Joanne Parker
Director of Communications

What brought you to Austin?
I moved here from Houston to attend the University of Texas.  At the time, Austin had less than 250,000 people! While the city grown has grown by leaps and bounds, I love the fact that much of Austin's character remains.

Favorite local restaurant?
LaTraviata and Manuel's

Local entrepreneur you admire?
Karen Bantuveris, Founder and CEO of SignUp.com. 

Who inspired you? 
My hiring sales manager at Abbott Labs, Kathi Eckler. She inspired me to do my absolute best every day and helped me realize my potential by encouraging me to believe in what was possible. She also taught me the importance of celebrating success, having fun at work and not to take myself quite so seriously.

Favorite Austin business?
Milk and Honey

Why JA? 
For me, it's about seeing the students learn, grow, almost transform in front of your eyes.

All-time favorite book?
Hard to say, I'm an avid reader. I guess my all-time favorite is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The copy I have is my grandmother's, dated 1939. I love that the main message of the book - tenacity and determination can make anything possible - is still relevant today.

Piece of financial advice you rely on or wish you had learned earlier?
Pay yourself first.

Advice i’d give my high school self:  
Take a gap year and go see the world before college.

Where did you attend college?
University of Texas at Austin

Biggest setback I've overcome:
I had a pretty significant speech impediment in my childhood years.