Category Archives: Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Sam McClure

sheep feeding

Roots:
I am a gypsy, having grown up in Brussels, the Philippines and London before moving to the US in high school. In the US, I’ve lived in Connecticut, New York, Boston, Seattle, Miami and Chicago. I’ve been in Austin for 25 years, which is hard to believe given the transient nature of the first half of my life.

Family life:
I’m married to Tim, and we have two magnificent children, Madison (23) and Ian (21).

Work life:
Travel Advisor, owner of Small World Travel

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
I am so inspired by all of the iGnite leaders and have learned that it’s never to late to find your strength.

The best advice I’ve been given…
My family has a motto: “If you never go, you never know.” I’m not sure who started it, but we pretty much live by it.

I am looking forward to…
A surprise (to Tim, I of course have planned every detail) 25th Anniversary trip to Europe in April. It’s a secret, but it involves the Venice Simplon Orient Express train from Venice to Paris.

My celebrity look alike is…
I’ve been told Audrey Hepburn. Not quite sure she’d agree, but she was so elegant and a beautiful humanitarian, that I would certainly like to emulate her.

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Member Spotlight: Carol Reifsnyder

IMG_0160Roots:
I am originally from Lubbock, Texas. I attended the University of Texas where I met my husband, Andy. We moved back to Austin in 1992, a time when Mopac had no cars and the hills had no houses.

Family Life:
My husband is a radiologist and has been the Chief at Breckenridge Medical Center for a long while. We have two children, my daughter, Erin, who works at a hotel in Brooklyn, and my son, Emery, who recently graduated from Tufts and now works in technological mapping in San Francisco.

Work Life:
I am just finishing a long (4 year) capital campaign to restore and renovate a National Historic Landmark sorority house near campus. I have some ideas about where I would like to go next, but I plan to take a break for a while and get back in shape.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
Women derive strength from being and working together. I feel like I work harder when working out with iGnite ladies. I’ve got to work to keep up!

The best advice I’ve been given…
The best advice I have been given is from my Brazilian scuba instructor way back in college. I still use his instructions today when dealing with a crisis. Per my instructor, the two most important rules of scuba are:
Always stay with your buddy. I use this symbolically at work as in “always have the back of/always support your co-workers and employees”. For my family, I use it to stay present and attentive to their needs and issues. And for my ailing mother, I use it to diligently advocate for her at times when she is vulnerable.
Stay calm. Don’t panic. I learned the hard way that if anything can go wrong, it will! I am a planner by nature so I constantly try to consider all the possible scenarios before I act. Now, if things do go astray, I don’t sweat it much anymore. I just stay calm, refocus, reconsider and get to it.

What I’m looking forward to right now…
Getting comfortable with and enjoying this “kids out of college and employed stage”. I have always been so excited for what lay ahead for my kids that I rarely
felt too sad moving on down the path beyond key milestones. Now, I feel like it is time to discover and create some milestones for myself. My work raising them is actually over. Don’t get me wrong; it often makes me sad to think back on those years that went by so quickly and in such a blur. The good news now is I get to be the “friend” or “advisor” or “supporter” instead of the strict “rule following” parent.

If I were a pair of shoes…
I would love to be a pair of bike cleats. Riding a bike brings back that pure sense of “joy” not felt much in life as an adult. In fact, research confirms quite simply that cycling makes people happier. In my opinion, the bicycle is one of the world’s greatest inventions – simple in it’s design, easily mastered and inexpensive – a means of play, exercise and transportation. In the 1900’s the bike gave women unprecedented mobility; women essentially rode the bicycle to freedom. Susan B. Anthony once said, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” The bike allowed women to venture about without chaperons, liberated them from corsets and cumbersome skirts, provided them a healthier, more vigorous existence, and expanded their marriage pool (no more having to marry your cousin down the street). Today, strolling through street and parkways on a bike is one of the best ways to tour/see an area. Walking doesn’t cover enough territory and cars move too quickly and provide too big of a barrier from the environment. Even cycling excursions around Austin often stun me with the beauty of our Texas Hill Country. As a pair of cleats, my life would be outdoors, healthy, happy, adventurous, fun and even spiritual. So, make me a pair of old beat-up bike cleats any day. See you on the road!

Member Spotlight: Madeleine Tilin

grey-big-smile-filter-5652Roots:
I grew up in Lubbock, graduated from UT Austin with a degree in journalism and moved several times before coming back to Austin in 2011. My children’s father and I both worked in publishing and enjoyed some great cities together as a result – Boulder, Chicago, Santa Fe and Oakland. We moved to Austin in 2011.

Family Life:
I live with my partner, John, and I have two children, Isaac (17) and Leila (14) who are in high school at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. We also live with John’s two sons, Graham (17) and Lucas (14) who attend LASA. It’s kind of like the Brady Bunch without Alice. 🙂

Work Life:
I have spent my work life as a visual communicator – magazine art director, graphic designer and photographer. I’ve been an event and portrait photographer for the last 9 years and am transitioning to having my own female centered contemporary portrait studio out of my home. I’m excited to develop as a fine artist using my photography as a basis to create photo encaustic work, a medium that uses beeswax and oil pant to create beautiful, one of a kind art pieces for my clients. It’s been germinating for a few years. It’s finally becoming a reality, and I’m super excited! That said, my job as a mother trumps all. It’s cliché, but I don’t think I really knew how big my heart could grow until I had children. I’m so thankful for this journey.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
Working out in community is way more fun and motivating. 🙂 I have always valued my friendships with women, so iGnite is an extension of that. I appreciate that there are women of all ages, perspectives and life experiences.

Who or what inspires me most…
It’s hard to narrow this one down! My children, my girlfriends, nature and my yoga practice. First, my children inspire me with their kindness, sensitivity and openness to life and all kinds of people. Second, nature, particularly the ocean and redwoods in Northern California and the high desert and mountains in New Mexico. As a photographer, I’m always observing the quality of light in new places, and I inevitably think the last place is the best…like how could it ever get better?! This is a great metaphor for life. 🙂 Just when you think you have experienced the most amazing, sublime light, you arrive in a new place or time and something different and just as beautiful is revealed. Nature perpetuates a sense of wonder that is so very important to happiness. My closest girlfriends near and far inspire me with their big, generous hearts and willingness to dig deep and help each other be the best versions of ourselves. My yoga practice has enriched my life in ways I could have never imagined when I started practicing 22 years ago. It has been my close friend and refuge most of my adult life, and I can easily say that it has made me a better human being. I am eternally grateful to my many teachers who have passed on different aspects of this beautiful practice.

Something people may not know about me is…
I sang vocals, played keyboard and flute in two different bands in Oakland. They were both groups of parents who were getting their groove back. 🙂 It was a ton of fun and learning how to play with others was a whole new experience.

Three words to describe myself are…
Creative, warm-hearted, free-spirited


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Member Spotlight: Simone Krasan

simoneRoots:
I say I am from Seattle, as that is where I spent the longest amount of time growing up. My father was in the military, and my mother liked to travel, so we moved around a lot. I moved from Seattle to Austin, sight unseen, with two of my sorority sisters in 1995. I said I would give it a year…it’s been 22 years now. 🙂

Family life:
I met my husband, Sean, when we moved from New York City and he lived next door to me at the Gables on Lake Austin Blvd in 1996. We have been married almost 17 years now and have three AWESOME -most of the time- kids! Max is 14 and will attend Westlake High School next year! Ben is 11 and then “WE GOT THE GIRL!” as my husband always says. Olivia is 10.

Work life:
Currently, I have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom. I feel like I am a full time uber driver (but without pay) for my kids and their teammates. I also do some inspirational speaking on occasion. Before kids, I was a top sales producer at several telecom companies and later ran two sales offices as a District Sales Manager.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
The biggest lesson I have learned through my iGnite experience is how valuable the friendships, connections and community through iGnite are. Neissa and all the amazing women that help lead iGnite are some of the best women out there. Neissa has always had a gift of inspiring others and of bringing women together to share their gifts and talents. I highly value these women and the lovely ladies I get to iGnite life with.

Who or what inspires me most…
The ocean inspires me. There is a quote that I love by Isak Dinesen, and our own iGniter Olivia Osborne, found it for me in a magazine at the Re-New Year San Diego iGnite Retreat. She says “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” Thanks to iGnite, we get to sweat. Sometimes we just need a good cry. And the sea, although it has almost taken my life twice, is my happy place. I would also like to mention our fellow iGniter and my awesome cousin, Nikki McCormick, who inspires me to laugh! You know the belly laugh that makes your cheeks hurt kind of laugh!

I am looking forward to…
The day my book I have been writing gets published. It’s not ready yet – it needs a great editor – but I have been enjoying finally writing a book that has been 25 years in the making. Many of the seasoned iGniters know “my story”, and if you have ever been a newbie in one of Kathleen’s classes that I have shown up for have heard it too, because she lovingly brags about me! In 1991, my new friend and love, Larry, set me up on the railing of an Italian ferry. I fell backwards and plummeted over 40 feet into the Adriatic Sea, and he jumped in after me. At 1:00 am, no one saw us go overboard. It was 18 hours that I floated in and out of consciousness, fighting for my life, before I was miraculously found by nine Austrian men on their 47 foot Clipper who saved me. Tragically, Larry did not survive. I share my story of love and hope in hopes to inspire others.

My guilty pleasure…
Would have to involve hazelnuts, whether it’s a French crepe with Nutella, a Hazelnut Latte or a Kinder Bueno Bar, a candy bar from Italy with a chocolate covered wafter and hazelnut filling. Yum!


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Member Spotlight: Tammy Saxon

Tammy in boys arms horiz.- DSC_0818.JPG

Roots:
I grew up in Houston and set roots in Austin after graduating from The University of Texas in 1988.

Family Life:
I’ve been married to my husband Chuck for 28 years, and our family of six includes our oldest son Chase who is a Junior at Texas Tech University, our son Grant who is a Freshman playing lacrosse at Stevenson University in Baltimore, MD, our youngest son Reid who is a 7th grader at Canyon Vista Middle School, and our big, sweet 11 year old Golden Retriever, Harvey.

Work Life:
I earned a Finance degree from UT and worked in the finance and accounting fields until I took an early retirement to raise our family.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
The most impactful lessons I have learned through iGnite are to encourage and support each other on and off the yoga mat, YOU can always make a positive impact in others’ lives, and to set your goals high because you can achieve new heights physically and emotionally every day.

I am most inspired by…
My mom is a huge inspirational influence to me because she is overflowing in generosity, strength, unconditional love, dignity and grace. She has shown me the importance of giving back and that strength and will power lead you to achieve. Her generosity shines brightly through the Golden Retriever rescue that she founded a few years ago where she has placed so many orphaned dogs into forever homes. I recently thanked my mom for building such a long table after sending her this quote that describes her so beautifully: When you have all that you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Something people may not know about me…
I love, love, love polka dots and find them almost irresistible. They are happy, positive and uplifting, and they are represented in many items sprinkled throughout my home.

If I were an ice cream flavor, I would be…
Blue Bell Peppermint. Have I mentioned my love of polka dots?! Peppermint ice cream is a splash of spirited polka dots leaving a pop of confidence on your tongue preparing you to take on any challenges that your day holds. Everyone should start their day with a spoonful of Peppermint ice cream!


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Member Spotlight: Jeri Brock

Roots:
I was born and raised in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri. I moved to Texas when I was 19 and never left. 🙂 Vaughn and I have lived in Austin for 31 years.

Family Life:
We have 4 boys. Johnson is 29 years old and lives in New York City. Cameron is 26 and lives in San Francisco. Marshall is 23 and lives in Chicago, and Grayson is 15 and lives at home. YAY! Oh, and my dog, Buddy!!

jeribWork Life:
I went to Baylor University and graduated with a BS in Education. I taught school for 2 years before becoming a full time Domestic Engineer and Momma.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my iGnite experience…
The biggest lesson I have learned from my iGnite experience has been the beautiful friendships and strong sense of community among all the iGniters and leaders. What a sweet gift!!

The best advice I’ve been given…
The best advice I’ve ever been given is from the Bible, “For the goal of our instruction is love, from a pure heart a good conscience and sincere faith.”

Something people may not know about me…
I was on the Spring Break giveaway commercial with the Beastie Boys on MTV in the late 80s.

Three words I would use to describe myself…
Passionate, animal lover and loves to have fun.


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Member Spotlight: Mary Bell

img_2055-2Roots:
I was born in Houston, but I moved to Iran when I was 3 years old. After that, my family moved to London, and then we moved back to Houston. I went to UT and stayed in Austin, living here from 1974 to 1991. We moved to Houston for 17 years until 2008. We have been back in Austin for 8 years, so 25 years in all.

Family life:
My husband is Jerry Bell, and we have 3 kids: Julia who is 32 and married to Ryan Ambrose; John who is 30 and married to Amy; and Molly is who is 28.

Work life:
I worked as a librarian until I had children. When my kids were older, I worked several part time jobs as an assistant to an interior designer, a real estate assistant and as a college admissions facilitator.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
It’s so much more fun to exercise with friends!

The best advice I’ve been given…
From the Book of Luke: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

I am looking forward to…
Becoming a grandmother in March!

Three words to describe myself…
Friendly, sensitive and inquisitive.


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