We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Libman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Laura, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?

I was a problem solver when I worked in Aerospace, so when I entered the non-profit realm, I wanted to find a solution to the problem of poverty. I spent much of my childhood living in Central Mexico, where my mother’s family lives, so I decided to begin there. I wasn’t sure which area of poverty alleviation to start, so I spent three months in the mountains of Central Mexico gathering data on the various drivers of poverty. Early on, it became clear that lack of access to healthcare was the main driver of poverty; families who went from getting by to being plunged into extreme poverty, 83% of the time, it was a health-related incident that put them there. A farmer might cut his hand farming and end up with gangrene and lose an arm, or a mother would die in childbirth, and her husband would be left alone to raise and support the remaining children.

Then I returned to the US to research best practices worldwide in rural healthcare delivery and tried to adapt them to rural Mexico. Overwhelmingly, the best and most cost-effective method of healthcare delivery was the Community Health Worker model. From there, I wrote a business plan, applied for non-profit status, began fundraising, and sought out medical and nursing school partners in Central Mexico to help train Tia’s future Promotores or community health workers.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

I had a career in Aerospace IT for over 20 yrs., did high-profile program management, and fell into it entirely by accident; my biggest challenge was being a woman in a male-dominated industry. I was the boss and younger than many of the engineers I managed. I was also an outsider, and I was a consultant. It was my first time working as a company or group of engineers, and there was also so much pushback. I was always really grateful for the Executives who put their faith in me, along with their existing leadership that always backed me up.

Back then, I worked on projects in the millions and tens of millions of dollars, and thankfully it was a high-money industry where I could have great staff and the most powerful technology to work with. I loved that job but being a woman in that industry wasn’t easy at all. I could be leading a group of engineers of 100 or more, and there would be maybe three women who could be experiencing the same kind of issues I was.

I do believe it prepared me for what I am doing now. We have much smaller budgets, but I worked in troubleshooting and problem-solving back then, so it helps me be results-oriented and run a lean operation. The Tia Foundation is so close to my heart, but I did learn a lot about being a good leader. Although both were very complex jobs, the two most significant differences are bigger budgets in Aerospace. In my current career, I also receive much pushback being a foreign woman and working in Mexico. We should never underestimate the person on the other side of the table.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Anytime I have friends in town, I always like to take them to places where they can enjoy some of the most popular scenic places only found in Arizona. We may start the day with a morning hike on either of these hiking trials: South Mountain, Camelback Mountain, or even North. After a lovely hike, we quickly transition to grabbing a bite to eat at one of my favorite restaurants: Postino’s, Windsor, Phoenix City Grill Copper Star, Angry Crab, Barrio Café, La Santisima, Mora, and Casa Corazon. Later in the day, we will venture off to the Desert Botanical Gardens or catch a Mercury Women’s Basketball game.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of my greatest inspirations and mentor prefers to remain in the shadows of recognition.

Website: https://tiafoundation.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thetiafoundation

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tiafoundation

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TiaFoundation1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetiafoundation

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7N729GGtmFxnf6pj1kZd0g

Other: Our donation page: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/ttf

Image Credits
Photo credit to photographer Nate Harris

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.