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: Shayna Dunitz.

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

I’m Shayna Dunitz, a somewhat recent Austin transplant (I’m still new after 2 years, right?) I was born and raised in New York and jumped ship after 24 too many winters.

I work at 3 Day Startup, an international nonprofit that teaches students how to start companies. At our core, we exist to empower young people to change the world and I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

What do you love about Austin?

It’s the best of both worlds; Austin is a growing metro area and has a city feel, but there’s still so much to do outdoors that’s easily accessible. I love being able to run around Town Lake in the morning and see the skyline lit up (I run very early…) The weather is hard to beat too, as are the margaritas and breakfast tacos.

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

Transportation. Coming from New York and having spent time in Boston, D.C., and Chicago for work, the stigma around public transportation, along with its significant ineffectiveness, still blows my mind. It’s undoubtedly a massive challenge, but one that’s important to our growth.

The second major challenge I see is taking care of what seems to be a growing homeless population. Austin is home to the most creative, innovative, and intelligent people yet we can’t seem to figure out a scalable way to help our neighbors. I’m looking forward to the Mayor’s solution for the Downtown Puzzle, but can’t help but think that there are additional ways we can solve this problem.

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

Austin is a tech city; when the tech community isn’t involved in politics, a large part of our population misses the chance to have their voice heard and make an impact. If we want to continue to top “best city” lists, grow life-changing companies, attract top talent, etc., it’s our responsibility to show up and ensure that the policy being enacted supports our values.