First Tee of Greater Austin Honors Local Austinites at Annual Banquet

Award winners gathered to receive their recognition.

Award winners gathered to receive their recognition.

The First Tee of Greater Austin hosted their 9th annual Nine Core Values Awards Luncheon on Monday in downtown Austin. The awards, which are named after each of the nine core values of The First Tee organization, were presented to “local Austinites who embody the First Tee’s Nine Core Values.”

The First Tee is a 501c3 non-profit youth development organization that introduces children to the game of golf and instills the inherent values of the game in them. The nine core values are confidence, courtesy, honesty, integrity, judgement, perseverance, respect, responsibility and sportsmanship.

“The nine core values represent many of the inherently positive values connected with the game of golf,” said a program from the event.

Additionally, the Robert W. Hughes Philanthropic Leadership Award was presented by the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.

This year’s winners are as follows:

Robert W. Hughes Philanthropic Leadership Award
Winner: Mark Kiester

Mark Kiester is the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. His organization currently serves over 12,000 children in the Austin area – a number that has increased by 850 percent annually since he joined in 2005. He also helped in increasing the annual budget by 575 percent.

Kiester plays an integral role in leading the staff and volunteer board of directors with long-term implementation of plans that “inspire and enable all kids.” In addition to his work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, he is a member of the Texas Education Agency’s Expanding Extended Learning Time Council. He works with other people from across the state to support legislation for out-of-school programs in Texas.

Winner: Teresa Granillo

Teresa Granillo is the Executive Director of Con Mi MADRE, a non-profit organization in Austin that assists in young Latinos pursuing higher education.
She is a first-generation college graduate of the University of Arizona and a former professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the College of Social Work.

“I get to use my personal experiences to empower young Latinos,” Granillo said.

Granillo serves as the Education Chair on the Board of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas. She also is a member of the Education Committee of Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But, this is not the first award she has won in recognition of her service in Austin. Most recently, she was awarded the Austin Under 40 Award in the Non-profit/Service category.

Winner: Sharon Watkins

The recipient of the Courtesy Award was Sharon Watkins, owner of Chez Zee American Bistro in West Austin. Watson did not get her start in the restaurant business. Instead, she established the Creative Theatre Unlimited at Princeton University. She would return to Texas with her arts in mind, and eventually bounced around the advertising industry as well.

She bought the bankrupt Chez Fred restaurant in 1989 and transformed it into a household name in the rich food culture of Austin. The restaurant serves a variety of American options with lots of local options. The restaurant has drawn people from all over Austin in their doors for the past 28 years. Watkins says she likes to “believe in the reciprocity of kindness” when conducting her work.

Watkins is also active in local non-profit organizations in a leadership role. She helped establish the Austin Public Libraries Foundation and currently serves on the board of the Long Center and Austin Area Research Association. And she is a lifetime member of the Fine Arts Council at the University of Texas at Austin.

Winner: Gerald Daugherty

The winner of the Honesty Award is Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. Daugherty, a Houston-native, briefly pursued a career in professional baseball before opting to attend the University of Texas at Austin. Since his graduation in 1975, he has been a successful small businessman in the area – everything from sports complexes to restaurants.

He has been passionate about the infrastructure in his city, which led to him being elected to the Travis County Commissioners Court in 2002. Daugherty is a fiscal conservative who believes that the government can stimulate transportation growth without having to raise taxes continually. He took a brief hiatus from the Commissioners Court from 2008-2013, but has served in his current capacity since then.

“If people think you are honest, they will trust you,” Daugherty said. “And that trust can provide the foundation to be successful.”

Winner: Evan Smith

Evan Smith is the CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune – a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news outlet based in Austin. The site is one of the most transparent and well-respected political publications in the world.

“It is the means to better help everyone understand what is happening in Texas, and in the world,” Smith said.

Before launching the site in 2009, Smith was with Texas Monthly for 18 years where he served as editor and briefly as president and editor-in-chief. Since its inception, The Tribune has garnered praise both domestically and internationally.

“Your values need to be infused in your work,” Smith said.

Winner: Wilford Flowers

Wilford Flowers is a senior district judge in Austin who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 1976. After graduating, he was an assistant district attorney and first assistant county attorney for Travis County, and an assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas.

He was appointed a judge in Travis County in 1987 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2010. Flowers now serves by assignment as a senior district judge for the state of Texas.

“Serving in the courtroom is the greatest form of public service,” Flowers said.

Winner: Gilbert Tuhabonye

The Perseverance Award winner is Gilbert Tuhabonye, a genocide survivor from Burundi. He was caught in the crosshairs of the Tutsi-Hutu war in 1993, suffering third-degree burns which the doctors told him would end his running career. He would prove them wrong and made it to the United States for an Olympic training program in 1996. The program allowed him to receive a track scholarship from Abilene Christian University where he became a national champion.

Now Tuhabonye runs a successful non-profit organization in Austin called the Gazelle Foundation. The organization’s mission is to improve life for people in his home country without fear of backlash based on tribal affiliations.

“This is a humbling experience,” Tuhabonye said. “I am honored and humbled to be recognized.”

Winner: Ann Howard

Ann Howard is the winner of the Respect Award. She is the executive director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition in Austin, a position she has held since 2011. The organization has received countless recognition under her guidance, including the Texas Homeless Network’s Outstanding Coalition in the state.

Howard is an active member of the Austin community. She has served on the mayor’s innovation zone task force and is on the board of directors with the Housing Works. She led a campaign to pass a $65 million affordable housing bond and in 2016 served as chair of One Voice Central Texas. Howard says she “believes in servant leadership,” and her accolades back up this sentiment.

Winner: Darden Smith

Darden Smith is a singer and songwriter who has been showcasing his art for 30 years. He has released 15 albums in his career and he uses his craft as a means of education, entrepreneurship and service.

He is the founder and creative director of Songwriting With Soldiers. Their mission is to “use songwriting as a catalyst for positive change.” The organization pairs service members with songwriters to write songs about their experiences and return home.

“Musicians aren’t known for our responsibility,” Smith said about the award. “So at first I thought it was a joke. But then I was quite honored.”

Smith continues to write and tour across the United States and Europe. His latest album, “Everything,” will be released in April of 2017.

Winner: Daron Roberts

Daron Roberts is the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin. The center is dedicated to developing the character of their participants through high school and collegiate athletics.
Roberts has had his work featured is a plethora of publications in including The Dallas Morning News, Sports Illustrated and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also a lecturer at UT who focuses on the issues of leadership and innovation in the sports arena. In 2010, he founded a non-profit football camp – 4th and 1, Inc. – which provides interdisciplinary assistance in the classroom and the football field for at-risk youth.

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