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Impact Austin Membership Spotlight on Val Colbourn

Did you know Impact Austin has an International flair? Well, we do, and a big part of it is our philanthropy education leader, Val Colbourn.

We caught up with Val in between jaunts around the world, and got to learn more about this fascinating woman!

Val, how did you hear about Impact Austin? When and why did you decide to join?

“I learned about Impact Austin when I was walking my dog at Redbud Park! Susan Blount, a long-term member who has since become a great friend, told me all about the organization as we let our puppies run around off-leash. I think Susan’s stories were so engaging, numerous members were probably recruited in the same place. I went to an information event in 2010, was impressed with the business-like approach to collective giving and signed up.”

How have you been involved with Impact Austin?

“I served for two years as a member on the Environment Grant Review Committee (GRC), and had such a good time that I co-chaired that GRC for another year. I have also served on the Culture Grant Review Committee. Most recently I was asked to help set up a new committee focused on philanthropy education for members. This committee is now called IMPACT-edu, and we have a small group of wonderful women organizing events and working to select topics of most interest to our wider membership."

Does your work dictate your travel schedule?

“I’m an attorney by profession. I qualified in the UK (where I’m from) and then spent 17 years working as a lawyer based in Hong Kong, with Asia regional responsibilities. In addition to my work with a U.S. law firm, I worked for Microsoft and eBay as regional counsel for law and government relations. They were fascinating times to be working in China, Korea, and other countries, and I learned a great deal about different cultures and different ways to approach a situation.”

What other nonprofits are you affiliated with and how?

“Outside of the U.S., I’m a supporter of the UK Poppy Appeal which is run by the Royal British Legion to support veterans of armed conflicts; my parents have been fund raisers for many years.”

Tell us a bit about your family.

“I’m based between London and Austin, Texas as my husband is an American. He taught me the rules of American football, and I taught him the offside rule in soccer so it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship! We have a rescue dog called LB (Little Bear), whom I rescued in Hong Kong. I have extended family in both the UK and Texas; the best of both worlds. My mother lives in the UK. Sadly, we lost my father unexpectedly this year. My stepdaughter and her husband live in San Antonio, so college football season is always fun as they are UT supporters while my husband and I support OU! We are an International family in so many ways!”

What is the most important thing you have learned by being an Impact Austin member and what has been your favorite part of the experience?

“As a relative newcomer to Austin, I have appreciated not only the chance to meet wonderfully bright and interesting members, but also to learn a great deal about the nonprofit community here in Central Texas, and to understand the needs that Impact Austin seeks to address.”

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?

“Having lived in Asia for many years, I’ve been fortunate to travel to some unusual places, but the most bizarre was probably North Korea as part of a “friendship” football tournament. It was a very surreal and almost uncomfortable experience, although a fascinating one. Travel certainly broadens the mind and I learned that if a North Korean General asks to hold your soccer ball…let him!”

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