Jayne Gibson: Working to support the quality of of life in Austin

Published 5:37 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” 

— Sherry Anderson

In 2011, a group of community leaders convened with one focus – improve the quality of life in Austin by 2020. This group became known as Vision2020, and from that work Austin Aspires was formed in 2013 to bring educational excellence to our community.  Five individuals stepped forward to form the first Austin Aspires Board of Directors – past board members Jana Haynes, LeeAnn Ettinger, Craig Johnson, and current board members Chad Sayles and John Engelstad.

These five individuals recognized that Austin is a resource rich community. We are fortunate to have several organizations that work to provide support in various areas. The missing link was an organization that could bring these resources in alignment to achieve a common goal.

In September of 2015, Gema Alvarado-Guerrero became the sixth member of the Austin Aspires board, and the work of the board continued. Information was gathered from cross sector groups of the community to learn more about what was needed to ensure a world class education for all. Five very specific areas were identified at that time: Readiness for kindergarten; high academic achievement; empowering parents/caregivers as the primary influencer of our learners; career and college readiness; and social, emotional and mental health of all learners. Those five areas continue to guide our work today!

As we close out 2021, it is time for us to express our extreme gratitude to three of our earliest board members – Mr. Chad Sayles, Mr. John Engelstad and Ms. Gema Alvarado-Guerrero.

Each of these incredible individuals have played a significant role in developing Austin Aspires into the organization that it is today. Their leadership over the years have ensured that Austin Aspires has become steadfast in the community, providing support to children, families, and partner organizations in these key areas. Their commitment to our organization, and our community, shows in all facets of the work we do.

Austin Aspires has grown from one staff member to seven staff members, our roster of community partners has grown, and the number of donors and grants received since our 2013 inception has grown. Although much has changed, Mr. Sayles, Mr. Engelstad and Ms. Alvarado-Guerrero have ensured that our commitment to becoming a community that is “recognized as a leader in education” has never wavered.

On behalf of the staff, the Austin Aspires’ Board and the community, thank you so much to each of you for all that you have done to make Austin Aspires become a reality for the children and families in our community.