By Aida Toro
Tammy Bjelland said, “A learning curve is essential to growth”. Lisette Franco is one of the individuals on this planet that is always learning something new every day to impact society in the most positive way she can. Franco is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a first generation American, born to immigrant parents from Mexico.
“My parents are the most hardworking people I know and sacrificed so much so I could have a good education,” said Franco. “My mom was an amazing example for me, she got her Bachelor's and then her Master's in Education and was a school teacher at one of the most impoverished schools in our state and my father works at the same foundry that he started when he was 19 years old, knowing no English at the time. He is retiring this year.”
Franco went to private Catholic schools her whole life because of her parent's hard work and because education was extremely important to them. When she graduated from high school, she moved to Chicago and attended Columbia College to pursue Dance. While she studied dance at Columbia, Franco danced for a dance company and taught dance at an after-school camp for inner-city kids. Although she majored in Dance at Columbia, it did not shape Franco to be the woman she is today as well as was during that time period. What really shaped who she was at that time was the hustle she learned, as she was attending school full time, doing dance jobs at night and working two other jobs.
“At this time I began focusing more on how I could help my community,” she said. “I always held jobs at a community center since I was 15, but wanted to create something that would directly impact girls like me.”
Therefore, Franco decided that the best way to learn how to better serve her community was to learn as much as she could about it. During this time, Franco gave birth to her son, Emiliano, and wanted to go back to school as well. As a result, she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and graduated with degrees in Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology. In addition, she created the Cinderella Project during this time period. The Cinderella Project is an annual event she hosts where she’s assisted in sending over 1000 girls to prom.
Fast forward to the present day, and Franco has her hands full, which she makes the best out of.
“I currently have a consulting company where I help small businesses and nonprofits,” she said. “I enjoy helping people reach their full potential in their personal and private lives especially if it will positively impact the community I care so much about.”
In addition to her son Emiliano, Franco also gave birth to her daughter Ahtziri.
“My kids are my life and keep me SO busy,” said Franco. “Emiliano runs track and plays soccer which takes him all over the country and Ahtziri just started running track which also forces us to travel."
Franco said it’s a busy schedule and hopes to show her children that they can achieve whatever they want. Aside from residing in Las Vegas, Franco spends winter breaks and summers in Milwaukee. Not to mention that she travels to Milwaukee every other weekend during her fiance’s eight-week fight camp to help with his businesses, nutrition, and so much more. Anthony Pettis, a prominent Welterweight fighter of the UFC, is Franco’s fiance.
“He spends eight weeks before every fight in Milwaukee and the rest of the time between Vegas and Milwaukee,” said Franco. “It sounds hectic, but I think the longest time we went without seeing each other has been ten days.”
Franco met Pettis in Milwaukee years ago prior to him being part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) since he is also from Milwaukee. She stated they were friends but did not start dating until later on when they both happened to be in Las Vegas.
“Learning about this sport and how to best support Anthony has been extremely rewarding as well,” she said. “I have learned so much about the mental and physical aspects that go into it while helping him be the best he can be.”
Although she has learned so much about what it takes to be a UFC fighter, Franco really enjoys learning about the nutrition that goes into being a successful fighter, as she’s constantly learning from Pettis’ nutritionist.
“I can help anyone lose 30 pounds in a couple of weeks,” she expressed. “It's kind of crazy when I think about it...In a week I can go from running around to my kids’ sports practices, to prepping Anthony’s meals, to sorting prom dresses and doing interviews to attending a fancy event to helping him negotiate a deal with his sponsors to opening a new business and then flying across the world. It's a crazy life but I wouldn't change it for the world.”