican woman to receive such an award. My history of service and activism was not an add-on to my academics but was woven into my studies and my future mission in life. After Oxford, I served in the Clinton administration and worked on the AmeriCorps program, very much like a program I did after high school in New York. After Princeton, I served in the Bloomberg administration at the Department for Youth and Community Development supporting youth services city-side. It was shortly after my time in public service, I channeled my entrepreneurial energies and founded Year UP New York which provides young adults 18-24 years of age with training, education and an internship that leads to livable wage careers in the private sector. I grew Year UP from a $250K seed grant to a $6 million organization. It was during the Obama administration I was asked to serve as a Commissioner on The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics where I co-chaired the Higher Edu-cation Committee. Now I have the pleasure of running my own business, enjoying the completion of my doc-torate and teaching at New York University.


Why did you get involved with ALPFA?

Charlie Garcia, CEO of ALPFA, reached out to me based on my work at Year UP in New York. Once I met Charlie and heard about the mission and his vision for ALPFA I knew I needed to get involved. Now, I currently sit on the New York Senior Leadership Commit-tee, chaired by Orlando Camargo. It is through the SLC, that we, as professionals, support the great work of the local chapter. You see, ALPFA is about building leaders, not just showcasing and highlighting leaders. As Latinos, we are an economic, political and social force. ALPFA highlights the visibility of Latino talent and demonstrates that Latino talent is not the exception – it is the rule.


How has this partnership with ALPFA made a difference to you? 

ALPFA provides me the opportunity to take part in, and support, a multi-generational Professional Latino net-work that serves and supports 10,000 members in New York. ALPFA’s impressive college campus presence and engagement of Latino professionals at diverse stages in the corporate sector is inspiring and demonstrates that one organization can grow and support talent at every stage of one’s career. I am personally inspired by the Latina Summit that will take place on May 20th, which will highlight 50 of the most influential Latinas as well as provide a place for c-suite Latinas to exchange ideas and inspire each other all under the ALPFA banner.

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