Lisa Kusbel is passionate about enhancing Valparaiso through her work as the Director of Development at the Valpo Parks Foundation. This mother of three found her dream job after her adventurous life as a flight attendant ended. When Kusbel hung up her wings, she grew roots with her family in Valparaiso. Nowadays, she inspires others to chase their own dreams, proving that it is never too late to start a new adventure.
“Flying was the only thing I ever knew,” Kusbel explained. “For women, especially, it can be hard to make a career change. I want people to know, there is always something right around the corner waiting for you. You just have to be vigilant and look for it.”
Kusbel had Northwest Indiana beginnings which led to her exciting career traveling across the country with American Airlines. A job, Kusbel said, garnered fulfillment.
“I loved it,” Kusbel said. “It was an exciting and wonderful 25 years.”
Tragedy struck when Kusbel was injured at work and required multiple back surgeries and physical therapy before she was able to return to the skies. Although Kusbel was eager to return, it was not long before she realized that working in that environment was too risky.
“I didn’t want to leave my job, but it took me about four months to realize that I could injure my back which could damage my health for the rest of my life,” Kusbel noted.
Kusbel retired, and did some soul searching to discover what she wanted to do next. She was young, driven, and had much more to give the world, but finding her passion was not easy. She felt distraught because the right path to take was not obvious. Kusbel credited her husband, Frank, for being the guiding force that held her together.
“I am so blessed to have Frank,” Kusbel said of her husband of 27 years. “If it wasn’t for his love and support, I wouldn’t have been able to discover something else that I love.”
Kusbel started this new chapter in life by volunteering. Getting out in the community helped her rediscover herself and come out of the darkness she was feeling.
“I have a passion for being connected with the community going out enjoying the town and volunteering,” Kusbel said. “It’s a true joy to share that with my 11-year-old son, Jacob. Growing up, I never had that sense of community that I do now.”
Kusbel volunteered for many organizations including: Caring Designs, United Way, and the Valparaiso Parks Department. However, she wanted a career, too. When a friend pointed out that real estate was an exciting and rewarding field and that Kusbel had the right personality for the job, Kusbel decided to go for it. It felt like destiny.
“My parents were extremely hard working and instilled those values in me,” Kusbel said. “Because of their example, whenever I set my mind to something, I do it 100%.”
With the support of her husband and children, Kusbel threw herself into her studies. Even though Kusbel was not accustomed to being a student, she passed the real estate license exam on the first try.
Kusbel found her niche with real estate and enjoyed helping families find their dream homes. She was only a few months into her new career with Realty Executives when John Seibert, Director of the Valpo Parks Foundation, approached her about becoming Director of Development for Valparaiso Parks Foundation.
“The very first project I worked on with Valparaiso Parks Foundation was Valplayso. I absolutely fell in love with Valpo Parks and working on that project it was eye-opening for me.”
According to Kusbel, Seibert thought of her for the position because of her love for Valparaiso parks and because she reinvented herself through hard work. Kusbel was ready to embrace the new opportunity, as long as it coincided with real estate. Kusbel was able to find that balance between family, real estate, and parks, and it was not long before Kusbel realized that being director was the next adventure in life that her heart desired.
“I’ve been the director for two years, and I love my job and the people I work with. Through working here, I have been able to meet so many amazing people, and it’s been true joy,” Kusbel said.
Kusbel explained that the Valpo Parks Foundation is not the same thing as the Valpo Parks Department. Rather, it is a not-for-profit organization that is supportive of Valpo Parks Department and helps supply volunteers and resources so that projects are completed. Through Kusbel’s work with the foundation, she has helped fund Tower Park all while meeting leaders in the community who continue to inspire her.
From the splash pad, to the ice-skating rink, to the future dog park, Kusbel is enchanted with Valparaiso’s parks and the community around them. She looks forward to doing even more with the foundation and taking on more responsibilities.
For Kusbel, her life is proof that even at 45, it is never too late to reinvent yourself. Starting over is never easy, but there is always a new adventure waiting just around the corner.
“You have to do something you’re passionate about. If you don’t know how to find your next path, start by getting involved in the community. That’s where you meet interesting and valuable people in life, and that’s where it all fell into place for me.”