Lisa Apfelberg joined Impact Austin five short years ago but this active volunteer and nonprofit professional jumped in with both feet! She’s been an advisor to g3, served on a Grants Review Committee and most recently served on the Board of Directors.
How did you hear about Impact Austin and why did you decide to join? What year was it? I heard about Impact Austin when I was a local Book Festival Director and was bringing Kevin Salwen, author of Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, to Austin as one of my author events and heard of this group, Impact Austin, who was also bringing Kevin to town. I was worried that our events would be competing with each other and Rebecca Powers and I went to coffee to discuss this. She explained Impact Austin to me and I was blown away that I hadn’t heard of it already because I was incredibly impressed by the impact that this group of women was making. She also assured me that her author event wasn’t open to the public but was just open to the members of the group as part of the goals of teaching more women about philanthropy. My fears allayed, I promised myself I would join as soon as my finances allowed, which was about two years later. I’ve been a member since 2012.
What have you done at Impact Austin (FACs, Committees, Board Positions, etc.) My first year, I decided to “just be a member”, which is unusual for me since I’m a joiner and have trouble saying no when asked to help out but I thought I’d derive satisfaction knowing I was a part of a powerful group of women. I quickly decided that I could get so much more from this experience by being involved with other parts of it and asked where I could fit in. Having always been really impressed with g3 and the foresight we had to offer a younger women’s component, I became an advisor for that program. Working with the teens (and the other advisors) was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Everyone seems really happy to be there and the girls are smart and interesting and committed and the advisors become a wonderful group of friends. I loved that experience. Shortly thereafter, I was approached about joining the board of directors. I think they liked me because I work in nonprofits and would bring that perspective with me. I am currently serving my third year on the board and I love it. The board members are passionate and smart and caring and I love to work with them. I served on the Education FAC two years ago and have sat on the IMPACT-edu committee and am currently on the Personnel Committee. Every experience has been wonderful for me.
What other nonprofits are you affiliated with and how? I am affiliated with Refugee Services of Texas having just created a “Welcome Team” for a new family arriving to Austin from Iraq. My team and I decorated and furnished their apartment, including providing them with a full fridge and pantry upon arrival, and then we provided all of their rides to their appointments such as the social security office and the clinic. We are also teaching them about Austin and helping to acclimate them to life in America. At this point, they are really just our friends. I volunteer actively in the Jewish community and my children’s schools. Our family periodically helps another nonprofit, The African Leadership Bridge, by opening our home to host the African students who are in the US to attend college. My son is an active teen leader for Little Helping Hands and I frequently volunteer with him.
Who are your family members? My husband is Eric Greisdorf and we have two wonderful children, Aaron and Sami, who are in 10th and 8th grade. We have two rescue dogs and I hope to rescue more animals soon and am working on getting my husband to agree.
What is the most important thing you have learned by being an Impact Austin member and what is your favorite thing you have done with the organization? I learned that there are many ways to give back. I’ve always worked in a profession that gives back (all my jobs have been in nonprofits) but I love to see how women who work in industries all over the spectrum are finding ways to give back to the local community and put their time and money towards making a difference. The amount of energy and passion they bring to their roles in Impact Austin is impressive and astounding. I’m also surprised to see how brilliant they have become in understanding the nonprofit world. These are women who are incredibly knowledgeable. I also LOVE the feeling of knowing I’m a part of such a large amount of money being granted into the community. I wish I could personally write a check for $100,000, but I can’t, and this is the next best thing.
One of my favorite experiences was going to the site visits with the g3 girls last year. I loved to see the various nonprofits (both of which were helping refugees, which had recently become an interest of mine) and I enjoyed seeing the girls interact with the refugees and working their way through their decision on who they were going to grant their money to.
Tell us something surprising or unusual about you! Go crazy! I love to travel. I met my husband while living in Israel twenty-three years ago doing a Peace Corps-type program. I wish for everyone to have the experience to go overseas and love to find ways to do it inexpensively. Our love of travel and interacting with people from other countries has caused us to have a revolving door guest room where we’ve hosted guests from South Africa, all parts of Israel, Kenya, and from all over the country.