Humans of AFP - Greater Austin Chapter 

Humans of New York highlights individuals with stripped back interviews showcasing the genuine stories that make us human. With this new initiative, our goal is to give members of AFPGAC a space to share their stories so that they may connect with others.


February 2024 - Clare Mundy

"Something I love so much about fundraising is having the opportunity to be creative. Raising money and hitting goals can seem like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle, but what fills my cup is the ability to have fun at the same time.

I’ve held fundraising roles in Portland, DC, here in Austin, and so many places in between, but one of the most creative fundraising events I’ve planned was in Butte, Montana. In the early 1900s, Butte was a copper mining boom town and one of the biggest cities in the U.S. Since then, the population has dwindled and it is not the affluent community that it once was. Despite this, I needed to find a way to host an event there so we could hit our fundraising goal for the year. I found a true speakeasy right downtown that had been shuttered for decades, but was still habitable. It was then the site of the rare city history tour, but it became the perfect venue for “Dirty Martinis for Clean Politics!” Vendors in town were so excited that we were hosting an event in the old space that they donated refreshments, bar fixings, and bar staff to help us out. The night of the event, we packed the speakeasy and had people drive from cities across the state–and hours away–for a toast and to relive some of Butte’s history. We managed to get our then U.S. Senator–who also lived hours away–to headline the event, too. It was such a fun way to gather constituents and raise money for our organization. I’ll always remember it!"

January 2024 - Jonnyka Clouds Bormann

So many people have supported me in my career. It's impossible to say just one person, so I have to thank my family and ancestors for their resilience and compassion. There is a great deal of deeply personal fulfillment working in fundraising - the exciting successes that directly help people but also profound disappointments. 
Resilience is essential and sometimes one must look deep within to keep moving forward. From my mother, grandparents, and maternal ancestors, I access great strength. At a time when being of Japanese descent was a tremendous challenge, they persevered. My great grandparents endured many hardships and not only survived, but eventually thrived, and raised generations of successful children who were proud to be Japanese American. My mother is an inspiring example of strength and sense of self, and I have learned from her determination and perseverance. 
I believe a compassionate approach to service is also essential to this role. I have definitely had strong examples of this in my family. My father is well known in the small Texas town where my parents live for serving the community and helping others. My grandparents served as volunteer drivers for an entire community of older adults who could no longer drive to see their doctors, get groceries, medications, and other basic needs. 
I'm very grateful for people who inspire me during challenging times and I hope to carry on their legacy and make them proud, as I am of all they endured and accomplished."

September 2023 - Erin Langford

There are so many people that I believe have deeply impacted my career, from my youth leaders putting me in charge of my first fundraisers to my boss and mentors who gave me my first job and helped me grow at the Children’s Advocacy Center and to my current job where I’m surrounded by the most incredible people where fundraising is deeply tied to hospitality and connection. But I would be remiss to not thank my father for the person that I am and the career that I have. My father’s impact is not only based on his unwavering support in my pursuit of my own passions but also by setting a lifelong example of generosity. His actions have not only influenced my career choices but have also instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility to use my skills and resources to make a difference in my community. I truly would not be where I am today without my father’s support and guidance.


August 2023 - Michelle Flores Vryn, CFRE

In May 2022, OneStar opened the Robb School Memorial Fund at the request of the Office of the Governor and Uvalde leaders and in response to the mass school shooting. I was born in Uvalde and went to elementary school there. While the impact of this event took me months to process, the opportunity to support Uvalde in a time of dire need was unforgettable.

We received thousands of donations and partnered with big companies like NASCAR, Houston Texans & Telemundo. While working with NASCAR folks was quite an experience, the best part for me was talking to everyday people from around the country who were grief-stricken and wanted to help. I spoke with dozens of individuals who donated what they could and thanked me & OneStar. People organized 5K fundraisers, hosted bake sales & sold art. Most said, “I wish I could give more.” Together, their contributions added up! Every donation counts. Every act of generosity counts. I humbly remind myself of this by working in philanthropy.

The fund officially closed in October 2022, with $22.3 million raised through various funds. OneStar contributed $7.2 million in donations. As a nonprofit leader, I encourage nonprofits to recall times when their work really felt like it was fulfilling their mission. What were those activities/actions? Pinpoint them. For me, working on the Robb School Memorial Fund was it. I knew I was helping the best I could. That’s the feeling we all chase in nonprofits: the knowing that you are making a true impact.

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn


July 2023 - Donna Emery, CFRE

My proudest moment in fundraising is not a specific gift or donation - it is without a doubt when I witness a donor's life change as they connect with an individual in a deeper way then ever imagined. As Henry Nouwen says, "when those with money and those who need money share a mission, we see a central sign of new life." The moments in relationships that go far beyond making a transactional financial gift of any size.

Connect with Donna on LinkedIn


June 2023 - Shea Wylen

In my 20-year career in nonprofits, no one stands out quite like my mentor, Marion Martin. I am so grateful to Marion for helping me successfully transition from volunteer management to fundraising many years ago. From day one, Marion was upfront about the rewards and challenges fundraisers face every day as we work to make our community brighter. With her encouragement, I expanded my skills, became an AFP member, volunteer, and even served on the board! Amid the chaos of the pandemic, I really felt called to serve in human services again after witnessing the homelessness response in Austin reach crisis levels. Marion not only supported me as I navigated my career choices but took time to learn more about my passion for Sunrise and how she could get involved, too! Serving alongside Marion all these years together has been one of my greatest joys in life. Thank you, Marion, for always encouraging me to be authentically myself while giving me the space and grace to grow – a gift that always keeps giving!

Connect with Shea on LinkedIn


May 2023 - Christopher Alberts, MA

I'd have to say my proudest moment in fundraising are actually collections of small moments where I get to see the impact of development work on the the donors, clients and colleagues I've been so fortunate to work with across my career. I've done my best to try and live that in my work, the idea that development and fundraising is about giving the community a chance to invest in work that makes their community better. Whether that is giving a client the opportunity to share their story, in their voice, in an empowering way, to showing a donor the direct impact their generosity has on making Austin a better, healthier and more equitable community, to seeing colleagues that I've worked with or managed become development leaders doing inspiring work in the community and taking what I learned from my time with them to find even more ways to form genuine connections to the work I continue to do.

I'm proud to have been part of a team that opened the doors to AIDS Service's of Austin's first medical clinic, and to have helped establish HAAM's (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) first permanent home through a successful capital campaign. But mostly I'm proud of the sincere relationships I've been able to form with donors, volunteers, and clients who I now count as friends, who have shaped the way I do my work and move through the world. I'm proud I get to go to work in a driven and inspired community that makes my hometown of Austin the best possible version of itself.

Connect with Christopher on LinkedIn


April 2023 - Clarena Tobon

If I had to thank one person for where I am in my career it would have to be my mother, Maria. As an immigrant to this country, she instilled in me a sense of owning space in this world, no matter where I am. The experiences she guided us through as kids empower me daily, to serve my community and show up in my truest self both, personally and professionally. Imposter syndrome is something I have to consistently work through and I believe that the strength seed my mother planted in us is something I try to continue to grow. 

Connect with Clarena on LinkedIn

AFP Greater Austin is pleased to announce Clarena Tobon as the recipient of our 2023 Chapter ICON Scholarship. If you are attending AFP ICON on April 16-18, 2023, be sure to look for Clarena in New Orleans!


March 2023 - Adrienne Longenecker

My approach to my profession changed drastically due to COVID! For the first time as a mom and as a professional fundraiser, I didn’t have a 120+ minute commute each day. The impact was significant! Two hours of time to fill with something other than the stress of being in Austin traffic. I filled some of that time with work and volunteering for AFP Global, but most of the time I gave to myself – and my dogs. Lots of dog walks; morning, noon, and evening. Walking through my neighborhood that spring was life changing. Peace of mind, better physical health, and the chance to process the swirling thoughts, overwhelm, and concern of that time – both personal and professional. Almost three years ago to the day, my son, an 8th grader, left for a field trip the week before Spring Break 2020 and was called back early because everything was shutting down. Here I am writing this the week before spring break 2023 during which my son is making college visits. A lot has changed. I haven’t walked my dog in weeks. I’ve filled almost all my time with work, volunteering for AFP Global, housework, commutes, having fun with friends and family, but not with time for me – just me. I’m headed out now to walk my dogs, enjoy the blooming bluebonnets, the green grass, and the vibrancy of spring in Austin. This is a reminder that I am human first, before employee, boss, AFP Global Board member, housekeeper, mom, daughter, etc. I find my human nature while walking in nature.


February 2023 - Karl Nichols, MBA, CFRE

For seven of the past ten years that I have worked directly in fundraising, I have worked in the capacity of Vice President of Investor Development at E3 Alliance. There, I have been responsible for cultivating and generating over $20 million in philanthropic support for our education systems transformation work. 

During this time, there have been many proud moments. However, one that I am very proud of is when I helped broker a new partnership relationship for a large grant award. In 2016, I was attending a STEM Conference in Houston, when I met two staff members who worked for organization called the National Association of Partners in Equity (NAPE) at “How to Make a Pitch to A Funder” workshop. After meeting them, I knew in my spirit we would work together. It literally took two years to steward this relationship. As a result, they became a major partner in our Pathways of Promise Initiative and hundreds of teachers have been trained on how to use equitable teaching tools in their classrooms while benefiting many thousands of students who were positively impacted by math course taking and alignment policies and practices throughout Central Texas. In fact, these acceleration strategies have reduced disparities in Algebra I completion in middle school, closing the equity gap among high-performing Black and White students in the region by 86% since 2018. As someone who has dedicated their life work to the issues of race, diversity, inclusion, and equity, this was a very proud moment. 

Connect with Karl on LinkedIn


January 2023 - Jené Shepherd 

2023 marks a decade of my work in the nonprofit fundraising and communications field. When I look back on my career, there is one person who has truly made a difference for me and that is Holly Wissmann.

For the last seven years, Holly has been my supervisor, coworker, mentor, close friend, confidant, therapist, financial advisor and more. She has taught me almost everything that I know about what it means to be a talented, mission-driven fundraiser and a strategic and empathetic leader. Her love, support, and “Holly hugs” have gotten me through some my hardest days as a professional and as a human.

Holly has pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to take on volunteer leadership roles at AFP, serving on the Philanthropy Day Committee in 2017, the Strategic Planning Committee in 2021, and on the board in 2022, and now as the Chair for the 2023 One Day Conference. I can confidently say that my work within AFP 100% would not have happened if it wasn’t for her.

Thank you Holly for pouring into me while also allowing me to pour into you!

Connect with Jené on LinkedIn