Homegrown leaders head Austin’s Zilker Media - Odessa American: Local News

Homegrown leaders head Austin’s Zilker Media

By Courtney Borchert cborchert@oaoa.com | Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:30 am

The Permian High School Student Senate is where two Austinites learned the leadership skills that they still use to this day.

Odessa natives, Paige Velasquez and Nichole Davidson Williamson, have ascended to new heights at the public relations and brand agency Zilker Media in Austin. Velasquez was promoted this month to chief executive officer and Williamson will take on the role of branding strategy director.

The two longtime friends have shared many milestones together and have remained close since they were introduced to each other as toddlers in Tammie Locklar’s Dance Studio in Odessa.

“The plan was for us both to go to the University of Texas at Austin together, we talked about it since we were kids,” Williamson said. “I don’t think we ever anticipated our lives to be this interconnected, but I think that it was in our fate that we ended up working together.”

The two women said Odessa is more than just their hometown.

Williamson said Odessa made her who she is and gave her a solid foundation to move forward.

“I was really involved in a lot of extracurricular activities at Permian High School and it’s really where a lot of the core foundation of leadership that I learned came from,” Velasquez said. “When I had the opportunity to lead the student body and bring initiatives to the forefront that I knew a lot of my peers were very passionate about, it really excited me.”

The Permian alumna participated in Student Senate throughout high school and held the title of student body president her senior year. She said holding that position taught her many skills and shaped her leadership style.

“Allen Jones, (Permian’s Student Senate advisor), taught us to always start off our senate meetings with what we called good things, going around the room and sharing one gratitude for the day, and now that’s one way I like to start off meetings to help us refresh and refocus before we dive into any issues or strategies that we’re conquering for the day,” Velasquez said. “That’s one thing, among many, that stuck with me.”

Williamson was also a Student Senate member, but said she received additional mentorship and leadership experience at CrossRoads in the youth department. She said her passion for communications was launched while managing a fundraiser and selling T-shirts in the hallways of Permian High School.

“Friday Night Hope was the big aha moment,” Williamson said.

She spearheaded a fundraiser during her senior year called Friday Night Hope, which raised $60,000 for a new high school in Kenya following a mission trip to the country in 2010.

“During Friday Night Hope, I used a social media campaign to raise money and created a Facebook page,” she said. “I saw what it could do, how it can make change and make an impact.”

Velasquez said Zilker Media provides them both with an opportunity to catapult other people’s brand, passions and missions.

The two Austinites said they have been with Zilker Media since it was founded in 2017 because the agency aligns with the values and culture they find most important, and they will be instrumental in shaping its future.