Our Mission & Organization

Our Mission

City of Austin and London Borough of Hackney are Partners

The City of Austin and the London Borough of Hackney have joined forces in a partnership of business, cultural and community development.  The goal is to foster deep understandings between the residents, businesses, organizations and academic institutions of both cities and to foster meaningful lifelong relationships of friendship and prosperity.  Through continual year-round online communications and personal visits/exchanges, “citizen ambassadors” of each city work to create direct introductions of compatible peers in one community to counterparts in the other city.

Austin and Hackney: Sisters in Innovation and Creativity

As advanced cities in one of the first such “twinnings” of the 21st Century, the Anno Domini era or Common Era, the Austin-Hackney relationship is grounded firmly in the tools and opportunities of this New Millenium: advanced technology, always-on communications, unprecedented transportation linkages, thriving creativity sectors and a focus on entrepreneurship and self-empowerment in healthy balance with the surrounding community.

Strategically Linking Technology, Creativity and more!

As the Austin Hackney United tagline states – Connecting The Gateways Of Innovation – the overarching strategic mission is to activate linkages between Austin, the top-ranked city in the USA… with Hackney, the most vibrant area of the British economy and among the strongest in Europe.  This relationship is further grounded in more than 100 years of strong mutual partnership between The State of Texas and the United Kingdom — starting way back with cotton, textiles and manufactured goods…then evolving into the energy resources of The Gulf and the North Sea…and now advancing once again into contemporary technology, life sciences, the creative industries and more.

Global Economic Pipeline Access for Hackney and Austin

Austin offers a fresh new global pipeline into Texas, one of the fastest growing states in the USA and containing four of the Top 11 largest U.S. cities.  And, through Texas, excellent centrally located, business-friendly access to the whole of the U.S. market.  Similarly, Hackney, home to “Tech City” and situated in the heart of the Greater London Area, provides a thriving base of operations into the whole of the important U.K. market.  And, through the U.K., powerful access into the burgeoning economy of the European Union.


Austin Hackney United

Austin Hackney United (AHU) is the publicly branded identity of the Austin-Hackney Sister Cities Committee, established in March 2015 with the launch of the group’s new website — found at AustinHackney.com or AustinHackney.org — and next-phase development and engagement programs.

Austin Hackney Sister Cities Committee

The Austin Hackney Sister Cities Committee (AHSCC) formalized with the adoption of the Austin Hackney Sister Cities Agreement by the city councils of both cities in February 2014. At that time Hackney became Austin’s 13th Sister City.  The Sister Cities Agreement was then formally signed on March 5, 2014 in Hackney Town Hall, Hackney Central by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe.  This was part of the weeklong celebration of the new direct transatlantic flight by British Airways connecting London’s Heathrow Airport to Austin Bergstrom International Airport which commenced service on March 3, 2014 carrying official representatives of both cities on the inaugural flights in each direction.

Friends First, Then Sisters

For the two years prior, from January 2012 to February 2014, the group functioned more informally as the Austin Hackney Business Friendship Partners while members worked to implement the goals of the Austin Hackney Friendship Cities Agreement signed on January 25, 2012 in the offices of Mother London creative agency in the 100-year old Tea Building, Shoreditch, Hackney by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe.

The Beginning of Austin Hackney Formal Relationships

AHSCC founding Chair, Fred Schmidt, and Vice Chair, Andy Jones, were both part of the original Digital Trade Mission from Austin to London in January 2012 which was hosted by U.K. Trade & Investment and the City Of Austin Economic Development Department.  Fred and Andy were both just business members at large from the Austin tech community at the time.  Andy Jones is himself a Hackney native who has been living in Austin since 2002, and Fred has actively conducted business and developed lifelong friendships in the U.K. since he was a teenager.

More info about the Austin-Hackney Economic Development Program at the City of Austin.


Austin Sister Cities International, Inc.

The Austin Hackney Sister Cities Committee operates as a formal city member of Austin Sister Cities International, Inc. (ASCI) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  The London Borough of Hackney is Austin’s newest Sister City, one of 13 total as of 2015.  In Austin, ASCI is a program of the Economic Development Department of the City.

Austin Celebrates 50 Years of Sisterhood

The Austin Sister Cities program celebrates 50 years of activity in 2015.  It is a living framework for global cross-cultural interaction and constantly evolves across the decades. Belo Horizonte, Brazil was Austin’s first Sister City, established on February 25, 1965.  It was then deactivated in 1991 due to a lack of activity.  Saltillo, Mexico is now Austin’s longest running Sister Cities relationship, having been established on November 7, 1968 and still very active.

Mutually Beneficial Strategic Relations: Austin and Hackney

Around this core Austin-Hackney relationship, both cities also continually explore additional strategic relationships of mutual benefit – sometimes even experimenting with triangulated partnerships as is currently underway between Austin, Hackney and Oslo, Norway.  Additionally, Austin is proactively developing strategic relationships – both within and outside of the Sister Cities framework – with Ireland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Columbia, and Taiwan… as well as 10 important Science Park cities throughout the world.  At the same time, Hackney has activities underway with New York, Barcelona, Berlin and other markets.

More info about City if Austin Sister Cities Program.


Sister Cities International

ALL of the above activity is further structured within the organizational framework of Sister Cities International which was created in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s at a White House Summit on citizen diplomacy.  Eisenhower envisioned a network that would be a champion for peace and propserity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world.  By forming these relationships, he reasoned that people from different cultures could understand, appreciate and celebrate their differences while building partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.

This Sister Cities network now unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in 545 communities with over 2,100 partnerships in 145 countries on 6 continents.

More info about SIster Cities International.


“The increasing interconnectivity of nations in today’s global economy underscores the need for robust partnerships between communities around the world. Organizations like Sister Cities International foster such relationships, increasing mutual knowledge and understanding between cities and cultures.  These collaborations promote collaboration and trust among citizens and nations, create opportunities for technological and economic innovation and development, and lay the foundations for continued peace and prosperity.  I am proud to serve as your Honorary Chair.”

-President Barack Obama

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