• Impact Austin

Introducing the Strategic Advisory Council

At the June 7 Annual Meeting, Impact Austin will introduce the Strategic Advisory Council (SAC) and its Co-Chairs, Lorene Phillips and Becky Austen. Both members have been strongly engaged with Impact Austin for years, and they have key insights into the SAC’s potential. Read on to learn more about it all.


What is the Impact Austin Strategic Advisory Council?

  • The Council is an advisory committee that makes recommendations to the Impact Austin Board of Directors on strategic and outreach matters.

  • The SAC connects Impact Austin with community leaders to strengthen and diversify our membership and grantmaking.

  • Council members share their professional expertise, diverse knowledge of constituent perspectives, and connections to local resources and colleagues, to help support the mission, vision and principles of Impact Austin.

Who participates in the Strategic Advisory Council?

  • Up to 30 council members will include representatives from the community at large, Impact Austin Board of Directors and Committee Cabinet, Community Partners, and others.

  • The goal of the Council is to solicit community input; as such, a majority of members should be community representatives or Community Partners (Impact Austin grantees).

  • Council members may be invited by the Co-Chairs or Impact Austin leadership, may self-nominate, or be nominated by others. Nominations are due July 1, and notifications will be made August 1, 2021.

What are the expectations of Strategic Council members?

  • They will serve a two-year term, with the option to extend for an additional year.

  • The SAC will follow Impact Austin processes to avoid conflict of interest.

  • Meetings will be quarterly (starting Fall 2021), or more or less frequently as necessary.

  • The SAC will make recommendations to the Impact Austin Board of Directors on strategic matters for Board consideration and approval. The SAC will solicit input from the community to ensure that Impact Austin remains viable and relevant.

  • The SAC will ensure representation from diverse segments of the community, and be representative of age, race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, ability, professional background, geographic location and other factors.

  • For fiscal year 2022, the Council will address strategic priorities including diversification of the Impact Austin membership and Board, and equity and trust-based philanthropy principles in grantmaking.


Lorene and Becky explained why they are enthusiastic about the Strategic Advisory Council.

Lorene: "I am very excited about the ‘closed loop’ process of soliciting input from community members, community and nonprofit leaders, reviewing the input with the Board of Directors and providing feedback to the Strategic Advisory Council members. It provides Impact Austin an opportunity to be engaged in being more impactful in our community. I think we have a history of soliciting input but this council provides a more systematic, formalized approach to seeking input."

Becky: "IA has a long history of listening to and learning from members, grantees, and the community at large, and using that feedback to shape our strategic direction and grantmaking, always with an eye towards improving what we do and making a stronger impact. In the past this feedback loop has been ad hoc - super valuable, but a big lift for volunteers when we have to define a new process and reach out to different people each time. The Strategic Advisory Council gives us a more structured and consistent approach, and is something I've personally wanted to do for a while related to our grantmaking. We're being intentional about inviting voices and experiences to the table that might not have been heard as much through our traditional channels of communication. I'm excited that we're engaging with the community this way, creating this space for open, candid and sustained dialogue and connectedness."


Lorene and Becky also shared why others – Impact Austin members or community representatives – should want to participate and how their viewpoints will matter.

Lorene: "Members of the Council will have a voice at the table and will be encouraged to candidly share feedback, their recommendations, and input that they may be hearing about the perception of Impact Austin in the community. Hopefully, this atmosphere of openness will enable us to collectively make an even more significant impact in the community, by identifying and addressing high priority issues that support Impact Austin’s vision, mission and principles."

Becky: "We will ask the Council members to be active and vocal, unpacking strategic issues and making recommendations on matters that are a top priority for Impact Austin, such as how we advance equity through collective giving, and increasingly diversify our membership and board. It's exciting to be part of that dialogue, to know that their perspectives and experiences and role in the community will help strengthen our impact for years to come. Council members may also come away with ideas that help advance their own work or create new opportunities in the communities where they engage. And they are likely to meet some other really extraordinary people along the way."


Lorene closed by observing that the Strategic Advisory Committee is an obvious next step for our organization.


"I see this as a natural extension of our work because it should strengthen and undergird the exceptional work that we already do. Our emphasis on diversity and inclusion should pay huge dividends if we are able to demonstrate that we do, in fact, cultivate an environment that is supportive of all of the elements of inclusion. If we are able to demonstrate this through our collaborative work with others, we will become a much more sought-after entity in the Austin community."


Impact Austin thanks Lorene and Becky for spearheading this new phase of Impact Austin's work. We thank in advance all those who will serve on the Strategic Advisory Council. You can nominate or self-nominate here by July 1, 2021. Participants will be notified August 1, 2021.

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