Our History

The Austin Community Foundation was created in 1977, the result of the clear vision and hard work of community leaders.

 A Visionary Idea

In the 1960s, trust officers George K. Meriwether (Austin National Bank), Raymond Todd (Capitol National Bank) and John Wolf (American National Bank) along with citizens Maurice Acers and R.W. “Dick” Pettway, raised $5,000 to create a “community chest.” However, failing to garner additional gifts in what was then a sleepy university town and state capital, the group donated the funds raised to the United Way.

 A New City Office

A few years later, Mr. Beverly Sheffield, longtime head of the Austin Parks & Recreation Department, was riding the success of the citywide American Bicentennial celebration he had planned. City manager Dan Davidson appointed Sheffield to head up a new office to “seek legacies” for the City of Austin. The new department was named: Trusts and Endowments.

 A Single Gift

In 1975, Mrs. Fannie Gray Leo, the wife of Austin business executive Jack Leo, died at age 75, leaving 5% of her and her late husband’s estate to create the “Austin and Travis County Community and Permanent Endowment Trust.” The couple had called Austin their home for thirty years after moving here from Connecticut. Fannie Gray was born in Hill County, Texas, just 150 miles north of Austin, the daughter of the prominent and philanthropic-minded Files family who were cotton farmers. Learn more about Mrs. Leo.

A Cocktail Party

George Meriwether, the bank trustee, and Beverly Sheffield, the city employee, met at a social function and realized their shared goal to create a legacy trust. Meriwether then shared a newspaper clipping about the San Francisco Foundation, whereupon Sheffield volunteered to serve as the first executive director of the Foundation.

A True Legacy

With the receipt of Mrs. Leo’s estate gift, tax attorney Richard Donoghue was recruited to prepare a charter for the Austin Community Foundation. On May 9, 1977 Sheffield filed the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Shortly after, the very first Board of Governors meeting was held at which recruited community leaders began to work to grow this community asset and make the very first grants into the community.

Our Past Leaders

Hundreds of community leaders and volunteers have given their time, expertise, resources and passion to create and build the Foundation. We'd like to especially honor our past board presidents whose leadership has been key to making sure we will last forever.

  • Jack Taylor, 1977-1980
  • Bill Milstead, 1980-1981
  • Robert Ragsdale, 1981-1982
  • Victor Ravel, 1982-1983
  • Lloyd Lochridge, 1983-1984
  • Charles Crites, 1984-1985
  • George Meriwether, 985-1987
  • Joe Jerkins, 1987-1988
  • William Nolen, 1989
  • George More, 1990
  • Sander Shapiro, 1991
  • Sonia Wilson, 1992
  • Bob Mettlen, 1993
  • Dorothy Rowland, 1994
  • Moak Rollins, 1995
  • Rod Edens, Jr. 1996
  • Libby Malone, 1997
  • Irwin Carroll, 1998
  • Kathy Sangster, 1999
  • Mark Ritter, 2000
  • Nona Niland, 2001
  • Dorothy Drummer, 2002
  • Bettye Nowlin, 2003
  • Jeff Kodosky, 2004
  • Mike Cook, 2005
  • Steve Saunders, 2006
  • Patty Huffines, 2007
  • Christopher Kennedy, 2008
  • Kerry Tate, 2009
  • Sylvia Acevedo, 2010
  • Jolynn Free, 2011
  • Steve Shook, 2012-2013
  • Bill Volk, 2013-2015
  • Hal Peterson, 2015-Present

“Austin may someday be able to produce civic benefits to rival the multi-million endowment funds of other cities.”

Austin American-Statesman, November 29, 1977