Marisa has been a dedicated City of Burbank employee since 1991, when she began a 12-year run with Burbank Water and Power. In 2005, she joined the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department, where she is now serving as the director of the department. In this role, she manages about 300 employees under four divisions: administration, landscape and forestry services, recreation services, and community services.
The lifelong Burbank resident and John Burroughs High School graduate explains her love of giving back to the community and dedication to building a skilled parks and recreation team for our Q&A series.
What has your career path been like getting to your current role with the City of Burbank?
I began working for the City of Burbank at BWP while in high school as part of the youth employment program. This was meant to be a part-time job while I completed high school and college. My dream job at the time was to work in magazine journalism. After earning my bachelor’s degree from UCLA and interning for a magazine, I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue that career, but rather wanted to give back to the community … specifically working for the City of Burbank. Over the past 30 years, I have sought challenging opportunities and am grateful for those who encouraged, mentored and believed in me.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I absolutely love working with the amazing city staff and specifically enjoy developing my team. I believe in challenging my staff to get out of their comfort zone, to trust themselves and believe in their capabilities, as well as praising their accomplishments and celebrating their successes. As the parks and recreation director, I also very much enjoy working with the community. Everything we do in parks and recreation, [all of] the programs and services we offer touch the lives of every resident.
How does it feel to be a female serving in a leadership position for the city?
I feel privileged to be serving my hometown working alongside other smart, talented and passionate women. We have come a long way, yet have so much more to do. I hope we can be role models for other women in the community.
Which women in your life have inspired you the most to go after your goals?
My mom and two sisters are the most inspiring women in my life. My mom is a strong and selfless woman. She, along with my dad, immigrated to this county and worked tirelessly to raise three hard-working, caring, ethical and independent women. My mom continues to be very supportive of my ambitions, shares her wisdom through advice and celebrates my accomplishments. My two sisters are amazing role models and inspire me daily. Despite any obstacle or adversity they face, it does not keep them from persevering in life and reaching their goals. Along with my mom, they are my biggest cheerleaders.
What advice would you impart to young girls pursuing their dreams?
Stay focused, work hard, believe in yourself … and dream big!