Susan Dawson named 2020 Austinite of the Year

Posted on 12/10/2020

Dawson to be honored during the Austin Chamber 143rd Annual Meeting

AUSTIN, Texas—The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce today announced Susan Dawson, president of E3 Alliance, has been named "Austinite of the Year" for 2020.

Dawson is a Texas entrepreneur, business, and civic leader. As a successful business entrepreneur turned social entrepreneur, Dawson has led multiple technology firms and currently leads the nationally-recognized E3 Alliance, a regional collaborative she founded to increase economic outcomes by aligning our education systems to fulfill the potential of every student.

As chair of the Austin Chamber of Commerce in 2001, Dawson led the board during a difficult period of economic downturn. Her tenure saw the impetus for what would become Opportunity Austin, the Chamber's five-year regional economic development initiative which has created more than 465,000 jobs since 2004.

“Susan Dawson exemplifies what it means to be Austinite of the Year," said Chamber Board Chair Craig Enoch. "Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to serving our business community, transforming the economy, and reshaping our education system. Susan’s time at the Chamber initiated the economic development program that continues to foster job-creating investment across the Austin region. Susan is more than deserving of this honor, and I want to congratulate her on this distinction."

Dawson has served the community as board chair or executive member of AARO, Leadership Austin, Children’s Optimal Health, Workforce Solutions, American Youthworks, and Austin Partners in Education, among many other community groups. She has received numerous awards including the Leadership Austin Polly Scallorn Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community Trusteeship, Austin Under 40 “Austinite of the Year,” Hero for Children by the State Board of Education, Austin Profiles in Power “Profile Leader,” Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year," Dell Medical School Health Hero, UT McCombs School “Trailblazer Award” for the distinguished woman alumni trailblazer in business and community, and the Austin Chamber's CEO of the Year. She was named the national Cradle to Career Champion by StriveTogether in 2019 and was featured as one of Austin Business Journal's “Austin’s 30 Most Influential” leaders in 2011.

Dawson is surviving Stage 4 breast cancer first diagnosed in 2016. In addition to her business and civic leadership, she has dedicated her time to understanding and working to improve cancer research, prevention, and care infrastructure in the region and state, particularly for underserved communities.

Dawson received a BSE Cum Laude from Princeton University and an MBA with Highest Honors from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

The prestigious Austinite of the Year Award represents the highest honor of the chamber. It will be presented at the Chamber's annual meeting scheduled for Feb. 3, 2021.

Dawson's headshot can be downloaded here.

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 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), Mayor Lee Leffingwell (2014), and Clarke Heidrick (2013). Other winners include the 45th Texas Governor Ann Richards, Dr. Patricia Hayes, and Wilhelmina Delco.

In addition to honoring Dawson, the Chamber’s Annual Meeting provides the community with the opportunity to celebrate successes of the past year, look ahead to the future, as well as recognize new leadership. The Chamber also plans to recognize its Volunteers of the Year in several key areas.