Bea Benson began her career in education immediately after college and later obtained a graduate degree to expand her knowledge base. She retired in 2006 after twenty-five successful years as an educator/administrator with school districts in and out of the state of Texas. The last ten years of her career was with the Austin Independent School District where her chief responsibilities were to write secondary curriculum and provide pedagogical support through staff development. Because of her many years of experience conducting training and professional development, group facilitation/ focus group, and strategic planning she joined the leadership team of Edge of Your Seat Consulting Firm. In June 2007 she began working with the Seedling Foundation as a Mentor Director to train and support mentors who serve children whose parents are incarcerated.
She is a past president of the local chapter of The Links, Incorporated. It is an international organization and among the most prestigious organizations of Black women in the world. It is through this women’s service organization that Bea gives extensively of her time and resources to foster economic development, educate the public about issues central to the well-being of African-Americans, advocate appropriate public responses to the needs of the community at-large, address critical youth issues, promote artistic endeavors, incentivise health and wellness issues, provide scholarships for deserving high school graduates, provide an after school meal for children who are at risk of food insufficiency and increase awareness of international issues. She has provided leadership for various fund-raising events. Bea and her husband (Taft) believe that a charitable response to an impending need is an action of philanthropy. In the truest Promethean tradition, they strive to be a gift to humanity, and the reaping of this tradition is seeing their two adult children positively impacting the community in which they live. top
Liz Burkhart is a senior public relations specialist for Whole Foods Market where she focuses on sharing the company’s stories with the media to secure national media coverage. Her professional successes include story placements in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Inc.com, Fast Company and The Today Show, as well as Men’s Journal and REAL SIMPLE magazine. Prior to her work at Whole Foods Market, Liz served as a volunteer teacher in rural Ghana through nonprofit Cross-Cultural Solutions.
Liz graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Public Relations and a Certification in Business.
Her drive to give back – both locally and globally – has led Liz to become a founding TRIBE member and donor to Austin-based Comfort the Children International, as well as a regular volunteer with the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. Liz has also served on Impact Austin’s grant committee and is a long-time supporter of Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society. top
Ashton G. Cumberbatch Jr., is the Vice President of Advocacy and Community Relations for Seton Family of Hospitals. Prior to joining Seton, Ashton served as Police Monitor for the City of Austin; a partner in the law firm of McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, L.L.P., where he was head of the employment law section; and Chief of the Trial Division at the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. In addition to his work at Seton, he still provides legal counsel at Cumberbatch & Associates.
Cumberbatch is an Associate Pastor at Agape Christian Ministries; and also ministers at Austin Bridge Builders Alliance (ABBA), a faith-based intermediary that influences Christian and community leaders to build partnerships that connect the resources of the Church to the needs of the community. As part of his ministry, he has been doing cultural competency training since 2001 and is one of the co-authors of the Austin Pastoral Covenant for Racial Reconciliation and the (Austin) Commitment to Racial Reconciliation.
Cumberbatch, a graduate of the 2002 Leadership Austin Essential Class, has an A.B. in Economics from Brown University, as well as a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. He is married to his bride of 31 years, Pastor Jennifer R. Cumberbatch, who ministers via her gifts of teaching, preaching, counseling, singing, song writing and acting. And they are blessed with four children: Graham, Virginia, Benjamin and Elizabeth. top
Gerald (Jerry) L. Davis has been President of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas (GICT) since 1998, which serves fifteen Central Texas counties surrounding the state capital of Austin. The organization served over 13,500 people with barriers to employment in 2011. GICT employs approximately 1,200 people and generated revenues of $55M last year. GICT is known for its standout temporary employment services, mail room operations, youth programs and electronic recycling/reuse programs, as well as its distinctly branded retail operation. top
A San Antonio native, Elsa relocated to Austin to attend the University of Texas. She promptly fell in love with the city, its quality of life and all it has to offer. After graduation she made Austin her permanent home, and began to work as a Realtor in the residential arena. In 2001, an unexpected opportunity led Elsa to focus her industry experience on property title work with a locally owned Title Company, focused on the upper-end of the residential market. After 11 rewarding years, she returns to residential sales armed with over a decade of knowledge in the upper-end market, property conveyance, development issues, and local government and growth trends.
Combining business experience and a sincere concern for people and their happiness, Elsa offers a unique set of talents to clients along with a clear understanding of their needs. Coupled with true professionalism and a sincere commitment to her work, Elsa's reliability and tenacity is evident in every task she undertakes. She provides expansive knowledge in the centralized segments of Austin's residential market, and tireless dedication toward finding her clients the home of their dreams. top
Allison Dew is an accomplished marketing executive with significant experience in online, integrated cross-discipline global marketing, brand and marketing strategy, customer research and marketing analytics. Allison is currently the Executive Director of Social Media, Analytics, Communityand Customer Research at Dell. She joined Dell in 2008 to build the global customer research function and has been an integral part of Dell’s brandand marketing transformation, driving a renewed emphasis on customer understanding, brand & reputation focus and integrated marketing. Building on this customer focus and online background, Allison recently added responsibility for social media and community to her portfolio. Allison joined Dell from Microsoft, where she held a variety of marketing roles including running MSN marketing, running brand & advertising for Windows and leading community and marketing initiatives on Microsoft.com. Prior to Microsoft, Allison spent seven years working on the advertising agency side, five in a regional shop in Tokyo, Japan and two in an independent shop focused on multi-cultural advertising in New York. Allison holds an MBA from the Wharton School, an MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in East Asian studies, and a BA in French and Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania. She speaks Japanese and French and has been a passionate advocate for customer-focused, global marketing throughout her career. top
Karen Friese has been an Austin resident for more than two decades, having moved here after receiving her B.S. degree from the University of Illinois in Civil Engineering. In both her professional and personal role, she has been both an active participant and advocate for the responsible development and management of the growth of our City.
After spending most of her career with a large engineering corporation, Karen made the decision to start her own engineering consulting company in 2003. Focusing on large scale regional and municipal water supply planning, water and wastewater infrastructure, and transportation and drainage planning, design, and construction services, her firm has grown to employ 15 people.
A graduate of Leadership Austin, Karen is currently a member of the City of Austin Bond Oversight Committee. She is also a former member several of the City of Austin Commissions and Task Forces including the Water and Wastewater Commission, the 2010 Transportation Bond Citizen Task Force, and the 2011 Austin Energy Rate Review Public Involvement Committee. Other professional contributions include national and State Board positions within the American Consulting Engineers Council.
Karen is an Austin Chamber Board member, a member of the UT Performing Arts Director’s Council, and a member of the Junior League of Austin. As an Austin resident, she has contributed her time and talents to a number of local charitable organizations including the Breast Cancer Resource Center and Habitat for Humanity, with one of her most cherished memories being a trip to El Salvador with Austin Smiles. top
Retta Kelley Van Auken
Retta Kelley Van Auken has been a driving force in Austin and Central Texas in helping non- profits and organizations meet their needs. During her storied 31-year career with Cox Enterprises, Retta’s influence led to the creation of many Austin institutions, including the Statesman’s annual Season for Caring campaign, the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee for Literacy, the Statesman Capitol 10,000 race and many more. Under her leadership, more than $10 million has been raised by the Statesman for area nonprofits. top
Jackie Mata is a private banker with J.P. Morgan. Jackie has significant background in the areas of investment management, finance, estate and income taxation and philanthropy. Prior to joining the firm, she was COO and founding executive director of an Austin-based family foundation while simultaneously serving as the family’s CFO. She had previously been Director of Wealth Management services at an Austin-based investment management firm. In addition, she had served as the CFO for a family office serving the financial needs of a three-generational family. She began her career in Michigan with Deloitte & Touche where she served as tax manager in Ann Arbor. Jackie is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in Accounting. She is a Certified Financial Planner® and certified public accountant.
Jackie is on the board of College Forward, is a member of Impact Austin and ACF’s Women Fund/Power of the Purse, and is on the Advisory Council of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas.
Jackie lives in Lakeway with her husband of 20-plus years. Her daughter attends the Univ of Colorado-Boulder. top
MP Mueller is president of Door Number 3, a 17-year-old indie ad agency based in Austin. The award-winning agency represents a diverse stable of clients including The Alamo, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area Tourism Association, Texas.gov, the Austin Film Festival and the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas. She writes a weekly blog, Branded, about marketing for small business that is featured on the New York Times’ website. Door Number 3 has a long-term commitment to giving back to a community that has supported them for so long. The agency has helped numerous non-profits through pro bono marketing and advertising campaigns. These include the Austin Humane Society, the Breast Cancer Resource Center, People’s Community Clinic, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, the Paramount Theatre and the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium.
M P is currently active on the board of the Foster Angels of Central Texas and on the communications committee for People’s Community Clinic. She has served on the board of New Milestones Foundation for six years, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for three. She She’s been recognized as a Profile in Power by the Austin Business Journal, as a Woman on Her Toes by the Austin Ballet and, in 2010, by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas as a Rising Star.
In earlier roles, MP was a standup comedian, worked for a Texas senator on Capitol Hill in D.C., and led advertising for Pharmaco (now PPD), an international contract research organization. The mother of two teens, Lawrence and Helen, she graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Communications and Public Affairs. She’s also farms hay in the Texas Hill Country. top
Milam Foster Newby is a partner with Vinson & Elkins Law Firm in Austin. Milam’s practice is focused on private and public companies from start-ups to national business ventures, venture capital firms, and other private and public equity investors. Milam assists companies and investors in private financing transactions, private and public securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs, debt financing, joint ventures and strategic alliances, and other business transactional matters. Additionally, Milam advises companies on organization, capital structure, stock incentives, board meetings and governance of corporations, partnerships and other business entities, litigation risk management and securities law compliance, and disclosure.
In addition to serving on the Board of I Live Here, I Give Here, Milam serves the Austin community as a member of the Board of Directors of The Rise School of Austin, as well as a member of the Austin Technology Council's Board of Directors. top
Erica Saenz joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and currently serves as Director for Community Relations in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. In this role, Erica is responsible for providing program and sponsorship management for campus and community partnerships. Erica holds a Bachelors degree in Theatre from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters degree in Dramatic Writing from UCLA. Prior to coming to UT-Austin, Erica held various positions at UCLA including serving in the Chancellor’s Office where she liaised with campus and community constituencies on behalf of the Assistant Chancellor and Assistant Provost and gained experience in managing emerging areas of campus concern of both external and internal origin. Also, while at UCLA, Erica served as production assistant to the Associate Dean in the School of Theater, Film, and Television and developed curriculum for a Dramatic Writing undergraduate course that she taught in 2007 and 2008. In addition to her work at UCLA, Erica was an instructor for East LA Classic Theatre’s Literacy Through Performing Arts initiative and taught student youth academic and art classes within the Los Angeles Unified School District. Erica is a proud member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Austin Creative Alliance, Austin Script Works, FuturoFund Austin, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas- Austin branch, Las Comadres Para Las Americas, and the Screen Actors Guild. Erica’s current board and service commitments include the Texas Exes Hispanic Alumni Steering Committee, Hispanic Scholarship Consortium, Teatro Vivo and I Live Here, I Give Here. top
Lathrop Smith is a partner at Maxwell, Locke & Ritter, the largest locally owned and managed accounting firm in Central Texas. At ML&R, Lathrop focuses on M&A transaction services and works with the firm’s subsidiary, ML&R Wealth Management LLC.
Prior to ML&R, Lathrop was a partner at Focus Strategies Investment Banking. Mr. Smith began his career at Emerson Electric Corporation (EMR) in the Industrial Automation Group in Chicago and subsequently worked in management for a family owned regional engineering and distribution company. Lathrop received an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a BS from Vanderbilt University. Mr. Smith is a CFA charter holder. Prior to working with I Live Here, I Give Here, Lathrop served on the board of KIPP Austin Public Schools for seven years. top
I applied to be the CEO of iACT in the autumn of 2007. At the time, I was working at KLRU-TV and was trying to develop a new television program for the PBS system about religious pluralism and practice in the United States. A part of that process involved assembling an advisory board and I needed someone who was knowledgeable about Hinduism to join this group. I was familiar with AAIM (now iACT) and thought that they might be able to help me connect with someone from the local Hindu community. When I visited the AAIM website there was a notice about the departure of their Executive Director, Rev. Emilee Whitehurst. My first reaction was that it was a shame that Emilee was leaving because I had found her to be a very bright and engaging person, but my second thought was that leading AAIM would be a really interesting challenge. So, after a few days of debating about whether I should apply, I tossed my hat in the ring. Why did I do this? Because, I love the work that AAIM was doing; and because I thought I could make a very positive difference in the life of the organization. I was eventually hired and started in February of 2008. Well, very much the same as it is now – but also very different. The heart of our work – our interfaith service programs remain a constant. Hands on Housing and iACT for Refugees were both exceptionally well run programs when I arrived and they remain so today. The big difference is that more people are aware of them now and, as a result, they are both better funded. I think the key to this change has been the hard work of our staff and Board of Directors, and the fact that we have created alliances with other agencies that do similar work to “raise the profile” of these service sectors in the community. The other big change has come through the Board itself – they have been such inspirational leaders! They have really rolled up their sleeves and helped us transform not just our identity – but also our expectations of what we can accomplish. This has led to a much more focused approach to our interfaith dialogue efforts and our new dialogue program, The Red Bench. top
Chris Steiner is a senior associate at Austin Ventures and focuses on growth equity investing. Prior to joining Austin Ventures, Chris was a manager in the Transaction Services group of KPMG. While at KPMG, Chris provided due diligence and advisory services to private equity and strategic investors covering a diverse array of transactions and sectors in North America and in Europe. Prior to joining the Transaction Services group, Chris worked in the audit practices of KPMG and Arthur Andersen. Chris began his principal investment career with Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm with $2 billion under management.
Chris received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He also has an MS in Accounting and a BA in Business Administration from Rhodes College. Chris is a certified public accountant and a CFA charter holder.
Prior to working with I Live Here I Give Here, Chris has worked with Habitat For Humanity, The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and with the Rhodes College Alumni Association. top
Originally from Austin, Matt Swinney, is the founder of Launch787, Austin Fashion Week and Modern Home Tours.
Upon graduating from Trinity University in San Antonio, Matt spent two years with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) working on projects for Halliburton, Bank of America, Conoco, BioSpace.com and Energy.com in Houston. He and his new wife, Kara, moved to San Francisco in 2000, where Matt took a Professional Services role with Moai Technologies, an auction-style software startup.
Seeing the dot com bubble burst up close and personal, Matt moved back to Austin, where he began his first magazine, For Sale by Owner and Builder, with noted real estate attorney Wally Tingley. Upon selling his stake, Matt began his career in lifestyle-driven marketing and events by launching Rare Magazine in the fall of 2004. Highly successful with a burgeoning reader, Matt founded Austin Restaurant Week and his love of event production and marketing took hold.
In March 2009, Matt sold his interest in Rare and began large-scale event production and promotions company Launch787. Launch787 owns and operates Austin Fashion Week, the Austin Modern Home Tour, Outdoor Living Tour, Sip & Savor Austin and countless other projects. In 2011 with partner James Leasure, Matt expanded the Modern Home Tour brand throughout the United States. In 2012, the team will produce 27 Modern Home Tours in some of America’s largest markets.
Matt continues to live in Austin with Kara and his kids Sadie and Cashion. top
Dwight Thompson is currently the President of Texas Steel Culvert Company, Inc. – Austin, in addition to his business in real estate investment and management. He is the former president of National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association in Dallas and the South Central Corrugated Steel Pipe Association in Kansas.
Dwight Thompson’s extensive community involvement includes his work on the Austin Salvation Army District Advisory Board, Vice-Chairmanship of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization from 2001-2006 and former Chairman of the Travis & Williamson County Alliance of Cities from 1999-2006. He is a past instructor at Boy Scouts Longhorn Council Merit Badge University, and is a Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Fellow. He is also a Leadership Arlington Graduate, and perhaps most notably the former Mayor of the City of West Lake Hills, Texas (1996-2006). Awards include the Westlake Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2000 and the City of Arlington Texas Reserve Police Officer of the Year in 1981.
Dwight has been married to Cathy Thompson for 24 years. They have two children, Sarah and John, who are both college students.
Mr. Thompson has a deep interest in the Austin community and the well being of all its citizens. He and his wife, Cathy, has been involved in fund raising for United Way, Safeplace, March of Dimes, and many others. Their ties to the community are strong; Austin is their home.
Trisa Thompson serves as Vice President, Legal, for the Global Operations, Marketing and Product Groups. She is the founding co-chair of the Women’s Networking Group, W.I.S.E., at Dell, and also serves on the PRIDE Executive Board. She is also a member of the Board of the Dell Foundation.
Trisa joined Dell in June 1998 from the Washington, D.C. office of Seyfarth, Shaw. Trisa was a partner with Seyfarth in its Government Procurement Law practice. She specialized in federal, state, and local procurement law and litigation. She joined Seyfarth directly out of law school in 1986.
Trisa graduated with honors from The National Law Center, George Washington University in 1986. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Boston University in 1983, where she majored in Mass Communications.
Outside of the office, Trisa has served on the Capital Campaign Committee for the United Way in Central Texas for several years in different roles, and is a past Chair of the Women’s Giving Network and a member of the Community Forum. She is a founding member of the Austin/San Antonio Chapter of the Texas General Counsel Forum. Trisa also serves on the Advisory Board for Law and Technology News. She also serves on the Capital Campaign Board for Zachary Scott Theatre, and is a past President of the Board of that organization. In addition, she is the chair elect on the Board for KLRU, and serves on the Board for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Trisa was a 2005 finalist for the Profiles In Power award from the Austin Business Journal. Trisa is the 2008 recipient of the United Way’s Volunteer of the Year Award. top
Cindy Work Abell
Cindy Work Abell holds Bachelors Degrees in Government and Advertising from the University of Texas and a J.D. from the UT School of Law. She worked in administrative law and policy in a variety of capacities at the Federal Communications Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC for eleven years. Since her return to Austin she has been active in the community in a number of ways. Her love of theatre led to service on the boards of performing arts organizations, including TexArts and Austin Musical Theatre. Her passion for Austin also has led to volunteer interests at Ballet Austin Guild, Women’s Symphony League, St. Stephen’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal schools and most recently at I Live Here, I Give Here. top