Impact Austin Member Spotlight on Rebekah Bonde
Rebekah Bonde is a brilliant woman who brings razor sharp intellect and analytical skills to everything she does. She has served as Impact Austin’s Board President for the past two years and we caught up with her on the run, as usual!
Rebekah, how did you hear about Impact Austin and why did you decide to join?
"My husband and I moved to Austin in 2011. A neighbor knocked on my door to introduce herself, ask why we moved to Austin, what do we do, etc. I mentioned that I wanted to get to know the nonprofit community and did she know the best way to go about it. She said, 'Oh, you should join Impact Austin!'”
"After I shooed her out of the house so I could resume unpacking, I did an internet search and reviewed Impact Austin’s website and media articles.The next week we were transferring brokerage accounts, and our advisor (Gloria Brown Oliver) asked us the same questions about our move to Austin. She, too, said, 'You need to join Impact Austin!'”
"I had never participated in a collective giving organization before, nor had I been exposed to methodical grantmaking, but we decided I would join for just a year and then resume our normal course of giving. Best laid plans…!"
What work have you done in your Impact Austin experience?
"I am a retired financial professional, and I thought the best way to get acquainted with the Impact Austin is to volunteer in some capacity. At that time, we were going through the first leadership transition, and there was an opening for a volunteer financial administrator. I interviewed for the role and gained an intimate view of how Impact Austin operates, both as a grantmaker and as a nonprofit. As the database person, I was very familiar with every member’s name, and it was neat to actually meet the people whose files I was managing. Because I was the financial administrator, I was asked to join the Finance Committee. After a year of volunteering and serving on a FAC, I decided to join the Board. I am now in my fourth year of Board service and have sat on every committee. I also served as Treasurer, Vice President, and am now serving a second year as President."
What did you do in your professional career?
"I earned degrees in accounting and international business and two minor degrees in economics and French. In Seattle I worked as a financial analyst for a bank (my favorite job ever) and also consulted with telecommunications companies and a large hospital network."
What other nonprofits are you affiliated with and how?
"One of the goals of membership in Impact Austin is to awaken your own personal philanthropic plan; that was very important to our founder, Rebecca Powers. I have discovered a way to participate in organizations dedicated to addressing poverty issues, and I am proud to be a supporter of Capital Area Food Bank, Manos de Christos, and Goodwill of Central Texas. My contacts in Impact Austin led to my husband joining the board of Seedling Foundation where he serves as Board Treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee."
"I’m also proud to be a board member of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN). We are a working board, and my roles and tasks have a direct effect on my work at Impact Austin."
I was invited to write an article for The Huffington Post Blog in October, 2015 to highlight how Impact Austin is changing the face of philanthropy in our community, and it was a joy to share how my membership has changed my giving: You can read Rebekah’s article HERE!
Tell us a bit about your family.
"My husband, Paul is my local family. My family still lives in the Pacific Northwest, and I get antsy every four weeks or so to go home and hug trees and frolic on mountain trails. The picture is of me and my brother, cheering a Super Bowl match up!"
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 joined Impact Austin solely for the philanthropy education benefit, and I am pleased with what I have learned! Our proprietary Grant Review Committee program is first class and could be packaged and sold to other grantmakers around the country. I’ve also significantly increased my knowledge about nonprofit operations and management, as well as board governance. I wasn’t expecting to learn how to do public speaking as I’ve always shied away from opportunities due to severe performance anxiety I’ve had since elementary school, but I keep getting placed in situations enough out of my comfort zone to make me grow."
"My favorite thing about Impact Austin is, frankly, the day we make the grant awards. It’s the best shopping spree you can experience."
Tell us something people might find surprising about you!
"Growing up in Montana, you are used to the outdoors being your second living room. My dad hunted quite a bit (so did everyone’s dad), and we primarily ate pasture-raised elk and antelope; chicken was for other people. My dad would always skin the game in the garage and give the dog an elk/antelope leg as a treat to gnaw on for the next several weeks. Whenever I mowed the lawn, I would pick up the leg where the dog left it and move it so I wouldn’t run over it with the lawn mower. I didn’t think this was weird until I brought a friend home from college one year. We were in the backyard on a swing under the grape arbor when all of a sudden she screamed! Well, the dog had left her half-gnawed elk leg by one of the arbor posts, and I remember saying something like, 'Oh, that’s where she left it.'”
"So I picked up the leg, tossed it into a flowerbed, and tried to resume our conversation. She stared at me agape. Without missing a beat, I said, 'Welcome to Montana.'”