Last Word: Mayor Michelle De La Isla
You pulled yourself out of poverty and overcame impossible odds to be where you are today. How has this experience prepared you to be mayor? Pulling myself out of poverty has been hard. The most humbling part of this process has been accepting the help of friends and family as I started becoming more financially secure. I had to prioritize, maximize my revenue, communicate, make payment plans and still keep my focus on family and work. I think that the resilience, multitasking and empathy that comes from understanding where many families in our community are at has been the best preparation. Everything comes at you at once. You need to be quick and sharp and at the same time collaborative when solving community issues. The school of “Low-Income/ Single Parenthood” prepares you for that task.
How do your responsibilities at Westar Energy tie in with those of mayor? The skills I use for Westar share an aspect of human development that the job as mayor ties into. At Westar my role consists of training in the area of diversity and inclusion, and pipeline development with the same focus. Pipeline building also has a strong component of project management/event planning, coordination and execution. As you can imagine, a mayor should have good planning and execution skills as well as be able to communicate in an inclusive way with constituents. When we discuss economic development and talent pipelines, the experience I have gained at Westar has been instrumental to allow me to speak with better understanding to the overall community goals.
Dispel 3 potential myths about Mayor De La Isla? 1) I do sleep… sometimes.
2) I spend good and quality amounts of time with my kids and in prayer.
3) I’m not Wonder Woman… most days.
How do you hope to leave Topeka a better place after your term as mayor is over? I want to see the Momentum 2022 plan at its prime of execution. I would love to see our neighborhoods filled with residents who are part of their neighborhood associations, improved quality of life as reflected in roads and blight elimination, jobs developed, a thriving Downtown and a sense of inclusion and unity.