This article is part of a series of posts from National Life’s Women’s Inclusion Network. WIN is a concentration of bright and forward-thinking women (and men!) who collaborate on the leadership development, diversification, and empowerment of National Life’s female field affiliates and home office employees.
Corissa Hernandez is the co-founder and visionary of Legacy Full Circle Financial & Insurance Services, The Empire Tavern, House of Xelas, and Nativo HLP. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Corissa began her career as a middle school teacher after earning degrees at Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA.
Working as a Los Angeles public school teacher during the height of the great recession inspired Corissa to launch her first mission-driven company. In 2007, Corissa and her partners opened Legacy Full Circle, a company dedicated to educating low to middle-income families about financial literacy and planning. Inspired to fill gaps for her community, she then opened three craft beer & cocktail businesses over the next four years, establishing herself as one of the few female forces in a predominantly male industry. Her bars have been featured prominently in print and online publications, including the Los Angeles Times, ABC VistaLA, LA Magazine, EaterLA, and UCLA Magazine.
Never losing sight of the importance of giving back, Corissa remains an active participant in her local community. Drawing from her own experience as a first-generation college student and Latina entrepreneur, she takes pride in creating opportunities for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities unfamiliar with the competitive landscape of business ownership.
What has your career pathway been like? How did you get to where you are now?
I started my career as a middle school teacher with Los Angeles Unified School District. I loved what I did; my passion has always been teaching. During my time as a teacher, my dad hit a milestone in his career and retired from the automotive company he had worked at for over thirty years of his life. He was a true professional, with an impeccable work ethic and extremely dedicated to the growth of the company that he worked for.
Unfortunately, no one had taken the time to sit with my dad to discuss the importance of setting up a supplemental retirement account to save for the dignified retirement that he deserved. Instead, he faced the harsh reality of retiring with no pension, no supplemental plan, and his only income at retirement would be his Social Security income (which was one-fifth of what he was earning during his working years).
I could not comprehend how someone who had dedicated his life with great intentions to growing a company could be “left out in the cold” during his retirement years. Being that I had just started my career as a teacher, I took it upon myself to take a deep dive into what my pension plan looked like and other options available for me to properly prepare myself for the day that I decided I would like to call it quits. I was immediately intrigued by what I was learning about how money, pensions, and supplemental retirement accounts work. I decided to pursue my life insurance and security licenses to truly take control of setting up my own accounts and fund them properly.
As my teacher colleagues learned about what I was doing, more and more of them came to me with their financial statements and asking me for help with understanding what they had in place. What I found was that there was a real need for access to information about how to properly prepare oneself for one’s financial future. Most of my clients at the time were teachers, and 76% of teachers are female.*
Before I knew it, what I had intended to be a personal project quickly became a business. I made the difficult decision to resign from teaching and pursue teaching women how to save for their financial future full-time.
What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I am a daughter of hard-working immigrants. My dream was always to go to school, get a Master’s degree, and get a job that could help me help my parents. I never knew what that job was, but I did know it would need to be a well-paying job to fulfill my dream of taking care of my parents.
What do you like most about working with National Life?
What I appreciate most about National Life is its dedication to inclusivity. You see this from the diverse team to the diversity in marketing and products.
Has the industry landscape changed during your career? What have you seen?
When I first started my career over 15 years ago, the industry had little to no representation in its leadership and/or their marketing resources geared towards women or communities of color. Little by little I have seen the industry really shift to more inclusivity and diversity, with National Life leading the way.
Is there a particular woman who has inspired you in life?
My mom 🙂 She is my inspiration and motivation. Her entire career, she set a beautiful example of work-ethic, passion, always giving back, and believing that anything is possible through faith.
What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their careers?
Dream big, set your mind to anything you want in life, and get out of your own way.
What leadership quality do you most admire and aspire to?
Inspiration. The ability to inspire others to follow their dreams.
Do you have a cause or a favorite “Do good” passion?
My family’s first home in the United States was in a neighborhood in Los Angeles known as Boyle Heights. I am eternally grateful to this community for providing my family with a platform to pursue their American Dream. I volunteer my time to local non-profits throughout Boyle Heights such as No Us Without You, Homeboy Industries Youth Summer Program, and InnerCity Struggle.
What attracted you to National Life and what would you tell someone who is considering doing business with us?
I am blessed to have the ability to work directly with Brittany Russo who is an outstanding professional and incredibly supportive of our organization. This level of attention and care for relationship building is impressive and hard to find. National Life Group is leading from the front when it comes to technology, products, and diversity-rich marketing materials. I would 100% recommend doing business with National Life.
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Work hard, stay humble.
*National Center for Education Statistics, 09/14/2022: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/clr/public-school-teachers