Join Us in Welcoming Lauren Alexander-Labahn
Delivering Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas’ services is a team effort. It takes a variety of people, with a range of skills, knowledge, and passion to help kids in our community reach their full potential.
Now, we are pleased to welcome a brand-new addition to our team: Lauren Alexander-Labahn, BBBS’ new Vice President of Development.
Managing all things fundraising-related, Lauren brings almost 20 years of experience to the position. “I actually started asking for gifts when I was 14 years old,” said Lauren. “It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. But as far as my professional work goes, I got my start at The University of Texas at Austin right out of college.”
“I worked for one of the associate deans in the college of liberal arts as an undergraduate, and the development office happened to be on the same floor,” said Lauren. “The Director of Development and I developed a great relationship. When my dean didn’t have a ton of work for me to do, I’d help with the development office. When it came time to graduate the director said, ‘Hey, do you have a job?’”
So began a summer filled with planning two galas. “At the time, I didn’t realize that was an insane idea,” laughed Lauren. “In my naivete, I said, ‘Sure, I’ll plan those.’ The Director of Development really became a mentor for me, though, and I worked for her again later at Texas State University.”
Lauren was also the first development director for the Waller Creek Conservancy – now Waterloo Greenway, and she managed fundraising activity for the Austin Film Society (AFS), successfully launching and completing an emergency capital campaign to open the AFS Cinema. “I originally worked for the Film Society as an intern,” said Lauren. “My second semester with them involved an apprenticeship, and I submitted a list of areas of preference for work. When I got my notice back, it said I had been placed in development, which was funny because development wasn’t anywhere on my list of preferences. It’s just an ongoing theme. No matter what I do or where I go, the universe steers me back to development!”
During the apprenticeship at AFS, Lauren met another woman, the Director of Development, who became a mentor for her. The connection to mentoring is another theme in Lauren’s life.
“I grew up in a tiny town in northeast Texas called Winnsboro. You have to be intentionally going there to find it,” laughed Lauren. “It was a sweet, safe place to grow up.”
It was also an environment that provided insight into the importance of mentoring and influenced her career path. “Giving back was part of the culture and philosophy of our family,” said Lauren. “My father was an attorney in this small town, and he was so generous with his time and his legal practice, even winning an award from the State Bar of Texas for his commitment to Pro Bono work. He’d sometimes come home with 20 jars of homemade pickles because someone couldn’t afford legal services.”
This spirit of giving led Lauren to become a mentor herself with another youth-serving organization in Austin. “I was matched with a young girl,” said Lauren, “and we were very close, remaining in touch for a number of years after she aged out of foster care services and left Central Texas.”
That experience helped Lauren to recognize the BBBS difference. “That match was a ‘happy accident,’” said Lauren. “There was not the in-depth interview process that there is here at BBBS. When I learned about how intentional and careful BBBS is in pairing a young person with a mentor, it made a ton of sense to me. I really believe in the mission and the power of what happens here. I know firsthand how transformative these relationships are for both mentor and mentee.”
“I read a Carl Jung quote that really stuck with me – ‘The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed,’” said Lauren. “I think that is so true. I think that what we’re doing at BBBS is transformational and happens in a really positive direction, both with our matches and with fundraising as well.”
It is all fuel for Lauren’s focus on development and on helping the agency serve more matches. “There’s an opportunity for bold new programs in development,” said Lauren, “and that excites me about being at BBBS.”
When she is not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her children and her husband, Joe. “I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old,” said Lauren. “Two high energy, smart, thoughtful, sweet little girls named Mirabelle and Vivienne. I enjoy playing with them.”
“I also have an interest in art and film,” said Lauren. “Plus, I dabble in gardening. My vegetables are actually growing this year!”
Lauren’s first day on the job occurred during BBBS’ recent Bowl for Kids event, and the planning for BBBS’ Ice Ball gala is well underway. Amidst all this activity, Lauren has hit the ground running. She is ready to take it all on, as she focuses on the agency’s mission.
“I’m a relationship person,” said Lauren. “I believe in relationship work, and the work here at BBBS is relationship work at its core.”