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 I was feeling the need to fill my ‘giving back bucket’ I did a lot of research to find a non-profit to devote my volunteer time and financial contribution that I felt was making a real difference in my community. When I found United Way, their work checked every box for me. It excites me to be part of a team of individuals striving to make real tangible changes in the community. With their three areas of focus: education, affordable health care, and financial stability they help families as a whole to fight poverty and improve their struggles. It’s been eye-opening to learn about their work and have been a great resource for educating me in how to advocate and be a voice for change. I love the group of women I’ve come to meet through Women United, and feel like I have a network of super talented and caring individuals who work together to improve the lives of our neighbors in Austin.”

Allison Dwyer, Early Language Coach, United Way for Greater Austin

“What excites me most is getting to be a part of something so meaningful to me, and that is working to improve – in a sustainable way – the lives of so many who struggle to make a living wage in Austin. It’s not ok that the world sees Austin as so wonderful when in reality that is true for only a few.”

Laura Gentner, JE Dunn Construction

“I love the connectivity United Way brings in their programs and volunteer opportunities. There are so many resources and people working together for a main cause. It’s inspiring, and you know their work has a meaningful impact.”

Leshia Hoot, National Instruments

“United Way is making a real difference in early childhood education in Austin, and I’m so honored to support United Way’s efforts. Every child deserves a chance to be successful, and United Way is fostering quality early childhood education in a meaningful way. The United Way Success by 6 program is creating opportunities for more children to enter Kindergarten ready to learn and thrive! Only about half of children enter Kindergarten with the right foundation to learn…. it’s so essential we work together to give every child a head start in life.”

Natasha Martin, Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody

“Despite being named one of the top 10 most educated cities in the U.S., many children in Austin struggle with preparing for their first year in education. United Way is committed to arming families with the tools they need for success to bridge the educational divide. That mission and work excites me about United Way, and I’m humbled to give my time to Austin’s younger generations.”

Cherry Mendoza, Enterprise

“The work with the United Way excites me in many ways. I have a little nephew who is lucky to be brought into a family that does not have to struggle financially. He will have the resources he needs to be successful. However, I have a lot of cousins and nieces and nephews from those cousins who are not so lucky. My mother is a Brooklyn Puerto Rican, who grew up in New York in poverty. She and one of my uncles were lucky to get out. Other members of their families were not so lucky.

On my mom’s side, there are 26 grandchildren. I am the only one with a 4 year degree and a career. My cousins have not been so lucky. Sure my brother and one of my other cousin’s found an amazing path in the military, but the others are still stuck. But they and their children have seen benefits from the United Way programs in place. I can only hope that our work will continue to expand and to give those kids and families a fair shot at success, even though they aren’t presented those opportunities.”

Marianne Rochelle, IBM (Retired)

“I am excited to co-chair the Women United event “Empowered Women Empower Women” on October 20, 2020, where we will showcase United Way programs that lift up the entire community.”

Sandi Tomlinson, Community Advocate

“Making a difference for the people of Central Texas who are living in poverty. I am so grateful for the many ways that United Way responds with compassion to the abundant needs of our community.”

Rina vonFrisch, Kendra Scott

“What excites me about being part of United Way is knowing that our efforts are making a positive difference in our local community. We have the ability to help families with tools and resources to ensure they have financial stability, a wonderful education, and great health!”

Jennifer Wu, Baker Botts

“I love that United Way for Greater Austin is dedicated to serving our community through a diverse range of initiatives with a broad base of local partners. United Way prioritizes education, health, and financial stability—because it knows that strengthening those fundamental pillars results in lifting up other areas for our community. Getting involved with Women United has allowed me to connect with other like-minded women with a shared mission of giving back to our wonderful city!”

Thank you to all these incredible women for their commitment to inspire, empower, and lead our Women United members over the next year. We are excited to have you onboard, and what fuels you fuels us all. Together we are building a better community for all Austinites.

Want to become a Women United member? Learn more and join us.

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