STRAIGHT OUTTA LIBERIA: The Life and Journey of Lillian Lakes

José Ángel Manaiza Jr.
3 min readFeb 13, 2022


Lillian Lakes

1. Tell us about your journey to success as a mother and leader

* Born in Liberia and raised most of my childhood in Nigeria, my journey in the US began when I moved here for college at 16. I was really excited as most of my family on my mother’s side lived in the US after escaping the civil war in Liberia. I attended Chatham College, a liberal arts college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My parents were protective and preferred a women’s college setting for me since I was so far from home.
* I studied Economics and Information Systems in college and got my first corporate job in information technology at BNY Mellon at the age of sixteen. Over fifteen years, I worked in information technology, real estate and finance. Some previous companies were Bank of America, Barclays Capital, and Delta Air Lines. I also began investing in and selling real estate at the age of twenty.
* I took a break from corporate America when I first had children and used the time to focus on motherhood and getting a MBA from Emory University in Atlanta.
* I got married at a fairly young age, 22, and had my daughter Ariel, at 26. My son came two years after, at 28. Family has always been important to me. Parenting is a rollercoaster but has brought me insurmountable joy. I hope to be here to see my children and their children thrive.
• I experienced some loss in my twenties and took some time to reflect in my thirties. I moved to Massachusetts to study business strategy and innovation at MIT. After grad school, I moved to LA to start fresh with my children and am enjoying our new life here. The LA sunshine and bountiful opportunities for entertainment and enjoying the outdoors keeps my spirit lifted.
* I’m a software engineer and real estate investor now. I enjoy building applications and being able to work remotely helps with work-life integration. My daughter, Ariel, is in middle school and is leaning towards digital media and performing arts. My son, Jeremiah, enjoys robotics, basketball and football. I’m excited about our future and life on the West Coast.

2. What is your recommendation to younger generation who want to follow your footsteps?

My recommendation is to remember that life is marathon not a sprint. If you fall, pick yourself up, dust off, re-energize and continue towards the finish line. I would also share my favorite quote:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

Ariel Lakes (her daughter) , Lillian Lakes (Mother), Jeremiah Lakes (her son)

3. What do you do for your well-being?

To care for myself, I exercise regularly, eat a balanced and often low carb diet, try to get over six hours of sleep, and have fun and stay young with my kids and loved ones.


Jeremiah, Lillian, and Ariel

Lillian is a LA-based full-stack software engineer, world traveler and mother of two that enjoys living and loving fully, and constantly learning. For more information, visit: Click here for full interview on Spotify: