By: Andrea K. Citrin Gardner
On April 20, Women Communicators of Austin will honor Lisa Maxwell, CRM specialist and Marketing Consultant at AVENDE, with the organization’s Leadership Award. The Leadership Award recognizes outstanding Austin-area communicators who have demonstrated a commitment to the community while positively impacting others in the field of communications with their involvement and leadership skills.
In addition to her role at AVENDE Lisa is a self-described artsy-craftsy type, poodle lover and Austinite. We at WCA also know her as a walking historian who, whenever asked, has served the organization in whatever role necessary. We know Lisa as an 18-year board member of WCA who never seems to take a break and serves with skill, enthusiasm and dedication. Even after retiring from her 18-years of service to the Austin Board, Lisa didn’t stop helping the organization. Instead, she jumped in, feet first, leading a member task force. Her willingness to step up and help wherever needed and do it all with a sense of humor, is invaluable to the individuals and groups with whom she works. Her intellectual curiosity, love of this organization, and willingness to pitch in with hard work and integrity sets Lisa apart and makes her uniquely qualified for the Leadership Award. Please join us in congratulating Lisa Maxwell on her Leadership Award and celebrate with us at Banner Brunch on April 20, 2013.
WCA: You have been with WCA in its various incarnations for a very long time. What first brought you to the organization, and what have you found about the group that has been the most helpful professionally or personally? How has the organization helped you grow?
LM: My first real job was as an administrative assistant at a marketing communications firm while I was still in high school. It was a small agency, but I met both Patti DeNucci and Laura Tuma there and heard them talk about WICI. When I got to UT and found out there was a student chapter, I decided to join. After graduation, I joined the professional group and got recruited to be on the professional development committee. The next year I was on the board, and was officially hooked. I have gained so much professionally and personally by my involvement: I’ve found jobs, found a house, found people to adopt dogs, been put in charge of big projects which I can now put on my resume, found out that I’m better at some things than others, etc. But the thing that has been most important to me is the people I have met in this organization. Truly – a lifetime of friendships, professional and personal connections.
WCA: You have participated on the board for many years and in many roles, and now you’re the winner of the Leadership Award. Why would you recommend joining and participating in WCA to others in the field of communications?
LM: As with any organization, what you get out of WCA depends on what you put into it. You don’t get the value from just having the membership, but from actively participating, working on committees, going to meetings and being involved. The reason I recommend this group over some others is because we are a cross-discipline organization: not just P.R., not just writers, not just social media folks, but a little bit of everything. And for people just starting out or looking to make a career change, this is a safe place to find like-minded people to help you on your way. We are a naturally supportive organization – somehow we have retained that quality year after year. Members really do support other members, sending them business, attending their launch parties, making referrals and even organizing baby showers.
WCA: What is it about WCA that keeps you involved and coming back year after year?
LM: Hah! I’ve been asked that frequently! Sheer stubbornness is one possibility, but I think that’s only part of it. The reality is that this organization has meant so much to me that I am protective of it and want to make sure that it is here for another 84 years. And either through coincidence or subconscious direction, each time I’ve decided to roll off the board, it seems something has come up; the 75th Anniversary, hosting a National conference or leading a revolt, that brings me back into the fold. Honestly, I hung up my WCA hat for good (or so I thought) in 2012, but that didn’t work out at all. But it’s okay, because every year, I meet a couple of new people or learn a couple of new things which have always made staying with it worthwhile.
WCA: From archivist, to videographer and treasurer with WCA to name just some, you have played many roles. How have the skills used in these roles helped you in your involvement with the organization and in your outside professional life? How do these skills help you in your day to day life in your role with your current employer, AVENDE?
LM: Definitely my WCA work and professional work have built and grown from one another. Being webmaster for the organization for a few years taught me web skills I use every day. The database management skills I have learned at work have helped immensely on setting up our membership back end. Working on the Task Force this past several months has really brought together all my skill sets and experience and I’m really thankful to have had all those tools in the toolbox.
WCA: How do you find the time to put in so much volunteer work, while maintaining a busy professional life?
LM: I don’t have a life! But seriously, I’ve always been a volunteer. Doing dog rescue, participating on my HOA board, WCA, these are all things that are important to me and I am a firm believer in putting your time and energy into things that matter to you. I honestly don’t understand people who don’t do any type of volunteering – I feel compelled to try and work toward positive change. Certainly people who don’t participate have no right to complain, and I want to be able to complain with a clear conscience.
Meet Lisa and all of our other award winner this Saturday at Banner Brunch.