Hey there, Friends,
I hope this May has been a bright and happy one for you all. For us, at Austin Bat Cave, it has been a time of growth and transition. And for me, personally, it has been a month of introspection and looking back and forward, at once. Since coming on as Executive Director of ABC, I have been blown away by all that we can accomplish together. We have enjoyed successful events, worked on innovative and tailored programming, published two anthologies, raised funds to bolster what it is we do and how we do it and have made new friends, forged new partnerships, defined new collaborations, brought on new team members and thrown our arms around longstanding and firmly grounded buddies. It has been a privilege to be a part of such a sturdy team and to lead us to new steps and directions.
As I train my gaze towards the future, I see new opportunities and ways to create, nurture and support fresh and unique communities and relationships. It’s time for me to step away from my role as Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave and to strike out in a new direction and so I will, but not without appreciating all the love coming from our supportive, energetic and charismatic ABC family.
Change is good, and change that leads to new hope and promise is even better! I step away from Austin Bat Cave while celebrating all that has been and while cheering ever more enthusiastically for all that will be. I wouldn’t be able to head off on a new adventure without feeling absolutely certain that Austin Bat Cave will be in good hands and so it is with the most genuine and heartfelt confidence that I can assure you all that remarkable potential lies on the horizon. It is the sweetest part of this story to be able to share with you that Ali Haider, our current and extraordinary Program Director, will be taking over as Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave. Ali is not only already a cheerleader and action taker for ABC, he is full of brilliance and grace and charm and will lead ABC to a new and yet characteristically fun place. I am profoundly pleased that Ali has agreed to take on this new role and is already doing so with his great gusto and curiosity. Please continue to shower us with your generosity of spirit and deed and give Ali many hugs along the way. And, most importantly, let us all continue to keep the kids at the forefront of all of our efforts and ideas and push them towards expressing and creating with courage and joy!
Many thanks for your friendship,
Sasha M. Vliet
Friends and townsfolk!
This is a dream come true. First of all, I want to thank Sasha for her work and passion this past year and a half. Thank you for being our captain and bringing along so many new friends to our organization. We’ve had such good fortune to work alongside you. Your drive to bring together this community was inspiring. Second, I want to share my gratitude to our Board of Directors, who supported me from day one. Thank you for entrusting this wonderful organization to me. Lastly, I want to give a big hug to my dear friend, Katie Haab, who was with me at ABC from the beginning. I remember chatting with you at the KAP House and being really excited that an organization like ABC existed. I couldn’t wait to get started.
My first Austin Bat Cave workshop was teaching creative writing to eighth graders at Kealing Middle School. On the first day, they wrote down—knowing nobody would ever read it—their biggest secret in the whole world. And then they tore them up and ran around the room, depositing little scraps of their shredded secrets around the room. I taught that workshop with my friend, Lauren Bull and can remember both of us laughing at the wildness of it all. Over my past eight years with Austin Bat Cave, I’ve been a volunteer, a donor, an advocate, and Program Director. I painted signs for the Home Slice Carnival O’ Pizza and went fishing for Chovie. I taught essay writing to Breakthrough students who were on the path to be the first in their families to attend college. During SXSW, I lugged around camera equipment for a workshop on documentary filmmaking. Over spring break, I taught screenwriting to high schoolers. When Sarah Morrison left her post as the guru of programs, I knew I had big shoes to fill. My good friend, Katie Haab brought me on board and taught me the ropes and we had a blast carrying on the good work that Austin Bat Cave does in this community. I’ve seen this organization grow and evolve. It began with one program at one school and now offers free, award-winning workshops for nearly fifteen-hundred students across nearly twenty different schools and organizations all over Austin.
We are a fortunate bunch. Over one-hundred volunteers staff our writing programs. What we do is impossible without support. There is no Austin Bat Cave without Austin. Our community holds us up. Thank you for always being there. I’m a lucky duck with you all at my back. It is my greatest honor to take on the role of Executive Director for Austin Bat Cave. This organization has been my home for almost a decade. And now, there are some empty spaces on the walls. Rooms to fill. Parties to throw. I can’t wait to get started and decorate!
—Syed Ali Haider