Our Commitment to DEI

As we continue towards our goal of becoming a more Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive organization, we recognize the changes we are embarking upon require focused education and training to drive the desired results. Therefore, we are pleased to announce the filling of two key vacancies with: Dr. Sara Villanueva, Senior Director, Learning and Development; and Kanetra Hights, Manager Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (“DEI”) & Engagement (this position has been revised to include DEI).

Our investment in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is an investment in the future of our Goodwill. We are committed to making DEI a strong part of our Goodwill culture and while these are not new positions, the increased focus on DEI is new. Therefore, Sara and Kanetra have been tasked with imbedding DEI in all of our training, professional development, and people policies & programs.

Dr. Villanueva is an experienced leader in higher education who has served as a teacher, scholar, mentor, consultant, and facilitator. She comes to Goodwill with significant proficiency in learning and development, change management, strategic planning, curriculum design & development, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Most recently, Sara served as the inaugural Organizational Development and Training Manager at the Austin Police Academy. 

She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. She also received her Master of Science degree and her Ph.D. both in Psychology from the University of Florida with Adolescent Development, Family Dynamics, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Sara served students in the university community as a Professor of Psychology at St. Edward’s University for almost fifteen years and is ready to apply her academic and consultative skills at Goodwill.
A native Austinite, Sara was born and raised in East Austin and currently lives in Buda. When not working, Sara spends time with her four children and enjoys being by the water, hiking, and swimming. She loves to learn new things, and has learned to create stained glass art and is tinkering with learning how to play the piano. 

Ms. Hights comes to Goodwill with almost twenty years of experience in learning and development, with a specialization in diversity and inclusion. She is also highly skilled in facilitation, training, coaching, and instructional design and development. Most recently, she acted as Business Development and Event Programmer with the National Diversity Council.

She earned a double Bachelor’s degree in Communication and General and Dramatic Media from Texas Lutheran University and received a Texas teaching certification for secondary students in the field of Speech Communications.

Kanetra comes from a big family with seven siblings, and over 20 nieces and nephews. In her free time, you can find Kanetra spending time with family, reading, writing, cooking, swimming, fishing, or playing/planning fantasy football. She also volunteers for organizations such as Dress for Success, the New Braunfels Martin Luther King Jr. Association and the Texas chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.  

Welcome to the Goodwill Family, Sara and Kanetra!

You’ll be seeing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion next steps as we work to create a more diverse workforce in which everyone feels valued, included, and rewarded:

  • Engagement survey and focus groups to obtain your feedback on our current state
  • Diversity Input Team
  • Increased focus on DEI in training

Serving Our Central Texas Community   

In 2019, Goodwill Central Texas (Goodwill or GCT) revamped our mission statement to more comprehensively reflect the work we do in the community. Our new mission, transforming generations by empowering people through education, career training, and work, better envelops the scope and impact of our primary function – helping people break the cycle of poverty and elevate their lives and the lives of their families. To accomplish this, Goodwill provides a range of holistic services designed to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged. Our primary service focus is the estimated 450,000 to 650,000 people living in our community at any time who are living in poverty or who earn below a living wage.  

Our critical community services provide a comprehensive array of tools for people facing challenges to sustainable work. Services include high school education and equivalency opportunities, training for industry-recognized careers, life and career coaching, and job search assistance and placement. In addition, Goodwill provides vital resources to members of the community through supportive services focusing on basic needs such as transportation and rent payment assistance, as well as guidance provided by one-on-one relationship with a career coach to help guide participants  through this unprecedented crisis and subsequent life struggles. Our expertise is essential during this time to help our neighbors focus on hope for the future instead of the unknown right now.

As we all do our best to move through the impact of COVID-19, we realize our central Texas community continues to grow at a rapid pace, increasing our need to grow services and serve the community. By shopping in our stores, donating your gently-used items, partnering with our staffing division or utilizing our commercial services, you help create the financial ability for us to adequately serve the 450,000 to 650,000 people living in our community who live in poverty or whom earn below a living wage.  

With your dedicated and consistent help, we will accelerate our growth to a pace that allows us to meet or exceed the growth rate of Central Texas, while also growing our capacity to deliver transformational services to our evolving community.

Why Goodwill Central Texas – Elements of Our Holistic Approach  

  • Goodwill Central Texas jobs include retail and post-retail positions providing paid, real-world experience, opportunity for advancement, and a full array of mission services available to our Team Members. Community goods donations make retail and post-retail jobs possible. These positions then generate sales revenue, supporting our community mission services.
  • The Goodwill Excel Center is the only adult public high school in Texas providing the opportunity for people ages 18-50 to earn a high school diploma for free.
  • Goodwill Career & Technical Academy provides training and credentials in high-demand industries in middle-skills and professional careers, free to qualified applicants.
  • GSG Talent Solutions is one of the top staffing agencies in Austin, Texas. We connect exceptional people to exceptional employers all around Central Texas.
  • Workforce Advancement offers one-on-one career services, including career workshops, mock interviews, mental health services, and a wide array of support services.

About Goodwill Central Texas

Established in Austin in 1958, Goodwill Central Texas, a private, non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, has become a multi-dimensional non-profit social enterprise deeply entwined with business and job growth, the environment, and the overall spirit of Central Texas. Goodwill empowers more than 10,000 people each year, helping them fulfill their potential, improve the lives of their families, and contribute to the growth of the community. Goodwill operates 30 plus retail stores, two outlets, and has more than 60 convenient donation locations in Central Texas. For more information about Goodwill Central Texas, The Goodwill Excel Center, and the Goodwill Career & Technical Academy go to www.goodwillcentraltexas.org.

Community and Media Contact

Valerie Swift