|Judy Willis, a retired corporate attorney for Mattel, now volunteers to guide kids with careers, college and in this case she is helping Karla Sanchez, 18, with deferred action immigration paper work.|
Willis, 63, a slender woman with one word describing her best -- peppy --once traveled the world on a mission to negotiate licensing agreements for Mattel, Inc. as its Senior Vice President, Business Affairs. She even flew to Germany to meet with BMW, VW, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes, and to Italy to meet with Ferrari and Lamborghini for the rights to be in the Hot Wheel line.
Even though she's hopped over to New Zealand, popped over to Russia and landed in Turkey where she was surrounded by armed guards and dogs at the airport to cut million dollar deals, Willis decided even though the "job was really fun" it was time to retire early from her sensational career life at the age of 60.
Why? She wanted to help kids.
She was never able to get pregnant when she was married, now single. Sad? Are you kidding? Ms. Bubbly makes things work. At first, she thought of becoming a foster mother, but a friend believed that would limit her ability to help many children. Instead, she volunteers at a shelter for abused mothers and their children, aids students at San Pedro High to guide them with their career choices and volunteers at Toberman Neighborhood Center working with clients on job skills and serving on its Development Committee. The Center provides gang prevention, family services and educational programs for youth.
"I definitely get way more than I give," said Willis, who sports a highlighted bob and seems to grip life with smiles and exuberance. "I love being around the kids. I always wanted a lot of kids of my own, which never happened. At the shelter, they call me 'the fun lady'. Sometimes the kids scream when I get there. It doesn't get much better than that. I know that I'm very good with kids and I'm lucky to have these great volunteer
I first heard of Judy Willis from San Pedro High student Nancy Hinjos, now studying at George Town University, who raved about the attorney's ability to get students enthusiastic about studying and life.
Today her life is mostly channeled into what she can do for children.