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Krista Driver: From Foster Care to Author and CEO—Lifting Women Up

Published on 11/07/2019

What is your life’s purpose?
I am curious about the world around me and I want to influence others to be curious as well.

How are you living your purpose?
I am the CEO of Mariposa Women and Family Center, a nonprofit counseling center, with the mission to empower women and families to make positive changes in their lives. We provide counseling services to Orange County’s most vulnerable women, men, and children. We specialize in trauma and many of our clients have experienced domestic violence, sex trafficking, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.

Also, we just launched a virtual counseling program and we’re really excited about bringing support to individuals in California (and eventually across the country). I’ve been with Mariposa for over 8 years and in that time we have served about 25,000 individuals.

In my leadership role, I encourage my staff of therapists to listen to their clients—to really hear their stories and to be creative in finding ways to help them move the needle in their own lives. To do this, one must be curious about both the problem and the solution.

I’ve also discovered the power of the written word and how much I love to write. This is something I’ve recently added into my “purpose” and I’m so captivated by this new path. I love it! My first book, Mani/Pedi: A True-Life Rags to Riches Story, has recently been published by She Writes Press. It tells the story of Charlie Vo, who left everything behind and risked not only her life, but the lives of her two small children, her husband, and two young sisters to escape from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. Once in America, Charlie began working in the booming nail industry, where her path crossed with Olivett, an African American woman. Together those two women have built a successful business and a life-long friendship that transcends race and culture.


How did you find your purpose?
I am a naturally curious person. As a child, I would incessantly ask anyone who would listen how something was made, why something was the way it was, or what made something work.

As I grew older, I became really interested in other people’s stories… Why were they the way they were? What was their life like? I particularly loved to talk to old people and learn about their history and nuances from their childhood. In college, I would spend time visiting the seniors at the nursing home near campus because they had the best stories.

I majored in psychology for this very reason, because I loved people’s stories and I was curious about their lives. Nine years of school, three thousand internship hours, two state exams later, and I had a Doctorate in Psychology and was a licensed therapist. I opened a private practice and worked in both inpatient and outpatient clinics and truly enjoyed the work. I eventually found myself in the CEO seat of Mariposa and it has been a great adventure.

I had the idea for my book when I was sitting in the salon chair getting a mani/pedi. As I was observing the people around me, I came to the realization that I didn’t “see” the technicians, and I began to wonder about their lives. So, I simply asked them; the stories they shared with me were full of tragedy and heartache and triumph. That’s when I felt compelled to tell their stories; to show others this incredible group of women that have shaped the nail industry as we know it today. Anthologies present a unique challenge and so I decided to tell the collective stories through the story of one woman, Charlie Vo.

A few years ago, a friend asked me, “If you could do anything in your life, what would it be?” I told her about my book idea and I lit up. Telling her the concept for the book just activated every “happy cell” in my body. My friend said, “Well, why don’t you do it?” I had every excuse: I’m too busy. I don’t have the skill set to write a book. I’ve never done anything like that in my life.

But that conversation stayed with me and in time I decided I had to write this story. I felt compelled to take that leap. And I did it. I wrote Mani/Pedi and that was the best, most fulfilling thing I’ve done to date. Charlie Vo absolutely won my heart and I’m confident she will win yours too!

In writing this story, I learned so much about myself and about truly being curious and fearless. This became my life’s purpose, to live as my “best self” and to inspire others to do the same.

Charlie Vo holding my book!


What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Everybody’s journey is going to be a little different. There are a few things I could recommend though…

Take a piece of notebook paper and fold it in half lengthwise. On one side, write a list of the things you are doing or were told to do: What were/are the expectations for you? On the other side, write a list of things that really spark your interests: Things you would do if you had unlimited resources. Dream. Then tear that piece of paper along the folded seam and pin up the side with your dreams. Look at it again and again and just let it sink to your core… This might be a good juncture to getting a life coach who could help direct some of your focus on your dreams.

Many times, I have asked clients or friends or co-workers, “If you could be or do anything you wanted, what would it be?” My next question was usually, “Why?” Why would you want to do that? What would it mean if you could do that?

Sometimes it is helpful to make a list of “WHY’s” to really understand the motivation and potential alternatives. For example, a person may state, “I want to be a surgeon.” Great! Why? Then they may say, “Because I want to have a lot of money so that I can travel and surgeons make a lot of money.” So, the motivating factor is money and it’s possible the passion is travel. In this case, the alternative may become “I want to travel and experience different cultures.” That’s a very different “purpose” than being a surgeon.

Another thing I did was interview people who had traveled this road before me. They didn’t have to be in my field or have written a book or done anything close to what I wanted to do, but they had “something” I wanted. I just didn’t know what that something was until I had talked to a few people. I was fearless in this task. I asked people who: 1. I didn’t know up close and 2. were far outside of my “circle.”

One person was Tilly (founder of Tilly’s clothing stores). I simply asked for an interview with her and I was shocked when she said yes. Another person was Wendy Zomnir (founder of Urban Decay). Same thing; she said yes. I spent about an hour with each of these women and walked away with a clear understanding of the “something” they had that I wanted. I asked both women the same question, “What made you think you could do something so bold and be so successful?” They each, independently from each other, essentially said, “because it never occurred to me that I couldn’t.”

It never occurred to me that I couldn’t. That was the key ingredient I needed. Perhaps it’s the key ingredient we all need in finding our purpose.

Working at our counseling center


What resources do you recommend?
I’m a reader and there were a few books that helped me…
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther Hicks

I also found my “lunches with the ladies” (Tilly, Wendy and many others) were a fantastic resource for me. Not only was I inspired by them and learned from them, but they also helped me with great connections. It was an introduction to this person that led me to an introduction to that person that led me to the most amazing writing coach/editor/new friend, Victoria Christopher Murray. I didn’t even realize I was “networking” when I was meeting with these women, but that’s exactly what it ended up being and I’m so thankful for it.


Connect with Dr. Krista Driver:
Email: kdriver@mariposacenter.org
Mariposa Women and Family Center
Coming soon http://www.kristadriver.com
Book: Mani/Pedi: A True-Life Rags to Riches Story
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AbridgeInc/
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/krista.driver
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kristadriver/
Amazon Smile: Select Mariposa Women and Family Center as your charity and we’ll get a donation for every order.


Born to a teen mother and a child of the foster care system for four years before she was adopted, Dr. Krista Driver started out as the epitome of the “underdog.” Dr. Driver has dedicated her career to working with the most vulnerable in her community as the President and CEO Of Mariposa Women & Family Center, a nonprofit based on empowering women and families to make positive changes in their life. A licensed marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in psychology, Dr. Driver is a perpetual observer with an innate curiosity for other people’s stories. When she stumbled across an incredibly fascinating tale of one woman’s escape from Vietnam, she felt compelled to write about it. Mani/Pedi: A True-Life Rags to Riches Story is her first book.

HeleneTStelian Musing
I’m Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Mentor with a passion for facilitating personal development in women 40+. Through my THRIVE Courses, I help introspective, curious, action-oriented women 40+ deepen their journeys of self-discovery and growth—and create their next chapter with courage and intention.



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