Erika Nowlin

Erika Nowlin Headshot (1)
  • What does your organization do?

    Austin Allies organizes volunteer activities and giving opportunities for kids and their families. We work with nonprofits all over the Austin area to provide volunteers of all ages to help them meet their needs while teaching the future generations about how rewarding volunteering can be!
  • How did you become interested in this work?

    I was looking for ways to get my own kids (now teenagers!) involved in volunteering in our community and it was really difficult to find organizations that would allow kids to volunteer, so I decided to research, make connections, and create the opportunities myself. I was also looking to inject positivity and empathy into the world during an increasingly negative time in our country, and somehow try to call attention to and help those that were really struggling (other than screaming into the social media void).
  • What drives your passion?

    I am a helper at my core. If I can make someone's day a little easier, a little brighter, I will do everything I can do make that happen. And I want to teach our future generations to be helpers, too. If we can teach kids a love for volunteering at a young age, I truly believe we will create volunteers for life!

    I also love to support the incredible nonprofits in my community and those that they serve. By supplying these orgs with groups of willing volunteers, we are hoping to take some of that work off of their shoulders so that they can do even more good in their roles in their community.
  • Do you have a mentor or a role model?

    I have had the great fortune in my role at Austin Allies to connect with so many people in the Austin nonprofit world (many of them in this very group at OVCT!). Each and every conversation I have with nonprofit leaders and staff inspires me and motivates me to keep doing this work of helping others.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?

    There are SO MANY challenges that come with working in the nonprofit world (boards, staff, time, money - y'all all know the drill)! One that I really struggle with is wanting to help all the people, all the time yet knowing that it's just not possible. Because we work with so many nonprofits, we see the incredible need across all walks of life every day and it can be so very hard on my heart to know that there is such suffering and inequity in my own community. The seeming impossibleness of fixing it all weighs very heavily on me.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?

    The best advice I have ever received (and yet still struggle to follow sometimes) was from my father-in-law when my kids were very young. He could see that I was exhausted and struggling and told me "You know how on an airplane, they tell you that if the cabin loses pressure to put your own mask on before you help anyone around you? That goes for real life, too. You can't help anyone if you are not taking care of yourself first." I think this is valuable advice in all aspects of life, but especially for those of us working in the nonprofit world.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?

    1. Find a community of others in the nonprofit world - like OVCT! Nonprofit work is wonderful and rewarding, but also exhausting and heartbreaking and leadership roles can feel especially lonely. A group like One Voice provides support and information that is especially invaluable for new EDs!
    2. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable and ask questions. No one knew what they were doing when they first started out!
    3. Put on your mask first - make it a priority to take care of yourself so that you have the ability to take care of others.
  • Anything Extra To Add?

    What I enjoy most about being a One Voice member: The feeling of being part of a superhero team that is taking care of and bettering our community!!

    To learn more about the Austin Allies visit their website. Please see our Archive of Featured Members to read about other members.