United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs.
Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.”
Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. She is a community treasure!”
Aletha Huston, Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor Emerita of Child Development at University of Texas at Austin, served on the SB6 board with Beth. She advocates, “Beth was an active, creative leader for the SB6 Leadership Council. I learned a great deal from her, and working with her was always a pleasure. She has dedicated much of her time and energy to advocacy for children and young people in our community.”
It is because of treasures like Beth Tracy and the volunteerism and support of IBM that United Way for Greater Austin is able to continue to cultivate innovative and sustainable programs for our low-income neighbors here in Austin.
Get to know more about Beth Tracy and IBM volunteering in our Q and A below.
How long have you been involved with UWATX?
14 years. I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board, 2004-2006; Community Impact Cabinet Board, 2008-2011; Success by 6 Leadership Council Vice Chair, 2010-2011; SB6 Chair, 2012-2014.
What is IBM’s volunteerism like?
With the launch of On Demand Community in November 2003, IBM reinvented its support of employees and retirees whose volunteer work enriches the communities where we live and work. This innovative global program reflects IBM’s strategy to help the world work better, making a wide range of knowledge and expertise available to volunteers online. It builds on award-winning IBM corporate citizenship programs and extends a long tradition of community engagement by IBMers worldwide, drawing on our strengths in innovation, expertise, reliability, and trust. A study by the Points of Light Foundation, which promotes volunteerism in the United States, deemed On Demand Community “A program without peer.”
Its most valuable participants are IBM volunteers. In the program’s first decade, IBMers logged more than 16 million hours of service worldwide with more than 250,000 registered users. To begin the program’s second decade, we enabled nonprofit organizations to connect with IBM volunteers who are sharing their skills and expertise to improve communities worldwide. IBMers can award up to $2,000 to a school or nonprofit as a result of their volunteer enrichment efforts with the prerequisite of required devotion of time, expertise and/or deployment of activity kits. Additionally, employees receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award when they commit 100 hours or more each year, exemplifying the difference they make in the communities where they live and work through volunteerism.
What reactions have you seen from fellow employees regarding IBM’s volunteer efforts?
Based on feedback, IBM volunteers are amazed at how easy it is to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. I have heard exclamations about how rewarding a specific project was or how the team came together following a volunteer assignment. IBM employees are encouraged to tell their stories and are empowered to enlist additional volunteers for needed projects by sharing their passion and involvement about respective organizations for which they’re engaged.
Why do you give back to UWATX?
I personally give back to UWATX due to the holistic value of giving to one organization directly, with the knowledge and appreciation that my contribution is going to stretch beyond my gift to impact several partner agencies. Often times, I have described UWATX as an octopus, starting at the center leadership, with effective leveraging of dollars and resources that benefit the tentacle recipient agencies.
Giving to UWATX also helps to facilitate the holistic impact for a family. If a single father needs substance abuse services, childcare, financial assistance or health resources, he can gain benefit from contributions directed to UWATX.
What has been your favorite volunteer experience with UWATX?
It was a real honor and pleasure to serve on the SB6 Leadership Council. I learned a great deal during this tenure and also interfaced with very distinguished leadership, all working toward the same goal. I also gained from establishing great friendships.
Why do you believe others should give back?
Our community is in need of professional skills and wallet share. Giving back to the community is very rewarding and benefits those who are less fortunate. Additionally, contributions and investments by individuals and other diversified funding resources enable programs enrichment and expansion.
What do you think makes Austin greater?
Our people, all coming together with common threads of understanding and/or diversified views, working on initiatives with transfer of skills, passion, dedication of time and commitment and shared resources. Collaboratively and with intentionality, advancing conversation to action with proven solutions.