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  • Impact Austin

Takeaways from Discovery Day 2020

Welcome and Introduction

Christina Gorczynski, Susan Palombo, Jenny Cotner, Katherine Mudge

Breakout Session #1 offered a New Member Orientation to our new volunteers and shared how to get involved with Impact Austin.

Breakout Session #2 provided an overview for potential Board members, reviewing benefits, expectations, time commitments for those considering Board service.

Discovery Day’s main program kicked off with Impact Austin’s new promotional video produced by C2C Media with interviews from our 2019 Town Hall Meeting.


The Mission Case for DEI & Philanthropy

Presented by DEI Committee members Alice Marsel, Kim Davis (Chair) and Lav Chintapalli

After reviewing Impact Austin's Mission, Vision and Values with Alice Marcel, Kim Davis and Lav Chintapalli helped us better understand DEI and why it is important to all of us within Impact Austin.

What is DEI?

Diversity is all the ways in which we differ, both visible and invisible to others. As women of Impact Austin, how do we extend an invitation to others in our community to be able to learn and grow?

Equity is about ensuring individuals are treated fairly and without bias. We all grow up differently and have some level of implicit bias; however, being aware of our bias makes a difference because then we can address it.

Inclusion is the behaviors that allow all individuals to contribute to their fullest. Not only do others have to be invited and brought in, but they also need to have a sense of belonging – feeling safe AND included.

Why DEI & Philanthropy?

Impact Austin is Philanthropy, not Charity. We don’t seek to only reduce suffering. We want to solve systemic problems by coming together to better advance the common good.

  • Understanding and reflecting on a rich variety of perspectives helps us to achieve greater impact.

  • Diversity and inclusion can help us better identify creative solutions to our internal challenges, and those faced by the communities we serve.

  • Thinking about equity in our grantmaking can help us create opportunities for all communities to thrive.

As philanthropists, we are heart - and we should be “listening with our hearts.”

We cannot presume to know how to solve the problems of the community without opening our minds, our hearts and inviting the community in. By giving the community a voice, they give us an understanding.

After sharing Impact Austin demographics data, Lav encouraged each of us to update our information in the Member Portal.


Diverse perspectives are important. We must each overcome our own bias(es) which is easier said than done. The DEI Committee has created an online training on Implicit Bias to help. For more information on the training, please contact Kim Davis, Chair of the DEI Committee.

If you are interested in joining the DEI Committee or serving as a committee co-chair, please reach out here.


Keynote Address - Thinking, Creating and Connecting: To Make Our Communities Even Better

Dr. Edward Burger recently became the CEO of the St. David’s Foundation after serving as a President Emeritus of Southwestern University and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics.

How can we be more effective thinkers and think from the heart?

Understanding Deeply

Understanding is a spectrum. If someone asks if you understand, a yes or no answer isn’t correct. We should all be constantly trying to understand more deeply, with a different mindset, the compounding gets us to greater depths. Ways to understand more deeply:

Put yourself in a different mindset

First, declare to yourself that you do not understand – it helps puts you in a position to understand deeper.

Try understanding simple things more deeply

Simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple means foundational. We are all trying to solve complex issues so slowing down to identify simple things can be challenging. The mindfulness of slowing down is a lost art and is making us less effective. Example: Calculus. Many people don’t succeed in it because they fail to understand two fundamental simple concepts that form the basis of this type of math.

“Add the adjective”

When we are faced with an issue/puzzle, before tackling it head-on, just describe it first.

Example: The First World War was actually originally called the Great War. Only after World War II did the Great War get renamed World War I. Imagine if we had originally “added the adjective” the First World War…wouldn’t that have made us think there was a possibility of a second? Would that have made us do things differently to prevent a second from happening? Language enables us to make the invisible visible. It provokes new thought and lets us look at it in a completely different way.

Practice Effective Failure

What do you do after something doesn’t go right? We experience false starts, hit brick walls, but tenacity keeps us going. Effective failing is a mindful thing.

Acknowledge the failed attempt

Look at it and try to understand it more deeply, see something you hadn’t seen before, then try again after being informed by the misstep.

"Ohhh!” moments

Those moments when we see something we hadn’t seen before. There is no greater teacher than one’s own mistakes if we take the time to learn from them.

How can we fail better?

  • Try to intentionally fail. Find stress points by taking things to extremes (intellectual exercise). Just thinking hard doesn’t get us anywhere – thinking differently does.

  • Embrace that it’s ok to fail. When we focus on perfection, we can be catatonic. When we take the first step, at least we’re moving.

  • Example: Imagine if we all were told a big challenge and we had to go off into different corners and try to solve it. Everyone would be focused on trying to get it right. Now imagine if you were told that you were required to fail 10 times first before solving it – you would go into it with a different mindset/approach. Your first solution doesn’t have to be perfect/right…actually, it shouldn’t be. It gives you some freedom and you’re making progress with each failure.

The Art of Creating Questions

This is not about asking questions. Creating questions is an internal experience – it’s about curiosity (one of IA’s values).

  • We should make it a practice to always be generating questions in our minds (a practice, not a habit because habits are done mindlessly.)

  • When ending a presentation, instead of asking “Are there any questions?” which assumes there may not be any….we should be asking “What are your questions?” or “What are your questions that you would like to share with the group?” because this assumes there are questions.


Panel Discussion - Community Needs In Our Focus Areas: Community, Education, Health & Well-Being

Panel comprised of 4 CEOs of IA Community Partners, facilitated by Becky Austen

Q: How have things changed in education?

Suki Steinhauser, Communities In Schools of Central Texas

  • Technology – Kids have all the benefits of technology, but with it comes dark underbelly (cyberbullying, social news) and the opportunity cost is physical time spent with friends

  • More fear and anxiety – We are no longer living lives of connectedness, promoting relationships and connected humanity. We have so much more mental health issues. Recognizing a child’s gift and fostering it is needed now more than ever.

  • Schools and nonprofits are more in sync - Schools are recognizing that they need to teach skills to deal with trauma. More focus on helping kids get jobs out of high school (early college, associates’ degrees, technical training).

Q: How have things changed with regard to health and physical/mental well-being?

Kelly White, SAFE Alliance

  • Families are more stressed – More families are in need and decisions for the nonprofits are becoming harder to make. Austin's population expects to double again by 2040.

  • Lack of capacity – Most nonprofits are operating in “triage mode,” especially those in health services. With limited resources, SAFE Alliance often has to prioritize based on the level of danger a particular person/family faces.

Q: How have things changed regarding race and gender?

Meme Styles, MEASURE

  • Organizations led by people of color have a harder time getting funding. Meme herself was actually intimidated applying for an Impact Austin grant before the Social Innovation Grant came along. The SIG opening up the opportunity to collaborate which gave Meme the confidence to ask other organizations to work with her to apply for IA’s grant.

  • Philanthropy in DEI means having a high-risk, potentially high-reward mentality. How can IA evolve our grantmaking and be more proactive reaching organizations? If organizations are scared to reach out to us, how can we truly know the community's issues?

Q: How has our capacity building Catalyst Grant made an impact?

Heather Bellino, Texas Advocacy Project

  • Similar to the SIG opening up new opportunities for organizations, the Catalyst grant gave Texas Advocacy Project an opportunity to get funding for the less exciting capacity building expenses which helped them get going faster, stronger and better.

  • Seed money is important for organizations just starting out. We need to trust that capacity building grants like TAP’s are going to organizations that are trying to solve important issues, that they are being used to chip away at systemic issues through organizations that will have lasting change.


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