Lesa R. Walker

Lesa R. Walker MD, MPH is the Founder and Director of Compassionate Austin.  She initiated the Compassionate Austin movement in 2014 as part of the Charter for Compassion’s Compassionate Communities Campaign.

Here’s her interview about Compassionate Austin, published by Loud Out Loud Austin TV on November 8, 2018:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhTAEhUcei0.

Lesa is an original Austinite.  She grew up in this city and has lived most of her life here.  She recognizes that Austin is an energetic and vibrant city, exhibiting many examples of compassionate action.  However, she also recognizes that Austin has critical unmet needs and that we must join together to strengthen our compassion skills and abilities to meet those needs.

In her words, “Compassion is the power source for social innovation.  Scientific research shows that the practice and strengthening of compassion skills improves individual and community health, well-being, economics, etc.  In our practice, we must address the full scope of “3D compassion” (caring for others, self, and the Earth).  These dimensions are essential and interdependent to create the whole.  Global change ultimately depends on each of us & a critical mass of individuals choosing to practice compassion and make changes in the way we live day-to-day.  Through daily 3D-compassionate action, together, we can address local & global challenges.” 

Lesa has worked as a physician in the field of public health & preventive medicine for 30+ years, focusing on improving service systems for children & youth with disabilities & their families at the local, state, & national levels. Currently, she works as a medical consultant while doing extensive volunteer work with a direct focus on compassion.  She initiated the Compassionate Austin movement and was instrumental in obtaining the Austin City Council resolution designating Austin as a Compassionate City in April, 2016. She initiated and is currently the Co-Organizer of the OpenIDEO Austin Chapter, a forum and platform for design-thinking for social good.  She started the OpenIDEO Austin Chapter as a dynamic expression of Compassionate Austin.  She serves as an Education Program Associate of the Charter for Compassion and is a member of the Leadership Team of the Compassion Games International.   She uses her creative energy to engage people in the practice “3D” Compassion (caring for others, self, & the Earth). In support of these efforts she developed a free, mobile app, “Compassion Today!”

As a wife & mother, she is passionate about family & the importance of nurturing children.  Her interests & pursuits in life are diverse: Master (5th degree) Black Belt in Kung Fu and 2nd degree Black Sash in Tai Chi; community service volunteer in Ghana and Kenya; animal conservationist; published artist, poet, and film-maker; and 6-time marathoner).  She has directed/produced “The Gift,” a short-film with a story-line of compassion.

Her formal education and training are as follows: MD, Baylor College of Medicine; MPH, University of Texas School of Public Health; Preventive Medicine/Public Health residency, University of Michigan School of Public Health practicum; board-certification, General Preventive Medicine & Public Health; & clinical work, Pediatrics.

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