40 Under 40 Class of 2020

Aisha Pizarro

Vice President of Programs, YWCA of Western Mass; Age 38; Education: Springfield College (BS)

Pizarro began her career within the nonprofit sector as a sexual-assault and domestic-violence advocate at the YWCA. After a few years at the YWCA, she transitioned to Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services in Springfield and worked primarily with families experiencing mental-health and/or substance-abuse issues. After a year there, she transitioned to the Center for Human Development, where she remained for more than a decade. During her tenure at CHD, she quickly rose through the ranks, was appointed to Field Operations manager, and successfully ran a number of programs and helped countless individuals and families obtain affordable, permanent housing. Pizarro has been employed at the YWCA for almost three years now, overseeing 22 distinct programs and 150 employees. She has served on multiple task forces to design solutions to end homelessness and find affordable housing, especially for women.

Aisha Pizarro

Aisha Pizarro   Photo by Leah Martin Photography

What’s been your biggest professional accomplishment so far in your career? My biggest accomplishment has been working with my employees and watching them grow into the leaders I know they are. Being in a position to help young men and women grow, particularly women of color, is by far my legacy.

Who inspires you, and why? First I would have to say my wife and children. My wife motivates and supports my work, while my daughters remind me that life is forgiving and laughter is necessary. Without them, I wouldn’t be half of the person that I am today. I am forever grateful for the human beings they are. I am inspired by the resiliency that my clients show, and I am humbled that I am afforded the opportunity to work with our community.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I would like to have lunch with my father and father-in-law, who have both passed on. I would love to have a chance to show them how much their granddaughters have grown, talk current politics (who’s in the White House), have a cup of coffee over a newspaper, talk COVID-19, talk about the state of the world. I would love to tell them how a Puerto Rican girl from a small barrio in Bayamon was selected for 40 Under Forty.

What do you do for fun? I am the fun!