Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Big Fall Season for Leadership Austin

A message from 2013-14 Leadership Austin Board Chair Brian Dolezal (ESSENTIAL 2001).

Outside, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall - well, Austin’s version of it - but inside Leadership Austin, the season is heating up. This is Leadership Austin’s busiest time of year and for good reason: we've kicked off all four of our programs in the past six weeks, and, as you might imagine, there is a lot of terrific, behind-the-scenes work that goes into them thanks to professional staff members and committed board members and volunteers. Here’s a brief update:

The 60-member ESSENTIAL Class participated in a stellar opening retreat September 6-7 at T Bar M Resort in New Braunfels. Thanks to the leadership of Ashley Phillips, Christopher Kennedy (ESSENTIAL 1995), Sam Planta (ESSENTIAL 1991) and a number of CREW volunteers, the kick-off event to this in-depth, nine-month course on regional issues and leadership skills was spectacular, and their first class at Shoal Crossing was equally impressive. You can view the current class roster here. A big thanks, once again, to Seton Healthcare Family for underwriting the ESSENTIAL Class for the sixth consecutive year. Thanks also to H-E-B for their ongoing support of our Healthy Living for Leaders initiative throughout the season.

Led by Julie Smith (EMERGE 2011), we've gathered a diverse group of community leaders who have been very active in the ENGAGE Breakfast Series to gain their insight on topics and speakers for this season's programs. The 2013-14 series began earlier this month at the Kodosky Lounge - thanks to our partnership with the Long Center for the Performing Arts - with a topic that’s on everyone’s mind: water. Once again, KXAN News is on board to help promote and facilitate our conversations. And, as you may have recently seen, the Austin Board of REALTORS® is our new presenting sponsor. Our next ENGAGE breakfast about the growing international community in Austin is Wednesday, November 6. Be sure to register now because they sell out fast.

A new group of new Central Texans (or those who are newly re-engaging with Austin) are now gaining a crash course in the region’s issues through EXPERIENCE AUSTIN, which launched Friday, October 18. Presented by Bank of America, the program began with a daylong session to give participants a broad overview of our region’s key issues, and will continue with four weeks of deeper-dive conversations with experts on a variety of topics.

Our next class of 55 emerging leaders (check out the roster here) are now participating in the 7th annual EMERGE program. Thanks to underwriting from St. David’s Foundation, the six-week course at Jackson Walker is in full swing. We're so thrilled to welcome this and previous classes into our alumni network, now about 3,500 members strong… fitting since this is Leadership Austin’s 35th anniversary!

…and that’s just the programs. Additionally, we've begun the formal search process for Leadership Austin’s next CEO and for a new development director. Despite officially being down two positions, our team, facilitated by Seth Sather, is doing a phenomenal job raising the critical funds to keep our programs so essential, engaging, experienced and emerging for our community. There are still plenty of ways to lend your individual or organization’s financial support to Leadership Austin, so feel free to contact me or our interim CEO Christopher Kennedy to discuss the possibilities.

Furthermore, our active board is having some productive conversations on everything from celebrating our 35th anniversary to making our programs even more effective for all of our alumni. Thanks to Jeff Olmeda for keeping us moving forward at a critical time for the organization.

Last but not least, make sure you get these important milestones on your calendar now: our annual alumni holiday party is Tuesday, December 10 at Shoal Crossing (Mopac just north of Steck, where Harold’s Outlet Barn used to be) and the Best Party Ever - presented by H-E-B - is scheduled for Friday, May 9 (not the same weekend as the ROT Rally!) back at the W Hotel.

So yes, it’s a busy fall around here. And as you enjoy a crisp morning and mild afternoon, we hope you’ll take a moment to recall your experiences with Leadership Austin, and perhaps schedule a Walk and Talk with a fellow leader.

With much appreciation to everyone who helps lead this great community,

Brian Dolezal
Chair, Leadership Austin Board of Directors

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