Posts tagged ‘nonprofits’

Girlstart Welcomes New Executive Director, Tamara Hudgins

Girlstart Announces New Executive Director
Girlstart, an award-winning, Austin-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), welcomes Tamara Hudgins in the role of Executive Director. Tamara will begin work for Girlstart on Oct. 1, 2009.
The search for a new Executive Director of Girlstart began earlier this year when founder Rachel Muir resigned to become the new Executive Director of Mother’s Milk Bank. During the search the organization was led on an interim basis by Julie Shannan, who will be returning to her former role of Girlstart Deputy Director upon Tamara’s arrival.
Tamara moved to Texas in 2005. Since 2006 she has been the Executive Director of the Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation (formerly Georgetown Area Community Foundation), a Georgetown, Texas-based community foundation that streamlines and supports the charitable giving process by connecting donors with giving vehicles and information.
During her tenure at Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation, Tamara brought new members to the organization’s board, completed a successful re-branding of the organization, achieved fivefold growth in donations over three and a half years, and secured the gift of a historic building on the main square of Georgetown for the community foundation’s permanent home. She also secured confirmation that the foundation was in compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations, which sets the standards for accreditation of community foundations. Tamara led the foundation’s day-to-day operations including staff management, budget oversight, fundraising efforts and strategic planning.
Before relocating to the Austin area, Tamara worked for and consulted with organizations in Chicago and the Czech Republic. During her time in Chicago she was the Executive Director of Creating Pride, a nonprofit serving over 11,000 teachers and children. She holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in Art History from the Art Institute of Chicago and Ohio State University, respectively, and holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Charles University in Prague.
Programming has been and will continue to be a focus for Tamara. At the Chisholm Trail Communities Foundation Tamara directed the foundation’s civic initiatives and efforts to improve the quality of life for Williamson County residents. To date, she has effectively addressed three key issues the county faces: childhood hunger and nutrition, aging and early childhood development and childcare.
Tamara was voted in unanimously by the Girlstart Board of Directors. “The entire Board of Directors is excited that Tamara will join us as the new Executive Director,” said Betsy Blair, Board President. “We are confident that she will make an immediate and positive impact at Girlstart and lead us to even greater success inspiring girls in math, science and technology.”
Tamara’s concerns about women and education are similar to those that led founder and former Executive Director Rachel Muir to create the organization over 12 years ago. “Too often, girls are not encouraged to pursue careers involving technology and science. When girls learn that they can achieve in the fields of science and math, they develop a stronger belief that there are a variety of opportunities waiting for them in high school, college and beyond,” said Tamara. “Girlstart is about bringing girls together in a supportive environment where they can learn, explore and share. I look forward to joining Girlstart and furthering its mission to help girls in Austin thrive in these areas.” 
Girlstart programs taking place this fall include Club Girlstart and Community Science Extravaganzas. Club Girlstart helps 4th to 8th graders master the scientific method through intensive, informal science and technology education. Program activities, which are aligned with Texas curriculum requirements, are offered in an all-girl environment both after school and in conjunction with community and Internet-based activities that support the exploration of science and technology. Community Science Extravaganzas create an opportunity for the entire family to participate in hands-on STEM exploration activities. An upcoming event is the Spooky Science Extravaganza, which will be held on October 24th at Virginia L. Brown Recreation Center. Girls and families will explore the biology of owls, chemistry of dry ice, and the science behind a few Halloween mysteries at this free community science event.

September 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Virtual classrooms rock!


Girlstart’s very own Interim Executive Director Julie Shannan recently graduated from Texas State Technical College with a certificate in Digital Media- making her the 1st student to graduate with course work done 100% in a virtual classroom. This is a fantastic achievement not just for the ever-changing world of formal education but for Girlstart. As the Technology & Program Coordinator, education via virtual worlds is something that I really embrace because of the opportunities open source and free virtual words provide us in offering creative, advanced curriculum for the girls we serve. Virtual worlds give us access to sophisticated free tools that allow us to offer our programs at much lower costs, without decreasing the quality of our curriculum.

The virtual world of education has a lot of minds to change, as people seem to think it is trying to act as a substitute for real life experience. With many of my family members and friends pursuing virtual degrees while maintaining challenging and rewarding careers, I can say that virtual degrees haven’t been a substitute but a supplement to real life-allowing working professionals to develop the skills needed for their organizations and personal career goals. This is especially beneficial for non-profit professionals, most of whom it seems tend to stay in the non-profit industry and choose to develop skills that will help them better serve their constituents (or at least the fabulous non profit techies I know in Austin).

Another wide complaint is that perhaps the online structure isn’t rigorous enough to compete with regular universities. Again, as a techie, I have yet to attend a university that offered the innovative technology courses online universities have been offering since the beginning. Many major universities are just now starting to weave technology coursework into more humanities/communication fields of study-something online universities are better equipped to do across all their course offerings.

After attending graduate school, I figured, I don’t want to be a professor, so there’s no point in continuing school and obtaining my PHd. However, the wide range of innovative programs offered at online universities have made me reconsider-if as a non profit techie, I could get a certification in Network Administration, develop my graphic design skills or add a new language to my tech repertoire, while still working and serving the Austin Community, why wouldn’t I?

Congratulations Julie on your awesome achievement!


June 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Goodbye Rachel, Hello Julie!

****You are invited!!**** Please come help us honor our Founder and celebrate our Interim Executive Director! And while you’re there-check out our exciting Summer Camp offerings (we’ll have brochures) and consider contributing to the Rachel Muir Scholarship fund to help empower Austin’s girls in Math, Science, Engineering & Technology! Be sure to RSVP!-Dee


April 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Missed Girlstart’s SXSWi panel? Catch up here.

Girlstart panel @ SXSWi 2009

Girlstart panel @ SXSWi 2009

Even though SXSWi reached a record number of attendees this year, many who have considered the conference to be the highlight of their professional year found themselves unable to attend the 2009 conference. Come to think of it, don’t all of us miss SXSWi in one way or another? I can think of atleast 25 panels off the top of my head that I wish I could have attended but the conference is so jam packed with goodies that you have to ultimately make difficult decisions and miss out on a few choice panels and core conversations. If you’re like me, you’re scouring the internet even weeks after SXSW Interactive trying to catch up with all the new things you learned and the stuff you missed. So, for those of you that missed the Girlstart panel or SXSWi alltogether, here are a few places you can go to catch up. 🙂 -Dee

Joystiq article

Kera Art & Seek blog

Austin Chic blog

April 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm 1 comment

SXSW Interactive-a peek inside

What a whirlwind! I can’t believe that SXSW Interactive is over! What a fantastic week it was.

Here’s a little sneak peek of my schedule during the week of SXSWi:

Friday March 13th

2:00 pm ·  Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong

3:30 pm ·  Oooh, That’s Clever! (Unnatural Experiments in Web Design)

5:00 pm ·  Plan B: Can an Ad Guy Bring Bike Sharing to America?

I spent the rest of the day at the Screen Burn Arcade and went to dinner with some fabulous folks from New York visiting SXSWi for the 1st time ever!

screenburnSaturday March 14th

10:30 am ·  Book Reading: Social Media Marketing with Alan Moore. No not this Alan Moore.

11:30 am ·  Core Conversation: Blog on Company Time and Get Promoted

2:00 pm ·  Opening Remarks: Tony Hsieh

3:30 pm ·  HOWTO: 149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog With Credibility!

3:30 pm ·  Core Conversation: Playing to Learn – Educating Kids Through Gaming

(yes I double booked myself on this one…saw half of both then caught up with each of the panelists after! Divinia Knowles from Mind Bites is super awesome. She’s doing some amazing things with Mind Bites and really has a great viewpoint on how games can be used to educate youth effectively and more successfully than traditional menthods. After talking with her I was inspired to build my very own Moshi Monster!) moshi

5:00 pm ·  Social Media Nonprofit ROI Poetry Slam

After that, I met up with the Fabulous Megan Gaiser from Her Interactive in New York-one of the panelists on our panel and we talked about girls, gaming, and the video game industry.

Then, I checked out the Lego corner which was jam packed with some amazing creations, including a tribute to the recent Austin Zombie road signs that have been popping up around Austin.


Sunday, March 15th

10:00 am ·  Screenburn: Playing On! Interface Lessons from Games

11:30 am ·  Making Whuffie: Raising Social Capital in Online Communities

3:30 pm ·  Core Conversation: Your Personal Blog is Dead

5:00 pm ·  Core Conversation: Twitter for Marketers: Is It Still Social Media?

This time, instead of continuing the learning process, I decided to go home and rest up for Girlstart’s panel and mentally prepare!


Monday, March 16th-Girlstart panel day!!

After our panel (more info in my next post), the panelists and I talked to a lot of our audience members-they were all so excited about our mission and wanted to know how they could help. It was great meeting folks in the Austin community who are passionate about contributing their time and talents to Girlstart-you are truly the folks that make all the difference! After meeting and chatting with these fab folks, I attended:

3:30 pm ·  No Web Professional Left Behind: Educating the Next Generation


5:00 pm ·  Screenburn: Girl Gaming Goes Mainstream: Cliches, Reality, and Community

Another fabulous, jam packed SXSW day!

Tuesday March 17th

Today was yet another great day at SXSWi-I met a lot of folks in the non-profit industry and we exchanged information to share resources. The Austin non-profit tech folks are wonderful about sharing what they know with each other-it’s such a caring community.

The highlight of my day was definitely getting an autographed copy of Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail”-thanks to my amazing and fabulous sister who managed to grab the last copy remaining-the display, and begging Chris Anderson to sign it for me. Yay!

I also attended:

2:00 pm ·  Tuesday Keynote: Chris Anderson / Guy Kawasaki Conversation

but spent most of the day checking out the Film festival portion of SXSWi…there was a documentary about the pets of Hurricane Katrina and the folks involved brought loads of dogs and set up an area outside the convention center promoting the documentary. Of course I had to spend a lot of time here.

cuteness overload

cuteness overload

The End

When the conference came to an end, I couldn’t beleive how quickly it had flown by. This is always the case with SXSW Interactive and while I felt sad (nerd alert!) I had so many new friends and so much new knowledge that I had to celebrate. I’ve got loads of scribbles I have yet to decipher and lots of things to look up on my To Learn list-I think by the time I get through that list, it’ll be time for SXSWi 2010.


March 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm

How to have a killer strategic planning retreat

Plan ahead!  Prepare!  Assemble a crackerjack commitee!  Recruit a top notch facilitator!  Serve candy!  Use dry ice!  Include fun competitive games with information about your organization you want your board to know like stats about your programs or who you serve in jeopardy or bingo games.  Get experts on your board to present a SWOT analysis of your organizations strengths and weaknesses.  Get another expert on your board to share an environmental scan of where the economy and population is going and changing.  Assemble experts and newbies into integrated teams and be sensitive to not put a very vocal person with a really quiet one.  Get everyone moving for the afternoon by plotting key focus areas on wall post it’s (i.e. marketng, fundrasiing, operations) and offer guiding questions for each to get their juices flowing (i.e. what should our board look like in 3 years?).  Have teams create worksheets documenting their outcomes,  when they want to acheve them, and what they will need to be successful.

Love, Rachel

November 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

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