This month, UWATX welcomed long-time volunteer and avid supporter Peter Kretzschmar to our team as Vice President, Strategic Programs. In his new role, he will oversee UWATX’s work in the community, including our Success By 6, Target Graduation, Financial Opportunity and Navigation Center work.
Before coming to United Way, what was your background, both professionally and in the community?
I was at IBM for nearly 32 years, so I’ve been a tech guy since tech meant microwave ovens and color TVs. I started by working on health programs, mainly environmental health, everything from occupational health and safety to groundwater to air quality and so on, but really my principal roles over the years have been about relationships. I focused on managing relationships between different tech companies, forming alliances, and making sure we were both benefiting. I think that experience plays well with my role at UWATX.
I’ve also been involved in the community consistently for many years. I was on the Board at Communities in Schools, which is one of our partners here at UWATX, have been involved with UT on Advisory Councils and as an adjunct faculty, and was involved with our Target Graduation program of course.
So you’ve been consistently involved in the community, why did you want to get involved in a new way?
I think it has to do with finally deciding “want to do when I grow up.” It was a natural evolution for me – I started my career many years ago and focused on being successful there, and then moved on to raising a family and now I have two beautiful daughters. My daughters are grown up themselves, both out of college and successful in their careers, so it’s an opportunity for me to focus now on another new objective.
What made you feel that UWATX was the right fit for your new objective?
I’ve been volunteering about a day per week at UWATX for more than a year now, and I know that my goals align with the organization’s – it’s about making our community greater, having an impact.
But it’s also about the shift that UWATX has made. IBM has a very long and deep relationship with United Way in our community so I’ve been sort of around for a while. In my view, a few years ago, UWATX was really serving a redistribution function for workplace gifts, giving out those donations to a collection of worthy organizations but not going beyond that. Now, UWATX has specific goals to move our community forward and the staff focuses a lot of passion and time around those goals.
Although I might not have chosen to work here five years ago, I am now really enthused with the current UWATX commitment to achieving community impact. This organization is positioned to be part of big decisions and major shifts in Greater Austin, and I want to be part of that. I know that I won’t make the big changes happen by myself, but I want to participate with an organization that’s shaping our community, and that’s really why I’m here.
This organization is positioned to be part of big decisions and major shifts in Greater Austin, and I want to be part of that.
How do you see your role as part of changing our community?
Really I think my role is to look up and out. For our program directors, they’re focused down and in – how can we make this program more successful, how do we reach our goals for this particular population – and that’s where they need to be focused. I hope to help by thinking about things cross-functionally, how are we adapting further and making changes in each of these areas but also across the board, how can we leverage our relationships and the models we’ve created for successful programs to grow our work and help more people. That’s how I see my background particularly fitting in to this role, because it’s all about relationships and creating connections that benefit both parties.
Final question: what makes Austin greater?
Austin has a sense of identity and common purpose, we all feel this, and I’m not sure how much other communities have that. That’s at the center of really positive implications for our community.