Unlike many MAF staff members, Karla became part of the MAF community well before she had walked through its doors. Her friends and members of her family had participated in tandas when she was a child in El Salvador, so she understood the benefits and drawbacks of informal lending circles.
While in college at SF State, Karla helped with the research behind MAF’s programs. With an understanding of their effectiveness, Karla decided to take a chance and join a lending circle. Through the experience she came to know and love MAF’s mission and its people. In short, she was hooked.
When word of an opening on MAF’s programs team made its way to her, Karla thought “this is my chance” and she jumped to apply.
With such a strong grounding in MAF’s model, she was the perfect candidate for the job. As the Programs Coordinator, Karla spends her days directly interacting with our members. She walks them through our services and the services of our partners. To accomplish this, she does much more than listening to their financial history; she listens to their life story.
In this way, Karla represents so much of what we do here at MAF. Our clients aren’t just looking to improve their credit score, they are looking to move forward with their lives by starting businesses, gaining citizenship or securing stable housing.
What’s so inspiring about Karla is how she has come to see her role at MAF and the world. Growing up, she never thought she’d end up in the financial sector. “I was always told, ‘finance is a man’s world,’” she says.
At MAF, Karla talks to many women without a checking account and with little financial independence. She loves that MAF’s programs enable them to take control of their finances and motivate her to do so as well. She explains, “the more I learn, the more empowered I feel.”
The time Karla has spent here has also made her reflect upon her high school and college careers. Though she was involved in all types of community outreach, the one commonality she found was the community need for financial stability.
“If people had the financial resources to have a better life, then maybe they could move out from the violent neighborhoods or find a better job,” Karla says.
Outside of the office, Karla finds herself often chatting about MAF and successfully recruiting several of her friends into Lending Circles. But she’s not all about work. She loves her zumba classes and uses them as a way to unwind and let loose with friends.
Her favorite part of the MAF philosophy is that we “embrace what our community already has.” We transformed a tool the community has used for centuries, and in so doing we enable our members to build brighter futures for themselves. That’s something Karla can relate to.