3 years ago

American Magazine: August 2014


NESTLED ALONG THE COLORADO RIVER, SMACK DAB IN THE CENTER OF THE LONE STAR STATE, Austin is an incubator of small, independent businesses; an emerging hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms; and the live music capital of the world. The birthplace of Whole Foods, Dell, and South by Southwest, the city features a diverse mix of professors and students, musicians and artists, tech wonks and bluecollar workers. Texas’s eclectic capital city is also home to 317 AU alumni, who are among the nearly 900,000 Austinites keeping it weird. What besides a charming Texas twang and a relaxed, urban sophistication do these Austin Eagles share? The insider’s knowledge of Washington, D.C., gained while studying at AU. Get to know some of our Texas transplants here. JAYSON RAPAPORT, KOGOD/BSBA ’97 COFOUNDER, BIRDS BARBERSHOP “Our goal is to un-salon the salon,” says Jayson Rapaport. He’s talking about Birds Barbershop, his and business partner Michael Portman’s Austin-based chain of six modern-yet-nostalgic hair cutteries that are redefining the neighborhood barbershop. The laid-back locale of South Lamar, where honky-tonks and taxidermy shops rub shoulders with hip eateries and boutiques, saw the opening of the first Birds in 2006. The approachable, low-key SoLa vibe was a mirror for the Birds brand, with spaces varying in design from one site to the next but consistently focused on being an allinclusive place to get an honest, dependable cut. “It’s a twenty-first-century shop; we welcome everyone and want them to feel comfortable.” Clients won’t forget they’re in Austin, though. The city’s ubiquitous alternative vibe sets the stage for the Birds experience. Services include a Shiner beer and meticulously curated music. Vintage arcade games and murals by hometown artists adorn each waiting area. “Austin is a small town, but an important town,” Rapaport says. “The neighborhoods have strong identities. They give the local guy the first opportunity.” Birds continues to turn heads in the city that bucks convention, and new ventures for the Texas natives include a product line, Verb, and a seventh location in the works. OUT OF BOUNDS COMEDY FESTIVAL Dave Buckman, CAS/BA ’94, producer. The Second City alum has produced the laugh fest since 2010. By day, the actor and funny man works as membership relations manager with the Austin Chamber of Commerce. GORGEOUS MILLIE Laura Jacks, Kogod/BSBA ’92, cofounder. The mediator, former judge, and mother of two boys created the teacher-led playgroup to give moms a place to sip lattes and chat while their youngsters enjoy educational activities. THE CONTEMPORARY AUSTIN Maggie McGrath, SOC/BA ’09, art school registration coordinator. The Art School at Laguna Gloria, which offers classes in painting, drawing, wheel throwing, mosaics, photography, glass, metal, and more, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. 44 AMERICAN MAGAZINE AUGUST 2014

where we are Richard Tagle CAS/BA ’94, CAS/MA ’96 CEO, ANDY RODDICK FOUNDATION Working for one of the world’s most famous tennis players sounds like a grand slam gig. Turns out it’s even more rewarding when that athlete is working just as hard as you to improve the lives of thousands of children. Since becoming CEO of the Andy Roddick Foundation in July 2013, Richard Tagle has helped shepherd the organization’s grants, programs, and partnerships. Founded by the 2003 U.S. Open champion nearly 15 years ago, the organization—which supports after-school and summer programs for students across Austin—has raised about $12 million since its inception. It focuses on out-of-school time, the hours when students are at risk of losing academic skills, being a victim of violent crime, gaining weight by not being physically active, and engaging in risky behaviors. “The foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for young people to succeed and thrive,” says Tagle. In 2012 alone, the foundation provided 165,579 hours of care, tutoring, sports camps, and education; 7,700 school uniforms; and 4,292 meals and snacks. Next year, it will open the Sports and Learning Center to give youngsters a safe space to learn and play. Born and raised in the Philippines, Tagle came to the United States when he was 16. In Washington he served as CEO of Higher Achievement, an academic program for middle school kids designed to get them on a college track. He loved the job, but after a total of 27 years in Washington, he was ready for a change. “Austin is exciting, dynamic, and growing,” he says. “It’s trying to be a social entrepreneurship capital in additional to being the live music capital of the world.” With about 6,000 nonprofits in the area—and at least as many musicians—it’s coming up aces. PHOTOS BY ALISON NARRO UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MeLisa Creamer, CAS/BA ’06, doctoral candidate, School of Public Health. A Michael and Susan Dell Health Scholar, she worked on the 2012 surgeon general’s report on preventing tobacco use among youth. OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR Hailey Woldt, SIS alumna, research analyst. The former 2008–2009 Ibn Khaldun research fellow works on the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, created in 2005 by Governor Rick Perry to foster innovation and development. TEXAS DEMOCRATIC PARTY Ada Ortega, SOC/BA ’12, regional press secretary and Latino media coordinator. The broadcast journalism major manages ¡Pa’delante Tejas!, an online campaign aimed at Hispanic voters—a group key to turning Texas blue. AMERICAN.EDU/ALUMNI 45