Lisa Kay Pfannestiel

Director of Special Events at St. David’s Episcopal Church


Lisa Kay has been in the business of helping and serving others for most of her life.  Born in Denver, Colorado to hard working, farm-raised parents, Lisa Kay credits her work ethic to her upbringing.  Her dad owned a small restaurant and her mom catered German-style wedding receptions; Lisa Kay was expected to always lend a hand.

In her mid-20’s she moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where she was first the Operations Manager and then the Director of the City’s transit system.  Not knowing a thing about the operation or maintenance of a bus system, she depended on her ability to surround herself with experts so that she could concentrate on what she does best; building relationships and developing effective processes, while learning everything she could about public transportation.

Lisa Kay moved to Austin in 1997 with her husband because of a career opportunity for him.  She gave herself 3 months to find a meaningful job in transit and when that didn’t happen she enrolled in college.  Being a non-traditional (aka older than most,) first time student, wasn’t fun for Lisa Kay.  Professors and Administrators likely grew tired of her asking “why:”  “Why” at my age and with my life experience do I have to take P.E.?  “Why” do I have to pay for a class that I tested out of?  “Why” are you grading on a curve?  She graduated in 3 years, Cum Laude with a BBA in Finance.

The first few years after graduation Lisa Kay worked for various companies in the financial and real estate sectors.  Looking for more fulfilment, she began volunteering with the American Cancer Society.  Doing so changed her career direction.  In short order, she was hired as the Development Director for a small local non-profit.  “Director” for this agency was a broad term as she was the only person in the department!  She oversaw the annual campaign, two large and complicated annual fundraising events, and was the sole grant-writer.  One of Lisa Kay’s proudest moments was when the agency was awarded a $108,000 grant from Impact Austin.

For the past 7 years, Lisa Kay has been the Director of Special Events at St. David’s Episcopal Church.  She is responsible for marketing, scheduling and renting their various meeting and event facilities as well as coordinating their catering arm.   Lisa Kay worked hard to establish a business model that is a social enterprise focusing primarily on serving local, regional and national non-profits by providing affordable meeting /event space, catering and other related services.  For Lisa Kay, she gets the best of both worlds, running an income generating department while helping those who help others.

In addition to her work with the American Cancer Society, she is currently on the Board of Directors with Regional Transportation Coordination Committee and is a member of the Austin-Hackney (England) Sister City Committee.  She has also served on various committees for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Austin and with the Texas Book Festival.


Brief statement why you have accepted appointment and what you would consider to have been a successful tenure when your term:

Working for a large downtown church that has several earned income revenue sources, has given me the opportunity to see what can be accomplished by thinking outside of the box and by not being afraid to fail.  I believe that solving our social issues will require the same creativity and fearlessness.  By assembling a diverse group of people with similar goals we have the chance to make a measurable difference.


Brief statement on your sense of the Center’s impact for its first 15 years and its potential for future:

Barry Silverberg and the Center were resources to me when I started my career in non-profits.   Being new to the sector, I had lots to learn and a good part of my education can be credited to both Barry and to the Center.

I hope that as a Council, we can address two opportunities that Central Texas faces:

  1. A large number of agencies with similar, if not duplicate, missions and clients.
  2. An influx of young professionals who communicate differently than previous generations but who need to be educated in philanthropy and volunteerism

I believe that, with perseverance, our community can establish a solid intersection where corporate wealth and community-need meet.