Individually and as a couple, Carol and Chris Adams have become important players in the Austin nonprofit scene through the years. Carol spent decades working for various arts groups, from the Sharir Dance Company to the Paramount Theatre and finally Zachary Scott Theatre. Chris is a longtime partner in the accounting firm Maxwell Locke & Ritter. Each has used their unique expertise to help grow area nonprofit organizations, many of which support the LGBT community.
“There is so much incredible work being done out there,” Carol says of the nonprofit scene. “We just want to give as much as we can to the organizations we feel strongly about.”
Carol is on the development committee of AIDS Services of Austin and is president of the Board of Animal Trustees of Austin. Chris is on the Board of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and Board President of the Austin Film Society. The two are also members of Atticus Circle, support numerous organizations and have served on several other boards in the past.
The Adams say their interest in organizations that support the LGBT community comes largely from the fact that many of their best friends, from artists to activists, are gay and lesbian.
“You want to hang out with people you relate to, and that’s about common interests, not sexuality,” Chris says.
“We’ve had so many friends who have died from AIDS, and we have many others who are now liv ing with the disease,” says Carol, explaining their interest in groups like AIDS Services of Austin. “The cause is so important to us.”
Carol notes a mood change of sorts – that a growing number of people are volunteering their time and giving their money to causes they probably wouldn’t have 20 years ago, and she credits the education around LGBT issues that organizations such as Atticus Circle are doing.
For Chris, who got his start working with nonprofits by joining the board of Sharir when Carol was leading the dance company, there’s something special about sharing his talents as a numbers cruncher – something a lot of organizations desperately need. He points out that most young nonprofits are made up of people very passionate about a particular cause, but they often lack the expertise – in areas like fundraising or accounting – that are critical to success. The key, he says, is finding other professionals in the community that share that passion.
“As boards mature, the people on them have to be better at what they do in order for the organizations to be more effective in the community,” Chris says.
The Adams both say they see a need for more participation in various organizations, whether it’s a financial commitment or a time one. “We’ve come a long way over the last couple decades,” Carol says. “Austin has become a more diverse community and there is more of a focus on giving back, but we can still expand that.”
“I think our advice to young people who want to help in some way, but may not have the money, is do some research on some groups and go and volunteer your time,” Chris says. “There’s a place for everyone based on their passions. It can bring such joy and value to other people’s lives and to your life in turn.”