Austin Chamber Names Roy Spence 2022 Austinite of the Year

Posted on 12/19/2022

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has named Roy Spence, cofounder and chairman of GSD&M, its 2022 Austinite of the Year. This award represents the highest honor the Chamber offers on an annual basis.

Spence has founded multiple endeavors that bring creativity to complex problems. He and his partners started GSD&M just after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin and have built it into an advertising agency that has worked with iconic brands like Southwest Airlines, Don’t Mess with Texas, The PGA Tour, Walmart, and The United States Air Force.

“My roots are in Brownwood, TX and I will be forever grateful for where I came from. In the late 60’s Austin became my home,” said Spence. “I met my wife of 44 years Mary Couri Spence, and we raised our family in Austin. I met my GSDM business partners and best friends of over 50 years in Austin. And thanks to the people of Austin, I met my destiny here. I am beyond humbled and honored to receive the Austinite of the Year Award right here in my home of Austin, Texas.”

Spence is also the Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute, focused on discovering the purpose and core values that define an organization’s culture.

“Roy is an incredible entrepreneur that has a dynamic way of merging his talents and passion into helping others,” said Fred Heldenfels, 2022 Chair of the Austin Chamber Board of Directors. “Some of the biggest businesses in the world have called on him to help create their story and define their purpose. Roy has also made a difference in his community and country by lending his time and expertise to worthwhile causes. At every turn, Roy has found ways to make a difference in people’s lives. I believe he is deserving of the Austin Chamber’s highest honor.”

Spence is also the Founder and CEO of Make it Movement. Its goal is to use marketing to support high school counselors, teachers, and parents by visually and emotionally connecting all students, while in middle school and high school, with hope and clarity about their purpose, passions, talents, and career pathways that play to their strengths.

In the wake of national tragedies, Spence has lent his expertise to creating public service announcements that have helped in the aftermath of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Harvey.

The Austin Chamber will present the award at their annual meeting, Cheers to the Year, on February 8, 2023.


About the Austinite of the Year award

The Chamber created the special award in 1984 to recognize significant leaders in the local community who were instrumental in making Austin an even better place to live, work, and do business. Recent honorees include Dr. Collette Piiece Burnette (2022), Susan Dawson (2020), Jesús Garza (2019), Ray Wilkerson (2018), Bobby Jenkins (2017), Dell Medical School Drs. Ken Shine and Clay Johnston (2016), Mobile Loaves and Fishes CEO Alan Graham (2015). Other winners include Dr. Peter Flawn (1984), the 45th Texas Governor Ann Richards (1994), Susan and Michael Dell (1997), Senator Kirk Watson (2000), and Pike Powers (2005).

About the Austin Chamber

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit membership organization that helps people live, work and thrive in Austin. The Chamber invests in various programs that build, support, and diversify the Austin region’s economy. Its vision is for Austin to have the country’s most prosperous business community. To learn more, visit