Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson and welcome to another edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is Lidya Osadchey, the Chief Executive Officer of Escape Family Resource Center. Lidya welcome to Women Mean Business.
Lidya: Thank you so much, Leisa, delighted to be here.
Leisa: I’m gonna bet when you were a child in a far, far away land, which I know about, that you didn’t dream of being the Chief Executive Officer of Escape Family Resource Center. How did you get here?
Lidya: This is so true. When I grew up I was thinking of saving the world through United Nations. That was my dream. I went to a specialized English school; we learned a lot about international affairs, international politics, and, of course, every Soviet child had to know socialist theory. And this is what we were prepared for; saving the world. So, I haven’t veered too far away from the goal, just I think in a much better state. So, when I came to this country, my first reaction to being an immigrant was welcoming from the Jewish community. And I realized that people really care about foreigners here, and immigrants, and they want you to resettle and they want you to be successful. I’ve never experienced that kind of relationships in the Soviet Union; it was forced. So here, the volunteerism took me to another level and I thought to myself, learning from all these leaders is what I want to be. I want to be that person to whom people come for advice, for help, for rescue.
And so, it started with going to Rice University, volunteering, working on different jobs, teaching; until I was invited to join the Holocaust Museum, Houston’s first board. Within three months, I was appointed as a founding executive director. So, that catapulted me in a completely different sphere of community relationships, and really understanding what it takes to build a community effort. So, about fifteen years later, I’m divorced with three small children. I said to myself, I need to find a position—I was in graduate school at the time, that will allow me to raise my children. And, of course, I’ve done a lot of wonderful things in the community as you know; we built a Holocaust Museum, worked in East End on different consortships where the early childhood developments, worked for Texas Woman’s University in research, and a friend of mine asked me to apply for a position that was open at Escape Family Resource Center and I said absolutely not.
I know what it means to work for a non-profit; you’re working around the clock. I have three small children and I’m just recently divorced and I need to make money. And she kept bugging me, and finally, just to get her off my back, I faxed—that was the time of the faxes, I faxed my resume. And twenty minutes later I received a call and an invitation for an interview. And what ensued was seven months of interviews; meeting every board member, essay questioning, psychological profiles and, of course, by that time I was hooked and was going to see it through. So, in April they offered me the position and I said, this is it, that’s all I want to do.
Lidya: So that’s how it happened. It wasn’t something that was in my dreams ever.
Leisa: Oh my gosh, congratulations to you and to Escape Family Resource Center.
Lidya: Thank you.
Leisa: Thank you for sharing that story. There’s another extraordinary story from an extraordinary woman. I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson, President and co-founder of ContentActive, Houston’s leading web and mobile design and development company. You can find me at contentactive.com or follow me on Twitter @lhnelson. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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