CivicWell Appoints Bernadette Austin as New CEO - CivicWell

CivicWell Appoints Bernadette Austin as New CEO



February 14, 2023

CivicWell is pleased to introduce Bernadette Austin as our new CEO. Ms. Austin was selected after an extensive search with Azzani Search Consultants following the departure of our previous CEO Kate Wright in March 2022. She will serve as the third CEO in our 40 year history.

Bernadette comes to CivicWell from the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis, where she co-led the research center and managed the financing and development of affordable housing and infill development. Her portfolio of community-engaged research has supported affordable housing development, social equity in transportation policy, and carbon neutrality in state policy-making. Her community development projects include Sacramento’s first true transit-oriented development and the first project implemented in the country combining housing vouchers and health services for disabled adults.

Bernadette has served on city and county commissions for 15 years. She served on Advisory Committees for the California Department of Housing and Community Development and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health. She is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association and serves on the Board of Directors for SAFE Credit Union, one of the top 100 credit unions in the country.

“Our national climate and housing crises call for incisive, collaborative leadership. The search committee and I are confident that Bernadette is the right person to build on CivicWell’s legacy and lead us into even more impactful engagement with communities,” said Humboldt County Supervisor and CivicWell Board Chair Mike Wilson.

Heidi Hall, Nevada County Supervisor and CivicWell Board officer, echoed the sentiment. “I am excited to welcome Bernadette as our new CEO. CivicWell is poised to expand its vital role in the climate change space, and Bernadette is well positioned to lead us there.”

Kathy Chow has served as Interim CEO since March 2022, when Ms. Wright left to become Executive Director of Climate Mayors. Kathy states, “The staff of CivicWell is excited for Bernadette to begin. She brings the skills and strategic leadership that will help to chart a new chapter for CivicWell.”

“Throughout my career I have supported the work of local elected officials, civic leaders, and change makers in a variety of ways. I feel honored to be chosen to lead CivicWell and work with inspirational people who are true servant leaders,” said Ms. Austin. “Communities face incredible challenges and opportunities around climate change, housing, and infrastructure. I am excited to work with the CivicWell Board of Directors, staff, members, and partners as we build on four decades of impactful work to address these complex and pressing issues.”

Bernadette’s first day will be March 1st and she will lead our vibrant and committed team of over 40 staff members and 100 CivicSpark Fellows.