This profile was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.


By age 13, Lisa Culp knew she wanted to make a difference in the community, and did so by helping those who founded Loaves & Fishes bring sandwiches to individuals experiencing homelessness near the railroad tracks. Lisa studied both at UCLA and University of Grenoble in France, and received her degree from UC Davis. A long-time activist and voice for justice and human rights, Lisa spent 10 years working in Nicaragua with children orphaned because of the Contra war and with micro loan projects for women. After seeing poverty abroad, Lisa chose to return home to raise her son. She continued working with those struggling to survive by creating various programs with Loaves & Fishes and Sacramento Cottage Housing.

One of the projects Lisa designed grew into today’s independent nonprofit Women's Empowerment, which Lisa still leads. Since the organization was founded 16 years ago, 1,392 women have graduated from Women’s Empowerment with their children. Last year, 92% of women in the program found homes and 81% found jobs or enrolled in school or training.

Because of its unique ability to help homeless women break the cycle of poverty, Women’s Empowerment was featured on The TODAY Show in 2015 as a national model to help end family homelessness. In 2016, it was featured on CNN’s Impact Your World. In 2014, Women’s Empowerment was named Organization of the Year in the Women’s Appreciation Awards hosted by Congresswoman Doris Matsui, former Assemblymember Roger Dickinson and former Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg.

Lisa has received numerous awards for her work. In 2008, she received the Woman of the Year Award from the National Association of Business Women for her vision in founding the organization. In 2010, she earned the Ruby Award for her efforts to serve the homeless, a distinction granted on an international level.