His expertise, reputation and enthusiasm make Lizárraga a highly sought-after contributor to business, civic, educational and government-based organizations. In addition to his most recent appointment to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Advisory Board by President Barack Obama, Lizárraga received a Presidential appointment to the National Commission on Neighborhoods, and he has served as a Gubernatorial appointee to several State Commissions. He is a former Board Chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) which represents the interests of our nation’s three-million Hispanic-owned businesses.
Established in 1968 and utilizing one of the most successful approaches to community and economic development, TELACU is a pioneering institution committed to service, empowerment, advancement and the creation of self-sufficiency.
Lizárraga created the innovative model on which TELACU is structured. The parent non-profit CDC delivers programs that serve the needs of communities—services for young people, veterans, families and senior citizens. However, TELACU differs from other CDCs in that its non-profit programs are primarily self-sustained by TELACU Industries, a family of businesses owned by TELACU. Utilizing Lizárraga’s business philosophy of generating a double bottom line—profitability that is inseparable from social impact—these 13 for-profit businesses provide valuable products and services to the community, such as jobs, affordable homes, small business loans, and the creation of community assets. And TELACU utilizes a significant portion of the earnings from these businesses to fund its non-profit programs. This cycle of community investment is the engine that sustains TELACU.
TELACU Industries is built upon four key business sectors: real estate development, financial services,construction and construction management.
Lizárraga believes that a new home and a good job provide the foundation for building the American Dream. TELACU Development (TD) builds and sells thousands of quality homes for first-time home buyers. TD also builds communities for senior citizens and California’s growing workforce throughout Southern California. To spur job creation in inner-city communities, TD builds industrial, commercial and retail projects, and to date has built, owns and manages more than 5 million square feet of space.
Lizárraga is committed to providing entrepreneurs and hardworking people access to capital to build a successful future. TELACU’s financial services division owns and operates Community Commerce Bank (CCB), an FDIC-insured bank and one of the most successful small business lenders in California. TELACU Community Capital (TCC) provides important economic assistance to small businesses that do not meet the lending criteria of commercial banks through its operation of revolving loan funds in conjunction with private banks and the federal government. Both CCB and TCC are designated as Community Development Financial Institutions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Lizárraga believes that changing the physical landscape of communities is a vital part of their development. TELACU Construction and TELACU Construction Management build and oversee the construction of new community assets such as schools, transportation projects, government facilities, water transmission and distribution systems, public housing, and recreational centers.
TELACU has also established or acquired a number of other related businesses that fulfill TELACU’s mission. In association with Edison and The Gas Company, TELACU Weatherization provides energy-saving measures and repairs to 25,000 low-income households each year at no cost to the homeowner. South Coast Shingle is a leader in the wholesale building materials business, complementing TELACU’s development- and construction-related businesses.
In 1983, Lizárraga founded one of the most effective national institutions ever to impact the educational needs of the Latino community—the TELACU Education Foundation. Established in response to crisis-level dropout rates for Latino students in college, the Foundation combines important financial assistance with highly effective programs that ensure college completion. Through his efforts, the Foundation annually supports 500 college students and serves an additional 1,600 middle and high school students, nursing school students and veterans. These Scholars have built a legacy of excellence: more than 99% of high school students graduate and pursue post-secondary education; and more than 99% of our college students earn at minimum a Bachelor’s degree; and 100% of the nursing school students graduate and receive RN licensure.
An advocate for the advancement of underserved communities, minorities and women, Lizárraga shares his expertise, leadership, insight and time with many other civic, business, educational, governmental and community-based organizations. He has served as a Presidential appointee to the National Commission on Neighborhoods and as a Governor’s appointee to the State of California New Motor Vehicle Board, California Arts Council and California World Trade Commission.
To empower the agenda of small- and medium-sized Latino-owned businesses nationwide, Lizárraga serves on the California Utilities Diversity Council and Hispanics in Energy; he also served for five years as the Chairman of the USHCC. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Corporate America Task Force and as a member of the New America Alliance, he worked to increase Latino representation in the top ranks of Corporate America and to provide greater access to institutional capital for growing Latino entrepreneurs. Serving as a member of Wells Fargo/Wachovia’s Community Development Enterprise, Citibank’s California/Nevada Community Advisory Council and Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council, he has advocated for lending practices and investments that better serve women, minorities, and low- and moderate-income individuals and families.
To develop the next generation of Latino leaders in government, Lizárraga served as President of the California Latino Legislative Caucus Institute and Board Member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute with Latino Members of Congress, offering educational and leadership development programs to increase the participation of young Hispanics in the public and private sectors. And he has served on the boards of the California State University Foundation, the Independent Colleges of Southern California, and as a Trustee of Whittier College.
Lizárraga has also served on numerous other boards including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles County Music Center Operating Company, the Los Angeles City Club, Eastcoast Development Corporation and Faith Community Church.
Consistently recognized among our nation’s top Hispanic leaders, Lizárraga has been accorded numerous regional and national honors and awards for his business achievements, commitment to community economic development and empowerment, and philanthropic endeavors. These include: the 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Entrepreneur of the Year Awards from both Entrepreneur Magazine and Ernst & Young; Minority Business Advocate of the Year from the U.S. Small Business Administration and MBDA; the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award; and the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope. His career has also been the subject of numerous articles in local and national publications.
Lizárraga received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the California State University at Los Angeles. A proud veteran of the Armed Services, he and his wife reside in the Los Angeles area where he was born and raised.