It’s time to bid you farewell as Executive Director of the Austin Independent Business Alliance. I resigned in January, effective April 30, before the pandemic hit us all. I’m glad I was able to be here to help guide and assist local businesses during this time.

I can’t begin to tell you what an honor it’s been to lead AIBA to become the successful organization it is today. I’ve been with AIBA for 19 years, first as a founding board member, then Executive Director for the past 10 years. Now it’s time for me to embark on my next adventure.

I was involved in the very first discussions of an organization for local business back in 2001 when I co-owned a local magazine, The Good Life. There weren’t any other city-wide independence independent business alliances in the country and, true to our entrepreneurial roots, we invented as we went. In the beginning, we offered only a fledging website and a printed directory. Today we have built that into the AIBA Community embracing advocacy, connecting, education, marketing to both consumers and businesses, place-based economic development, resources for local business, and more. And we’ve had fun along the way.

AIBA isn’t just local, we’ve become nationally known. I now serve on the Board of Directors of our national umbrella organization, the American Independent Business Alliance, and on several national advisory groups. This has given AIBA a connectivity and access to our best national localists. A couple of years ago I was interviewed by a professor from Boston who was writing a book on culture. It was a fascinating discussion but I was puzzled about why he came here to interview me (or rather AIBA). His answer was “You are the mothership.” It’s an image I carry always.

I will always cherish these years and each and every one of you for letting me travel this path with you. Getting to know our local legends and shining a spotlight on new entrepreneurs has been an education like no other and a joy. I bid you a heartfelt farewell.

As I do this I am thrilled to hand the mothership over to Dixie Patrick. You’ve known Dixie as our Membership Manager and now you’ll know her as the Interim Director of AIBA. Dixie has been with AIBA for more than four years and will do a great job of steering the ship as AIBA moves forward.

—Rebecca Melançon