All in for children

Posted on 12/19/2017 by Austin Chamber of Commerce

Local child advocate, Suki Steinhauser, wins the Greater Austin Business Award for her unwavering commitment to empower all Central Texas students to achieve their full potential

Originally from Massachusetts, Suki Steinhauser always believed that she could positively make a difference in the lives of others. As an exchange student in Kolkata, India she saw dire poverty, and in her first position, working with the Peace Corps in Swaziland in Southern Africa, she became deeply committed to education as the way out of poverty. Once in Austin, she finally found her passion and calling—removing obstacles for kids to ensure they receive a quality education—at Communities In Schools of Central Texas (CIS).

The rest has been history. For more than 20 years, Steinhauser has devoted her professional life to CIS and has enjoyed every step of the way. Recently, she was awarded the Wells Fargo Executive Leadership Award. The accolade, a category of the Greater Austin Business Awards program, recognizes presidents and executive officers for devoting vision and energy to strengthen and transform the organization they lead.

“You are extremely lucky if you find your passion and can pursue it professionally,” said Suki Steinhauser, CEO of Communities in Schools of Central Texas. “I found that with CIS. I knew I wanted to help disenfranchised students to attain an education, and CIS offered me that opportunity. I am so thankful to serve such a generous community, remarkable children, and a talented staff who are just as passionate about empowering young people to succeed as I am.”

Under Ms. Steinhauser’s leadership, CIS has grown to serve more than 50,000 clients on 66 elementary, middle, and high school campuses in Central Texas. Of students receiving ongoing, intensive CIS services, 99 percent stay in school and 84 percent of them improve their grades, attendance, or behavior.

This huge success is due to Steinhauser’s effective leadership. During her tenure, she co-created the XY-Zone male leadership development program, the ASPIRE Family Literacy program which provides adult education for parents while their young children learn in an early childhood center in the next room, and an innovative program with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin which provides case management on campus and after-school programming in the community. She also encourages her team to creatively meet the specific needs of students that attend their campus with a range of services - addressing absenteeism with a reward program, academic challenges with reading buddies or math tutors, behavioral challenges with social and emotional supports, and engaging parents in their child’s education through family nights and home visits.

“Suki has an outstanding reputation as a strong leader of an organization with consistently positive outcomes for students,” said Christopher Kennedy, Board Chair of Communities In Schools. “She is passionate about the mission of CIS, ensures strong business practices in her nonprofit, and partners effectively with school districts and community resources.

Steinhauser, a UT Graduate School of Business MBA, was a member of Leadership Austin’s Essential Class of 2007 and serves on numerous nonprofit boards and advisory councils including, Greater Austin Area’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Children’s Optimal Health, Early Childhood Results Count and ACC’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center Steering Committee. Walking the walk, for the past five years, she has mentored a student every week. Her leadership has guided CIS to become one of the most successful CIS affiliates in the nation.

For more information on Communities in Schools of Central Texas, visit their website here.


Pictured (left to right): Ellen Wood, Chair of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; Christopher Kennedy, CEO of Leadership Austin; Suki Steinhauser, CEO of Communities in Schools of Central Texas; David O’Neil, Greater Texas South Region President of Wells Fargo; Paul Hilgers, CEO of the Austin Board of Realtors; Mark Curry, Community Bank President of Wells Fargo; and Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Café.


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