What I’ve Learned So Far: Bernadette Austin

By Laura Braden Quigley

Bernadette Austin is one of my favorite people in Sacramento – her energy and passion for the Sacramento region is relentless and infectious.

As the first Associate Director of the Center for Regional Change at the University of California at Davis, Bernadette brings her experience in community development praxis to an applied research center dedicated to supporting communities that are healthy, equitable, prosperous, and sustainable. She also founded a consulting firm specializing in community development. Prior, she worked for an affordable housing developer, local redevelopment agency, community development financial institution, and nonprofit community health organizations.

Her projects include Sacramento’s first true transit-oriented development, West Sacramento’s first urban farm stand, and the first project in the country to implement a federal program combining housing vouchers and health services for disabled adults.

Luckily, this vast experience has created one introspective woman. Enjoy some of her best advice!

What is your motto/personal credo?

I would rather disagree with you but respect you instead of agree with you but not respect you. I honor the different thought processes people take, particularly because our experiences and expertise inform our differing perspectives. Fundamentally, I want to surround myself with people who have character I respect and judgment I trust. While the topics will change, open dialogue and honest discourse should remain.

Biggest life lesson learned from a failure? 

This is a great question. I have typically defined myself through my titles: daughter, mother, honor student, project manager, commissioner, runner. When faced with some pretty major failures, I have been forced to really look at myself and consider who I am without these titles. The answers drive me now because they focus on actions rather than outcomes, on things I can control rather than things that are outside my control. I serve my community. I mentor young leaders. I pursue health. I nurture my loved ones.

Biggest opportunity or challenge facing Sacramento in the next five years?

The answer to both of these is how we are going to address change. For years Sacramento has vied to be seen as a world class city. And here we are. We are on the map. How will we respond to this change? Will we stay parochial or open ourselves to new people and new ideas? Will we honor diversity and inclusion, or will we allow people to slip through the cracks because some people matter to us and others simply don’t? Will we preserve farmland and natural habitats, or will we choose people over place? Will we fight each other for a piece of the growing pie, or will we collaborate and invite others to the table?

Latest Sacramento guilty pleasure?

Sacramento LOVES coffee and beer. I’m not really into either. But we also have great teas and hard ciders that I just don’t think get enough attention. Here are some of my favorites: Bliss and Enlightenment at Temple. Bowl of Soul at Naked Lounge. Jalapeno Pear Cider at Hemly Cider. Pomegranate Cider by Two Rivers Cider.

“What I’ve Learned So Far” is a new feature for women to share life lessons and advice – based on what they’ve learned…so far. If you’d like to participate or “nominate” your mentor or shero, hit us up at girlsonthegridATgmail.com.

You might also like

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.