Celebrating Board President Lauren Paver and Her Inspiring Leadership
Impact Austin Board President Lauren Paver has a knack for helping organizations achieve their goals. In her professional life, she’s a consultant who works with $5 million to $30 million entities experiencing rapid growth that need help strategizing, turning strategy into operating plans and leveling up their talent and operations along the way.
“Companies hire me to guide them through vision creation, strategic goals, and multi-year operating plans. We identify strategic drivers and how to maximize their strengths to achieve their vision in addition to rolling up our sleeves and helping with execution too,” she says.
“For an organization going through a lifecycle change, the CEO is typically excited about the company’s potential but recognizes the processes and practices of the past will not get them where they want to go in the future. I enjoy helping the leadership team think through their endgame and identify their bright spots to turn them into competitive advantages. I’m also a geek for great planning that combines people and strategy.”
Lauren started her consulting company in 2017 after realizing that with three young children she needed more flexibility in her life. “Throughout my career, people always told me I should go consult. So I ended up interviewing with consulting firms and when they gave me case studies to analyze, I would focus on the company’s strengths and ask, ‘what is the higher order of what this entity is trying to do?’” When she decided to open her own consulting firm, that term, higher order, became her company name.
Coincidentally, she joined the Impact Austin Board of Directors at about the same time she was starting Higher Order Consulting—right when Impact Austin was in the midst of a life cycle change and needed her expertise. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!
“Luckily I was just at the point of gaining new clients so I had the time to devote to Impact Austin—often 10-15 hours a week. I used to joke that Impact Austin was my largest non-paying client!”
As Lauren’s term as board president comes to an end, we can now look back at the amazing accomplishments the board has achieved in the past two years, setting Impact Austin on the path to an ever “higher order” of expanded membership and community impact.
How did you first get involved with Impact Austin?
In my first job out of college, I was overseeing the foundation at National Instruments. Rebecca Powers called me and told me about Impact Austin and said she wanted to come talk to our women’s affinity group. We did a brown bag lunch and I immediately signed up (as did many other women). I loved that this is a group of women trying to do something at the grassroots level. I’ve been a member for 11 years now and I think I’ve served on every single committee, including a GRC for three years, the Marketing Committee, the CEO Transition Committee, the Finance Committee, Beyond Impact Fundraising Campaign Committee, and the board. After my third baby and a demanding full-time role as COO of a high-growth company, I took a two-year hiatus.
When I came back on the board in March 2017, the executive director had just resigned, the volunteer structure had atrophied and membership had been declining year over year. I was voted in as vice president shortly after joining the board and sadly, the existing board president resigned when her family needed her in Houston. When she relocated a couple of months later, the board voted me in as president. I had never been a board president before so it was trial by fire and a little bit of duct tape and baling wire! I am so grateful to the amazing women at Impact Austin including Sarah Harris, Susan Palombo (the incoming board president), Rebecca Powers, Nancy Mutscher, Jenny Cotner, and Mary Blegen, who took a chance on me and joined the board to dream big and bold with a new vision and strategic plan. I am now very excited to be moving into the past president role for FY2020 and supporting Susan as she becomes Impact Austin’s board president for two years.
What are you most proud of the board accomplishing under your leadership?
I am most proud of rallying the amazing women on the board and in the membership who served on our visioning and strategic planning efforts to go back to the drawing board and develop a new strategic plan. By using all the member input to craft the new vision about increasing the philanthropic potential of women we are seeing that vision come to life with so many new members who are inspired by our strategic plan. There were some tough months. Not everyone was a fan of the new direction, but looking back now I’m so glad we stuck with it. We could not have hired a more perfect person as executive director than Christina [Gorzcinski]. She embodies the vision this strategic group created. It’s most exciting to me to see the plan come to life through new initiatives such as the Social Innovation Grant and the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee. We want to embrace DEI, not just in words but by living it in the fabric of the organization – and that is a learning process for me.
True to Impact Austin’s core, we’re a learning organization and I learn every day through every engagement with IA members. As I step down, I am so grateful Susan is at the helm. She is one of the smartest, gracious, most unflappable, charismatic women I’ve come across and she has been driving this work from the beginning – she has the perspective and willingness to lean into transformative conversations and has taught me about how to do so in an eloquent way. I am so thrilled she took a chance on the potential to dream big when I asked her to join the Board. We’ve had two years of resetting the foundation of Impact Austin and now she will lead the transition to the November launching off point [of the Social Innovation Grant] that Christina and newer members are bringing to the table.
What did you love about being board president?
I loved working with such a humble group of passionate women who are excited to change the world and see the power in doing so together.
What’s next for you at Impact Austin?
Susan has asked me to chair the Advancement Committee for the next year and I am excited to work on that strategy so we can build deeper donor relationships, diversify our revenue strategies and increase investments in the endowment – all to further our mission. We want to get to that $1 million budget so we can hire key staff who will create sustainability for our impactful grants and member-focused programming. After my board term ends next year I may take a small hiatus. There is beauty in being gone awhile and developing some objectivity and then coming back to the organization to dive in with all you have to offer!