Board Members

Executive Director

Steve Barrett

The Austin Area Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of Steve Barrett as its new Executive Director. Barrett succeeds Jeff Baldus, who served the AAF as a member of the Board of Trustees for five years before stepping in as the first paid Executive Director in 2014.

Barrett grew up in Austin and attended Austin Public Schools where his mother taught for 25 years. He was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Chicago, and later graduated from the University of Tulsa. He was then awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship in History from the University of Tulsa.

He spent four years as a stock broker with Merrill Lynch and Dean Witter Reynolds before transitioning into a successful career in the executive search profession. Barrett specialized in the recruitment of attorneys for law firms and corporate legal departments. In 1997, he founded a company which specialized in staging charity golf tournaments and advising clients on fundraising efforts.

During his time in the golf industry, Barrett helped his clients raise nearly $3 million for their causes. He was a member of the National Association of Golf Tournament Directors and wrote several articles for their newsletter and other golf publications.

In addition to his professional activities, Barrett also served on the boards of directors of several professional and arts organizations. He served two terms on the board of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants, as well as the Oklahoma Sinfonia and Chorale, Actors Theatre of Tulsa, and Opera Columbus. He chaired several charity balls for the Singles’ Ministry of the Diocese of Dallas, as well as a benefit concert featuring Judy Collins. He also chaired the 2015 Packer Classic benefiting the Austin Public Education Foundation, commuting from Indianapolis monthly for a year to build the sponsorship base to record levels.

Barrett returned to Austin in 2019 intending to make Austin his home once again. The opportunity to serve the people of Austin and the Austin Area Foundation was a major attraction to the position. Over the five decades in which he lived elsewhere, Austin has dramatically changed. “What hasn’t changed is the amazing generosity of the people of the Austin area. The Austin Area Foundation provides another opportunity to enhance the community through charitable giving.”

Barrett’s charge is to continue to grow the Foundation’s asset base to allow it to provide even more support to worthy organizations throughout Mower County. He is working to create new partnerships and greater outreach to individuals and non-profit organizations.

“The Austin Area Foundation has an important role to play within the community. Its mission is distinct from, but allied with key organizations like The Hormel Foundation, the United Way of Mower County, Impact Austin, the Welcome Center, and all of the others who make this area so giving and special.”

Meet The Board Members

Each one of our board members brings a unique set of qualities to AAF. These qualities allow AAF to leverage opportunities in Austin and maximize the charitable outreach.

Taggert Medgaarden

Chair

George Brophy

Vice Chair

Peggy Benzkofer

Secretary

Ron Walth

Treasurer

Lee Bjorndal

At Large

Mike Ruzek

Immediate Past Chair

Mark Ourada

Board Member

Gail Dennison

Board Member

Cosy Kriehn

Board Member

Darrell Ingvaldson

Board Member

Shari Mason

Board Member

Fred Bogott

Board Member

Belita Schindler

Board Member

Paul Wahlstrom

Board Member

Pierre Lilly

Board Member

Karem Salas Ramirez

Board Member

Tom Wuertz

Board Member

Nitaya Jandragholica

Board Member