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A Greeting to Members from Impact Austin President Susan Palombo

Aahh.  Summer!  The change of seasons provides such a wonderful dichotomy:  the comfort of the predictable juxtaposed with the promise and hope of change.  At Impact Austin, we have just ended our traditional grants season—our predictable and repeatable process of the grant review committees’ work leading to our collective member selection of our new Community Partners.  In early June, we had the promise of our Annual Meeting (seeing old friends, meeting new members and anticipating our newest grant partners) and our Check Presentation Ceremony at City Hall.  During these annual events where we hear from finalists and Community Partners about how, with our $100,000 grant, their organization will be able to work on solving some of our communities’ important challenges, it is a tangible experience of our mission in action.  The promise of the impact of our collective giving grants is the purpose of our work.  Our thanks go to our entire FY 2019 Grants team led by Becky Austen and Laura Kane.  If you have not had an opportunity to serve on a grants review committee (GRC) recently, I encourage you to reach out and volunteer.  Our FY 2020 Grants Chairs Marla Whelan and Katherine Drew would love to talk with you about how to get involved. 

This summer, Impact Austin also looks forward to the future, including the debut of our fifth grant, our Social Innovation Grant (SIG). We anticipate the presentation of our finalists for this grant and the vote to follow at our November 6th Town Hall. 

In summer, we also enjoy the brief luxury of a reset, personally as members and organizationally.   Summer is our moment to celebrate the year’s accomplishment as we dive into improvements for the upcoming year and transitions to new volunteer leaders.  We thank those who have contributed so much to our organization’s purpose and welcome and on-board our incoming leaders.  Our grants team has long targeted a needed modernization of our grants technology management system.   A robust work team developed criteria and requirements, conducted a search, and presented the case to the board for approval. Now the team is working toward a fall launch with our g3 group’s kickoff and then with our larger grants application season.  Thank you to the many volunteers who have helped shepherd that process to get us this far: Marla Whelan, Ken Whalen, Andi Snow-Weaver, Connie Lawyer, Kathryn Drew and Gail Mitchell.

Summer brings change to your board of directors.  We bid good bye to Founder Rebecca Powers and Treasurer Mary Blegen.  During her recent board term, Rebecca chaired our board governance committee and led our ad hoc executive director search committee, even as she and Phylis Donelson worked to exceed our membership goal.  Rebecca’s tireless support for our organization has been such a gift.  Mary chaired our board personnel committee and led the on-boarding process of our new executive director, spearheaded important tenets discussions throughout our board and committee cabinet, and served as chair of our finance committee.  Thank you both for leading such critical projects for our organization.

Board President Lauren Paver has just completed her term of service.  Lauren led our organization during a critical time in our history as we celebrated our 15th anniversary, developed a roadmap for our next 15 years with a robust strategic plan that both celebrates our origins and prepares to serve our increasingly diverse community of the future.  We have benefitted from Lauren’s many personal and professional strengths as achiever, activator, strategist, arranger, and includer.  In Lauren’s FY 2020 role as Past President, she is heading the board’s advancement committee. This is critical to our success as we build our organizational capability in order to continue to serve our members, community partners and through them, our most pressing issues in a rapidly growing community.  If you have interest and passion about helping our organization identify and secure new sources of revenue, please contact Lauren directly.  The operating portion of your annual contribution ($250/year) covers about half of our organization’s annual operating budget.  So, if you, your company, or your foundation have interest in sponsoring new members or our events, please reach out to Lauren.

As we say good bye to some important board leaders, we welcome four new board members:  Jessica Forrest, Treasurer; Allison Marshall, Chair of the Personnel Committee; Katherine Mudge; and Deanna DeHaven. Read more about them in our blog. Governance chair Jenny Cotner will lead our FY 2021 board recruitment, search and selection process.  If you are interested in learning more about that, please contact Jenny directly. 

As our city evolves and grows, Impact Austin must position itself for the future—to create welcoming and inclusive experiences for all.   Please share feedback on your Impact Austin experience; I welcome your opinions.  Furthermore, I hope you will become as involved as your interest and bandwidth allow.  Our volunteer roles range from one-time plug-ins to multi-year leadership and board commitments. If you don’t see a role that fits your needs on our website, just reach out to Christina or Suhailah and ask.  With our new member portal, we can locate other Impact Austin members quickly and conveniently.  Try it out and connect with Impact Austin friends.  And please take the time to update your own profile. Thank you to our technology team for this innovation, with special appreciation to leaders Christine Egli Ashley Brown. They, in turn, thank Christina and Suhailah, Lindsay Chamberlain and Val Kirk from the Operations side. Also to be acknowledged are developers Dennis Wilson, Mrinal V, Emma Holt, Harish Raghuraman and Sidvita Hedge. More than a dozen members beta tested the site. Thanks to you!

Join with me in thanking our many and amazing FY 2019 volunteers for a terrific year, and help me welcome our new leadership team for our FY 2020 kickoff.  We so appreciate each of you.  Our community depends upon our collective strength to address the needs of Central Texas.


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