Most mornings after sending her sons off to school and feeding her rescue dogs, Lisa Koenen goes to Jazzercise on East Military before she sits down at her desk at 10am to begin her workday. She’s the proprietor of Full Circle Travel, a home-based business she inherited from her mother. Lisa grew up in El Cerrito where her dad owned a donut shop, and at one time was the mayor of the town. Her mom started the travel business in a small corner of her father’s bakery, and Lisa started working for her just after high school. That was 25 years ago, and Lisa has since become an independent travel agent. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. We are all risk takers, and none of us have real jobs,” she laughs. Of course, that depends on how you define “real job,” because Lisa’s work is the real deal.
In addition to her home business, she is president of Benicia Education Foundation (BEF), a volunteer role she’s had for more than five years. Her focus has been on collaboration, and she has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between parents, community and the school district. This year she’s the race director for the Run for Education, BEF’s signature event that raises nearly $40,000 each year for Benicia schools. The 9th annual 5K and 10K run will be held April 10, and the committee is hoping for more than 1,000 runners.
“Lisa has a remarkable ability to focus in deeply, but also see the whole landscape around her,” says Stacy Holguin, Vice President of BEF and friend since their oldest sons started kindergarten together in 2001. “She has so many interests, and they all revolve around family.”
Family is Lisa’s driving wheel. She has three sons: Will, a junior at Chico State; Peter, a junior at Benicia High School (BHS); and Danny, a freshman at BHS—where Lisa is an active volunteer. It was her leadership in the Parent Teacher Groups at her sons’ schools that led her to work with BEF. Her husband Matt is the owner of Fastbreak Consolidators, Inc. in the Benicia Business Park, and the assistant varsity basketball coach at BHS.
Outside of her family and public education, Lisa’s passionate about animal rescue and travel. She’s traveled the world, this year to Peru, which she called “fascinating.” In her lifetime of travel, she says Bali and Indonesia were the most memorable. Her advice about travel is much like the way she lives her life: “Travel with an open mind and an easy spirit. Most importantly, get out of your box and explore someplace new.”
For more information about participating in Benicia’s 9th Annual Run for Education, go to beniciarunforeducation.org.