We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with MOMS Orange County’s Board President, Mike Austin. Mike has been described by others as “a man committed to fatherhood” and “someone who has a compassionate heart for children.” We were curious to know more about Mike, his experiences and his connection to MOMS Orange County.
Can you share a bit about your background and family?
I was born in Detroit, Michigan and like many kids growing up in Detroit, it seems, my father, along with my grandfather and uncle, all worked in the automotive industry. My mom was a grade school teacher. I attended Purdue University and graduated with a Business Management and Computer Science degrees. Most of my career has been in the area of finance in the service sector, particularly senior housing and nursing care. I lived in Philadelphia, San Francisco East Bay, and Houston before moving to Orange County in 1990. I’ve been married for 13 years and have an 8-year old son.
How long have you been involved with MOMS Orange County?
I first became involved with MOMS Orange County in the summer of 2003 when I was introduced to Pam Pimentel (CEO of MOMS Orange County) through a board member. After learning more about MOMS Orange County and its work, I joined the Board of Directors in 2007 and accepted the Board President position in July 2009.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of being a MOMS Orange County board member? What about the challenges?
By far, working with an organization that has such a measureable impact in the community is a source of great pride and enjoyment for me. Like all non-profits, the greatest challenge is fundraising. Particularly when you know that each extra dollar will touch a new life out there in the community.
What do you hope to accomplish in your role as Board President
For the first time in a long time, MOMS Orange County, like all of us, has had to deal with tough economic times. The current economic climate makes it even tougher to see into the future. I hope to see us through these challenging times and find innovative ways to maintain or expand the numbers of mothers and babies MOMS Orange County reaches each year.
What is your personal connection to MOMS Orange County’s mission?
My commitment to the mission of MOMS Orange County is actually very personal. My wife and I were both over 40 when our son was born in 2001. That automatically made it a “high risk” pregnancy. We were fortunate to have insurance and access to excellent prenatal care. Yet, during one office visit early in the pregnancy, an ultrasound identified an abnormality in our son’s kidney and bladder. It was ultimately determined that surgery would be necessary immediately upon delivery. On top of that, Lucas arrived a few weeks early and wound up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to the kidney/bladder issue. Apart from that, he was a healthy boy. The other newborns I saw in the NICU weren’t so lucky.
So, the work of MOMS Orange County to help families have healthy babies hits very close to home for you.
Definitely, it was two years later that I encountered MOMS Orange County and I would say it was that experience that fueled my passion for its mission and desire to get involved. Prenatal care is incredibly important and a cause worth fighting for. Our son, by the way, is now a healthy, good looking 8-year old who only knows there was a problem by the tiny scars on his tummy.
Are you affiliated with any other organizations?
I am currently a partner and CFO of a small healthcare company in San Bernardino County. I am a Trustee of Laguna Beach SchoolPower, a not for profit organization that raises between $600,000 and $1 million each year for Laguna Beach Public School programs. I am also treasurer of the Community Learning Center – a school within a school program at the Top of the World Elementary School in Laguna Beach.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’ve been a runner all my life, but lately I think swimming might be kinder on my knees. My wife and I are also avid travelers & scuba divers but we spend much of our free time with our 8-year-old son. He will be able to dive in a couple years and we’re all looking forward to doing it together.
Thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Mike!