How Austin Leadership Group Creates Community Purpose - Nina Godiwalla

In Chapter 8 of 14 of her 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street" author Nina Godiwalla joins Leadership Austin to apply her corporate experience in helping the local community. The experience exposes Godiwalla to new groups, which broadens her thinking. As a result, Godiwalla finds new ways to apply her passion to be responsible and accountable in her actions.


Erik Michielsen: What has your involvement in Leadership Austin done to shape your sense of community responsibility and citizenship?

Nina Godiwalla: So the Leadership Austin brings together people that are passionate about seeing our community as bigger and passionate about making a difference in the community, so we have business -- people in the business world, people in the nonprofit world, artists, people in the political world and how do we all come together and learn from each other. For me specifically, for me it’s been a really interesting experience because one, I was not exposed to these people, I have very much been in corporate America for the majority of my professional life and those are the people I learned from, so for me, I feel like it’s allowed me to think much broader about completely different perspectives really.

I didn’t know what is was like to, what a lobbyist, what their life was like and for me I’m finding passion within all these different groups and I feel this complete responsibility of how do we come together and actually do something. And one great example is we had an education day and we had students actually come in from the high schools and tell us ‘this is what it’s like, this is what’s working for me in high school and this is what’s not’ and in central Texas there’s a lot of issues around education, in terms of they need to be brought up to different standards and so we got to hear from people that have these great experiences and people that are not. And Austin is described as somewhat segregated so if you live in certain parts of town you may never see other people from different socioeconomic classes and that kind of a thing. So you can chose to live in that world but Leadership Austin has taught me that’s not ok, it’s not ok to live in that world and it’s not ok just to be with your own kind of people.

And what I think is amazing what they’re doing is saying that there is some sort of accountability because one of the things I thought was great that they did in education class is say ‘Ok you can send your kids to that fantastic school, you can have your kids around all those other kids that way, but when your kid gets out there might not be a job for your kid and let us explain to you the business reason, the whole reason why that if you don’t pay attention to what’s happening in this other neighborhood it’s going to affect your life’. And on one hand I thought how unfortunate that we have to say that to people, that you have to be concerned because it’s going to affect your kid’s life, but if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. You know, if that’s what’s going to convince people that we’re all one and we need to figure out a way to work together and it’s amazing because people really do start to listen, it was like suddenly like ‘Oh really, my kid’s not going to have a job?’