4th Annual School Supplies Packing Event at Dell Jewish Community Center


After a successful fundraising event in May, the Hindu (Hindu Charities for America) and Jewish (Jewish Federation of Greater Austin) communities of Austin have purchased enough school supplies for over 1,000 homeless and other economically disadvantaged children in Manor, Austin, and Del Valle.  Now the group is seeking volunteers to help pack the school supplies for students to start the 2015-2016 school year right while getting to know their neighbors on August 16th at Dell Jewish Community Center (7300 Hart Ln, Austin, TX 78731). The volunteer event will include music, dancing, snacks and an opportunity to make cards for the children.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 1.2 million children are homeless on any given night in the United States. Analysis of recently released federal data shows that the number of homeless children and youth identified in public schools has increased for the second year in a row, and by 41% over the past two school years.

Hindu Charities for America is a non-profit, charitable organization making education possible for economically disadvantaged students.  Hindu Charities for America (HC4A) was conceived for the purpose of providing Indian communities across the United States an opportunity to give back to the communities who have embraced us and given us the chance to prosper.  HC4A has been recognized for assisting in the improvement of the quality of life back home in India, too. The group has contributed their time and money to build schools, temples, hospitals and more. HC4A has launched various initiatives to help Indian communities in USA get involved in giving back to their local societies.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Austin is Shalom Austin’s philanthropic and community development branch that connects people, organizations and resources to strengthen Jewish life at home and around the world. The Jewish Federation of Greater Austin Annual Campaign, the Jewish community’s primary annual philanthropic appeal, strengthens Jewish life and supports critical humanitarian needs in Austin, Israel and around the world.  The campaign funds social service, outreach, educational and community building programs.

If planning to volunteer to be a group leader, please arrive at noon time or call (512) 994-4638 for more information.  The packing tends to go quickly so volunteers are asked to arrive at 1 PM.

Click here for preview of 2014 Event!

Facebook event:

Hindu Charities     Jewish Federation of Greater Austin

Meet Harish Kotecha, Founder of Hindu Charities for America


Harish Kotecha was born in Uganda, studied Electrical engineering in UK and settled in the U.S. when Dictator Idi Amin ousted most of the foreigners out of Uganda.  He retired early from IBM where he worked in hardware development, contributing in the areas of semiconductor, system board, software and later in the area of quality improvement. He has almost two dozen US patents.  Kotecha is a co-founder of an instant yogurt product, Yokit.  Since retirement, Harish spends most of his time in volunteer work – he actively volunteers in religious, civic, cultural, service, and social organizations in the Austin area Indian community holding leadership or Advisory positions.  Harish Kotecha has been recognized by the 2014 President’s Volunteer Service Award for addressing the most pressing needs in the community and country.

Since 2009, Harish has been helping with the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in Austin working across resettlement agencies, temples, and other organizations that are assisting in the resettlement process. He is on the Advisory Board of Refugee Services of Texas and is on the panel of the Refugee Round Table. In recognition of his services, Harish was awarded 2009 Samaj Seva(community service) by the India Community Center.

Harish founded Hindu Charities for America (HC4A), a non-denominational charity, with the vision of Indians helping with Education of Homeless Children in the U.S.. Since 2010, HC4A successfully donated school supplies to most school districts in Austin area as a joint project with Greater Austin Area Jewish Federation. Since 2013, Jewish and Indian communities have joined hands and raised funds together with a fundraiser – Bollywood Meets Borscht Belt.

To help with income disparity in Austin area, an initiative to provide vocational training to economically disadvantaged children was launched in 2013. This resulted in 2014 awards of $20,000 in scholarships to Capital Idea, Manor ISD and ACC. This year $25,000 is slated to be awarded to ACC, Capital Idea, Manor, and Austin  ISDs.  Current efforts are to make HC4A a mainstream charity with involvement of all communities. Efforts are underway to establish an Executive Board, each Board member contributing annually $2,500 toward scholarships.

Recently the third annual ‘Bollywood Meets Borscht Belt’ fundraising event, organized by Hindu Charities for America and the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin, brought together the Indian and Jewish communities once again to help over a thousand homeless children with school supplies for the upcoming school year in Austin, Del Valle and Manor. The event was covered in an article in the India-West, the largest and most prestigious among weekly Indian newspapers on the West Coast of U.S. established in 1975.

Harish is married to Shobhna, has a daughter Sonia who is activist and works at CASA, and son Savan who is a very successful international songwriter to over songs 100M sold.  Harish and his wife Shobhna often act as a resource to Indian residents who are newly settled in Austin. They have also helped overseas University of Texas Austin students by providing accommodations, transportation and settle in the area. Harish helps to do outreach for many organizations as well as those seeking to make connections with temples and cultural organizations.

Photo via India West
Photo via India West

harish 2

Pierpont Communications and Advice for Avoiding Networking Awkwardness

Category : Blog


Since their inception in 1987, Pierpont Communications has become one of Texas’ largest independent communications agencies. With four offices across Texas, Pierpont has deep capabilities in communications strategy, media relations, marketing, digital communications, crisis and public affairs to deliver measurable results. The Austin office is nestled in North Austin past Roaring Fork on Stonelake Blvd in Quarry Oaks II.

For the seventh year, Pierpont Communications is organizing the Summer Shindig.  This year’s event will be hosted by the following professional communications organizations in Central Texas:

American Marketing Association
Women Communicators of Austin
Public Relations Society of America
Austin Advertising Federation
North Austin Influencers
International Association of Business Communicators
Society for Marketing Professional Services

All proceeds benefit the American Red Cross Serving Central Texas.  RSVP today here.

Leading up to this year’s Summer Shindig, Pierpont Communications asked Austin’s organizations to share tips on overcoming awkwardness during networking events.  Click on infographic to see the advice:

avoid networking awkwardness

Meet Dr. Kazique J. Prince, Change Agent for Driving Diversification


Dr. Kazique J. Prince, founder and chief executive officer at Jelani Consulting, LLC , provides executive and leadership consultation and coaching services focused on cultural competency for individuals, teams, and organizations in business, education, government, healthcare, and for non-profit groups for more than 20 years. As a change agent who seeks the broader view in all situations, Dr. Prince draws upon resources and deep knowledge base to assist others in utilizing their own strengths and capabilities. He collaborates with clients working on managing cultural differences by trailblazing through opposition, spearheading forward-thinking, cutting-edge initiatives and programs while successfully uniting team members behind common goals.

Dr. Prince received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at The University of Georgia at Athens, Ed.S. in Counseling Psychology at Georgia State University, Ed.M. in Counseling Psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and B.S. in Psychology from the Benjamin Banneker Honors College at Prairie View A&M University. He is a Board Certified Diplomat in African Centered/Black Psychology through The Association of Black Psychologists and certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory through IDI, LLC.

Dr. Kazique J. Prince serves as Senior Policy Advisor & Education Coordinator, Office of Mayor Steve Adler.  Mayor Steve Adler tapped Community Cabinet members to help the city uncover long-term solutions worthy of public support and balance urgent short-term matters against strategic long-term policy objectives. The Community Cabinet is a diverse talent pool of civic-minded thought leaders drawn from public, private, and nonprofit sectors with expertise in education, neighborhoods, health and human services, environment, business, and urban land use. In collaboration with other senior policy advisors, Dr. Prince’s primary focus has been on education; equity, diversity, and inclusion, workforce solutions, public safety, and health and human services.

Dr. Kazique J. Prince

The March of Dimes Works to Improve Health of Babies

Category : Blog


Every year in the United States, more than half a million babies are born too soon, almost 54,000 of them in Texas. The March of Dimes helps Texas moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.  With support from the community, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies and support families if something does go wrong.

The March of Dimes – Austin Division has partnered with Dell Children’s Medical Center to offer support and education to families experiencing the hospitalization of a baby.  The NICU Family Support program provides free children’s books to parents and siblings to read to the baby during their NICU stay.  Scientific data has shown that the parent’s voice is stimulating and comforting to the baby. Book donations ensure that families have continued access to materials that will offer support and comfort to siblings and NICU babies.  If considering making a book donation, should be new preschool or under reading level book (no used books due to risks of infection) in English or Spanish.  Board books preferred.

Sarah Wauters, NICU Family Support Specialist of March of Dimes, may be contacted for more information at SWauters@marchofdimes.org . Visit their web site for other ways to get involved including http://www.marchofdimes.org/

March of Dimes

Meet Tania Rodriguez, Co-empowering a Sustainable Future


Tania Rodriguez is a visionary and entrepreneur committed to the development of projects and ideas, which contribute to environmental protection and sustainability. A trained architect with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial projects in the USA, she combines her technical acumen with her management and leadership skills to advocate for the dignity and quality of life through the practice of green architecture to empower individuals and communities globally to live holistically and in harmony with nature. CEO and Founder of Green Habitat, she is dedicated to design projects based in energy efficient solutions and clean energy in urban and rural communities, she is also the Co-Founder of EVO Formance a LED lighting company supplying the automobile industry from a base in Asia through global representation.

Tania Rodriguez shows us how sustainable business models promoting an evolved consciousness and ethical production and consumption cycles (Fair Trade) are urgently needed for our world today in order to achieve sustainable relationships between Humankind and our natural Eco-systems which sustain us. She recently presented within the context of the principles of “Eco-Feminism” which present a major question about the relationship between the current perception of the Feminine, in many cultures and societies today, and the current condition of Planet Earth.
This talk was given on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at TEDxTulum. The theme was “Inspiring Ideas from the Maya.” For more information, visit http://tedxtulum.com  To view Tania Rodriquez’s  speaking at TEDxTulum on Co-empowering a sustainable future — Eco-feminism view here.

Tania designed the architectural model for the ‘School-out-of-a-Box’ project, incorporating green technologies and sacred geometry, and is currently managing the construction of the first prototype in the Mayan region of Mexico. Tania collaborates with projects dedicated to empower economic and productivity practices in indigenous communities around the world, and believes in the expansion of permaculture and urban agriculture as a societal solution for humankind. She is now working on co-creating sustainable models for affordable “Green Housing” in North America.

She is the President of the McCombs Mexican Alumni Network; in which capacity she presented on the subject of ‘Social Responsible Practices in Business’ at the 1st and 2nd Annual McCombs-EGADE Business Schools Speaker Series in Mexico City; is a Member ofNEXUS; an international network created to promote social responsible investments and innovation in philanthropy, she recently participated in a Global Youth Summit at the United Nations; and is a Board Member of the Mnemosyne Institute base in Dallas, TX; a non-profit organization whose main propose is to create programs supporting education around the world. Tania was formally invited to head the formation of a new national organization ‘The Club of Budapest Mexico’ which proposes a change of practices around the world to activate social change for environmental protection.

Tania received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Management and Operations from The University of Texas at Austin – The Red McCombs School of Business and currently serves in the MBA Alumni Advisory board in the same institution. She holds a second MBA from the – EGADE Business School – in the Monterrey Institute of Technology, accredited by the Association of MBA’s (AMBA) in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the – Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education – accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).


Plazas in Downtown Round Rock

Category : Blog


Historic downtown Round Rock features the Prete Plaza located at 221 East Main Street across from City Hall and is opened for a splashing good time for summer fun!  The Main Street Plaza Fountain is water conservation friendly. The fountain recirculates and filters its own water source and has very little evaporation.  The Prete Plaza is a 14,000-square-foot plaza with a 610-square-foot performance stage, 1,075- square-foot interactive water feature, built in seating with decorative lighting, with a grass seating and lounge area, custom shade structure, custom art panels and a state-of-the-art multifunctional lighting system.

Centennial Plaza is located at 301 West Bagdad behind the Baca Center and the McConnico Building and is available for rental for special occasions.  Round Rock’s Centennial Plaza features a performance stage with law seating, public art sculptures, pillars of the community monuments, special lighting effects, a bat observation overlook, water feature, drought resistant landscaping and a remodeled amphitheater with tiered grass seating for major concert or theatrical performances.  Centennial Plaza currently host several events on a regular schedule throughout the year:

Round Rock Market Days in Centennial Plaza, behind the Baca Center, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. Market Days features farmer’s market items, arts and crafts, food vendors, and live music all day free to attendees.  These events are year around except July and October.

Downtown Car Show Visitors takes a look at the best rides around Central Texas each month in downtown Round Rock.  Central Texas car fans can enjoy a free Car Show in downtown Round Rock from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every third Sunday of the month rain or shine in Centennial Plaza.

The Round Rock Chalk Walk Arts Festival is Round Rock’s area largest and most prestigious festival for arts and cultural events drawing over 32,000 people annually to Round Rock during the first weekend in October.  Chalk Walk and Arts Festival has thousands in attendance with numerous vendors, sponsors, and artists, including chalk artists, musicians vocal groups, theatrical performances, food and drinks, and children’s performances. Chalk Walk is the Round Rock Art’s version of an Italian Street painting festival.  Artists are free to create, with chalk pastels, a picture on the concrete.  Drawings are created in full view of the public, who are encouraged to interact with the artists as they use their amazing talents to create beautiful “murals” before their audience’s eyes. This year’s event will be October 2 – 3, 2015, and is located at Centennial Plaza area and Brown Street!

Parks and Recreation Department can be contacted at (512) 218-5540 for rental information.

Centennial Plaza
Prete Plaza

Meet Alexis Adauto Ferguson, Advertising Executive Veteran to Mompreneur


Alexis Adauto Ferguson made a name for herself early, becoming president of Austin Advertising Federation at 26, and has taken on leadership roles ever since. “I have a keen talent of being able to translate between creatives and clients – keeping the art alive while keeping the client’s objective front and center. Stickler for deadlines and love to “make it happen”.  Have learned from the best of the best and continue to seek out opportunities that add to my knowledge base,”  Alexis describes her journey.  A 21 year advertising executive veteran by the age of 41, she left the fast-paced world of advertising to reinvent herself and define her true purpose.

Now, she helps other women (and men) chase the dream of entrepreneurship through her direct selling venture with Rodan + Fields.   Alexis is an executive consultant with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists – a clinical skin care line from the doctors who created ProActiv Solution, the world’s most successful skin care line. What the doctors did for acne, they are now doing for anti-aging. She is a pioneer in the Texas market and excited that she has partnered with the two most trusted names in dermatology in the business that will be their legacy.

She also puts her passion to work as a board member of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas – Austin Chapter and a volunteer with Con Mi Madre . Both organizations align with her mission of empowering women of all ages to be their best selves. “Giving my free time to making a difference in the community by volunteering for organizations focused on helping Hispanic girls with higher education.”

Since adopting two amazing little boys, she feels like her best self when she’s spending time in her biggest leadership role yet – Mom.


Northwest Austin Coalition: Supporting Leaders in the Area through Collaboration, Communication, and Education

Category : Blog


Northwest Austin Coalition is an active group welcoming anyone living or working in NW Austin that considers themselves a community leader in their neighborhood, business, church, or other community organization. The Coalition’s mission is to support leaders in Northwest Austin and address the needs in the communities through collaboration, communication, and education. A speaker discusses a specific topic each month in addition to core issue areas of transportation, wildfires/water, affordability, public safety, and zoning and land use. The group amended their focus to also include Zoning and Land Use and Government Affairs.

The Coalition defines Northwest Austin as the parts of Austin west of MoPac (Loop 1) and north of 2222 also including any neighborhood or community south of and adjacent to 2222.  This includes most of the Northwest hills and the Arboretum up to Lakeline Mall and Avery Ranch.

The Coalition was formed in July 2013 after a series of meetings with neighborhood leaders in Northwest Austin.  Those initial meetings included leaders from Anderson Mill, Millwood, Angus Valley, Northwest Austin Civic Assoc., Great Hills, and Southwest Williamson County. Collaborating with friends from North Austin (NACN), the leaders decided to expand the meetings to include community leaders from all different types of groups.  The first meeting of this newly-expanded coalition was August 5th, 2013.

nw logo

nw map

Meet Mario Flores, Figuring out the LAWGISTICS

Category : Blog


As an Austin lawyer, Mario Flores works tirelessly in helping Austin area businesses, individuals, and families with their legal concerns. Mario Flores, practices law with a personalized approach, so that his clients can be confident that even the most complicated legal matters will be handled in a timely and professional manner.  Specializing in immigration law, estate planning and small business, Mario is a devoted advocate, working diligently to provide his clients with personalized legal services. Mario will vigorously defend his clients to ensure that their reputations and economic interests will be protected.

Estate planning is one of tents to ensure that there are no problems in a case where someone was unable to handle their own affairs. This includes creating a will, tax planning, contingencies for disability, and funeral arrangements.  By discussing specific needs with an estate planning attorney, Mario’s clients can minimize the potential difficulties families may face while waiting for a will to pass through probate. This will also help prevent any family disputes that often arise during such a stressful and emotional time.

Often the most important decisions an entrepreneur makes for their small business are the first ones. Early stage business planning has a long-term effect on the development of companies.  Mario Flores helps his clients with a number of important legal and business strategies to consider, including business formation, personal asset protection, and how to protect trade secrets.

Mario Flores is a member of the Texas Bar Association and licensed by the Western District of Texas. Mario Flores is also a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas.

Mario Flores    Flores Law


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