Meet Oscar Flores, with the passion to help his community and encourage business owners

Meet Oscar Flores, with the passion to help his community and encourage business owners

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Oscar Flores moved to Austin from Seattle, WA. He is graduated as Telecommunication Technician in Venezuela. He studied Business Management and Entrepreneur at Edmonds Community College. Founder and former president of Venezuelan-American Washington association. He has many years of professional experience on Hispanic media such as EL Mundo newspaper, Azteca TV and ESPN Deportes Radio. Oscar started Cestari Insurance agency in 2005 and worked as Marketing Director. In 2013 became a Commercial Insurance agent. Passionate about sports, he has coached 6U baseball and support a gymnastic daughter.  He loves to cook and host parties. His passion is to help his community and encourage them to become business owners. He also has volunteered for Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Member and Ambassador, Instructor  for Economic Growth Business Incubator, and Baseball Coach for Cedar Park Youth League.

Oscar Flores

Meet Marieli Cestari, with the vision to provide advice and lead the insurance market based on experience

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Marieli Cestari is original from Venezuela and has been living in the US since 2000.  She graduated as an Industrial Engineering in 1999.  In 2005, she decided to become a Farmers Insurance Agent and develop her career in the insurance and financial services industries.  In 2013, she accomplishes the Minority Business Executive program from Washington University, Foster School of Business and in 2014, she got certified as the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow designation “LUTCF” with the American College Institute.  Her passion is to advocate others, she participates as mentor and speaker for few local nonprofits to help another entrepreneur achieve their dream.

Her vision is to provide advice and lead the insurance market based on experience, trust, respect values and commitment to encouraging the peace of mind.  She loves dancing and listen to classic music.  She enjoys watching movies, doing sports and outdoors activities with her two beautiful children and husband as well as having friends over for entertainment.  She pursues her dreams and goals through hard work and attitude.

Marieli Cestari

North Austin Influencers January Mixer

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Thank-you to everyone that attended the North Austin Influencers January Mixer. This month’s highlighted Influencer is Dr. Teresa Granillo with Con Mi MADRE.

Dr. Granillo graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors in Psychology. Additionally,she earned her Masters of Social Work, Masters in Psychology and Ph.D. in Social Work and Psychology from The University of Michigan.

Before joining Con Mi MADRE she was a Tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Austin in the School of Social Work.

Con Mi MADRE is a non-profit in the Austin area whose mission is to empower young Latinas and their mothers through educational and support services. Dr. Granillo joined Con Mi MADRE because she was a Latina who grew up with a single mother who didn’t have an education. Her mother encouraged her to do well in school and pursue post-secondary education. While Granillo didn’t have a Con Mi MADRE, she had many mentors outside of her family that helped her throughout high school, college, and graduate school, and she says she owes her success to them. Thus, she believed whole-heartedly in Con Mi MADRE’s mission. She feels she is proof that with the right guidance, support, and mentorship, even Latinas from low-income families can achieve great things in education. For 10 years she has been doing research on finding ways to improve the lives of young Latinas, to provide them with opportunities to be healthy (physically and emotionally), happy, and successful. When presented with the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of Con Mi MADRE, it was like a dream come true! Now she gets to use her personal experiences and knowledge to empower young Latinas and their mothers to fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college education and having a successful career.

Special thank-you to Casa Chapala Mexican Grill & Cantina for hosting us at their beautifully renovated location and as always great service!

For more pictures from the event, visit our Facebook album HERE.

Teresa Granillo

Conversation Corps

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Conversation Corps is a way for all Austinites to get involved at convenient places near their home or work through monthly, one-hour conversations hosted on a different topic impacting the greater Austin community.  Input from these discussions go directly to decision-makers at the City of Austin, Capital Metro and Austin Independent School District.

Every month, groups meet all around town, discussing the same “issue of the month.” Conversations take place in a variety of venues – schools, houses of worship, community centers, coffee shops and restaurants – and will last about an hour. Trained facilitators lead the group through a structured dialogue, giving everyone a chance to share their thoughts and respond to what they’ve heard others say. Check in regularly to see what the topic of the month is on the Conversation Corps web site and find a meeting convenient for you!

Get involved today! Find a conversation. Host a conversation. Comment on a conversation.

Conversation Corps

Keep Austin Beautiful three month beautification project at Quail Creek Park

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Half dozen University of Texas Black business students, North Austin Civic Association members, and another half dozen Keep Austin Beautiful volunteers gathered at Quail Creek Park to kick off  the creek cleanup three months beautification project in February and the efforts continue in April.  Quail Creek Park is recognized by its large grove of hack-berry trees.  This park boasts a playground and picnic tables in 16 acres in north Austin.  Few Austin parks boast such wonderful shade.  Keep Austin Beautiful empowers citizens to take personal responsibility for enhancing the community’s environment by hosting these types of projects.

April 16th and 30th the efforts will continue, “we will engage the community around the park in litter abatement, creek restoration, native landscape installation, and park beautification,” and “future projects will include restoration work such as invasive removal, bank stabilization, and planting of natives plants, as well as mulching of park trees and possible public art installation”, announced Keep Austin Beautiful. View more details on how to get involved:

Picture source:

Picture source:


North Austin Influencers February’s Mixer

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Thank-you to everyone that came out to our February North Austin Influencers mixer.This month’s highlight, former Mrs Williamson County, Eleanor Cheng Butler spoke about the platform she was given to promote a cause dear to heart as founder of The Heart of Cancer. It is a non-profit organization that provides emotional, spiritual and practical support to cancer patients and families through an array of healing therapies and activities. Special thank-you to Pacific Rim Sushi & Yakitori Lounge for hosting us.

To see more pictures from the event, please visit here.
February mixer



feb mixer 2


Feb mixer


Meet Maribel Garcia Valls, MPH, ACC, Cultivating a Bee Happi Community

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Maribel Garcia Valls, MPH, ACC, is the president and founder of Bee Happi.  Maribel is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coach Federation (ICF) with years of experience in executive, professional, and life coaching, neuro-linguistic programming, positive psychology, journaling, and mindful meditation. In addition, Maribel has extensive experience in: culture, leadership development, team building, public health, health care, health disparities, and civil rights.

She has a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from the University of Texas at Dallas and is Associate Certified Coach (ACC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF). In addition, Maribel is also in the process of completing Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner certification.  Maribel is also a graduate from the Texas A & M School of Rural Public Health with a Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management. She also has undergraduate degrees in Health and Fitness from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Radiologic Technology from South Texas Community College. Prior to serving as the president for Bee Happi, Maribel worked in state government and the health care system for over fifteen years.

Maribel created Bee Happi after discovering that the process to become happy was simple, but not easy. After struggling through some periods of unhappiness, Maribel learned how to create states of happiness through coaching, journaling, meditation, and neuro-linguistic programming. Maribel was deeply inspired by many great influencers like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Martin Seligman, Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, and Deepak Chopra.

The Bee Happi Coach helps coaching clients to create happier and more positive attitudes so they can be more productive in reaching their life and career goals. Bee Happi Coaching using the principles of Positive Psychology, neuro-lingustic programming, journaling, and mindful meditation. The specific services offered include:

  • Journal with a Coaching Twist & Mindful Meditation Exercises: Coaching Sessions in the form of journal prompts on various topics such as: gratitude, happiness, relationships, personal leadership, time management, and so much more. These journal exercises can be purchased on the online store at
  • Group Coaching Sessions: In the Bee Happi Community, we do things together. Group coaching offers a small supportive environment to brainstorm your happiness goals. Group coaching is a series of sessions on various topics. The groups are small with six to eight people that have committed to join this group for the duration of the sessions. After each session, participants will receive homework exercises to continue the learning and stay on track.  There are many benefits to group coaching. It is an affordable way to receive coaching in a supportive environment with peer-to-peer learning from the group’s collective wisdom. In addition, the group serves as accountability partners to each other as they strive toward similar goals and experience similar situations. Sessions can be done live, phone, or videoconference.
  • Individual Coaching : Private coaching is a great option for clients wanting one on one support. The individual coaching will include a series of sessions, homework exercises, limited e-mail support, and accountability checks. This coaching program will give clients the structure and support to lead them in the right direction. Clients will finish the program with a clear, customized step-by-step blueprint for the change they want to make. Sessions can be done live, phone, or videoconference.
  • Bee Happi Funshops:  There are many ways to learn with the Bee Happi Community! We have live funshops, webinars, and self-paced online learning. The goal is to teach participants how to use happiness strategies to flourish by working smarter not harder all aspects of life.

Bee Happi   Bee Happi

Restore Rundberg, neighborhoods helping neighborhoods

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Restore Rundberg is about neighborhoods helping neighborhoods with the mission to improve the quality of life, health, safety, education, and well-being of individuals living and working in the Rundberg neighborhood.   This community-driven initiative is a partnership between neighborhoods, the community, government, higher education, public safety, researchers, and stakeholder groups.  Residents in the Rundberg corridor are leading this revitalization effort since December 2012.

The project is supported by a three year grant from the Department of Justice running until September 2016.  The goal is to develop innovative crime solution and complementary social services. Rather than short-term fixes, it is important that these crime solutions are sustainable over time. Much research is under way in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.  For the Restore Rundberg project to be successful, it takes a community collaboration of local residents and leaders, area businesses and nonprofits, the Austin Police Department, a number of City of Austin departments, The University of Texas, and the community at large.

To be successful, this project requires a high level of participation from community members and here are ways to get involved!

  • Sign up for Restore Rundberg emails and meeting notifications here.
  • Restore Rundberg meetings and events, including monthly community meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month is an opportunity for input. Find upcoming events on the homepage of this website and on their Facebook page.
  • Meet your Austin Police Department District Representatives host weekly community meetings at the YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg Lane, on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.  These meetings are a great way to meet and connect with area District Representative. The meetings generally focus on issues important to community members and stakeholders who live, work or have an interest in improving the quality of life in Restore Rundberg grant area.
  • The Revitalization Team Workgroups are tackling specific priority areas and related outcomes identified by the Team. The committees are staffed by volunteers who join based on their expertise and/or willingness to take a leadership or hands on-role in completing project objectives and activities.  Restore Rundberg Priority Areas: 1. Revitalization of Key Properties 2. Healthcare 3. Afterschool Programs 4. Code Comp;liance 5. Homelessness Intervention 6. Housing Affordability 7. Economic and Workforce Development 8. Prostitution Prevention and Intervention. Volunteer today!
  • Some positions in the Restore Rundberg Revitalization Team leading the neighborhood revitalization project are up for election at Restore Rundberg January team meeting, on January 28, from 6:30pm.  If you’re interested in taking a leadership position in the project, please fill the Revitalization Team membership application and send it by January 21 at 3pm.
  • Click here to take the Restore Rundberg survey that’s being conducted by the University of Texas at Austin. This survey seeks to understand how Rundberg community members view their surrounding area, neighbors, and police.

Restore Rundberg



Rundberg Community Partners

Meet Susan Savkov, using her expertise in marketing to help the community

Category : Blog

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Susan Savkov is Communications & Marketing Manager at Easter Seals Central Texas, a local nonprofit which promotes independence and creates opportunities for children and adults with disabilities in Central Texas. 

Before joining Easter Seals Central Texas, Susan was involved in online marketing and social media for an Austin digital marketing firm which helped best-selling authors and brands like Chicken Soup for the Soul with their online strategy and branding. Susan has spent more than twenty-five years in marketing including brand development, social media strategy, and public relations to support positioning and marketing communications efforts. She also spent time in Sydney, Australia working for a national advertising agency. From volunteering as Branding Manager for Austin Pets Alive!, Susan Savkov took her love of marketing to the nonprofit sector and enjoys telling the stories of the clients of Easter Seals Central Texas.

Easter Seals Central Texas provides an array of programs to support the health and vitality of children, families and adults living with disabilities in our community. The organization is a locally funded and governed non-profit based in Austin and serving over 8,500 clients in 22 Central Texas counties that promotes independence and creates opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue their hopes and dreams.

The Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program serves families with children from birth to three years of age. ECI services include, but are not limited to: family education and support; audiology and vision services; nursing and nutrition services; physical, occupational and speech-language therapies; and developmental services for children with a variety of diagnoses, such as Autism. The Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program provides medically prescribed physical therapy, aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and audiology for children and adults ages three and up. Easter Seals Camps for both children and adults with disabilities provide inclusionary, fun and safe activities for clients, while providing affordable respite for caregivers. The Workforce Development Program provides specialized training, job placement and support to adults with barriers to employment. The Independent Living program enables adults with disabilities to live with maximum independence. The Liberation Station computer lab provides open Internet Cafe hours, as well as job readiness and computer literacy classes for High School students and adults with disabilities.  The Community and Housing Services Program provides advocacy, assistive technology, financial literacy training and accessible, affordable housing for people with disabilities. 

Susan Savkov has been instrumental in organizing Easter Seals Central Texas’  annual Dia de los Muertos (‘Day of the Dead’) Festival which features celebrity line-up of live music. Proceeds will benefit Easter Seals Central Texas’ mission of promoting independence and creating opportunities for people with disabilities. The festival is an exciting whirlwind of Dia de los Muertos activities including live music, cultural performances, vendors, food and drink.

For more information about Easter Seals Central Texas visit:

For more information about their Dia de los Muertos Festival visit.

Susan   Easter Seals

Casa Superhero Run: Every child needs a hero but abused children need superheroes!

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CASA speaks up for children who have been abused or neglected by empowering our community to volunteer as advocates for them in the court system. When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what’s best for the child.

The CASA programs of the Greater Austin Area (serving Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe & Hays Counties) have united to gather all superheroes for children for the 2015 CASA Superhero Run. This year’s fundraiser will be on Sunday, September 13th, 2015, starting at 7:00 AM, at The Domain Central Park, 11100 Alterra Pkwy, Austin, TX 78758.

For children who’ve been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible. For volunteers, CASA is a life-changing experience that makes our community a better place.

CASA volunteers come from every walk of life and share a commitment to improving children’s lives, a willingness to learn, and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own. Volunteers complete an interview, background checks and intensive training. After being sworn-in by a judge, volunteers are appointed to a child or family of children and spend an average of 15-20 hours a month advocating for these children for at least a year. They get to know the child while also gathering information from the child’s family, teachers, doctors, care-givers and anyone else involved in the child’s life. Judges highly value CASA’s recommendations which help them make informed decisions in the child’s best interest.

For more information and/or to register to the upcoming event, visit:

CASA Superhero Run

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