Public relations and communications expert Lisa Cruz, owner of Appleton-based Red Shoes PR, will be the featured speaker at this Thursday’s “Strong Women, Strong Coffee” networking event, hosted by The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). The event will take place at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay’s University Union, located at 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, in room 1965, from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Cruz has worked in public relations and communications for more than 25 years, a good deal of that time in Southern California, where her husband was a Navy flight surgeon.
The Stevens Point native returned to Wisconsin in 2001.
“By that time we had two kids and it was like, ‘I just want to raise our family in Wisconsin,’” she said in an interview last week.
But she also knew her growing family would have to find somewhere that a mixed-race family would fit in; her husband is Filipino, and her boys — there are four now — are also obviously not white.
“It just felt right from the get-go for us to raise our family here” in Appleton, she said.
She worked traditional PR jobs for a while, but knew she had to make a change.
“I worked for a larger organization in Communications then worked for an agency for a while. I just got to the point that I’m not going to be happy anywhere unless I’m driving my own bus,” she said. “You just reach that point. That’s not fair to anybody either to hire me, because I’m never going to be happy unless I’m calling my own shots. I just reached that point.”
That was 2008. Eleven years later, she leads a nine-member team working with clients like Valley Transit, Werner Electric, Faith Technologies, and many more.
On Thursday, Cruz said she’ll plan to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur, as well as the importance of balance — which is something she doesn’t really believe in.
“I don’t necessarily believe in balance,” she said. “I think you can strive for it. I’m not sure it exists. I think people think of balance as this like nirvana.”
Instead, she said, it’s important to accepts life’s ups and downs.
“Sometimes I have a lot more going on at home and I need some more flexibility here. Sometimes I’ve got a lot going on here and I need to flex up here a little bit and I will put a few things on hold with the family, and it’s just a constant teeter-totter. I don’t know if I’ll ever be balanced,” she said. “Don’t feel bad because I think women in particular we tend to beat ourselves up. Not only do you need a bit more flexibility in the workplace, but you need to cut yourself some slack. We talk about that all the time here.”
And, Cruz said, she’ll try to inspire those in attendance to “stand up, speak up and be bold.”
“I don’t know what it is but we tend not to speak up as often as we should and we need to push that envelope,” she said. “I’ve been in those situations enough. We’ve got to speak up. You’ve got to be heard.”
The Strong Women, Strong Coffee event at UW-Green Bay is free and open to the public, but registration is requested.