Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are making a meaningful impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Lisa Hill and I have been the executive director of Invest in Kids for the past 11 years. Invest in Kids partners with local communities to improve the health and well-being of Colorado children and their families.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I chose to major in psychology at CU Boulder considering a career in social work, or so I thought. In the summer of 1993, I left my hometown to work as a Congressional Intern in Washington DC. There, I changed from wanting to work with clients through direct service to aspiring to be of service in the policy space. Upon graduation, I decided to work on issue and candidate campaigns at the local and national levels. I then spent four years as a chief field deputy for a Los Angeles city councilwoman.
In 2000, I returned to Colorado and joined Invest in Kids as their deputy director. In 2009, I was selected by the board of directors to be the executive director, and have been in this position ever since.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
The work of Invest in Kids is very important to me and I feel blessed to have been given the professional opportunity to be of service to this organization. My purpose in this lifetime is to contribute meaningfully in ways that improve the life circumstances and opportunities for those who welcome our partnership. I was raised in a family where community service was an important part of our upbringing. We knew that the color of our skin, the circumstances of our family, and our zip code were going to afford us an advantage in life and it was our responsibility to use that privilege to serve. I stand for equality. I care deeply for people. I care about relationships and the inspiration, growth, and evolution that can come from meaningful interactions with other people. I try every day to be better than the last and live a life of purpose.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We impact the lives of more than 17,000 children and their families each year. Not to mention the clients who have graduated from our programs in previous years and the life long impacts they have had. Our proven programs give children from families experiencing poverty, access to a stronger, healthier start, improved relationships, and the skills that will help them finish school, be successful in the workforce, and contribute to the communities that make Colorado great.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
The families. Their resilience and commitment to improving the lives of their children. I’m also inspired by my dedicated colleagues, a stellar group of professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping those less fortunate. We all believe in our mission and work hard to guarantee that all families can continue to have access to our services, despite the implications COVID-19 has caused worldwide.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We recently added a new program to our statewide portfolio: Child First. I’m so excited to see this come alive in local communities and see many children and their families’ lives shift as a consequence of this program’s investment in them. My dream is to see the day that all Colorado children and families who want them, have access to our services, and for the day when the interventions we help provide aren’t needed. Hopefully, we can make strides to help level the playing field and more capably address racial, socioeconomic, and health disparities so ALL Colorado families thrive.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Like many organizations, we are facing an unprecedented need to adjust how we support families and how we provide our services.
I’m so proud of how Invest in Kids’ staff has adapted and how we’ve been able to provide an even higher level of support – with the same amazing quality – while dealing with the challenges of working from home.
We’ve adapted ourselves to this new situation, and the majority of our staff are still working from home. There are dozens of examples of adaptations and modifications. A proud example is that we’ve partnered with Rocky Mountain PBS to provide “Feelings Lessons” to kindergarten through 3rd graders as part of their “Learn With Me at Home” series. When we did this as part of their Colorado Classroom after the pandemic hit, more than 137,000 Colorado households tuned in for the five-week series.
We are always challenged by the effort to secure enough funding for all three of our programs to be available to all the communities who want them. Our annual fundraiser is the Jane-A-Thon (a ski/snowboard event) that takes place at the Winter Park Resort every March. We are waiting to see what this fun, uniquely Colorado event will look like in 2021 as ski resorts learn and adapt this season. We’re already thinking about how we engage our dedicated sponsors and participants through a virtual event and creative activities throughout the winter.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Our work couldn’t exist without the endless support of volunteers, community leaders, care providers, and donors.
We impacted the lives of 17,000 children and their families across all 64 of Colorado’s counties in FY’20. We feel most proud that Invest in Kids helps bridge the gap between research and practice, collaborating with communities to promote programs with proven effectiveness. We know that if we can support local organizations with these programs, children and families WILL see lasting differences.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Like many other organizations, COVID-19 reminded us of how much we depend on the generosity of others. We want to continue innovating, adapting, and supporting programs proven to help young children and families. More than anything, Invest in Kids wants to continue offering the same high-quality no matter what the months and years ahead hold. What we need most are monthly donors to guarantee Invest in Kids’ proven programs all year round, and allow us to respond in real-time to challenges so we can nimbly adapt with excellence.
To sign up as a monthly donor visit our website.
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