Member Voices: Kalí Rourke
In celebration of our 20th anniversary year, Impact Austin is sharing a variety of stories from and about our members. Each story is unique to the voice we profile, but each also speaks to an aspect of our extraordinary collective.
Kalí Rourke has been a very active member - wearing a number of Impact Austin hats - and a tireless recruiter for our organization. She's equally involved with other nonprofits, including many names familiar to us as Community Partners. Read on to learn how Kalí's nonprofit and Impact Austin experiences are symbiotic and why she's a passionate advocate for GRC service.
Kalí joined Impact Austin for the 2006 grant cycle, and after the training sessions that were required, she signed up for a Grant Review Committee (GRC). When asked if she was already involved with nonprofits at that time, she replied, “Yes, I was the founding Board President for the organization that eventually became Seedling Mentoring, an organization I am still working with and supporting. Many of the things I learned at Impact Austin, I brought into the process of setting up the Board, Programs, and Mission of Seedling.”
We asked if her involvement in Grant Review Committees had affected or informed her philanthropic experiences.
Kalí said, “Oh yes. In fact, my involvement with the GRC for the Texas Advocacy Project back in 2011 was very impactful for me, both in my nonprofit work and personally. TAP had applied for our grant to fund a project called the Emergency Protective Order (EPO) Project and the goal was to help an abused and/or assaulted person to get immediate protection from their assailant. These were most often women in an abusive relationship, but not always. We learned about EPOs and the challenge that awaits people trying to get out of abusive relationships. I had the privilege of working with the subcommittee that did the deep dive into this grant application and was incredibly impressed with the work TAP does.”
We asked her how that had affected her personally and philanthropically.
“Well, it turned out that an extended family member in another state was in an abusive relationship and found herself in the very situation we had talked about. With all I had learned about EPOs from TAP, I was able to convey to her the importance of getting legal representation and filing an Emergency Protective Order as fast as she could. I knew she would be most in danger when her abuser was released from custody and wanted to come home. She followed the advice and is thankfully completely out of that situation.
“Philanthropically, I checked into serving on the Board of TAP and they were very interested. I served with the organization 2012 and 2013 and learned a great deal.
“Grant Review Committee work introduced me to many great nonprofits, some that I just supported financially, and others that I have volunteered with. AGE of Central Texas (formerly Austin Groups for the Elderly), Communities In Schools, and Girls Empowerment Network (GENAustin) are just a few. Even organizations that don’t win grants in one particular year get the gift of exposure to 20-25 GRC members who now know what they do and how well they do it.”
We asked Kalí if there was advice she would give a new member of Impact Austin.
She said, “Join a Grant Review Committee and learn for yourself how this amazing process works. This knowledge will help you whether you join another support committee eventually or become the Board President!
“I think the GRCs are the beating heart of Impact Austin.”
Kalí Rourke and Sara Pantin