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      • Our Vision, Mission and Values

        The Austin Area Research Organization is a non-partisan nonprofit organization that builds on the savvy and brainpower of 100 leaders from the Central Texas region.


        AARO was founded in 1980 by a group of CEOs who found themselves needing a forum for discussion of issues faced by rapidly growing Central Texas—issues that would impact the region’s ability to thrive if they weren’t tackled head on.


        The armillary symbolizes our attempts to keep our vision on the far horizon, not the immediate future. It also embodies AARO’s efforts to find our way, working together, to solutions to our region’s thorniest problems.


        Our officers are a diverse team of thought leaders that serve as the governing body of AARO. Learn more about our officers, committee chairs and vice chairs.


        AARO’s members are Central Texas thought leaders. They bring diverse perspectives about important long-term issues and work to share AARO insights with a variety of public policy and decision-making bodies in Central Texas.


        AARO’s staff supports the members as they carry out AARO’s mission to advance the long-term economic and social well-being of Central Texas. Our small but mighty team brings experience, dedication, and a passion for Central Texas.
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      • About Our Committees

        AARO accomplishes its mission to advance the long-term economic and social well-being of Central Texas by actively engaging regional leaders in data-driven deliberative action in these five priority areas.

        Health Care

        AARO is committed to the successful creation of an academic medical school and research complex on the University of Texas at Austin campus—a facility that once seemed like an unattainable dream but is now Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and scheduled to accept its first class in 2016.

        Energy and Water

        Water and energy—few other issues are as fundamental to the very survival of Central Texas. AARO’s focus is on long-term strategies to expand our region’s water supply and to ensure an uninterrupted flow of affordable power for 21st Century Texas.

        P-16 Education

        Central Texas is a region of extraordinary economic success, yet our absenteeism rates are among the highest in the state. AARO is not sitting idly by, wishing things were different. Instead, we conceived and helped midwife the birth of the E3 Alliance.

        Social Equity

        AARO believes that poverty and a lack of equality in our community can—and already are—holding Central Texas back from achieving true excellence. The Social Equity Committee did extensive research on a core issue—the widening income gap between those who have not completed their educations and those who have.


        Transportation and its ugly stepsister—traffic—test off the charts as concerns for Central Texans. AARO is tackling every aspect of making the Central Texas region as efficient as it can be in building and improving new roads, tollways, rail lines, bus systems and bike lanes.
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Home/AARO News

Vote YES on Transportation Bonds

By CLARKE HEIDRICK and CARL RICHIE When transportation works, our lives work. We can get to work on time, get our kids to school safely and enjoy all this region has to offer. We can cheer the Longhorns on to victory; squeeze in a few laps at Barton Spring pool on the way to work; eat some of the best barbecue in Texas; and get to class on time at Texas State with less stress in our lives. When congestion strikes, when our kids can’t get to school safely, and when bikes and cars compete for right of way, we all lose and we start our days under stress and in a bad mood. Austin’s $720-million transportation bond proposal is a solid step toward addressing the mobility needs of the city and contains a good balance of regional mobility projects, corridor mobility projects and local projects like sidewalk, bicycle and urban trail improvements. The proposed improvements are designed to relieve congestion and increase flow on major corridors, build pedestrian infrastructure and create safe routes to school, and improve some of the worst intersections and roadways in western Austin. If we do nothing, delays will triple. The bond proposition includes critically needed bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure investments. These will enable more people to live closer to where they work and to walk or ride bikes safely. Voter approval will authorize a tax increase of $5/month for the average Austin home. That sounds pretty good to us. AARO also supports the $131-million Hays County transportation bond package. As the fastest-growing county in Texas and the fifth-fastest growing county in the nation, investments in transportation infrastructure are essential. The proposed projects on the Hays bond include improvements that [...]

AARO McBee Alumni Reunion

On Tuesday, September 20TH, AARO’s 2016 McBee Fellows hosted a gathering of former McBees at the Google Fiber Space. The event served as this year’s Fellows’ project and provided an opportunity for past Fellows to connect with current AARO members and each other. Approximately 60 guests enjoyed opening comments from President Carl Richie, lively round table discussions led by committee chairs and closing comments from Incoming President Elizabeth Christian. Guests left with a better sense of AARO’s current efforts in the region and many committees gained new perspectives on current projects.

By |October 13th, 2016|Categories: AARO News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

AARO Members Making a Difference in Central Texas

AARO Members Ms. Linda Watson, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, Mr. Ali Khataw and Mr. Bobby Jenkins have been recognized for their contributions to the region.

AARO welcomes 2016 class of McBee Fellows

Ms. Stacy Armijo, Ms. Michelle Earley, Mr. Gerardo Interiano, Ms. Camille Jobe, Ms. Lindsey Leaverton, Mr. Mark Madrid, Ms. Kristin Marcum, Mr. Mike Odom, Ms. Tracy LaQuey Parker, and Ms. Sarah Richards.

By |December 4th, 2015|Categories: AARO News|0 Comments

AARO’s Class of 2015 – New Members!

New Members: Colette Pierce Burnette, Don Christian, Benoit Cloutier, Paul Cruz, David Hays, Fred Heldenfels, Pete Inman, Ed Kargbo, Donna Klaeger, Tim Timmerman, Jay Watson...

By |November 4th, 2015|Categories: AARO News|0 Comments

Texas’ Proposition 7

A strong transportation system is fundamental to Texas’ quality of life and economic vitality, attracting new businesses and generating new jobs.  If passed, Proposition 7 would result in an estimated $3 B per year for the state highway fund. Click here to see AARO’s signed statement in support of the Proposition 7. For a detailed analysis of the proposal prepared by the Texas Legislative Council, click here.

By |October 26th, 2015|Categories: AARO News, Transportation|0 Comments

AARO Celebrates 35 Years!

Four-hundred notable regional leaders convened for AARO’s 35th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon on Monday, September 21st. Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune, engaged Steve Murdock, Juan Tornoe, Alan Graham and Joe Cantalupo in conversation about how to create a vibrant equitable and healthy region for the 7.8 M who will call Central Texas “home” in 2050.  Tom Meredith, Community Visionary, explored surprising changes in our future.  Slam Poet Champion Christopher-Michael wrote and performed a poem inspired by AARO and Central Texas. "...Acknowledgement is a bridge to solutions. Empathy is a bridge to respect. Education is a bridge to equality. The sum total is a bridge to our future..." (Christopher-Michael, Austin Area Research Organization) Austin Area Research Organization - poem Christopher-Michael performs at AARO's 35TH Anniversary Celebration

By |September 24th, 2015|Categories: AARO News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Helping Central Texas 4-Year-Olds Prepare for School

On June 12th, AARO hosted a luncheon to to spread the word about free public school Pre-K for eligible students--featuring remarks by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and a special performance by Texas State Musician Sara Hickman.

By |June 18th, 2015|Categories: AARO News, Education|0 Comments

AARO Supports Investments in Mobility Infrastructure

Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) believes that investment in mobility infrastructure is critical to the economic and social well-being of the citizens of Central Texas and supports decisions that will increase the capacity of our mobility systems using approaches that are effective, cost-efficient, protect the environment, and maximize mobility throughout the region. It is noteworthy that: Traffic congestion and affordability are the top concerns for Austin residents. Efficient mobility is essential to the movement of goods, delivery of public safety and other services, and the ability of residents to go to work. Austin’s travel time index outpaces peer communities and constitutes one of the worst traffic congestion situations in the U.S. Congestion costs commuters lost time, wasted fuel, and increased maintenance and adversely affects air quality and the environment. The population of Central Texas is growing and is expected to continue to grow, meaning congestion will only worsen, unless we do something now. Today, our community stands on the threshold of major transportation decisions.  We invite local and regional elected leaders to embrace the following values in their decision-making: Sustainable environment:  AARO considers a sustainable environment to be a fundamental element of the quality of life we all enjoy.  We are grateful the Environmental Impact Statement process is integral to all major construction projects and trust the process to protect the natural environment Central Texans treasure. Roads are not “my” roads; they are “our” roads:  Central Texas roadways belong to everyone - not just those who live in close proximity.  It is unreasonable to force most north-south traffic onto I-35 when connectivity to MoPac via SH-45 SW would disperse the congestion and permit better mobility for everyone, especially those who cannot afford to live inside [...]

AARO Members Making a Difference in Central Texas

AARO Members Ms. Martha E. Smiley and Mr. Pete Winstead along with 2015 AARO McBee Fellow Ms. Sara Hickman have been recognized for their contributions to the region.