It gives me immense joy, as well as tingles in unexpected places to introduce you to this month’s Betty. She meets all the criteria:
100% Real? ALL DAY , ERR DAY!
Let me introduce you to Liesl Santkuyl. I met Liesl in passing some time ago as happens in the nonprofit community. I had the pleasure of getting to know her, serving the city along side her working with Stand for Children. We have both since moved on to other positions but the love and respect I have for this blue eyed beauty has only grown.
Liesl grew up in Hartford, Wisconsin with a Venezuelan mom and a German dad. Any time Liesl talks about her family, I get a little more understanding of how she came to be the badass Latina that she is. She is that magical woman we all cling to that makes life beautiful by loving the absolute shit out of you thru belly laughs, supporting your every move and being your willing partner in crime on pretty much any occasion. Case in point: Liesl help us win a jukebox race war at a local motorcycle bar. The old bastards kept loading up country songs to drown out the hip hop and funk. Liesl wasn’t having it. Not only did she load up more tunes, she joined in an impromptu Electric Slide right there in between the darts and the pool table. She’s so down, y’all. So so down.
A testament to her commitment to serve, Liesl joined the Peace Corps in Guatemala as well as working at a migrant health clinic. Liesl came to Tacoma after an intense job search, sending 157 resumes out to potential employers. This was before email mind you, so she spent a killing on postage (this is another classic Liesl move; she just does what needs to be done). She accepted a position as the first Health Educator at Sea Mar in Tacoma. She remembers getting told by her supervisor that wearing her bright dresses from Guatemala were inappropriate and “unprofessional.” She was crushed as many of us are when we are told that who we are (clothing, hair, language) must be left behind in order to find success. Never forgetting the damage done by racist and sexist policies, Liesl is the eternal advocate, friend and ally. She has an uncanny ability to call bullshit and question authority in a tone as sweet as caramel cake. I’m telling you it’s a talent!
Let me tell you how much i love this woman: I suppressed my deep rooted Black girl tendencies to hike with her in the pouring down rain. There I was, getting wet down to my unmentionables, dragging my LeBron’s through the mud, afro puff dripping because why? Cuz it’s Liesl. She has a deep connection to nature and it’s nothing short of amazing watching her engage with Mother Earth.
What are your greatest joys?
I experience joy every day; in my kids (Eli and Zane), in people, and in the present moment. I experience the world intensely and never take life for granted.
What will you do if Trump becomes president?
I’m moving to Venezuela! I have dual citizenship and would be on the first plane out of here.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Madonna in the Like a Virgin video. She was brash, non-conventional, and in your face. I loved it. I also fell in love with Kate Shugak, the protagonist in a series of books by Dana Stabenow. She is a real badass; an Aleut detective solving crimes in the Alaskan north. And of course, Antonio Banderas, every Latina’s dream- the melty eyes, the voice, you can’t go wrong.
Who are your personal heroes?
My dear friend and colleague, Sara Irish. She tells it exactly like it is. She gives freely of herself and demonstrates a deep kindness. She has integrity and this boldness that I respect. She has a great sense of humor and most importantly, she uses dirty words in everyday life!
Now for a round of Kiss, Marry, Kill. Let’s start with Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck.
I’d marry Elmer because well, I am already married to Elmer (lets out her famous laugh)! I’d kiss Bugs. He’s charming and witty and would be my side piece. I’d kill Daffy, to include plucking and roasting him.
How about Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock?
I’m sorry but Jennifer’s got to go. I just find everything she plays trite and uninteresting. She’s just annoying. Angelina is great so I’d have to kiss her. And Sandra I would marry. She just seems more real than the others and I know she would make me laugh.
Liesl is currently the Project Coordinator for Leaders in Women’s Health, a coalition dedicated to addressing and eliminating health disparities for women of color in Pierce County. I’m so honored to know her, and I can’t wait to get in some more mischief with her soon.
Do you know someone that should be featured as a Betty of the Month? Contact me! I’d love to hear your ideas!