The Austin Young Chamber would like to recognize and pay tribute to this year’s ChangeMaker finalists. The ChangeMaker Awards, presented by UFCU, are part of the 5th Annual ChangeMaker Luncheon on February 16, 2018. This year’s nine finalists are inspiring leaders who have a passion for dedicating time and talent to successfully make a difference in our community. Throughout the weeks to come, we will honor these individuals one at a time.
Sarah Evans is the founder and CEO of Well Aware, an Austin-based nonprofit that funds and implements clean water systems for impoverished communities in Africa. Well Aware is known for its sustainability model in building lasting water systems with high impact.
Evans is also principal of Well Beyond, a worldwide for-profit business that advises organizations on water development efforts. Evans’ vision is to enable prosperity in impoverished communities by providing access to lasting, clean water.
Evans has worked to change the way water projects are executed and managed in east Africa. She has built a team of staff and volunteers who implement projects that are realistic and lasting through strategic partnerships, true community involvement and empowerment, hygiene and sanitation education, and impact measurement. Evans’ model positions Well Aware and Well Beyond partner communities to thrive, and every dollar invested is at least quadrupled in productivity.
Evans is also a member of the Truman National Security Project, Forbes Nonprofit Council, Social Capital Management, the Capital Good Project, and the Rural Water Supply Network. She was honored as Toyota’s 2017 Mother of Invention and chosen to take part in the highly selective Entrepreneurs Organization Program. She is also a 2017 Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce Blazing Star award recipient, has twice been a finalist in the Austin Under 40 awards, was chosen as a 2016 Austin Business Journal Profiles in Power Finalist, and has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, People.com, MariaShriver.com, USA Today, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. She is a contributing author for Forbes, MariaShriver.com, Wandering Educator, The Austin Business Journal and Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling.
Under her leadership, Well Aware has impacted more than 175,000 people, and the organization’s reputation for project success (100%) and cost effectiveness (averaging $10 per person for decades) has prompted numerous collaborations with other NGO’s worldwide to guide their water infrastructure projects through Well Aware.
Evans spent the first years of her life in rural Australia before moving to a small town in east Texas. Her awareness of—and compassion for—the diverse world around her began to take shape at an early age.
After graduating with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a communications degree, she attended law school at Southern Methodist University, where she focused on environmental law. Awarded an externship with the Environmental Protection Agency’s water department, Evans also became president of the SMU Environmental Law Society and served as chief editor of the law school’s news periodical.
After positions in lobbying and securities law with respected Texas-based firms, Evans began to pursue her own philanthropic and environmental interests by focusing on the evolving water crisis in Africa. She founded Well Aware as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide sustainable, life-saving water as a catalyst for lasting community and economic development. In her role as CEO of Well Beyond, her team is helping other organizations improve, enhance and evaluate their water system and water infrastructure projects and processes.
Evans and her team work with the great potential that already exists in struggling communities while catalyzing development through access to clean water. Evans has frequent speaking commitments on the success of this approach, as well as on water charity failure, cross-discipline approaches to social impact, nonprofit administration, creative fundraising, social media and global water issues. Recent speaking engagements have included the New York Times Women in the World event at Lincoln Center, Skytop Strategies Water and Long Term Value Conference, Texas World Cultures Conference, U.S. Embassy Islamabad Young Entrepreneurs, panelist for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Conference, panelist for the Austin Woman Anniversary Celebration, panelist for the Africa Business Expo, Populate Wall Street, various National Charity League events, and the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference.