This year’s Austin 40 Under 40 highlighted the profound work of women in the Austin community.

Since 1998, Austin 40 Under 40 (AU40) Awards has recognized 40 Austinites under the age of 40 who have used their talents and resources to build up the Austin community. A collaboration between the Young Women’s Alliance and the Young Men’s Business League, AU40 has shown young people in the capital city how valued and important they are to the advancement of their hometown with a black-tie gala. Across 17 categories, millennials and Gen Zers are given space to celebrate and champion one another. This year, over half of the recipients were women from across several industries.


Grace Dowd, Winner
Sports, Wellness and Fitness

The daughter of two accountants, Grace Dowd didn’t grow up in a household where therapy was a common conversation. However, she took with her strong values of community service and the concept that every human deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. She opened Grace Therapy and Wellness after earning her master’s in social work at UT Austin and opening a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Intensive Outpatient Program at a local psychiatric hospital. With her experience as a psychotherapist and board-certified clinical supervisor, she leads with empathy and compassion. She has been featured in Texas Tribune, Fox 7 Austin and the Huffington Post. “I will empower you through creating a tool kit of coping skills that will help you respond effectively to life’s challenges,” she says. “My goal is to help you live your best life.”

Kathryn Fritts, Winner
Retail, Manufacturing and Supply Chain

Kathryn Fritts’ journey to entrepreneurship began with 10-year-old undergarments! After going away to college, she came back to find that styles and accessibility for intimate wear had stagnated. With a desire to diversify offerings for more body types and comfort levels, she founded Underclub, a monthly subscription service offering designer intimates. Currently serving women sizes XS to 4XL, Underclub offers ethically sourced, sustainable selections and works with nonprofits such as Dress for Success, the Pride Foundation and Feeding America. “With the pressures and hectic lives we live doing and giving for others, Underclub is here to make a little monthly moment all about you,” Dowd says. “When you feel your best, you show up as your best self for those around you.”


Francis Leigh Jordan, Esq., Winner
Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations

With a wealth of experience in communications, policy and community engagement, Francis Leigh Jordan has brought a mindset of service and advocacy to community relations firm Rifeline. She incorporates her J.D. in law from University of Kentucky and her B.S. in political science from Tuskegee University with her powerful connection with the Austin community to strengthen outreach between the city and state and local agencies, nonprofits and school districts.

Lindsay Neuren, Winner
Real Estate

Lindsay Neuren’s experience in nonprofits has fueled her passion for helping people who need it the most. This passion and her service-forward perspective lends itself to her calling in real estate and shows in her track record at two of the nation’s top real estate agencies: Realty Austin and Compass Real Estate. “Having sold over $1 billion in real estate in Austin, Lindsay’s vast knowledge of the diverse neighborhoods helps her clients find the area in Austin that best fits their lifestyle.”


Liz Schoenfield, Ph.D., Winner
Nonprofit Service

Self-proclaiming herself a “reformed researcher and strategist who puts people first and data second,” Liz Schoenfield has used her expertise to advance data-driven advocacy for those who need it most. Per her AU40 bio, “Her success using data to inform service delivery and the adoption of evidence-based programs at LifeWorks was highlighted in the documentary Failing Forward: On the Road to Social Impact. She is a leader in the local and national movement to end youth homelessness, and her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and featured in outlets such as the U.S. News & World Report, Psychology Today and The Austin-American Statesman.”

Lauren Taylor, Winner
Energy, Sustainability and Transportation

Daughter of a cybersecurity professional mother, Lauren Taylor counts her mother as being one of her biggest inspirations and icons of representation for Black women in STEM. Her inspirations have driven her to great success in STEM herself. As the assistant vice president and deputy Texas district planning lead at multinational engineering and design firm Williams Sale Partnership USA, she has put her talents to work assisting with management of a team of over 20 planners and scientists. “For me, the best way I can show gratitude [to my personal inspirations]is to hopefully be an inspiration myself, paying it forward and hopefully breaking some glass ceilings of my own,” she says.


Lia Truitt, Trailblazer Award (P2P Challenge, raised over $10K)
Winner – Journalism, Marketing, and Public Relations

A former beat reporter for KTBC-TV/FOX 7 in Austin, Lia Truitt has amassed an incredible track record in public relations. As the vice president of ECPR Texas, her roster of clients is staggering: Austin FC, Visit Austin, the Downtown Austin Alliance, Google, Las Palmas Medical Center, Orangetheory Fitness, JW Marriott Austin and the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, to name a few. A devoted volunteer, Truitt has dedicated thousands of hours of intentional hands-on work with various nonprofits as a Junior League of Austin member. Truitt is also an ardent supporter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and was honored to be a candidate for the organization’s Woman of the Year.

Jessica J. Watts, Winner
Capital, Financial and Insurance Services

Per her AU40 bio, “Since 2016, Jessica Watts has been the Texas statewide compliance consultant for the employee benefits practice of Frost Insurance. [She] regularly consults on employee benefits matters, including health care reform compliance, for Frost Insurance clients across Texas. [Watts] was born and raised just an hour north of Austin, in Temple. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration in financial services and planning from Baylor University and a Master of Science in human resources management from Tarleton State University. [She] is active in the local Austin and Texas state chapters of the National Association of Benefits & Insurance Professionals.”


Jessica D. Weaver, Winner
Mentor of the Year

With more than 25 years of consulting and nonprofit work, Jessica Weaver has established herself as a powerhouse of Austin philanthropy. She earned her Masters in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; she was built for the type of work that has made her a mentor to many young local philanthropists. Per her AU40 bio, “Weaver is the owner and principal consultant of Weaver Philanthropic Strategies. [She] enjoys her role as faculty at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. [Weaver] has a personal and significant commitment to civic engagement. She is a current member of the Women’s Fund and The New Philanthropists Legacy Leadership Council, and serves on the Board of Governors of the Austin Community Foundation, Leadership Austin and ZACH Theatre.”



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