By Elizabeth McGuire
Judy Maggio is trading the anchor desk for a dais. The longtime and popular news anchor is joining the Leadership Austin team to direct the organization’s Engage Breakfast Series, which provides well-rounded, thought-provoking conversations about complex issues impacting the local community. In May 2014, popular Austin news anchor Judy Maggio stepped down after 32 years on the air. She has spent the last year reflecting and regrouping and is now rolling up her sleeves for new ventures, including a role working with Leadership Austin. “Judy is well-versed on the complex issues Central Texas faces, and we’re incredibly pleased she will help make the connections for our Leadership Austin alumni and non-alums with the top experts and policy makers who are tackling these issues,” said Leadership Austin CEO Christopher Kennedy.
Julie Smith, who has been leading Engage the last 3 years, is expanding her role with our Equip programs with increasing responsibilities with Conversation Corps. Conversation Corps, an effort between the City of Austin, Capital Metro, Austin ISD and Leadership Austin to engage more people in meaningful civic dialogue in neighborhood conversations.
Maggio will capitalize on her reporting skills and passion for community. “I’ll help take an unbiased look at all the issues facing the city,” she said. “We will gather different perspectives and engage the community–just as I did as a reporter.”
Maggio calls her year of “retirement” reinvigorating and insightful. She found a renewed passion for her work. With bright eyes and a gleaming smile, she described some basic facts she learned about herself: “I like working. I need to be around other people. I’m not a loner. I worked in a newsroom with a lot of people every single day, engaging and talking with co-workers about the big story of the day. I’ve never had my own office. So all of a sudden, I got kind of lonely in my home office,” she said, laughing easily. “The dog really didn’t want to discuss the issues of the day or tell jokes!”
In her new role with Engage, Maggio will have no shortage of peers eager to discuss local issues.
One of her goals is to encourage more interaction from the audience and to challenge the panelists to dive deep into the topics. This may be accomplished, in part, with the addition of table leaders and pre-event meetings. Part of being a good reporter and moderator, she emphasized, is getting people to trust you. “What I like to do is to elevate the comfort level so we’re not meeting for the first time on a stage where I’ll be asking you really tough questions,” she said. “If we have that rapport ahead of time, they will be more comfortable speaking to the audience from the heart or off the cuff.”
Maggio also hopes to bring a broader audience into attendance. “Sometimes leaders have tunnel vision because they only hear from a small percentage of the population about what the needs are in our community,” she said. “We at Leadership Austin can be a vehicle to give the voiceless a voice. It can be difficult to get people who aren’t the movers and shakers involved, but that’s part of our job.”
Maggio’s dog may not be happy about losing an officemate, but Leadership Austin is thrilled to have her on board.