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Board “Newbie” Flexes Her Caring Muscle

Liesl Kistow Liesl Kistow never intended to end up in Minnesota. With geology and chemistry degrees from Georgia State University, she expected to return to her home in Trinidad and work as a geologist for an oil company. Those plans changed when she fell in love and found herself looking for a job in Georgia. After learning the local bank was hiring, she accepted an offer as a drive-up teller. “I started at the very bottom rung of banking,” explained Liesl. “My branch was located in a wealthy neighborhood and I saw clients cashing checks from investments and trust funds. I became intrigued and that’s how my career in wealth management began.”

Today, Liesl is Head of Trust Advisory Center in the Wealth Management division at U.S. Bank. She and her husband relocated to Minnesota when she accepted a job offer with the bank. “We had no friends, no family here. We had never even been to Minnesota – it was a real leap of faith,” Liesl recalls with a laugh. She brings that corporate experience to her role as a YW Board member. “I possess that corporate knowledge of strategy, implementation of big projects, and execution, combined with emotional IQ – I think I bring both compassion and understanding to my volunteer role.”

Liesl Kistow rafting

A self-described board ‘newbie,’ Liesl’s admiration for YWCA St. Paul continues to grow. “Honestly, I have learned more from YW than I have contributed! The impact they have in our community goes way beyond just being a gym or childcare center. I like to tell people there’s much more to YWCA St. Paul than they realize.”

The YW’s focus on women and children resonates deeply with Liesl. “The work being done by YW checks all the boxes for me – they are focused on women, our life givers. And YW approaches that work holistically, from housing, to employment, to childcare; and does it all through a racial justice lens. With limited resources they are making a huge impact. Imagine what they could do with unlimited funds.”

A self-proclaimed ‘science nerd,’ Liesl is fascinated by scientists, planet Earth and nature. “People are used to seeing me in suits and heels, but I love nature – digging in dirt, kayaking, white water rafting.” She’s also an avid reader of non-fiction. “I enjoy books that leave you better than when you started – like those that improve your skills or help you develop purpose.” She recently finished Jordan Raynor’s Master of One. “It’s a wonderful reminder that we are all called to do excellent work. I find that inspiring.”

As a mother of four children, Liesl wants her kids to have exposure to the lives of those in need. Her own mother was a nurse who took Liesl along on patient visits in low-income areas, where families lived in galvanized shacks with no running water. “That early exposure instilled in me the importance of giving back. We’re all inter-connected and we need to help each other. As a mom, I try to lead by example by volunteering and showing my children the importance of developing the ‘caring’ muscle. That is the muscle that infuses everything YW does.”

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