Commission application number 136 submitted by Michael Abkowitz on 06/13/2020

First Name Michael
Middle Name/Initial S
Last Name Abkowitz
Voter Unique Identification number 1139634847
Ethnicity White
Gender Male
Age 55-64
Education Level Post-Graduate Degree
Major Pursued Public Affairs (Masters); Economics & Political Science (Undergraduate)
What is your occupation? Chief Financial Officer/Director of Operations at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Submitted Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78759
Verified Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78759
Do you have a spouse or domestic partner? Yes
Spouse/Domestic Partner First Name Patricia
Spouse/Domestic Partner Middle Name/Initial A
Spouse/Domestic Partner Last Name Abkowitz
Are you applying to be the student member of the commission? No
Have you been continuously registered to vote in the City of Austin for the last five years? Yes
Have you voted in 3 of the last 5 City of Austin general elections (or corresponding runoff if applicable)? Yes
Been appointed to a state or city office? No
Been elected to a state or city office? No
Been a candidate for a state or city office? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a political party? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of the campaign committee of a candidate for elective state, county, or city office? No
Been a registered state or local lobbyist? No
A paid employee of the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional services contract with the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to the City Council of the City of Austin or to any individual member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
A controlling person of a person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to any member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
Contribute or bundle one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more in aggregate to candidates for City of Austin elective office? No
Please describe your relevant analytical skills. I am a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) with forty years of experience analyzing financial and operational data related to governmental, non-profit, and private sector organizations. I have a strong ability to organize and synthesize large quantities of data, develop complex analyses using Excel, and make sound decisions.
Please describe your ability to be impartial. I believe that I have the ability to remain impartial while reviewing complex situations, listen carefully to all parties offering pertinent information and render well-considered decisions. I am sensitive to the needs and feelings of diverse ethnic, economic, and racial communities. My LBJ School of Public Affairs school professor and mentor, former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, continues to serve as a beacon and guides me in my civic activities.
Please describe your appreciation for the City of Austin's diverse demographics and geography. I have been an Austin citizen for 42 years and have watched it grow from a small college town into a major metropolis. During this time, I have planted deep roots in this community. For 23 years I was employed by the City of Austin, including 10 years in the Central Budget Office and 11 years in the Health and Human Services Department, during which time I gained a deep appreciation and understanding of the City's history, demographics, economy and neighborhoods. While at Health and Human Services, I gained a special understanding of the needs of low income neighborhoods. Over these years, I have lived in West Campus, East Austin, Hyde Park and now Northwest Austin and I have a deep understanding of these communities as well. I now work in the Circle C area and commute there from Northwest Austin daily, again providing an understanding of the breadth and complexity of the City.
Please provide your employment history. 1979-2002 - City of Austin - 10 years in Central Budget Office, rising from Intern to City Operating Budget Manager and Acting Budget Director. Extremely knowledgeable in all aspect of City operations and finances, along with where and how resources are distributed. 11 years as Chief Financial Officer for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, where (among other accomplishments), I prepared all of the financial analysis that led to the vote creating Central Health (the Travis County Health District) and the independant Community Care Clinic system. I retired from the City after 23 years of service. 2002-2010 - Great-West Retirement Services - Regional Director of large financial services firm, responsible for managing optional retirement programs for state and local employees. My clients included City of Austin, Travis County, State of Texas and A/TC Integral Care and their employees. 2011- FrontSteps - Six month engagement as Interim Executive Director of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). Gained a fuller understanding of the homeless community and its needs. 2012-present - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas at Austin - Chief Financial Office/Director of Operations of a 284-acre botanic garden serving 200,000+ guests annually.
Please provide any other information you wish to be considered during the selection of the most qualified applicants for the Commission. In addition to my employment and professional experience, I have served in volunteer leadership capacities with many non-profit organizations, including three years as Board President for FrontSteps, the operator of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. I am also past President of the Austin Society for Public Administration. During my 23-year career with the City and during the eight years at Great-West (a City contractor), I intentionally remained apolitical and did not involved myself with any political candidates or parties. I believe that I can approach the redistricting issue with an open mind and without "gerrymandering" to achieve any predetermined result.
How did you hear about redistricting/Applicant Review Panel? Flyer, Mail
Disclaimer Agreement Checked
Disclaimer Signature Michael S Abkowitz
District District 10
Does this application qualify? Yes