Category: Women United

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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. […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Meet Michele, A Passionate Early Childhood Champion

Women United educates, engages, and empowers women in Greater Austin. Each month we will spotlight and bring you a closer look into the lives of one of your fellow Women United Members. We are proud to celebrate women as philanthropic leaders and are honored to have so many amazing women in our community. Q&A with Michele Scott | Owner, Square Move Realty What do you love about Austin? There are so many wonderful reasons to love Austin! 🙂 I am enamored by the vast Hill Country views, the hiking and biking trails that endlessly wind through the city, as well as the uniquely Austin local flair. From enjoying lazy afternoons on the lake with family and friends, to experiencing the live music and foodie scenes, Austin has something for everyone. With all of the advantages of a big city, but with the vibe of a friendly small town, Austin strikes a uniquely perfect balance between hustle-and-bustle, and “keeping it weird”. Austin boasts a booming economy that offers exciting opportunities for families and people of all ages, as a result of a thriving startup ecosystem, several excellent universities, a growing biomedical industry, and the continued expansion of major companies opening offices here. To sum it all up…Austin is an amazing city to call home! How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin/Women United? I had served as a member of organizational leadership for a Texas-based nonprofit and had also volunteered for other charitable entities prior to becoming involved […]

Read More

Meet Allison, Our Awesome Advocate

Over the course of two decades, Allison Dwyer has utilized her talents and voice to fiercely advocate for our community. As a speech pathologist and mom of four, Allison has always felt called to improve the lives of young children and their families, and here at United Way for Greater Austin, we’ve seen her do just that.    “When I came to Austin, I started to look around to see what the landscape here was like. I was raising my own kids, but every now and again I would get a little passion and fire to see what was going on out there,” Allison said. “I found Success By 6 back in the early 2000s. I called and spoke with someone who was working at United Way, and we talked for a long time. The mission really resonated with me.”   In addition to leading some advocacy efforts for Success By 6, Allison became involved with the early language coaching program at United Way for two years. Early Language Coaches are placed for approximately nine months in child care center classrooms serving children ages 3-5 in small group settings or one-on-one. Through the program, Allison ensured the children at the Bright Beginnings Child Care Center were provided with engaging, age-appropriate material to nurture their skills to help reach development milestones.    “It was nice to be able to go into the classroom with my speech pathology background and see how I could assist the children and teachers,” Allison said.    […]

Read More

Recognizing Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy: 2015 Campaign Awards

At United Way for Greater Austin, we run more than 200 employee campaigns in nearly 700 locations in the Austin area. Employee campaigns provide an opportunity for businesses to empower employees to be philanthropists by donating a portion of each paycheck back to the community. Last night, we celebrated and recognized companies who excelled in building philanthropy in our community at our 2015 Employee Campaign Awards. Award winners: Best Practices: Superior Health and Texas Gas This award recognizes the company that implements UWATX’s best campaign practices, which include Senior Officer involvement, access to employees and use of UWATX campaign materials among several others. This year we had two winners for this award. Superior Health kept their campaign at one week to give a sense of urgency; they also planned a week of fun, educational experiences for their employees encouraging them to give. Texas Gas established multiple opportunities for UWATX staff to come and speak to their employees about our work, as well as ran a closed campaign where employee donations were matched 1:1 by their foundation. Community Investment Award: H-E-B The Community Investment Award represents a company or companies who exemplify what it really means to wrap arms around a community to make a significant impact. Anyone who shops at H-E-B realizes it’s not your normal grocery store. This year, H-E-B decided to increase corporate giving to match the generosity of their employees and UWATX experienced a 150% increase in corporate giving. They make philanthropy a part of their culture and host […]

Read More

Gentrification and Gender: How Austin’s Changing Neighborhoods Affect Women and Children

Austin Community Foundation and United Way for Greater Austin co-hosted a panel on May 12th, “Gentrification & Gender: How Austin’s Changing Neighborhoods Affect Women and Children.” The panel was put on for both organizations’ women’s groups, UWATX’s Women’s Leadership Council and ACF’s Women’s Fund of Central Texas. Panel speakers were Dr. Eric Tang and Dr. Victor Sáenz of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Tang is an assistant professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at UT. His research revealed that Austin was the only major growing city in the United States to experience an absolute numerical decline in African Americans. Dr. Tang is currently working on a book, East Avenue: African Americans in Austin’s Terrain of Inequality. Dr. Sáenz is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the educational success of boys and young men of color. Dr. Sáenz has developed a successful mentoring program for Latino boys in Austin ISD schools and created a statewide consortium to share best practices. He sees the educational success of boys as key to creating healthy families and communities. The panel started with a video from an Austin-American Statesman project on economic mobility in Austin. The video does a great job of describing how the history of segregation in Austin has led us to the current state of East Austin today. Dr. Tang elaborated on some troubling statistics from the most recent censuses in Austin. Austin is the only major city in the […]

Read More