Member Spotlight on Kali’ Rourke
I joined Impact Austin in 2005 for the 2006 Grant Cycle. I had just completed my term as PTA President of Murchison Middle School and had finished my first year on the board of the Travis Community Education Foundation (Which became Seedling Foundation!) and I had “drunk the Kool-Aid,” as the saying goes.
“Drinking the Kool-Aid” is that feeling you get when you have been part of something that made a difference. It is that shot of adrenaline we experience when we first realize that we, as individuals, have the power to change things for the better in our community. It leads some of us to serve with institutions in our life (schools, church, etc.) and it leads some of us out a little further afield…I am in the latter category, and as I considered my options in 2005, I read an article in the Statesman saying that a women’s giving group, Impact Austin, was having an informational coffee at Grapevine Market that week. I decided to go.
Rebecca Powers spoke that night, and hearing her origin story of Impact Austin and her description of the empowering work the group was doing was a siren song to me. I joined immediately.
When the invitation came to join a grant review committee, I jumped on it and began my Impact Austin journey! Back then, you went through training in grant review and financial statements before you started on a review committee and so I showed up with many others to a meeting room at Austin Community College and got my first dose of rigorous Impact Austin grantmaking training from amazing women that included Anna Clepper and Glenda Holmstrom. I remember walking out to my car after that first session thinking, “I have lucked into something very special!”
My first grant review committee was Culture and this was back when we first grew to a size that would support two grants. That meant we knew that there would be three losers, but we wanted both our members and our applicants to come through the process improved and informed, whether their program won or not. Betsy Blair was our Chair, and I learned a ton from her, with great humor and hospitality thrown in as a bonus. I started making friends and finding out about opportunities to use some of the skills I was gaining as the founding board president and webmaster at Seedling, for the benefit of Impact Austin. At the same time, I was learning what makes an outstanding program in an excellent nonprofit and applied that knowledge to building Seedling’s board and policies as it developed an amazingly high-quality school-based mentoring program for children challenged by parental incarceration.
In 2011, I felt the call to get involved with the board of Impact Austin. That was the first year after Rebecca had decided to step away from management and the board had hired Liz Fitzgerald as our Executive Director and the first paid employee. The board was being rebuilt, and so I could bring some of the governance and other experience I had accrued full circle back to benefit Impact Austin. I served for three years and saw much change and growth that continues today.
I was on the board when Impact Austin hosted the Women’s Collective Grantmaking Network for their annual meeting in Austin, and when Impact Austin won the Ethics in Business Award. Both of those experiences were unforgettable. I was there when we decided to change the way we do grantmaking, and to strike out into territory that was unknown and challenging. I was also there as we went through the inevitable growing pains every great organization experiences, and had the privilege of celebrating our 10th Anniversary with an original song I wrote and performed with my friend, Jesse White. Click the image to hear it!
I have joined other boards based on my grant review committee experiences and have donated or led other women to various nonprofits I have learned about. I have also mentored newcomers to Austin, introducing them to the community of women’s philanthropy and I have enjoyed watching them bloom into leaders, change agents, and philanthropists. It is a pleasure to be able to practice philanthropy in an informed, professional, and high-integrity way, and I credit Impact Austin with much of the expertise I have gained and used to benefit others.
This has been an exhilarating, wild ride, with precious friends found and held close along the way. “Women can do more than Woman!” San Diego’s collective giving group shared that motto with us years ago, and I believe it.I became a Sustaining Member of Impact Austin last year, and continue to contribute to the marketing, social media and blog and new member orientations for the organization. I love what we do and I think I may be an Impact Austin member for life!
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