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Spotlight: Heather Beckel Luecke on crafting a brand for our community

In November 2011, Heather Beckel Luecke joined the UWATX team and took on the challenge of re-launching the United Way brand locally. This May marks the one-year anniversary of our new name and look.

Q from UWATX: What brought you to UWATX a year and a half ago?

A from Heather: I was looking for a new professional challenge and was connected to Lauren Paver through a mutual friend. We had some great conversations at Bennu coffee shop and then I formally interviewed with her, Debbie Bresette and Aviva Pinchas – and I thought: “I want to work with all these really smart women!”

 

What’s been the biggest challenge of jumping in to the nonprofit sector and of re-launching a legacy brand like United Way?

In terms of the biggest challenge of re-launching a legacy brand – it’s a FUN challenge because it’s difficult. To stay within the rules of the brand and respect the brand but at the same time dust off the cobwebs, make it more local and push the envelope a little bit.

The biggest challenge for me of working in the nonprofit sector is getting used to a different way of thinking about an allocation of resources to tackle social issues. I’ve never had to deal with this in for-profit or political advocacy work where the question is asked upfront: “Okay what marketing dollars do you need to make this happen?” UWATX board member Gayle Greer turned us onto a TED Talk by Dan Pallotta that says it so much more eloquently than I ever could.

 

What do you think makes UWATX unique, sets it apart from other nonprofits?

Our ability to bring different entities together from the for-profit world, other nonprofits and public agencies makes us a really unique and valuable asset in Austin.

 

How do you see your role as VP of Brand for UWATX? What do you hope you bring to the table?

My role and that of the marketing team is married together; we are here to tell the story of United Way for Greater Austin in a way that is inspirational and that people want to be part of. I hope that my varied background means that I never just assume that there is one way and one way only to do things.

Heather Beckel and George Stephanopoulos

 

You’ve tackled marketing and communications from a lot of different angles in your career. What’s been the most fun? What was the most challenging?

Honestly, all my jobs have been fun and challenging in their own way. It’s fun to have huge marketing budgets to spend (Polo Ralph Lauren) but it’s a really interesting challenge to have to achieve big goals on a shoestring budget (UWATX & mayoral campaign). Equally it’s fun when you don’t have to work hard to get people to pay attention to what you are doing (The White House) but a fun challenge when you have a sticky problem to solve like making expensive toilets and faucets sexy and aspirational (Waterworks).

 

When looking to the future, what changes and opportunities do you see for United Way and for your team?

The future is really bright for UWATX and for our marketing team. We are a team that embraces innovation and challenges and there is no end of those in sight. We will need to keep being nimble and being open to new ways of doing things – and as marketing folks that keeps us fresh and the work interesting.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure that it’s smart and healthy growth that benefits all our citizens with good services, infrastructure, schools, jobs – all the things that allow us all to thrive as a community.”

– Heather Beckel Luecke

 

When thinking about the future of our community, how do you hope Austin will look in 20 years? What are you concerned about for Austin’s future?

Well, I just learned today about the new area code for Austin. Explosive GROWTH is our present and our future. And we all have a responsibility to make sure that it’s smart and healthy growth that benefits all our citizens with good services, infrastructure, schools, jobs – all the things that allow us all to thrive as a community.

What makes Austin greater for you?

The ancient and beautiful live oak in my backyard.

 

In addition to her work with UWATX, Heather is also the Co-Chair of the Human Rights Campaign Austin Gala, supports public media including KUT Austin and the Texas Tribune and is an animal lover.

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