March 03, 2019
It was in 2018 at a member coffee she attended with her friend Kimberly Klein where Amreen Rajabali first heard Rebecca Powers’s powerful story of how she started Impact Austin.
“I was in tears as Rebecca talked about her brother’s death and how in the aftermath she started the organization as an outlet to help others. It was a revelatory moment for me because my brother, who has the same birthday as Rebecca’s late brother, was going through a difficult time during his job search, and I was also looking for a positive outlet so I said, ‘Sign me up!’”
As a former AISD elementary school teacher and current educational technology consultant at Austin Montessori School, Amreen had been searching for ways to fill a void in her heart and give back to the local and global community. About the same time she joined Impact Austin, she had been purchasing accessories from a friend who is an ambassador for Noonday Collection, an Austin-based fair trade fashion company that empowers artisans around the globe to grow sustainable businesses. The friend urged her to become an ambassador herself and Amreen was considering it.
“I was researching the company, its commitment to fair trade, and socially impactful business models for over a year and a half, to decide whether to become an ambassador, but I hadn’t yet made up my mind,” Amreen says.
Then she went to Impact Austin’s Town Hall meeting in September 2018, where Jessica Honegger, founder of Noonday Collection, was the keynote speaker. It was another revelatory moment.
“I got Jessica’s book, Imperfect Courage, at the meeting and immediately read the first two chapters. When I got home, I asked my husband to read them. He said, ‘You have to do this.’ And he’s always the cautious one. So I knew it had to be the real deal.”
As an ambassador, Amreen helps provide a marketplace for global artisans from the world’s most vulnerable communities. And she donates a portion of her sales to Austin nonprofits, including Impact Austin.
Between her job in ed tech consulting, her role as an ambassador for Noonday Collection, her involvement with Impact Austin, her board position with Partners in Parenting, and her most important role as the mom of a preschooler and an elementary schooler, you’d think she would be a little tired. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Amreen radiates energy, compassion, and joy.
What motivates you to want to give back to your community?
A central tenet of my faith is that giving back is just a part of how you live your life. God has blessed me. I have a wonderful husband, Mohammed, and two daughters, Aria, 7, and Aleha, 4. I have a job I love. I lie in bed at night thinking, “I’m fortunate to be in this warm bed. How can I do more to help others?”
Tell us about your involvement with Impact Austin as a (relatively) new member?
Impact Austin has been a great place to meet like-minded women with a similar sense of purpose and a passion for giving back to the community. I have met so many amazing professional women. The organization’s mission to help women give back to the community in a bigger way, as well as its commitment to developing greater diversity, equity, and inclusion is so important to me. As an Ismaili Muslim (a member of the minority sect of the Shia branch of Islam), I believe that it is our responsibility to give back to our communities and serve each other. We are all brothers and sisters of the same world. And pluralism is not optional—it’s a necessary component for a healthy functioning society. When we welcome diversity and embrace different perspectives, we provide the catalyst for solutions that appeal to more than one group. Diversity is our greatest strength. I recently joined the marketing committee and am looking forward to helping to promote Impact Austin so it can grow in a way that serves our diverse population.
What is Partners in Parenting and how are you involved?
I am committed to supporting causes that empower families with tools they need to thrive. Partners in Parenting is a nonprofit that provides new parent support groups. You know that saying “it takes a village?” Well, Partners in Parenting builds that village by providing low-cost 10-week newborn support groups, which give new parents education on child development and a space to talk and build relationships with parents who have similar age babies. I serve on the board because I am particularly interested in providing access to all families, regardless of ability to pay, and I want to push the growth of those outreach initiatives. I am excited to be serving as the leader for a free, community-based new-parent support group in Southeast Austin at Community Care.
What do you do in your spare time?
I started running two years ago. I set a lofty goal of completing a half-marathon to see if I could do it, but also to set an example for my two girls. It’s becoming an empowering time to be a woman and I wanted to show my daughters that you can set your goals to do whatever you want. I ran my second half-marathon in January. I’m also a Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR) in Travis County, which means I register people to vote. I believe voting is a civic responsibility and if you’re eligible to vote you have to or you don’t have the right to complain!