Chamber Insider Blog

Jewish American Heritage Month Spotlight: Lisa Max

Thank you to Lisa E. Max, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc of Loudoun, and Vice Chair, Loudoun Human Services Network, for being our spotlight this week!

Where were you born and raised, and if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?

I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey and moved to NoVA in 1996 to support my ex-husband’s career change. I liked it here as soon as we arrived, quickly grew to love Loudoun, and put down roots that run deep and wide. While I’m now an empty-nester who could relocate to just about anywhere, I wouldn’t choose to live any place else in the world.

Tell us about The Arc of Loudoun and how long you’ve been in your industry.

Everyone is one, has one, or knows one. One what? A person with a disability. At The Arc of Loudoun, we define a disability as any condition that prevents, delays, or interferes with a person’s typical development or optimal achievement. A disability may be classified as behavioral/emotional, developmental, intellectual, learning, physical, and/or sensory. Disabilities may be temporary – as when a person is healing from a broken bone, and disabilities may be invisible – as when someone is experiencing mental illness.

I’ve been an active volunteer with organizations that serve people with disabilities for most of my life, so it was natural when retiring from tech to transition to leading the amazing team at The Arc as, together, we strive to bring about a just, equitable world for people with disabilities.

How did you get into this line of work?

Serving and supporting people with disabilities of all kinds truly is in my DNA. I began volunteering alongside my dad at The Arc of Morris in New Jersey when I was six and went on to volunteer as a Candy Striper at Morristown Memorial Hospital; as a Project House Mentor at Susquehanna University working with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities; as a New Jersey state-certified firefighter/emergency medical technician with Cedar Knolls Fire and Rescue; as one-half of a certified pet therapy team (alongside my English Mastiff, Norman) with Paws4People; and as an Advisor to Loudoun County Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps.

Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that guided your career?

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of mentors during my career – from a spectacularly bad manager who taught me all about how I should never behave at work, to smart, kind bosses who guided me to jobs in which I thrived. Throughout it all, I’ve been truly inspired by the brilliant, funny, dedicated people – coworkers and co-mentors – with whom I’ve had the honor of working.

What is the best part of your job and why?

My job is to understand what the staff needs, to get it for them, and then to assist as needed as they continuously improve the lives of every student, client, family, and professional that we serve. Miracles happen at The Arc of Loudoun each and every day and, far and away, the best part of my job is bearing witness to them.

What is it like doing business in Loudoun/Northern Virginia?

When asked to describe Loudoun in one word, I respond with “opportunities”. The opportunities available in all sectors of the DMV have made – and continue to make – this a place that’s packed with possibilities in education, careers, healthcare, recreation, and so much more.

What does Jewish American Heritage Month mean to you?

Judaism is centered on the concept of Tikkun Olam – “healing the world” – and there’s a centuries-long, vibrant history of American Jews working tirelessly to do just that.  It’s an honor to formally recognize those whose contributions have enabled the American Dream for millions of people, and it’s a sacred task to do my part to continue that work.

Favorite things to do when you are not working?

Attend Chamber meetings and events, of course! Along with that, I’m a rabid reader who loves to learn, so you’ll often find me reading at least two books on disparate topics at the same time. I’m also an avid gardener; when I’m working outside I’m usually listening to a book or a podcast as well!