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: John Howard.
Introduce yourself and where you work in Austin’s tech sector.
I’m a director for Dell’s global government affairs and public policy team.
What do you love about Austin?
Austin is a vibrant ecosystem of tech, government and university life. I’ve lived here, between stints in DC, since 1985, and have seen Austin grow, stumble, and grow some more.
What do you think are the community’s biggest challenges?
Affordability and education. Teachers, non-profit employees, nurses, and many more simply can no longer afford to live close-in to – so they have to live further out and commute if they want to work in Austin. And we need to do a better job in educating in our public schools, from pre-K through high school in order to better prepare students for the increasingly skill-driven economy, notably fluency in emerging technologies.
Why is it important for the tech community to become more civically engaged?
Technology companies are an integral part of our local economy and community and should be good corporate citizens. We have an amazing set of talent and innovation and so should work with our community to develop technology-based solutions to difficult societal problems.
We are well-educated and have an important set of skills, which we should share with our community through mentoring, apprenticeships, and training. And we have an obligation as individuals to engage in civic discussions, to understand local problems, and to participate in elections of our leaders.