This April 1st marks three years since Isela Gracian transitioned into her role as ELACC President. In those three years, with Isela’s leadership, ELACC has expanded and continues to grow through affordable housing development, policy changes, and community work. We sat down with Isela to discuss her career, present ELACC initiatives, and the future of our organization.
Here’s what she has to say.
- Tell us about how you came to ELACC?
I came to ELACC through a close friend of college who worked here. I volunteered in community organizing and later applied to a job opening. I applied and thought I’d be here for only two years, and ended up falling in love with ELACC, its purpose and its mission.
- What inspires you about this work?
The impact we have on the people, both community residents and staff. I know that any one immersed in our work will never engage in the world in the same way before they came to ELACC.
- What do you see as the biggest accomplishment since your transition in 2015?
We moved into a journey of organizational transformation. Our culture now reflects the world we want to see with more interconnectedness and a space of great creativity and innovation towards housing, community organizing and wealth building.
- Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from everyone I work with, the community residents and tenants. My inspiration is anchored in my ancestry and my family; they give me the strength to be here and my daughter is my inspiration and strength in moving forward.
- What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A professor in college told me not to settle, that I could go and be in the most elite institutions and not to sell myself short.
- TOBH, the biggest fundraiser of the year is near, what makes TOBH unique?
Taste of Boyle Heights connects people, people involved in our programs and services and ELACC supporters and partners. We have the biggest fundraiser of the year in Boyle Heights, the neighborhood that anchors our work. We share in convivio, through music, food and breaking bread.
- What is your vision for ELACC’s future? What is next?
In three years, we’ve been able to break a barrier with community driven development through Real Estate, Community Organizing, and Wealth Building. Our next barrier break is leading the way in having an organizational culture and structure that is reflective of the world we are enacting by leading by example on how we live into our values of community, justice, corazon, and palabra. We will transform our work, innovate, and move toward our goal of having a democratic centric space with community control of the land.
- Is there anything you would like to add?
"Thank you to the founders of ELACC for having the dream and for providing a strong foundation and the opportunity for me to continue." - Isela Gracian, President