Pacaso board member Malissia Clinton: ‘Be courageous’

Published Date: January 6, 2023

Malissia Clinton headshot paired with view of Manhattan Beach CA
Pacaso’s newest board member, Malissia Clinton, shared insights and inspiration with the Pacaso Crew. Here’s what we learned.

About Malissia

In her day job, Malissia Clinton is senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at Aerospace. The company has been active since the early days of the U.S. space program, and continues to be a leader in space-related science and engineering. One of Malissia’s focus areas is rocket and launch certification — which is bound to score cool points at dinner parties. Underscoring the importance of the work, Malissia noted, “When you spend a billion dollars to design something, you don’t want it landing in the ocean.” 

The appeal of Pacaso’s board

Malissia is a member of a handful of boards, and Pacaso felt like a good addition based on the company’s model and her personal interests. “It’s exciting to start with a company that’s in it’s beginning stage. And when I look at your business model, it’s very innovative. You have urgency, you have agency and you have the right motivators to do good and do it quickly — because others in the market will catch you if you don’t.”Beyond the disruptive model, Malissia was drawn to Pacaso’s mission to make second homes more accessible. “America grapples with a lot of things, especially exclusion based on race, color and income. Pacaso’s second home ownership model — enabling buyers to purchase ⅛ ownership — opens the door to a lot more people, and I think that’s important. You’re doing good work, and you’re making money while you’re doing it.”

A personal history with housing discrimination

Malissia is an L.A. native, and her family moved to the upscale community of Manhattan Beach nearly 20 years ago, largely for the good public schools. The largely white city has a noteworthy history of discrimination — Manhattan Beach used the right of eminent domain to remove the town’s first Black landowners, Willa and Charles Bruce, from their property in 1924; just this year, in April 2021, the county board of supervisors voted to return the land to the couple’s descendants. Despite this history and the absence of many Black neighbors, Malissia, a Black woman, felt comfortable and accepted in the community. A year after moving to a different neighborhood within Manhattan Beach, however, her family’s home was set on fire while she was on a business trip. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was a shock. “It was race-related, a hate crime, and we struggled with whether to leave. But the community rallied, and that was really good for the family, so we decided to tough it out.” Reflecting on her experience being targeted nearly a century after the Bruce family’s exclusion from Manhattan Beach, Malissia said that Pacaso was moving the needle in the right direction. “I like Pacaso’s model because I think housing is one of the last areas where we still get segregated by wealth and race, and bringing down barriers through co-ownership is a step toward more equity.”

Pushing past adversity

Malissia summed up her perspective on managing challenges in life and work in five words: “Nothing worth having is easy.” When confronted with the hate crime at her home, she decided to embrace the support of community allies, share her story through a TED Talk, and take the long view. She believes the same approach applies to business: Be courageous. “If you’re not courageous, you don’t belong here.” And when you encounter an obstacle that seems insurmountable? Those are the moments you should embrace, said Malissia. “You hit bumps in the road and they throw you off, but that’s where you learn. You learn very little when things are easy. The growth that comes from setbacks is unparalleled, and it will propel you to levels you didn’t know you could reach.”The people who are the most successful, said Malissia, are those who don’t give up. “Go lick your wounds, then come back and you’ll realize there’s a horizon you couldn’t see before right around the corner. Ask yourself what you can gain from the experience. You will grow and achieve as long as you keep showing up.” 

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Amie Fisher

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