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Introducing the FY 2018 Directors of Impact Austin’s Board

Each year, an amazing group of Impact Austin members works behind the scenes for the benefit of the entire membership. We are proud to introduce these talented women to you and hope that you will get to get to know them better.  You met the Officers of the Impact Austin Board in our last article. 

Now, meet the Directors of the Impact Austin Board!

Betsy BlairPresident, Cielo Azul Foundation, Community Volunteer

I am a true Texas girl - born and raised in Dallas and an Austinite since 1974.  

I have been an Impact Austin member for fourteen years and am a passionate supporter of the organization. I have served in many different capacities within the organization, including Grants Chair, Volunteer Management Co-Chair, and Grants Innovation Chair.

Impact Austin has given me the opportunity to use my time and talents, as well as introducing me to some of the most amazing women in Austin. 

Happily, retired since 2009 from a career in the high-tech industry, I now focus on volunteering, traveling, knitting, reading, and tennis, tennis, tennis!

Sarah Elliott, Founder of the Ellivate Alliance, Co-founder & Principal of Intend2Lead

I love partnering with women entrepreneurs through coaching and masterminding to inspire them to reach their potential. In March 2017, I created an alliance of trusted, like-minded women business owners (the Ellivate Alliance) to make it easier to intentionally support women entrepreneurship and elevate our collective, positive impact in the world.

I also run a leadership development business called Intend2Lead, a company that empowers emerging leaders to create new possibilities in their lives, organizations, and communities. Using an innovative combination of leadership development tools, including one-on-one and group coaching, consulting and training, we co-create unique solutions with our clients to translate their vision into reality.

I’ve always loved connecting with other women and supporting their growth, so I feel privileged and excited to be part of this extraordinary group of women at Impact Austin!

Melissa Gray, Community Volunteer

I was on Impact Austin’s founding board and am honored to serve on the board again during the celebration of our 15th anniversary.

I retired from practicing law in January 2003 and joined Impact Austin six months later. My experience with Impact Austin has transformed my life here in Austin. Not only do I have a deeper connection to our community because of what I have learned through my Impact Austin membership, but I have formed relationships with members that I will treasure forever. While I believe that Impact Austin is a true gift to Central Texas, I also know that our members’ lives are enriched by their involvement the organization.

In addition to board membership with Impact Austin, I serve on the board of Jeremiah Program and spend most of my time trying to keep track of my four teenagers!

Val Kirk, Community Volunteer

During my twelve years with Impact Austin, I've been co-chair of the Grant Finance Committee for five years, Financial Administrator for five, and on the Board of Directors for eight, with five as Treasurer. I credit Impact Austin with giving me the impetus to finally retire from practicing law, as now I can work with fabulous women, learn new things, and contribute in a meaningful way through volunteering.

Besides Impact Austin, my passions are hanging out with my family and traveling to unusual places (Egypt, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, Australia, Antarctica). Since my son, daughter-in-law, and three precious grandsons moved to Oxford, UK, I visit them often and use that location as a jumping-off place for more travel.

Connie Lawyer, Community Volunteer

Impact Austin has provided me with my second career! 

After a great career as a partner at Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and in finance at Dell, I had four goals for my early retirement: sleeping until I woke up, reading the NY Times every morning, traveling the world, and giving back to my community. 

A tennis friend told me about Impact Austin in 2003 and my response was “Sign me up!”  This started my giving back with my donation and participation on a grant review committee. I was hooked and have worked in Grants for Impact Austin ever since. 

I am privileged to work with passionate women helping passionate nonprofits provide excellent services for Greater Austin in unique and varied ways. And I still manage to find time to fit in family and friends, travel and an additional passion—being a tennis bum!

Sara Pantin, Managing Partner, Asset Strategies Group, LLC

I am a sixth-generation Texan and most proud of having five 8th generation grandchildren in Central Texas. I love giving back and would say that my faith journey and family have been great joys in my life, as has my 30 plus year career in the financial services profession.

I co-founded my firm, Asset Strategies Group, LLC 13 years ago and enjoy working with clients in planning their financial future and serve as a fiduciary and a Corporate Registered Investment Advisor.

I’ve been a member of Impact Austin since 2006 and was Co-Chair of the Grant Finance Committee before joining the Board. I served as Board Secretary for the past two years and now again as a Director. I am excited about our future and very pleased to serve as the Chair of our Endowment Committee as we build toward permanence.

Jackie Shillis, Retired

One of my favorite things is being with people who are working toward a common goal, so Impact Austin fits perfectly into my mix of semi-retirement activities.

This is my eighth year as an Impact Austin member. I have been a grant review committee co-chair twice, trained the co-chairs two years, and am heading into my third year on the board.  My main focus on the board has been strategic planning, including engaging with members about what has worked and not worked for us in the past and how we can best energize, organize, and support our members to create a dazzling future.

When I am not working on an Impact Austin project, you might catch me hanging out with my husband at our home in rural Bastrop County, swimming laps, doing yoga, walking our two Weimaraners, reading, cooking, or working on a contract project facilitating community engagement or public input.


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