Lisa Harris, An Act of Humanity

Por: Edward Rueda

18, July, 2022 en Luxury Trending

An Act of Humanity

Geraldine Zialcita

Lisa Harris emerged into this world with a greater purpose―to give, serve, and inspire from the heart. She truly defines what it means to be part of something bigger than herself.

Since the first time she set eyes on Mikhail Baryshnikov soaring across the stage, Lisa dreamed of becoming a ballerina. With her pink leotard and tutu, Lisa would leap around the living room, to gain her father’s approval. Although this childhood dream did not pan out as planned, Lisa continues to appreciate the ballet and recalls that magical feeling.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lisa lived all over the Westside, from Beverly Hills to Malibu, and in between. In 9th grade, Lisa had a disturbing experience that deeply impacted her. Her friend’s little sister who was the second to the youngest of eight children demonstrated characteristics of schizophrenia. When they picked her up at the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, Lisa was shocked to witness first-hand incomprehensible scenes and atrocities of patients who were locked up in cages, children banging their heads on the wall, and other kids staring into space with a catatonic look. As soon as they reached her friend’s house, the little sister dashed upstairs to her bedroom while her family just continued their routine and conversations. Lisa trailed behind her to see what she was drawing and from then on, Lisa earnestly envisioned becoming a child psychologist hoping to rectify what she had detected as an outsider.


“I remember feeling uncomfortable, not understanding what I saw, and this incident stayed with me for a long time. Her seemingly normalcy—although I believed the stories that she had breakdowns of some sort, the conditions in which she was living at that inhumane hospital, and her family’s outward indifference toward her struck a chord with me. They cautioned my friend not to discuss this entire situation with people outside of the family, but it was evident that she was troubled by it. I wrote about my experience in an essay for an entrance exam to a high school and the admissions clerk informed me that my essay was what got me accepted to the school. Although I didn’t pursue my dream to be a child psychologist―my connection to children stems from an early age, has never waned, and continues to this day,” she shares.

Lisa completed her Early Childhood Education at Santa Monica College and obtained a certificate in Architecture and Interior Design at UCLA’s extension program. As a retired interior designer, Lisa has embraced volunteer work on many levels. She became a member of The Metropolitan Club in 1996 and Club President from 2014 to 2016 where she chaired the gala and fundraising events on two separate occasions. Established in 1915, its vision/mission statement is, “The Metropolitan Club is a diverse, private club for outstanding women of all ages, which provides athletic, cultural, and educational activities for its members, their families, and their guests. The welcoming and elegant facilities provide a gracious setting for Club activities and events. The courteous, well-trained, and capable staff is highly respected. The Club is managed and actively governed to be operationally strong and financially sound.” “I am proud to have served as the club president and to have held numerous committee chair positions throughout my membership,” she states.

Lisa expresses her kindness through giving. She joined The San Francisco Garden Club in 2003 and served as President from 2007 to 2009 chairing the galas and fundraising events that occur multiple times a year. “The club was established in 2006 and since its inception, the values have been based on the beautification of the City and County of San Francisco; (earliest members swept the Powell Street Cable Car entrance regularly) numerous civic endeavors, and community outreach (Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, etc.) and to support and award scholarships at City College San Francisco / Environmental, Horticultural and Floristry Department,” she informs,

Demonstrating her support by serving, Lisa is a member of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (FAMSF) Auxiliary since 2003 and has been the Floral Exhibitor Chair of the Bouquets to Art since 2005. Established in the 1950s, FAMSF Auxiliary aims to expand its mission through volunteer services and fundraising complying with the current policies of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museum. “ The museum has developed since 2020 an institutional goal of becoming a DEIA and Anti-Racism Organization.

The Auxiliary’s sole fundraiser is an annual weeklong floral extravaganza, Bouquets to Art (BTA). This is the 38th year wherein funds raised are assigned to the museum’s Exhibition Sponsorship, the Education Department, the Teen Advisory Board Program, and other museum projects. Our net revenue through 2021 for the FAMSF from the Auxiliary was $7, 517, 000. This year we have also pledged to allocate $85,000 to the FAMSF’s Director’s Diversity and Innovation Fund,” she briefs.


Emphasizing the value of inspiring people, Lisa is also a member of The San Francisco Yacht Club Auxiliary which launched in 1869 and initiated their Auxiliary in 1950. “I joined as a spouse of a member (Auxiliary) in 1995 and have been a board member on and off throughout the years. I was the Auxiliary President in 2005 and again in 2011. The club raises money for the Youth Sailing Program—offering the opportunity for non-members and members’ children to learn how to sail,” she relays.

A woman known to be generous for her time and efforts, Lisa finds joy in giving and helping these organizations that resonate with her. “I volunteered on a lesser scale when I was working and living in Los Angeles, but when I married and moved to San Francisco, I gradually become more involved in this world. Although I never planned on acquiring jobs or roles within these organizations, I simply joined things that interested me, firstly to meet other women who might be like-minded within the areas I was passionate about—such as the arts. Nature is a huge part of what makes me feel alive too, and always has been— so joining the de Young Fine Arts Museums’ Auxiliary, whose sole fundraiser is the annual event, Bouquets to Art, was the perfect fit—Art and flowers,” she informs.

Bouquets to Art draws 40,000 people weekly to the museums. A majority of them don’t regularly visit museums, while others have never set foot in the de Young Museum. “It’s very exciting and rewarding to see them in the galleries appreciating the art and the floral designer’s interpretation of it. Conversely, the floral designers research the art/artist they are interpreting and take great pride in exhibiting in front of whatever piece they get. They learn about the artist in detail and often choose to have an Inspiration Statement affixed to their piece. I think everyone gains something worthwhile during the week, including me. It never gets old.” She smiles.

Through the San Francisco Garden Club, Lisa and her team have worked behind the scenes and in conjunction with Urban Forest and other organizations to improve the green areas in the city. They award scholarships to students at City College to obtain further studies in the Horticultural/Botany/Floristry Department. “Any opportunity to meld art and florals, the planting of trees, the growing of food in school gardens, and easing the burden of the costs involved in education is what I’m passionate about —something I’m proud to be involved in,” she conveys.

As the president of a prestigious organization or chair of an event, Lisa recognizes the importance of her responsibilities and exercises her leadership role to the best of her abilities. “A friend of mine mentioned to me not too long ago that ‘the best presidents of these organizations are the ones who never wanted to be president, but who stepped up when the opportunity arose.’ Everyone brings their own style and expertise to these positions and unless they are completely detrimental, I think each one, each person is the right fit—at the right time. In a leadership position, you need to do just that, lead, and be an effective leader— I believe in drawing on the strengths of each person working with you. Empowering them is key to a leader’s success. You are not running a benevolent dictatorship, or shouldn’t be, and each person brings a special and unique quality to the table,” she narrates.

“Having said that, at the top—one needs to be organized and goal-oriented. One needs to embrace a vision, where it is you want to go—then you need to lead your board and/or committees to head in that direction. If you are raising money for tree planting, for instance, you need to see what it’ll take to accomplish that, how much it’ll cost, who can help facilitate it, permits, etc., and set goals to that end. Not everyone agrees with this, but I learned early on and still strongly believe that you need to spend money to make money. People open their pocketbooks for many things, and you need to appeal to your base—offer them something they can care about. Planting trees does more than just beautifying the street. It helps purify the air by absorbing carbon dioxide in the war against climate change. Trees provide oxygen and clean air, shade, and wildlife habitat. They help prevent soil erosion by keeping harmful stormwater from the oceans, and they can bring a community together when they start taking care of their newly planted trees. In this situation it’s a shared neighborhood experience, one they can all be proud of,” she adds.


This multi-faceted woman serves her mission with love, passion, and fun. As the chair of the exhibitor’s portion of Bouquets to Art (BTA), Lisa designates the 125 designers for their respective pieces of art. The process entails the designers visiting the museum during Selection Day which occurs several months before the event so they can choose five pieces of art they’d like to interpret, listing them in descending order of preference. “The designers leave the forms with me and it’s a huge puzzle that involves several weeks to finish. I am truly fond of this job because it pertains to art and floral design. I really love the floral designers who have become my friends. They are an interesting, eclectic, and diverse group of people who work so hard, rising at dark o’clock, and are very creative and committed to the beauty they create. The completed work provides a great sense of accomplishment.” She beams with pride. “I also love that the money BTA raises goes directly to help underwrite important upcoming exhibits and helps fund the K-12 city school visits program.”

Lisa considers the segment of the staff that she directly deal with to be her friends. They share the same vision and passion to keep things in sync and work in harmony. “They are passionate about keeping bugs out of the museum, as they should be. Everyone must work together and we all get along so well. We work hard and laugh when it’s finally over. We have inside jokes— like last year when an exhibitor snuck weed into his floral exhibit. No one noticed until it began to stink to high heaven,” she laughs.

While Lisa is surrounded by vibrant colors and beauty, she credits this to the head gardener of the Conservatory of Flowers—and everyone who has contributed to making the de Young Museum spring with artful floral beauty each year. “The designers’ genuine passion for what they do, all things living—are what make my responsibilities, so pleasurable. They have become good friends, I know about their lives, babies, graduations—countless milestones,” she says.

Across the years of volunteering for these prominent organizations, Lisa has learned to work and adapt to different personalities, outsized egos, and unforeseen calamities. “Innately, I’ve known how to do this in other factions of my life— but going through the real-life motions, on a grander, public stage can sometimes put you to the test. It’s important for me, when needed, to take a deep breath, listen to a little music, and remind myself that these fundraisers are for the greater good. It’s important for me to feel that at the end of the day, I did my best. I treated people with respect and stuck to my promise to see it through to the end to the best of my ability. I also have a philosophy that anything can be fixed—where there’s a will there’s a way,” she describes.

Although Lisa maintains a full schedule, she believes in keeping a work/life balance so she could relax, recharge, and rejuvenate. “I love to walk and I’m fortunate to live in an area where all I need to do is open the door and go. Taking time for myself is tantamount to my sanity. I know that I crave a quiet time when I can listen to my thoughts and just be out in nature. I am fortunate to have good friends and spend time with my husband, two daughters, a stepson and his wife, and five wonderful grandchildren.” She smiles.


As she forges ahead, Lisa plans to keep a steady and fulfilling life. She loves working with flowers, spending time outdoors—waterskiing, sailing, and walking, and is a lifelong USC Trojan football fan. “I have no interest in adding more to my plate—but I do take on new short-term projects―fun ones. I just helped design a scarf to sell for our Yacht Club that will raise money for youth sailing. Bringing kids in from all over the Bay Area to learn that skill is a great opportunity, one that needs to be accessible to any kid who wants to learn. Speaking of sailing, I’d like to resume lessons again and get back on a horse. I’m hitting a big birthday this summer and I feel great about it. My hero is a good friend who is 85—I’d like to be like her. We are currently texting back and forth through the Warriors playoff games. We are devout and rabid fans. So, here’s to 70 and looking forward to going strong like my friend at 85 and beyond,” she concludes.

Through her time, resources, and generosity, Lisa enhances the mission of the organizations to serve the greater good and make an impact in people’s lives and the community while leaving a piece of herself—the gift of love, joy, and purpose.

Lisa Harris symbolizes An Act of Humanity.

LISA HARRIS @lisaharris5

HMUA: MITZI MANZANO @mitzikookoo

Fashion Stylist: BARBARA SYCIP @bsycip

Jewelry: BARBARA LEE @bybarbaralee

Writer: GERALDINE SOLON @geraldineauthor

Copy Editor: KIEDO VILLANUEVA @kei_villanueva

Photo Assistant: EVA ALVAREZ

Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo

Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti