Celebrating 35 Years: A Message from Leadership Austin’s 2013-14 Board Chair Brian Dolezal

Celebrating 35 Years: A Message from Leadership Austin’s 2013-14 Board Chair Brian Dolezal
Did you know Leadership Austin is older than Whole Foods Market, Amy’s Ice Creams, Chuy’s and Waterloo Records? Like those Central Texas institutions, Leadership Austin was born from hard-working, entrepreneurial individuals who had the drive, foresight and talent to create an organization that not only builds business for our economy, but also supports the local community.

In our 35 years, Leadership Austin has emerged as an iconic and independent nonprofit organization that presents challenging issues, forges meaningful relationships and hones leadership skills for the betterment of the entire region.

It’s a substantial undertaking. It takes thousands and thousands of hours each year from a professional and enthusiastic staff, a wise and committed board, and energized and dedicated volunteers to ensure our programs are well-planned and well-implemented to serve our new and established Central Texas leaders.

Over the last three and half decades Leadership Austin has been cultivating leaders so they can utilize what they learned in our programs to help make Central Texas a better place. What’s grown and nurtured here is spread all over the region in tangible, compelling ways:

  • More than 1,800 Essential graduates are making a difference in our community everyday
  • More than 350 Emerge graduates, with more than 20 now leading other Austin Young Professional organizations today
  • A 70 percent increase in our Engage breakfast series attendance the last two years — with more than 1,000 people attending in 2012-13 series for the first time
  • More than 330 Experience Austin graduates with 60 percent of the Fall 2012 class having been in Austin less than 10 months

Milestone anniversaries are certainly a time to reminisce fondly about the past, but they are also a time to think about the future. One way Leadership Austin is currently supporting our community’s future is our multi-faceted involvement in the Austin City Council redistricting process. Significant changes are ahead for the way Austin governs itself, and Leadership Austin has rolled up our sleeves once again to play our civic role:

  • We hosted two Engage breakfasts this winter, one focused on leading through change and challenge; the other on the changing face of Austin city governance
  • The current Essential class is compiling an inventory of each new council district’s plans to foster community participation in the single-member district process, and we’re planning for next year’s class to continue that civic engagement surrounding the City’s first single-member district elections
  • We will soon launch a free Experience Austin-type program for all potential city council candidates, campaign staffers and others interested in the process to learn more about the most challenging issues our community faces now and into the near future.

Look for more details on these and other fronts in the months ahead.

Beyond our involvement with what is often referred to as “10-1,” our board will very soon begin the strategic planning process for our next few years, which holds such extraordinary possibilities. How do we expand our capacity to introduce more issues to our emerging leaders and serve more of them? How do we support the growing number of leaders who are retiring from their careers, but not ready to retire from their civic life? What role does Leadership Austin play in getting more people connected to the region’s most pressing needs? How do we fund all of these new opportunities?

These questions and others will be tackled with the same energy and passion that transformed Leadership Austin into where it is today, to keep our organization just as essential to Central Texas over the next 35 years.

It’s an honor to serve as chair of the board in this milestone year for our organization. I remain humbled by the incredible men and women who held this position before. They, along with dedicated and experienced board members, amazing leaders like Polly, Lee, Heather and now Christopher, and our generous supporters, have made Leadership Austin a vital nonprofit organization to the business, nonprofit, institutional and governmental sectors that all work to make Greater Austin maintain its momentum.

We know resources are finite with life, work and other civic involvement taking varying priorities over any leader’s lifetime. So, if you have strayed from Leadership Austin in the past few years, it’s understandable. However, in this—our 35th anniversary year—now is the time to recommit to an organization that has provided you with the skills, information and relationships to take you further. This is the moment to reconnect, and there are many ways to do so:

It’s never been easier. Our brand new website, The Pipeline e-newsletter and blog posts make it effortless to stay informed about and connected to all that is happening at Leadership Austin. Just click here to get reacquainted with Leadership Austin and all we have in store for you.

There is so much happening at Leadership Austin these days for you and through you. Thanks to everyone for getting our organization to this milestone, and thank you in advance for what we will accomplish together over the next 35 years.

Brian Dolezal
Leadership Austin Board Chair