IAPA Au Pair of the Year

We are delighted to share that Lia Anahi Padilla Medina, Ecuadorean au pair from Agent Au Pair, won the 2024 Au Pair of the Year award from the International Au Pair Association (IAPA)! Lia joined the Pelicano family of Illinois in January of 2023, and has significantly contributed to her host family over the last year. Lia’s story illustrates the life-long impact au pairs make in the lives of their host families and we at Agent Au Pair are proud to have played a part in this heart-touching story. Please watch the Au Pair of the Year Video below to learn about Lia’s contribution to the Pelicano family.

This contest, hosted by IAPA, recognizes outstanding young individuals in au pair programs around the world by shining a spotlight on their contributions and promoting awareness of this meaningful cultural exchange. Host families and member agencies can nominate their au pairs for the award by sharing the impact they have had on their family. The award is highly competitive and IAPA carefully reviews the submissions and selects the winner based on the video submitted

Lia from Ecuador ​

A lot of people say a lot of nice things about people, but words will not be able to capture the essence, the heart, the soul of a person like Lia Padilla.

Generally speaking when you add a new member to your household, things start off slow and there’s a gradual getting to know each other process that takes time, trust & care. Lia’s first day with us was like she had been with us for years and every day with her since then has been better than the day before.

She’s diligent, caring, loving, hard working, nurturing, smart, funny, nice and even all those words don’t begin to do her justice. I’ll share a couple of stories about Lia that will showcase how great she is and how much she deserves this award. Before I get into the stories, I want to say that Lia is the most consistent person I know that isn’t me. Lia gets up every day, starts work at the right time and with the exact right attitude and energy.

 There are no downs. No dips in performance. No attitude because of something personal going on or because of the weather or because of a bad’s night sleep. No misdirected anger or frustration. Just always consistently professional, caring and exceptional in every single way a human can be. I’ve lead hundreds of people in my life and I can tell you that the hardest trait to find isn’t brilliance, it’s consistency and care. The world moves because you get up every day and make it move. People are happy because people work everyday to make other people happy. Lia, as one of these people, is the calm in the storm of this world, and if everyone were more like her, the world would be a far better place.

Now, onto the stories. One thing you should know about Lia is that she’s an exceptional multitasker. She’s always doing at least two things simultaneously. We had two dogs in our house – Trevor & Lemon. One day while she was preparing the kid’s breakfast before school, Lemon wanted food and was barking. Lia sternly looked at Lemon and said “Lemon Pepper, you need to wait!” I was shocked. She’s generally not stern at all, and we had never given the dogs middle names, and Lemon Pepper was perfect. We laughed about that for a while. And then I asked her if she had also invented a middle name for Trevor. And she was embarassed, but finally admitted she calls him “Trevor Marie” when he’s bad. Me and my family still call him that to this day. When Lemon got sick this year and had to be put down from cancer, Lia was truly the rock we all needed and was strong through the process and helped the kids and us get through that difficult time.

The last story is a bit sadder but the most important. My wife & I were expecting our 5th child, and our first daughter, this year in December. When we found out we were pregnant, Lia was so excited. On a personal level, Lia was more excited than a lot of our own family members about this – she really, truly cares about us and our family that much. Unfortunately we lost the baby very late in the pregnancy, just a week before the due date. This was (and is) very difficult for my wife & I. During these traumatic times, though, Lia, as always, is here. Working, caring, nurturing, helping…being the rock we needed and will continue to need.

We’re thrilled she has decided to stay for a second year of the program with us and we’re excited to continue to build our relationship with her for many years into the future. At this point, my wife & I refer to her as our oldest daughter and treat her as such. I’ve made her a personal promise that she will never go without as long as there’s a heartbeat in my chest for all the things she’s done for my boys and my wife, and I will die before I break that promise to her.

People like Lia are rare and deserve to be cherished, and we intend to cherish her so long as she wants to remain part of our family.

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