T-GEMBA Student Tackles Homelessness in Alameda

Lisa DyasFor the last eight years, SEBA student Lisa Dyas has been working to better the lives of others. In her current position at the Alameda Point Collaborative, Dyas works with neighbors and community leaders to provide shelter and workforce skills to the homeless.

In the late 1990s, the Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) transformed the vacated barracks of the defunct Alameda Naval Air Station into a solution for homelessness. The 200 empty units are vacant no more, as more than 500 residents—over 300 of whom are children—now call it home. Residents at APC have access to job and skills training, counseling, and youth programs.

Dyas is the director of fund development and community relations at APC, a title that belies the many roles she takes on within the organization. Not only does Dyas raise money and the visibility of the organization, she also has a hand in external communications, strategic planning, management, and helps shape the vision of APC.

“I saw a lot potential and room for growth here,” says Dyas. “It wasn’t a situation where I was stepping into a machine, and I was just going to be another cog. There was a lot of opportunity to be creative and have an impact. I’ve really enjoyed watching these programs grow and unfold.”

For the last seven years, Dyas has been working in the non-profit, human services space, undertaking roles that allowed her to have direct interaction with those she served. After moving into a leadership role, Dyas sought out Saint Mary’s Trans-Global MBA Program as a way to gain a broader knowledge base that would allow her to bridge the gap between operations and administration.

“In the past I’ve worked directly with the population, so I understand when case workers are protective of the people they’re working with,” says Dyas. “One of things I’m trying to do is demonstrate how important it is that our members share their stories because I know the impact that they can have. It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured.”

Despite an extensive background with non-profits, Dyas’ work at APC is particularly rewarding because of the impact she’s making on her immediate community.

“I started working at APC in 2012 shortly after moving to Alameda,” says Dyas. “I didn’t realize what working that close to home would feel like. It’s been really positive.”

“My daughter goes to the same school that our residents go to, so not only do I feel very close to the mission here, but I can see the impact we’re having first hand,” she says. “If our kids at APC succeed, then my own children are also succeeding. I’ve never been so deeply tied to one community like this.”

There are additional ties that bind Dyas, Saint Mary’s and APC. For the last several years, APC has taken on a number of SMC undergraduate volunteers who also want to make a positive impact.

“There’s a real commitment from Saint Mary’s,” says Dyas. “The mission of the College and that of APC are closely aligned. It’s not lip service. The school and the students that work with us are looking to build a meaningful relationship with the community.”