Six women of sincere intention pave the way for Austin Woman magazine’s new era.
By Cy White, Photos by Annie Ray with editing assistance from Jaime Albers. Hair by Crystal Gutierrez of
Glam Haus Beauty Lab (inside of Jeremie Kendal Salon) and Delmicia Joy Williams of Joy Williams Beauty; Makeup by Janay Hardy, and Karen Powanda + Adela Touvell of Kiss N’ Makeup; Styling by Stephanie Coultress O’Neill with inspiration from Estilo Boutique. Shot on location at Fairmont Austin. Special thanks to Ashley Moran and Garrett Borden
As a journalist, it’s considered gouache to insert one’s self into the narrative. After all, this isn’t a story about the writer; it’s about the person in the headline. However, when exploring the lasting impact of a publication like Austin Woman magazine, it’s hard to remain the silent omniscient entity pounding away at the keyboard. This is personal for me on a scope that reaches far beyond a job. When I stumbled upon this magazine, my mind was opened to the very real possibility that I could be a part of something necessary and truly revolutionary.
But this wasn’t Melinda Garvey’s mission 20 years ago. On the contrary, upon her arrival to Austin in 2001, she landed a decent position at a big company. While it wasn’t what fed her soul, it was comfortable. After eight months of wallowing in stagnant corporate water, she knew it was time for a change. A chance girls’ night out with a group of her friends, including the woman who would become the magazine’s co-founder, Samantha Stevens, would forever change her trajectory and lead her on a path that she couldn’t have imagined when she first stepped foot in the city she’s called home for two decades.
A God Thing
“This was in January of 2002,” Garvey recalls. “It was actually with Sam [Stevens] and some of her friends. I was having a pity party: ‘What am I going to do? I have to get out of this place; I have to find another job.’ One of the women, Robin Campbell, she says, ‘Hey, I just got back from Des Moines, Iowa,’ and I’m kind of like, ‘You’re kidding, right? We’re going to talk about your trip to Des Moines, Iowa, when I’m having my pity party?’” Her voice goes comically flat, living in the moment. “She said, ‘There was this really cool magazine there called Des Moines Woman. You know what, Melinda, you have a publishing background, and no one’s talking about women in this town. That’s what you should do. You should start a magazine.’
“I can remember like it was yesterday; the hairs stood up on the back of my neck,” she says, voice soft as if the phenomenon is happening as she speaks. “I was instantly passionate. I had never thought about starting my own businesses. It’s not some longtime dream. I was happy with the corporate thing and the 401k and somebody else dealing with all that. I literally never thought of it. I see it as a God thing,” she continues. “I knew that’s what I was supposed to do, and I’d never felt that way before. I was like, ‘This is it.’
“The real story is I had to take a few Advil because I’d had a few drinks the previous night.” She chases the statement with a laugh. “But I did indeed start writing a business plan the very next day. Two weeks later, I left my job. Seven months after that, in September 2002, we launched the first issue of Austin Woman magazine, with Amy Miller Simmons, the founder of Amy’s Ice Cream, on the cover.”
Garvey seems prone to these flights of fancy. A conversation over cocktails and moaning about the “Evil Day Job” led to an obsession about Austin women that’s lasted for 20 years. To hear Garvey tell it, it’s been mostly smooth sailing. Her first and longest advertising partner, Twin Liquors, was all in from the moment she had her first meeting with co-owner David Jabour. Co-owner and executive vice president, Margaret, David’s sister, was even a cover woman in September 2008.
But after 20 years of running the singular woman-focused publication in the city, and in that time launching her software platform On the Dot Global in 2017, Garvey realized something had to give. “I’ve got to come up with a plan,” she says. “To be quite frank, most of it is because it needs something more than me. Even if I was doing this 100%, I’m not diminishing myself, but it needs more than me. That’s what I was just trying to figure out: How do I give this more? How do I build a plan around giving this more? What’s the next step?”
This became Garvey’s newest battle: letting go. “I was looking at it like, ‘Okay, so are there any big companies that I can sell this to that have a lot of means?’” she reveals. “Some of my struggle was I knew how hard we worked to establish ourselves [as]the voice for diverse women, and I didn’t want to unravel that; that was really important to me. So I was sort of resigned to, ‘Well, I may just have to let go of that and hope and pray that whoever is going to do this will actually honor that.’
“It was definitely something that was weighing on me a lot: How do I do this?”
Then inspiration struck like the phosphorous head of a match on the edge of a bar counter.
For those who grew up in the church, there’s a belief in something called the “anointing,” a spirit drenched in the blessings and holy eyesight gifted from a divine being. Cece Winans called it “the Everlasting Love”; Garvey calls it “a God Thing”; that whisper of divinity that creeps into your soul when you’re in a dark place. Storm clouds build in your spirit, and in place of self-assuredness you have a tempest of doubt and uncertainty. Then like a piercing guidelight in the maelstrom, a moment of clarity hits you in the face. Warmth envelops you to soothe and whisper that everything will be okay. This “God Thing” came in the form of a rude chainsmoker at the pool of the Horseshoe Bay Resort, as Garvey was taking advantage of a quiet moment at the Austin 100 conference that took place this year on April 18.
“I had just sat down. And damned if somebody didn’t start smoking,” Garvey says, animation and a lingering feeling of annoyance coloring her tone. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So I walk all the way around the back of the pool, the back corner, and who was in the back corner? Terry [Mitchell] in her cute little bikini. I sat down. Thank goodness that woman started smoking; I might have missed [Terry] because I was around the whole other side [of the pool]and had my nose in my book. God works in mysterious ways.”
And Then There Were Seven
End scene, end Act I, end the current era. Melinda Garvey is no longer the central figure of a bona fide legacy publication in a city full of legacy publications. The curtain closes, and we head into the intermission, the moment of transition. Once the lights blink, the audience meanders back to their seats, discordant notes from the orchestra waft from the pit. The curtain rises.
Our first new players, Mitchell and Neha Sampat, are already in place. Sampat, Contentstack founder and November 2021 cover woman, has known Garvey for several years (a common theme amongst the women). Before she even thought about moving to Austin, Sampat met Garvey at a conference in San Antonio over 10 years ago.
“My name is Neha. My day job is CEO of a company called Contentstack. Contentstack is a digital experience platform that essentially empowers really large brands to do really cool digital things. I am a founder of the company, have been there since day one, and we’ve now grown to 400 people in 18 countries around the world. I’ve raised about $90 million in capital, which has been part of the experience as a female doing that. Only about 2.5% of all venture capital goes to female-led companies, and I have a really strong affinity toward changing that playing field. So that’s kind of what I stand for; my mission outside of my day job is to really open and unlock pathways so that people can dream big, build things, lead and really set the example for the next generation.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“Every woman who’s been on that cover has had an impact. Every woman who’s been written about has been recognized for what they bring to the table. [We should] multiply that, not just in the magazine, but across new mediums, opening and widening that gate to more women from different backgrounds from different age groups. There’s an opportunity for us to really unlock the potential of young women who would otherwise not have seen it or been exposed to it. That’s the long-term impact. The magazine right now probably appeals to 30-something, maybe, but [mainly]40-something women. If we start to figure out how to appeal to 20-something women, that carries the life of the magazine.”
“She instantly embraced me,” Sampat recalls. “She introduced me to her group of friends that were at the same conference. I showed up not knowing anybody. By the time I left I had friends who all lived in different parts of Texas. I was still living in California at the time. So she’s one of the few people who I continued to stay in touch with over the years. One thing I remember fondly, when I finally did decide to make the move, I had told her I was coming, and she opened up her life to me, her friends, her family. It was like, ‘Welcome to Austin; my tribe is your tribe.’”
Mitchell, however, found in Garvey a mentor and someone she counts as a “co-conspirator,” more than an ally, someone who digs their hands into the soil of change and asks, “What can I do to help you?” Mitchell and Garvey’s first meeting was more a crazy twist of happenstance than a calculation on either of their parts.
“My name is Terry Mitchell. I’m a born-and-raised Austinite. I was born in what I call old East Austin, and I was raised by a single mother and am the eldest of three. I am a serial entrepreneur. I own a few businesses. My husband and I co-own a software SAS services business called E & Co Tech. I also have a salon in Pflugerville called Glam Beauty Bar. I’m the founder and publisher of the Austin Socialite, which is social impact, kind of urban events, news media type thing.
“I’m honored and privileged to be the founder of the Black Leaders Collective, which is made up of about 120 black leaders who forged a vision together on what Black liberation in Central Texas looks like seven generations from now. We’re working with that plan. Foremost I’m a mom and a wife, a friend and a sister and a daughter, an auntie. I wear many, many, many hats.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“I totally see this as a multimedia vehicle, where we may have just been a print publication and had some events here locally. I also see us on TV. I see us having a bigger digital presence, creating a whole multimedia conglomerate and then naturally duplicating this process in other cities and other states, if not throughout the world. For me, it will be a natural progression for us to continue to highlight local women, socialites, celebrities and boss women in every city and state, ultimately growing into a national conglomerate. Lastly, I’d love for there to be a festival of some kind, something where we’re bringing in national if not global names and attendees. Go bigger, go better.”
“I’ve been to quite a few Austin Woman events throughout the last 10 years or so,” Mitchell says. “I remember in my journey going to the events to meet people and to stay motivated and to stay connected. I would always see [Melinda] as this public figure. Then I randomly got nominated for the Woman’s Way awards and followed through with the instructions to become a finalist, and was truly baffled and surprised when I won in 2019. Then directly after was the reception, and I got to finally catch her. The work that I’m doing is truly moving our community forward, and she wanted to support me in any way.”
Given their close connection to Garvey, it’s no real surprise that when the moment of inspiration struck, Sampat and Mitchell were right there at ground level.
“We’d randomly seen each other at the pool on our off time and got to talking about Austin Woman magazine,” Mitchell recalls. “She started telling me about her intent to level up the company and how she knew she would need partners to do that. We just started toying with ideas on what that would look like. I remember sitting there; there was this epiphany like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m sitting here with this woman talking to her about her next steps in her company!’” Mitchell can’t keep the awe out of her voice. “It’s so real and serendipitous that we’re here now.”
“[Terry and Melinda] had actually kicked off the conversation about, ‘Well, why does it have to be one person that’s involved? Why don’t we have a few people involved?’” Sampat says. “Then I joined like, ‘Yes, let’s do this!’ We went into the dinner and kept talking about it. I think all of us collectively felt like there’s something bigger that we can do if we can combine voices and bring our ideas and our influence together.”
Almost as quickly as the first spark hits her, Garvey is stricken with another wave of inspiration, this time in the form of Shuronda Robinson. Unlike her fellow board members, Robinson hadn’t had many opportunities to really get to know Garvey. Though her name is always in every room where women of influence are being discussed, the stars were very rarely aligned for Robinson and Garvey to actually have many genuine conversations. However, as with Garvey’s influence, Robinson’s omnipresence is felt in important rooms where important people are having important discussions. It was almost inevitable that these two powerful women would connect. This connection proved to be the driving force behind the second most inspired idea Garvey had: Shuronda Robinson as Austin Woman magazine’s new CEO.
“We needed a strong leader who really can take that vision and really say, ‘Okay, what do we need to be for the next 20 years to have the kind of staying power, influence, sustainability that we had the last 20 years?’” Garvey says. “That’s a vision that Shuronda has, and she not only has vision, but she’s got the skill set. She is a storyteller by trade. She understands publications, has worked with them. She understands advertising; she understands the business.”
Even the decision to make Robinson the new CEO seems part of that “God Thing” that has followed Garvey from the magazine’s inception, both women coming to the same conclusion at almost the exact same time.
“The more we talked, the more I recognized, for me, that I wanted to not only support the new direction that she was taking, but play a more instrumental role,” Robinson says. The Adisa Communications founder and CEO has a subtly powerful presence. Her voice never rises above a gentle coo, but when she speaks people lean in to listen. Her influence in the magazine’s next era was a seeming no-brainer for both women.
“I’m Shuronda Robinson. I am an entrepreneur and a journalist, and actually really excited right now about this opportunity to support the growth and expansion and impact of a powerful institution in our community.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“It’s about telling the stories of other women and highlighting other women so that they can be more effective, more known in the marketplace, in our communities, and inspiring women, educating women, creating a community and nurturing that community of women in Austin. I want Austin Woman magazine to be similar to the influence and impact of Austin, selling a locally developed product and program, but the impact is national and global so people look at the magazine to understand what it means to be a woman in business. I also see us really expanding in the event space. What is the feedback that we need to be hearing from the audience that is going to engage with us so we can address their needs?”
“We are all aligned,” Robinson says. “We are coming in as co-owners, as partners in Austin Woman magazine. Our mission is to lift other women. I have great respect and admiration for someone who will contribute their expertise to doing that for someone else. Each individual woman offers something different that’s needed to really create a strong brand, to help guide the trajectory.
“You know, you have that voice inside your head or in your heart,” she expresses. “I try really hard to listen to my heart when my head often tells me it doesn’t make any sense. But the more she talked about it, the more I was like, ‘Wow, this is a perfect opportunity for me to leverage my expertise in a way that can be really beneficial, that can expand this platform.’
“I think I was actually in the nail salon. Often things happen in the nail salon.” A soft smile graces her lips. “I called her back, and we were both talking about something related to board recruitment. And I was like, ‘Melinda, I just want to tell you, I’ve been thinking about this.’ She said, ‘Oh my goodness, Shuronda, I had been trying to figure out how to ask.’”
Melinda Garvey is a realist. So let’s get real. Garvey is an able-bodied cis-hetero white woman from pretty well means. While she’s paved her road with good intentions, her experiential scope is limited. When she came to this second groundbreaking epiphany, it was with the subconscious understanding that in order for Austin Woman to continue to live in its legacy, something had to change. For 20 years the magazine thrived on the premise of representing all women. But as Garvey recognized multiple times throughout this journey, that wasn’t always the case. Where the lines of what it means to be a woman in Austin intersect, some key inconsistencies continued to crop up. As Ana Ruelas attests, they’ve spoken in the past about the lack of Latina and Latine representation.
“My name is Ana Ruelas, and I’m a connector. I am happy; I’m a mama of three kids, and a wife. I love people. I love helping people grow. I’m authentic, pretty authentic, actually. A little too authentic for some people sometimes. What I do best is connecting. We own a team, a luxury real estate brokerage firm. I’m an investor. I love music. I love having music around the house. Our daughter plays the piano, and I actually specifically wanted her to learn at home so I can hear the music. My father-in-law was a strolling musician, so my husband, of course, loves music, and my father adored music.
“I love things that help children and women, so I’m involved in anything literacy. I truly, truly, truly believe that if you teach a child to read, they’re more likely to go to college. When I first started doing stuff for children, I was at an organization called REACH. Here in Austin, Texas Book Festival, of course, Con Mi Madre. I think that I’m pretty blessed.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“To me, its value is actually standing up for something important. I always tell my kids, ‘I will buy you the bike, I will get you on the bike, I will give you the push, but you have to pedal.’ For the magazine, it has to be about standing up for women; it has to be about not just showing the pretty things that you know. At least show both sides. At least have a voice. You can’t ignore it, because if you ignore it, then you’re not really in the conversation. We should be in the conversation. I think there has to be a little bit of a shift somewhere where you talk about those hard things that haven’t been discussed in the magazine in the [last]20 years.”
Ruelas, founder and managing partner at luxury real estate agency The Agency Austin and board advisor at Texas Book Festival, is another on the board who’s known Garvey for nearly 15 years. Like Robinson, a fiercely honest woman with a soft-spoken nature, Ruelas carries an enviable strength of purpose and vision. She’s unafraid to dig deeper into a person’s motivations, their fears and hesitations, to get to the truth of their character. She most certainly meets Garvey where she is to give her the real deal.
“I’ve always been involved in going to the events,” she reveals. “I was chairing some of the awards. One particular event, Melinda and I had lunch at the Four Seasons. I brought another friend of mine with me. The conversation was about having more Latinos on the cover. Why were we not having more Latinos on the cover? If they were supposed to be about women, there should be more brown women, period. That was one of my first conversations early on in our relationship that we had, about making sure that we have more diverse women on the cover.”
When she signed on to be a part of Austin Woman’s board expansion, Ruelas did so because she understands the publication’s legacy and knows it can become more.
“I think that there has to be a little bit of controversial material,” Ruelas reveals. “I don’t mean controversial like trouble. I mean things that create, question, things that begin conversation. It’s not always happy-go-lucky. Let’s also have some thoughts about things that are affecting women right now. What impact is that going to have long term?”
As this new vision continues to unfold, more women of influence, power, intention and immense conviction join the cast. These women are determined to make sure this magazine lives up to its lofty moniker.
Expedia Brands’ head of PR, Americas and August 2022 cover woman Gretel Perera speaks of first meeting Garvey and bringing some of Austin’s most influential Latina business owners into the conversation—something she did with intention because she noticed a seeming lack of Latina presence in Austin Woman’s stratosphere and wanted Garvey to see where she could expand her view.
“I would summarize myself in two parts. One is professional. My full-time jobs over the past 20 years, mainly I’m a PR professional working mainly in tech, and have really been specializing in companies that want to focus internationally and work with diverse audiences. Now I’m at Expedia Group leading PR across all three brands for Expedia in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. My full-time passion has always been advocating for other women, specifically Latinas, and I’ve narrowed it down the last few years to really Latinas in tech, and really making sure we have a voice, that our stories are told, and that we’re supporting and advocating for each other as a community, but then to the broader tech community. I have another nonprofit called L500. I’m just really proud of most of my professional career and my full-time passion of advocating for others.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“The legacy of Austin Woman is that ability to shine the light on the amazing women having an impact in Austin and a lot of these women that we don’t know about. It’s not just about the women. It’s different companies that we lead; it’s different things that we stand for, the different backgrounds that we bring to the table. I would love to be able to bring my 20 years of communications experience to the magazine to help take it to the next level. We can bring a lot of these women’s stories to life over social media. How do we take an award-winning digital magazine into the future? Make sure we’re in the moment of where the media industry is.”
“I was like, ‘We need to have a seat at that table, literally,’” Perera says. “With this group of community women, Latino leaders, I was like, ‘Let’s go to this event together. I’ll buy a table; let’s all go and sit together and learn.’ I think what impressed me just from a distance about Melinda is the way she portrays herself, the way she’s very human, but then she was very much an advocate for everybody in that room.
“There were 10 of us in all. They met with her after the event; I went to introduce myself and expressed admiration for her event and everything that she’s built over the years. I explained that I brought all these amazing Latinas [she]probably had no idea existed, but they do exist in Austin. These are all executives; very powerful positions in the biggest tech companies in Austin came to this event. It was important to us.”
A text message while Perera was driving put her on the track to helping bring Austin Woman magazine into the future. The phone call that followed sealed the deal. “I remember I was driving. So I pulled over to listen to what she had to say,” she says, a huge grin brightening her already jovial countenance. “Honestly, I was blown away. Our meetings had been few until then, but meaningful. It was just really an honor to even be considered as one of these people who she was thinking about to kind of follow in her footsteps. That’s basically what it is, right? To continue and make sure her legacy lives on and even prospers even more, take it to the next level.”
In order to ignite that level up, each woman offers a unique vision. Mitchell envisions a publication that more fully embraces seeking out and spotlighting the spectrum of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ communities, while also spanning generations. “I find that, although we’re on the good foot, we still have a little bit more work to do in demographics, where there’s people of color and all the people of the BIPOC community,” she says. “Our job is to continue to plant seeds so that the next generations can stand on those to grow even further. This is already a legacy brand. All we’re doing now is scaling that work even more. What’s going to be important in this legacy work is ensuring that all young women see themselves in this magazine.”
Lana Macrum-Craig, who’s known Garvey the longest, has a unique perspective on what could help Austin Woman step strongly into its future. The J.P. Morgan Private Bank managing director and banker was there from the publication’s inception. She’s watched not only the magazine’s growth, but also the growth of its founder. As with the other six women bringing Austin Woman into the future, Macrum-Craig’s vantage point allows for a wider perspective on what the magazine is and what it could be.
“My name is Lana Macrum. I am a banker at the J.P. Morgan Private Bank. My role is a managing director at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, and I serve as a banker, working with families, and endowments and foundations to achieve their wealth management goals. I have a very strong focus on philanthropy, both in my career and personally, so it all kind of weaves into the work that I help my clients do in their community, and my personal commitment to our Austin community. I feel very fortunate that I get to help people with their passion, but also pursue my own, both in my day job and outside of it.
“I’m married to Jeff Craig, and we are celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary this year. We have two children, Connor and Sarah Craig, and they both live in Austin. They both went to school at Ole Miss and moved to Austin after school. So we’re all in Austin. I see them frequently, which is great. We are lovers of English bulldogs and have two right now, our four-legged kids.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“When I think about the legacy of Austin Woman, I go back to the fact that this is a magazine that I read when I was building my career, and I was looking to learn from all these women who were ahead of me. I grew up in a really, really small town and moved to Austin when I was 20, and it was very overwhelming. [The magazine] immediately invites you in, providing a kind of home for women to do what they do best. I want our online presence to grow so that we can access and touch more women more frequently and more in real time for all of the women in our community.”
“I’ve picked up Austin Woman for years,” she says. “As a young woman starting my career, reading Austin Woman helped me forge my own path to the community and to grow my network. It’s an amazing resource for young women in their careers, a resource for mothers, a resource for CEOs. It gives you a place to relate. That’s what I saw from the first time I opened it. I’m 44, and I’ve been reading this magazine since it launched.”
Having been in Austin since 1996, Macrum-Craig has actively watched the city’s evolution and seemingly never-ending expansion. She fully embraces the influx of new companies and talent from all over the country. “I think this is the right time in Austin to do it, with the growth in our city and the fact that we have so many great leaders,” she continues. “Austin Woman is in such a strong place because a) you already have an amazing platform, and b) you’re going to bring in such diverse perspectives,” she continues. “Anytime you bring a group together that has diverse perspectives, you get much better outcomes.”
Maintaining the Legacy
It’s a question that every new member has pondered. How do we keep this 20-year train on track to keep providing women in Austin a source to really see themselves in all facets of the community?
“We’re taking it from impacting one generation to impact for the next three, four, five, six,” Mitchell says. “What we’ve been talking about is what does our exit strategy look like? What is our succession plan? I think a lot of institutions don’t put those things onto paper until it’s too late. Someone has passed on or no longer wants the job, wants to retire. And now you want to think about your succession? Know your succession,” she urges, “that way you can know how to easily track success. Furthermore, it tells you from the beginning that you should be rearing somebody else up so you’re ready to pass the baton on to them.
“My job is to start bringing folks up that I know can take on my seat at some point or be able to impact Austin Woman magazine in some way. Start with your succession plan in mind from the jump; your legacy will continue to grow from there.”
This notion of “legacy,” of leaving a tangible trace of your impact on the world, is really what this new direction is about. For Sampat, who doesn’t have any children of her own, it means tapping into the potential of future generations. The seed has already been planted; it’s time to water and make the soil fertile for the next great harvest.
“It’s about how many lives you can impact,” she says. “Not financially, necessarily, but in unlocking their potential to do their best work. That could be creative; or it could be for artists to find a way to make a living off of being creative. It could be for a 13-year-old to realize that she wants to be a CEO. To me, it’s unlocking the potential for somebody who would otherwise not have gotten there without some impact. It’s also doing that in a way that helps those women create multigenerational impact in their family. That’s real; that’s leveling the playing field or changing the playing field.
“That, to me, is real legacy: I die knowing that I helped make an impact with the magazine. Can we build a mentorship program that really helps people navigate the challenges and start something so that they can become builders? I think of the next generation as the next stage of this platform.”
“I think to build on that legacy, it’s about how we make Austin Woman more accessible to a larger group of women,” Robinson says. “When we look at Austin, [it’s] booming. This is the place to be. How do we find those folks who are new here? Those women who have moved into Austin and are looking for that sense of community and help to serve their needs? It really is the power of what is happening for the future.”
20 Years and Beyond
“We are equally as committed and excited about being these champions and ambassadors and influencers on behalf of Austin women,” Garvey insists. “Knowing that keeping this voice alive is so critical. It’s not just women, but then you layer on any level of diversity, any lens, and the need becomes exponential. I think that we can actually close the gap. If we come together and we share our networks, if we truly have a place where we can do that and support one another and make those key introductions, we’ll be unstoppable. Shuronda has a lot of incredible ideas. But that is the goal, to really make sure that every last living person who identifies as a woman knows about us and knows and understands and feels like they have a place.”
This is a simple tale of a woman, who, disillusioned with her 9-to-5, turned to her friends for consolation and a solution to her corporate-world malaise. However, this isn’t really about Melinda Garvey. This is about a movement, a passion, a drive to honestly and intentionally include every single woman that’s in the city.
One doesn’t often get the chance to speak to people at the ground level. To get into the minutiae of what it means to drive a company forward from the place it’s been to where it could be. Being able to speak with the women who genuinely want to revitalize, reimagine and reestablish this publication as a place where all women can feel like they belong, I do not take it for granted. This is a blessing and an honor. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to first hear what these women want to do, then see it in action. Only time will tell if what they want equates to what they’re able to deliver.
This publication has given every woman and woman-identified person in this city license to look inside themselves and really believe they are what this city is about. Beyond the glossy cover of this publication, the pages are filled with treasure. Each woman who’s been featured has given Austin its heartbeat. So, you see, this is personal. It’s about you; it’s about me. The past 20 years have culminated in this moment. A time to really look into who we are and say proudly, “I am Austin Woman.”
And Lynelle Makes Eight
Shortly after the September issue published, another addition to the new roster made her presence known. Former technology executive and CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Texas Lynelle McKay answered the clarion call to take Austin Woman into its next phase. Now in her second retirement, McKay was looking for something to give her purpose as she basks in her successes.
“Something one of my friends talked about when I retired, before I went to New York City for the Girl Scouts USA job, was about success versus significance,” McKay says. “Every time I go through a transition, I always get pulled back to tech. That’s what I love to do, and I love to run a business and combine the two. But I look at success and significance, and I really felt like I needed to make a difference in people’s lives. I don’t need more success. I’m super happy [with]what I’m doing, but I always need to be challenged. If I don’t have that challenge, running businesses or helping at the board level running businesses, I feel like there’s so much more that I need to be doing. I need that significance, and I think Austin Woman can provide a little bit of everything there.”
Just as her new peers on the board, McKay got a call from Garvey and instantly knew this is what she was called to do. There was no hesitation. Having met Garvey at one of the magazine’s anniversary events, McKay knew that Garvey was someone of significance to have in her corner. Her dedication to women aligned so perfectly with McKay’s career and her professional calling. Like Perera, McKay first received a text from Garvey. When she explained her epiphany, McKay was instantly on board. “My gut just knows when things are right,” she says.
With her years of experience in tech and in the nonprofit space, McKay fits like a well-loved jacket. Warmth, comfort, security. With her presence, the team only continues to grow stronger in its ability to fulfill its lofty mission.
“My name is Lynelle McKay. I am just into my second retirement right now and trying to define what that really means the second time around. I remember what Serena said: ‘It’s evolution.’ I have to decide what really is the right fit for me at this point in my life, and I have done a lot of different things of really diverse backgrounds. I’m really trying to make it stick this time around. Austin Woman has been a really interesting opportunity, just at that right time, when I was looking for something that I could add to the portfolio of what I want my second retirement to look like. Where I can still give back to women, especially women in Austin. I think this is a great opportunity, because it combines so many unique aspects of what I’m really looking for in this next chapter.”
Where do you see Austin Woman going in the future?
“I think the next step is to be so much more than a print magazine. I think there’s opportunity to take this into the digital space, even more strongly than what has been done in the past. That’s what I am excited about.
“I think we need to meet women where they’re at. We have to think much more broadly about how we connect and support all the women in this community. To me, that is the opportunity, and I think it needs to be experiential. I think in order to really make an impact and really create that legacy, we have to figure out how to meet women where they’re at and provide that ecosystem and support in the community so they truly have that sisterhood to be able to help them with whatever they need in that next step of their business, their corporate life and their entrepreneurial life.”