Faiza Khan has viewed the world through an international perspective since she was just weeks old. After being born in Pakistan, she moved to Zimbabwe when she was six weeks old and lived with her physician mother and international banker father. She remembers a wonderful childhood in the small African country.
“Zimbabwe is amazing. Growing up in there, I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people,” Faiza says. “There was a lot of poverty, but it makes you very mindful. I give back a lot to Zimbabwe because that’s my home.”
But when her parents moved to neighboring Zambia when Faiza was 17, she realized that she was going to be separated from them one way or the other – either at her boarding school, where she would have to attend for two more years (most people complete 14 grades in Zimbabwe before university), or at college in America. She had heard that students from Zambia had gone to college in America when they were 17, and from those students, she knew only two colleges—Harvard and the University of Texas. So those are the schools she applied to!
“I studied for the SAT from 1 book, printed 3 years prior, had no tips or counselor guiding me through my college application and had no idea what a cumulative GPA meant!” She said. She decided to come across the world to the University of Texas.
“Years later, after learning what the college application process entails and how competitive it is to get a college degree, I am so grateful and honestly amazed at just how lucky I had been to get into such a great university (the University of Texas) and move halfway across the world, with almost zero resources and information.”
“I really feel it was a matter of chance, I totally lucked out and am very fortunate that my life worked out the way it did; it hardly ever works out that way,” she added.
After about 14 years working in supply chain for electronics distributor Velocity Electronics, Faiza was offered a position with the Independent Distributors of Electronics Association (IDEA) and started there as executive director in 2017. The association focuses on creating standards and training for combatting the spread of counterfeit electronic components and has 24 members but thousands of customers, including NASA and the Department of Defense, which utilize the resources that IDEA has put together. Faiza is proud to be a part of such an impactful organization and works hard to balance work and family.
“When I started this job, I thought working from home would give me more flexibility, but I quickly realized this would not be the case. As I work on expanding the association internationally, I am excited about the opportunities and challenges that come with running a global organization.”
Faiza and her husband, Mehlam, love traveling and have passed that passion on to their son, Zain (6.5), and daughter, Zara (3.5), They make sure to travel as often as they can and keep a running list of all the places, all over the world that they want to visit! The photo at right is from last summer's adventures.
How did you get involved with Impact Austin?
One of my best friends (Dina Mavridis) has been a part of Impact Austin for years and she used to run Girls Giving Grants and talk about it and share stories. I always thought about joining but I was so busy with my job [at Velocity Electronics]. I didn’t travel, but I worked with companies in Thailand and Malaysia. My hours were crazy. And I was a team leader, so I had to be there at night and in the morning to manage my sales force. But Impact Austin was always in the back of my mind. When I left that job in 2016, it was time to move on. I was home and worked on my own consulting company for a few months, but it wasn’t moving fast enough for me and when I was offered my job with IDEA, I could work form home so I got to spend more time with the kids and I was excited to be able to volunteer. I was talking to my friend Kendall Antonelli (our kids go to school together) and she said, “Let me tell you about Impact Austin.” As soon as she said it, I was like, “Where do I sign up?” I went to a coffee the next week and I didn’t even need to listen to Rebecca’s story—I had my check ready. That was last year.
How has your experience on Impact Austin committees been?
I am serving on the New Member Coffee Committee and the Education Grant Review Committee, which I really like. Learning about what all these different organizations are doing is amazing. Students, especially those from low-income families, need all the resources and guidance possible to help them graduate from high school. They need counselors, mentors, exposure to technology and so much more to get them on the path to a college education. In my opinion, education is the key to helping children live a better life. This is the reason I was very interested in working with the Education Grant Review Committee to support nonprofits that are trying to help children build a better future. I definitely want to be on a grant committee again. My long-term goal is to be on the Impact Austin Board of Directors when I have more time.
What has been the most rewarding part of your involvement with Impact Austin?
The fact that we’re giving back to our community here in Austin is huge. I obviously love the fact that I’ve met a lot of cool women. But that’s not the reason I joined, even though it is a great way to meet people. The fact that [the whole grant review process] is so well thought out means that you really send your dollars where they matter. That’s a huge deal for me because you can never give enough; you can never help your community enough. But when that dollar stretches further, that’s where it really works. I love the organization. I love what it stands for: empowering women to be philanthropists. I really like that Impact Austin encourages people to give. I wish I had joined earlier.
Why would you recommend Impact Austin to other women?
Because of what they do for the community; because of how they do it; and the number of organizations they’ve helped. You might think nonprofits have funding from lots of sources but what you don’t realize that they need help from everyone—and it’s still hard for them. I recommend Impact Austin to everyone because if you have a desire to give, you should give in the right place in the right way and they help you do that. If you don’t have a desire to give, come and listen and see that this is not your everyday donation. This is money that is going to your own community. I can’t imagine somebody that would listen to that and now want to be a part of it. It may not be the right time for everyone, but I guarantee they’ll go home thinking, “When I have the money, or when I have the time, I would like to be involved.”