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40 Under 40 - Class of 2013
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 8 years ago

Liza Maldonado, 38

Criminal Division Director, Lee County Court Administration

Liza Maldonado has to be the maven of organization.

Consider the volume of people she has to track as the criminal division director for Lee County’s courts: In the most recent fiscal year, 21,500 newly arrested people passed through her courthouse domain. Plus, she has to track another 2,900 people on probation.

It’s fair to say that most of these folks really don’t want to be there, but Maldonado manages this rough crowd with the help of 61 staff.

“We assist the judges with managing the cases,” Maldonado explains. “Some staff work right inside the jail on a 24/7 basis.”

How does she do it? “I’m real big on structure and chain of command,” says the single mother of two.

“You have to really trust your staff, and I do that quite a bit,” Maldonado says. “I’m big on the team approach. I have three direct reports and I count on them wholeheartedly.”

She’s always communicating with her staff and expects to be informed about what happens, even if it’s not pleasant news. “You must make your expectations clear,” Maldonado says. “The burden always falls on management. When something goes wrong I’ll take the hit for it.”

Maldonado says it’s a challenge to juggle a job that functions 24 hours a day and seven days a week. “It’s very important to be able to walk away from it,” she says, making time for her children and exercise.

Her favorite workout routine is an exercise boot camp because she can follow directions from an instructor. “I don’t have to be the one making the decisions,” she laughs.

 — Jean Gruss


City of residence: Cape Coral

Birthplace: Fort Myers

Alma mater: Florida Gulf Coast University

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Communication, collaboration and consensus building is vital in leadership.

Favorite off-hours activity: Working out, spending time with my children and supporting my daughter’s dancing and my son’s basketball goals.

Coolest business experience: Going through the steps to earn an accredited agency status! Truly a rewarding experience.

Best award you ever received: #1 MOM

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: My father and Steve Jobs

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Sandra Bullock

If I had a magic wand I’d: Give my staff a well-deserved raise.

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