Meet the i live here i give here

Community Advisory Council

The Community Advisory Council is a committee that exists to support the I Live Here I Give Here Board of Directors and Executive Staff. The council is comprised of community leaders who serve as organizational ambassadors and advisors, providing their professional expertise as needed to help further the organization’s mission. Although each person can have unique roles and responsibilities, they share a common goal: to advance I Live Here I Give Here’s presence and ability to fulfill its mission to make Austin the most generous city in the country.  

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Community Advisory Council Chair

Cindy Abell

Cindy is an innovative nonprofit strategist who helps clients identify core challenges and provides the tools and fresh outlook to craft the most effective solutions.

Cindy served as an early board member at I Live Here I Give and introduced the online giving day concept to I Live Here I Give Here in 2011. She also helped bring it to fruition as Amplify Austin, which has raised $45M dollars in donations to over 700 local nonprofits. Cindy currently serves as our I Live Here I Give Here Community Advisory Council Chair.

Cindy developed and implemented new project based fundraising program at St. Stephen’s School raising over $250,000 in two years. A lawyer by training, Cindy combines her analytical skills with the innovative results-oriented thinking needed in our new “solution economy” for social needs.

Specialties: nonprofit consulting, social venture planning, online fundraising, strategic planning, social sector trends.



Ruben Cantu

Stories connect us all. They are the thread by which we all grow, learn, and prosper. The hero’s journey from obscurity to triumph is something we can all relate with. Ruben has established this caveat at the center of his, and CORE Media Enterprise’s, mission, which is to change the world through social entrepreneurship and thought-provoking content.

Defining himself more specifically as a “mediapreneur,” Ruben has been working in media since he was 14 when he hosted his first weekly radio show. During this early period, he established his first company at 18 and won national recognition for his college television show in 2002-2003. In 2004, he gained a clearer perspective on inner workings of the media industry while working at MTV and Sony Music. He decided that the power of media could still be profitable if it was harnessed to bring awareness to social and environmental issues instead of just selling sensationalism. That idea sparked CORE Media Enterprises which launched in 2007. CORE Media Strategies is the commercial arm of CORE, that creates strategies and marketing campaigns through web, high-end video production, and experiential activations. He takes these methods and specializes in cause branding, strategic storytelling and sparking cross-cultural conversations. This work provides the foundation for CORE’s mission of impacting hearts and minds by creating remarkable campaigns for brands that are changing the world. The company’s film division, COREageous Films, reflects Cantu’s extensive background in filmmaking and provides a path for these socially aware and progressive projects to come to light.

Ruben is a first-generation college graduate. He holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from the Moody College of Communications and an M.S. in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, both from The University of Texas at Austin. As a social entrepreneur, his ambitions are focused on establishing a platform through media that allows society to reflect on its condition and spur progressive change.

He is also the Executive Director of Austin+SocialGood a community-based action tank and accelerator which is part of the Social Good Summit where he serves as a global connector and Director of Business Development. Also, he is a co-founder of a video series which covers the tech community in Austin Texas. Ruben graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential class of ‘14. He was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year for Austin Under 40 in 2015. He also was nominated for Changemaker of the Year in 2016 by the Austin Young Chamber. As an international speaker and trainer on startups and social innovation, he is helping shift the focus onto triple bottom line economics. When not working he is focusing on fostering entrepreneurship with the youth.

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President at Greater San Marcos Partnership

Adriana Cruz

Adriana is an economic development professional with over 25 years professional experience. She is proficient in all aspects of location marketing, project management and incentives negotiation, resulting in the successful completion of numerous projects and the announcement of new jobs and investment in the region. Adriana’s specialties include: business recruitment, business relocation and expansion; international trade and investment; economic development marketing and promotion; place-making.

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Special Counsel at McGinnis Lochridge

Ashton Cumberbatch

Ashton has practiced law for more than 30 years and is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Texas.  His primary practices include employment law, dispute resolution and commercial litigation. Ashton returns to McGinnis, where he was a partner with a focus on employment law, he led the employment law practice group, and commercial litigation. His diverse clients include and have included fortune 100 companies, such as technology and oil and gas corporations; as well as educational, health and wellness, and utility companies.  

Ashton’s representation has included counsel and litigation about state and federal employment statutes, including the Texas Commission of Human Rights Act, Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disability Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act. He has advised employers on covenants-not-compete, unemployment insurance, and wage and hour issues; and investigated allegations of employee misconduct.

During his leave from McGinnis, Ashton served the Central Texas region in several capacities. First, he agreed to be the Police Monitor for the City of Austin — serving in that role for three years.  Next, he was an executive at the Seton Healthcare Family, where he focused on advocacy and community engagement. Most recently he served as a Policy Advisor for Austin Mayor Steve Adler, where, among other things, he co-lead initiatives focused on equitable and holistic development — mixed-income housing, education, health and wellness, and public safety — in Austin's historically underserved region; and the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. Prior to McGinnis, Ashton was Chief of the Trial Division for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

Ashton’s contributions to the well-being of the Central Texas region have been widely recognized, including — the University of Texas at Austin Dr. James Hill Leadership Award, the American Heart Association Power Award, the AISD Charles Akins Award, the University of Texas Thurgood Legal Society’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Austin NAACP Outstanding Service Award, City of Austin Distinguished Service Award, and the Austin Metropolitan YMCA Will W. Miller Volunteer Leadership Award. Examples of his servant leadership, include service as President of the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO), Chair of the Board of Directors of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, and Co-Chair of the AISD Bond Oversight Committee. Currently, Ashton is a member of AARO; a board member of HousingWorks Austin and E3 Alliance; and an advisory board member of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, Austin Black Chamber, and I Live Here, I Give Here.  And he serves on the University of Texas Dell Medical School’s Admissions Committee and the Travis County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Advisory Council.

Ashton has an A.B. in Economics from Brown University and a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.

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Community Relations and Inclusion Program Manager

KristEn Day

Kristen serves as the Community Relations and Inclusion Program Manager for NXP Semiconductors. She oversees the NXP Inclusion Council and guides the strategic initiatives that support the NXP Community Engagement Council and Foundation. Kristen received her degree from the University of Texas and received her SPHR certification in 2009. She currently serves as Treasurer on the Ballet Austin Board of Directors and is a Ballet Austin Foundation Trustee. Kristen is an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Austin and volunteers with the Regents School of Austin. She is also a member of Leadership Austin’s Essential Class of 2016. Kristen resides in Austin with her husband, Aaron, and their two sons.

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Director of Philanthropic Programming at Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Zack Flores

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President of K Friese + Associates

Karen Friese

Karen has a long-standing reputation for her drive, unmatched customer service, and proven results. She is a confident leader who is personally invested in each client’s success.  As a trusted advisor, she approaches her clients’ unique challenges as if they were her own.

After 20 years of designing and managing a variety of municipal and large, regional water and wastewater projects, Karen left a national engineering firm to establish K Friese & Associates (KFA). Her vision was to build a civil engineering consulting and design firm devoted to professional, highly skilled, and responsive service. KFA quickly grew from a home-based business to a company now employing more than 30 people, and serving more than 80 public sector clients.

Karen is an active member of the Austin Area Research Organization and a graduate of Leadership Austin. She also is on the board of, and an active contributor to, numerous civic, charitable, and professional associations including the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the City of Austin Bond Oversight Committee, I Live Here I Give Here, The University of Texas Performing Arts Directors Circle, and the American Council of Engineering Companies.  Previous service includes appointments to the 2010 Austin Transportation Bond Citizen Task Force and the Austin Water and Wastewater Commission.

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Founder and Executive Director for HBCU Battle of the Brains

Gregory Gibson

Gregory founded the HBCU Battle of the Brains which expose diverse students from the HBCU campuses to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities within the technology industry and beyond. Gregory works to partner with Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, professional sports leagues, and more to provide a unique and engaging opportunities for competition, diversity in university recruiting, and community impact. Gregory also works as the Chief Brand Strategist for Dashingfoot and serves as the President for the National Black MBA Association Austin Chapter.


Communications and Community Affairs for Samsung

Michele Glaze

Michele is a marketing and communications professional successful in strategy, thought leadership, executive advisement, PR and marketing campaigns, digital channels, internal communications, community relations, special event planning, employee engagement programs and talent building. She has proven ability to consult with companies of all sizes (global Fortune 500, SMB, Nonprofit) to create and launch strategic platforms that demonstrate business, customer or community value that aligns to business priorities.

Michele’s specialties include: strategic planning, communications, marketing, event planning/management, internal and external campaigns, employee giving & engagement, public affairs/crisis management, change management, hiring, managing teams, social media, content creation and program creation/management.

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Founding member of Impact Austin

Melissa Gray

Melissa served on the founding board for Impact Austin as the Vice President and Treasurer. She also spearheaded the first strategic planning process and served as the Community Partner liaison for two years. Melissa currently co-chairs the Volunteer Engagement Committee.

In addition to Impact Austin, Melissa serves on the board for the Jeremiah program and supports several local organizations including: Texas Advocacy Project, Urban Roots, Austin Shakespeare and Emancipet.

When Melissa is not spending time serving and helping her community, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four children along with their chickens, guinea pigs, fish, and dog.

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Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Huston-Tillotson University

Wayne Knox

Wayne is an outgoing, energetic and dynamic professional with 10+ years of experience as a senior manager, who is well versed in executive-level leadership and strategic planning/execution. Throughout his career, he has successfully delivered high-exposure and high-impact projects. Wayne has expertly distilled complex financial concepts/data and effectively communicated findings to a wide range of audiences.

Wayne has a proven record of quickly identifying and implementing viable solutions to complex management issues. He operates confidently and comfortably at every level within matrix organizations. His management style is collaborative, performance-driven and customer focused. Wayne has the agility and flexibility to adapt to fast-paced, dynamic environments, while managing large scale, complex projects and functional teams. Wayne is an active listener with strong oral and written communication skills. He possess a keen ability to think critically, which affords me the aptitude to identify risks and implement sound solutions.

Wayne is mission-oriented and believes in strategically leveraging the power of teamwork with resources (human, fiscal, technological) to drive operational excellence and align solutions with business objectives.

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Founder and CEO of Sparkovation Advisors

Thomas Miranda

Thomas Miranda is the Founder & CEO of Sparkovation Advisors, a management consulting & technology advisory firm. He helps companies and leaders orchestrate value through Digital Business Strategy, digital transformation and IT leadership.

Thomas served as an engineer, manager and executive for nearly two decades within high growth Fortune 100 firms HP, Dell and mostly Cisco. With a penchant for innovation, he has led advanced engineering / R&D teams to deliver successive billion-dollar flagship platforms to market.

He later held Enterprise Strategy and IT Leadership roles that helped transform critical business, enterprise IT & Service functions worldwide. He founded the office and served as Cisco’s inaugural Latin American employee CTO over the Americas & Europe while working with Cisco Ventures to seed billion-dollar ideas across global markets.

Thomas has been deeply committed to serving his community from the moment he arrived in Silicon Valley to this very day. He’s a past Chairman of The Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, served on the Boards of Leadership Austin, Austin Chamber of Commerce, EGBI and currently on the Boards of Mission Capital

(Chair Elect), Austin Ed Fund (Immediate Past Chair), Workforce Solutions Capital Area (TWC), Texas Lyceum and the Austin Area Research Organization. He also serves on 5 regional and national advisory boards focused on leadership, technology, entrepreneurship and education.

He graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has earned project management and executive leadership credentials from George Washington University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Commercial Account Executive, Development

Brittany Morrison

Brittany joined the Corridor Title Team in February 2018, and brings a deep commitment to the Austin Commercial Real Estate Industry, substantive Escrow experience, and a long-term commitment to the success of our Community and Region that distinctly fit the Firm’s focus on the Austin Commercial Market. Brittany’s intellect, sincerity and work ethic since she began in commercial real estate in March 2010 are well and deservedly regarded, and her professional and civic accomplishments are remarkable at such a young age. Recently featured as a “Rising Star” Finalist by the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power, Brittany is a leader, present and future, whose star is bright.

Brittany is an Austin native and proud graduate of Hyde Park Baptist Church & School, as well as Texas A&M University. Brittany’s active involvement in the Austin Community is as diverse as it is deep, in and outside of Commercial Real Estate. A 2017 recipient of the prestigious “BIG Giver” award by I Live Here I Give Here, Brittany’s purposeful work in support of Hospice Austin is both personal to her, and a subject of deserved community respect. And Brittany’s substantive involvement with the Real Estate Council of Austin and Urban Land Institute has made a material impact on both organizations, and she’s just getting started! Brittany and her husband, Britt, are the proud parents of Beckett Mackenzie, who is the light of their lives.

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Marketing and Advertising Consultant

MP Mueller

MP is a marketer and writer with 20 years of experience as an ad agency owner, plus seven years on the corporate side leading advertising for a fast-growing startup. I've been lucky to have built and led talented groups of people. For 20 years, she led Door Number 3, (formerly NourzAds) an indie advertising, marketing and media buying agency. She has been a regular blogger for the New York Times, writing about all things marketing for small businesses in a blog, Branded. In February, 2015, MP sold the agency to a long-time agency leader. Following that, she gained publishing experience with Austin arts and culture magazine, Tribeza, working as interim editor with her friend who is the publisher. MP now offers marketing, advertising, media strategies and creative services as Mueller Marketing.

MP has been involved with some special Austin area non-profits, serving on the boards of I Live Here I Give Here. They host Amplify Austin, a 24-hour online giving day. She is also involved with Foster Angels of Central Texas that provides children in the Foster Care system with donations and support for those things we often take for granted, like a bed or team uniform. Past board positions include the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and New Milestones Foundation.

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Digital Strategist, CEO, and Partner at Four Kitchens

Todd Nienkerk

Todd is a Digital Strategist, CEO, and Partner at Four Kitchens. Todd’s role is to help organizations define and reach their goals using a combination of technology, creativity, and strategy. His background in design, development, communication, and psychology provides unique insight into how people use technology: how we think, feel, interact, and form communities both off- and online.

Since 1996, Todd has designed and built countless websites and written for, edited, and managed several online and print publications. In 2006, he co-founded Four Kitchens, a web design, development, and strategy consultancy. Four Kitchens’ mission is to change the world by setting knowledge free. They achieve this mission by working with open-source software and communities, choosing projects that advance human knowledge, and freely sharing our expertise with the world. Recent awards for client projects include an Emmy, Stevie Award, Davey Award, AVA Award, WebAward, and two Communicator Awards.

The business leadership and progressive management philosophy Todd helped shape at Four Kitchens have garnered both local and national attention. Four Kitchens has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., BetaNews, Texas CEO, and Texas Tech Pulse to name a few. Four Kitchens was named one of the “Best places to work in Central Texas” by the Austin Business Journal in 2014 and 2015, and Todd was a finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards in 2015.


Vice President Corporate Responsibility

Yvette Eden Ruiz

Yvette E. Ruiz joined JPMorgan Chase in 2014 and serves as a Vice President for the Office of Nonprofit Engagement, supporting Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Colorado. Primarily supporting the needs of low-income communities, Yvette’s work with community thought leaders and nonprofit organizations advances policies and programs that are key to driving inclusive economic growth and economic prosperity.

Yvette has shaped JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to building the capacity of nonprofits through a combination of direct programming, thought leadership and collaboration with local partners. Prior to this role, Yvette managed a global community relations program at Austin-based National Instruments.

Yvette was born in San Juan, Texas and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. After moving to Austin in 2004 to attend the University of Texas at Austin, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations with a minor in Business. Yvette also holds a professional certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from the Boston College Carroll School of Management. Yvette lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Ken.


Assistant Vice President for Community and External Relations

Erica Saenz

Erica Saenz joined The University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Community and External Relations (CER) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. The CER portfolio includes the Communications Unit, the Community Engagement Center and Special Events. CER is also responsible for providing program and sponsorship management for campus and community partnerships. Erica holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters degree 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. Erica is a proud member of 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 Austin Involved Advisory Council, Community Action Network, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Hispanic Scholarship Consortium Advisory Council, I Live Here I Give Here, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Teatro Vivo, and the Texas Exes Hispanic Alumni Network.


National Director of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances, Government Relations

Terri Broussard Williams

Terri Broussard Williams is the National Director of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances, Government Relations for the American Heart Association. In this role, she oversees partnerships and alliances for the AHA’s local, state and federal legislative portfolio. Prior to this role, Terri served as the Vice President of Government Relations for the SouthWest Affiliate for one decade. Under her leadership the SouthWest Affiliate Advocacy Team has successfully passed laws that improve the region’s cardiovascular health. She has a long list of American Heart Association honors including being named 2013 Rome Betts-Advocacy (highest honor given to an AHA employee by the association), 2013 & 2014 National Team of the Year, and 2013 Affiliate Team of the Year and was named Affiliate Manager of the Year in 2012. Terri has been with the AHA for nearly twelve years beginning her career as the Louisiana Government Relations Director. She lives in Austin, Texas where she is an active member of the non-profit community and volunteers between 10-20 hours each week. Terri is a strong believer of servant leadership and has served as a member of several community boards including but not limited to Leadership Austin, The Association of Junior Leagues International, Austin Area Urban League The Junior League of Austin, Concordia University, Austin Travis County Integral Care, and Giving City Magazine. The Greater Black Austin Chamber of Commerce named Terri the 2014 Executive of the Year. Concordia University conferred its Inaugural Emerging Leader award to Terri and her husband, Lemuel Williams in 2013. Terri was named one of the Most Influential Women in Central Texas by Austin Business Journal in 2012. She is also an active volunteer of the American Red Cross of Central Texas she chaired their signature gala- Luminaria 2013 and was the founder of Club Red, the young professionals’ arm of the organization. In 2012, Terri and Lemuel launched a scholarship for minority young professionals under the age of 40 to participate in Leadership Austin’s Emerge Program She and Lemuel served as the inaugural honorary chairs for the 2015 Austin Under 40 Awards. Terri believes in paying things forward and founded a social impact blog to inspire others who want to lead to change their communities.