Category: Donor Networks

Meet Laura Hernandez Holmes: Fighting to build an Austin that works for everyone

Women United is a diverse, vibrant donor network supporting United Way for Greater Austin. Members are committed to creating a powerful, female-driven philanthropic force to fight poverty in Greater Austin. Laura Hernandez Holmes is a strong believer that Greater Austin should be a community that works for everyone. And as Women United Co-Chair and a long-time supporter of United Way for Greater Austin, she is doing just that. Learn more about why she joined United Way’s fight against poverty.  Why does United Way for Greater Austin’s mission to fight poverty resonate with you personally?  United Way’s mission to fight poverty resonates with me personally, because the rising cost of housing, child care, transportation, and all that it takes to raise a family in Austin continues to grow every day. United Way is a pivotal partner in the fight against poverty and combating these rising costs for local families. How can we build a better Austin that works for everyone? We can build a better Austin that works for everyone by ensuring everyone has a seat at the table when addressing and combating our community’s growing challenges.   What is your favorite part about being a member (and the co-chair!) of Women United? My favorite part about being a member of Women United is the opportunity to meet and work with so many diverse women from all walks of life — women who are passionate about making Austin a better place for everyone. We all have different stories and different reasons for […]

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Meet Emerging Leaders Member, Arielle Sadler

We recently caught up with Arielle Sadler, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Senior Technical Writer & Trainer at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. We have loved working with Arielle on the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past year. Her light, drive, and tireless advocacy are just a few of the reasons we think you should get to know her too.  Arielle is passionate about making sure everyone in our community has a “fighting chance” to meet their full potential. Learn from Arielle herself  why she is proud to be a member of Emerging Leaders: Q&A with Arielle Sadler Why is fighting poverty important? My dad was homeless at one point and the continuous impact that has had on his life and mine is significant. Giving people the opportunity to have a fighting chance – to not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, where they are going to lay their heads down at night – so that they can focus on educating themselves and their children means a better community for us all.  Describe your favorite volunteer opportunity with United Way for Greater Austin. My favorite opportunity with United Way came in Summer 2019. I was part of Texas Mutual’s Employee Engagement committee and volunteered to lead a back-to-school drive with United Way. I’d been volunteering with several organizations for years, but I’d never had the chance to lead an initiative. I arranged to have members of our call center decorate and […]

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Meet Ashley Unbehagen: Making a Difference One Book at a Time

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we know Ashley Unbehagen as a member of Women United and a volunteer at Bright Beginnings child care center. But, to the 3- and 4-year-olds she reads to each week, she’s the “Book Lady.” “It takes a community of people to be able to influence and grow these little beings, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” – Ashley Unbehagen  Bright Beginnings is one of our partner child care centers through Pre-K Partnerships — a collaboration between Austin Independent School District and United Way for Greater Austin to support and expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-K for children ages 3 and 4 in our community. Success in life begins with a quality education, but more than 50% of children in Travis County are not ready for Kindergarten. That’s why this partnership ensures children are ready to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Our youngest years are the most active period for brain development, a crucial time to lay a firm foundation for all future growth. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from Kindergarten readiness to third-grade reading scores to high school graduation and beyond.  Ashley is one of many community members working hard to ensure that our littlest Austinites get the strongest possible start in life. What draws you to United Way’s work in early childhood education?  My background is in social work. I worked as a licensed therapist in the areas of mental health and education. I […]

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Meet Jen and Jack Foster: Making Giving Back a Family Affair

As a former United Way Board member, and a current member of Tocqueville United and Women United, Jen Foster is a true United Way champion! Her commitment to helping build a stronger Austin is something that she is passing down to her 10-year-old son, Jack. They have turned philanthropy into a family activity and jointly make decisions on how to best invest in the Greater Austin community.  “I know that other families need support, and it’s our number one goal as a family to make sure they get it.” – Jack Foster  Austin often tops the lists of best cities to live. A great place to raise a family, a healthy local economy, a city poised for future job growth – these are just some of the honors given to our metro area. And we agree… we love it too! But not everyone in our community is sharing in the promise of Austin. Yet. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Because when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and when everyone reaches their full potential, our entire community benefits and thrives. But it’s not something that can be done alone – it takes a community of kind-hearted, generous people. People like Jen and Jack Foster.  Why does your family Live United?  Jen: [United Way’s mission to fight poverty] really resonates with our family because we are really fortunate to be able to send Jack to good schools and […]

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A Night United 2021: Truly a night to remember

Wow, what a night! With moving stories, inspiring levels of generosity, and a sweet dance party,  A Night United was truly a night to remember. More than 500 Austinites attended, and despite not being together in the same room, it felt like a community-wide, intimate dinner party. All of us on the United Way team left the event feeling immensely grateful for our essential heroes and inspired to continue the fight against poverty here in Greater Austin. We hope everyone who attended did too! Missed the event? You can catch up on all the fun below!  Together, we surpassed our goal and raised $250,000 to create greater opportunity for children and families in our community! You can join us in the movement to build a better Austin from the ground up by making a gift here.  Thank you to our amazing co-chairs Nahid & Ali Khataw and Natalee & Charles Thornburgh; Board Chair Malini Rajput; Cornerstone Sponsor Texas Mutual Insurance Company; Jeremiah Bentley; and our three Austin essential heroes Patsy Harnage, Arnoldo Longoria, and Kathryn Treviño. Your investment in our community is inspiring, and the definition of what it means to Live United. Special thanks to our 38 dinner party hosts for generously hosting a virtual table, inviting their friends and colleagues to join and give. As David C. Smith, United Way for Greater Austin CEO, said at the event: “When Nelson Mandela moved from his prison cell to the Presidency of South Africa, he shared these words of hope […]

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Meet Patrick, a member of Emerging Leader passionate about connecting with our community

Photo: Patrick Mercer, Dr. Alison Bentley, and Sara Reeves.  This week we caught up with Patrick Mercer, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Assistant Vice President, Wellness Director at Frost Insurance Agency. Patrick is passionate about connecting with our community and giving back to the Greater Austin community that has given him so much. Check out our interview with Patrick to learn more about his “why” for joining Emerging Leaders and being involved with United Way ATX. “[I am involved with United Way] first and foremost because of the people,” Mercer said. “It seems like everybody that I have met, whether it is a staff member or a volunteer, has a heart for service and giving back. They have a heart for creating opportunities for people.” Want to know more about Patrick? How long have you lived in Austin? 15 years! What is your favorite thing about Austin? Weather allows most outdoor activities to be enjoyed year-round. What is a fun fact about you that you wish everyone knew? I’ve been attacked by a mountain lion. “Patrick has been a dynamic and essential member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past two years, leading the effort to relaunch this group and make an impact on the lives of so many here in Central Texas. Patrick also always has an incredible story to tell and is such a joy to be around.” – Jennifer Woods| Donor Relations Manager, United Way for Greater Austin To learn more […]

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Meet Tracy Fielder: Creating a personal legacy of moving the needle on equity

We’re excited to launch a new year with Women United. This group of incredible and passionate women are advancing equity in early childhood education through their membership and we couldn’t be more grateful.  Tracy Fielder is just one of the 210 women who are supporting our youngest Austinities. Learn more about her work in creating a personal legacy of moving the needle on equity here in Greater Austin. Learn more about Tracy and why she joined Women United. How long have you been in Austin? “My husband and I moved our young family to Austin in 1996. We feel fortunate to live in such a diverse, creative, and vibrant city.” What is your favorite thing about Austin? “I love to be outdoors, and the Lady Bird Hike-and-Bike Trail is my go-to spot. This is where I walk my dogs, connect with friends, laugh, reflect, decompress, and of course, exercise. I also enjoy live music, especially blues and old gospel, at many of our iconic venues. Throw in a yummy bite from one of our local food trucks and I’ve had an amazing day.” What is one thing you want everyone to know about you? “I’m compassionate. I care about many things, but inequities in education really matter to me. I grew up in a home where education was the key to everything. My parents set a high bar for academic achievement, but also ensured my sister and I were keenly aware of the educational divide and how fortunate we were. […]

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Meet Natasha Martin: A champion for change with Women United

‘Tis the season to be grateful, and our cups are overfilling with gratitude for our Women United Executive Committee members who support the work of United Way ATX. These women are champions for change and innovation in our community, and they are committed to helping our youngest Austinites reach their full potential. We couldn’t do our work without our Executive Committee, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to one of them! Meet Natasha Martin! Natasha supports Women United because she knows how important our early childhood education work is. Learn more about Natasha and why she joined Women United. How long have you been in Austin? “I’ve called Austin home for about 14 years.” What is your favorite thing about Austin? “I like the many recreational activities Austin has to offer. Over the last several months I have grown to love the regional parks in and around Austin. My family and I started hiking and bird watching more during COVID and there are so many perfect places in our city for these activities. Before COVID, one of my favorite things about Austin was catching live music or spoken word poetry in the more settled venues in East Austin.” What is one thing you want everyone to know about you? “Maybe I shouldn’t say this but I want to be known for having an open heart. I try to dial this back in my practice of law, but in church and in the community, I want to be known for letting […]

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An interview with Emerging Leaders Co-Chair, Kaisha Morton

Photo above: Emerging Leaders Emily Gonzales, Kaisha Morton, and Jeremiah Bentley.  At United Way for Greater Austin, we are committed to fighting poverty and racism in our communities. These forces are so interconnected, we cannot address one without the other.  This week we caught up with Kaisha Morton, one of our new Emerging Leaders Co-Chairs and User Experience Recruiter and Women@ Social Impact Co-lead at Google to talk to her about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. Kaisha is a champion for creating a diverse workforce in our community to help break intergenerational poverty.  Check out our interview with Kaisha Morton to learn more about her work and her passion for creating a more diverse and inclusive community.  “I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are extremely important because all three of those are connected, but true equity in our society won’t happen unless we’re thinking about those three pillars. My work as an educator and also as a recruiter really highlighted for me that the gaps that exist early on for people who may live in poverty, especially communities of color, continue to widen as people progress in their lives and in their careers. I think that the layer of thinking through diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of life is something that I will always be passionate about.” -Kaisha Morton Want to know more about Kaisha Morton? How long have you lived in Austin? I moved to Austin from the D.C. area about two years ago.  […]

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Inspiring and empowering: Meet the 2020 Women United Executive Committee

Women United is a diverse, vibrant donor network supporting United Way for Greater Austin. Members are committed to creating a powerful, female-driven philanthropic force to improve early childhood education in Greater Austin. Women United members support United Way’s early childhood education initiatives, part of a community-wide collaboration called Success By 6. Our Women United members are champions for change and innovation in our community, and are committed to helping our youngest Austinites reach their full potential. We couldn’t do this work without our Executive Committee, and we think everyone should meet these incredible women and learn about what excites them in their work. Laura Hernandez Holmes, Political Consultant | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “I am most excited about introducing friends and colleagues to the work United Way does for our community. Whether it’s the expanded intake at 2-1-1 they have handled with grace or the way they stepped up to create All Together ATX to provide much-needed support to those in need during the pandemic, I am proud of the work they do for Austin.” Michele Scott, Square Move Realty | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “One of the things that excites me most about being part of United Way’s work is seeing firsthand the positive outcomes of supporting families in the Greater Austin area. It has been wonderful to witness the humanity of volunteers coming together for a common good, and for such a meaningful purpose – specifically, to support our children.” Maria Aguiluz, Pink Cactus Productions “When […]

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