In order to highlight Austin Tech Alliance’s growing membership of individuals who support our mission to promote civic engagement in Austin’s tech sector, this is a regular feature profiling members of ATA.

Up now: Jackie Padgett.

Introduce yourself and where you work in Austin’s tech sector.

My name is Jackie Padgett, and I’ve been lucky enough to call Austin home for the past 14 years. I’m currently the Culture and Development Strategist at Silicon Labs where I lead the company’s global corporate philanthropy, internal communications and employee engagement efforts.

Prior to Silicon Labs, I spent nearly a decade working in the nonprofit sector, including serving as Community Relations Director at Central Texas Food Bank and Manager of Public Sector Campaigns at United Way for Greater Austin. I currently serve as a Director-at-Large for the Texas Association for Business and Austin Partners in Education mentor at Martin Middle School.

What do you love about Austin?

Austin has a unique sense of community. Despite our rapid growth, we still have a small-town vibe that draws in creative and interesting people from all over the world. There are so many great places to go—Zilker Park, Waterloo Records, Book People—and major events like ACL Fest and SXSW that bring in incredible talent. Oh, and the food! There’s delicious Tex-Mex, Ramen and BBQ everywhere, and I couldn’t live without it!  

What do you think are the community’s biggest challenges?

When I worked in the nonprofit sector, we always said that Austin is a tale of two cities, and it couldn’t be more true. I now work in a beautiful office building downtown and can walk to a variety of high-scale restaurants, fancy boutiques, and luxury condos.

Meanwhile, less than a mile away there are schools where the majority of students are at or below the poverty level and families are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table for their children. As Austin grows and continues to prosper, we need to do more to bridge that gap and ensure everyone in our community benefits.  

Why is it important for the tech community to become more civically engaged?

Civic engagement is crucial for a thriving community. Within tech, specifically, we have both tremendous opportunity and responsibility to be engaged with the community and help it thrive. We can’t insulate ourselves from what’s really happening in Austin. Instead, we have to get out of our bubble and actively contribute to our community’s well-being. We need to stay educated on the issues impacting all Austinites and make our voices heard through voting and encouraging civic participation in our workplaces.

In addition to the tech sector’s focus on STEM education, it’s important for us to keep in mind all factors that enable a vibrant workforce: affordability, access to healthcare and community resources, and overall inclusion in the many wonderful opportunities Austin has to offer.