Heather Brunner has served on the UWATX Board of Directors for seven years, and as a volunteer for seventeen years. As she wraps up her final year on our board, she reflects on her time with United Way.
“During my school years and at college, I was always a very active community volunteer. After college as a young professional, I was a road warrior, working long hours and was relentlessly focused on building my career–but something was missing. I wasn’t giving back to the welcoming Austin community that gave me such incredible career opportunity.
In the summer of 1999, I saw an ad in the Austin American-Statesman with a call for volunteers from the United Way. I was familiar with United Way from employee giving campaigns at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and from Donna Van Fleet, a United Way board member and Business Unit Executive at IBM that I admired. So I decided to answer the call.
Today, seventeen years later as I end my final Board of Directors term, I can say that serving United Way for Greater Austin has been one of the highest privileges and proudest accomplishments of my life. In those seventeen years, I’ve seen the organization change dramatically from a mostly fundraising “pass through” mechanism to local nonprofits, to a strategic catalyst and thought leader driving positive change for the working poor and their families. Twenty-five percent of our Greater Austin community is living on the edge of poverty and in need of a helping hand to lift themselves up on a better trajectory. The incredible, highly accomplished staff of United Way are passionate about driving data-driven, strategic thinking to attack the challenges facing this important 25% of our community.
My first role with UWATX was to be on the Audit Committee, auditing the financial statements of the nonprofits funded by United Way. Then I was a member before becoming chair of the Community Impact Committee. This committee was made up of state, county, city and business leaders to collaborate with UWATX staff on how our funding could drive the biggest community impact. I next had the opportunity to apply my deep knowledge of the organization and its role in driving community impact as a Board Director. In every role, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from diverse leaders from both the private and public sectors, various industries and functional roles. What I’ve learned is truly immeasurable and it has made me a better leader in service to my teams.
One of our core values at WP Engine is “Aspiring to Lead. Committed to Give Back.” The supporting statement is “We aspire to support and engage with our local communities, changing lives, growing and thriving together.” I challenge us all to continue to find ways to give of our experiences, knowledge and time to aspire to lead and be committed to giving back.
Thank you United Way for tirelessly working to enrich our community and for enriching me.”
Thank YOU Heather Brunner for all of your years of service to United Way for Greater Austin!