Honoring Local Dads on Father’s Day

Today’s the day! Last month, we moms had a chance to be pampered and feel the love, so now it’s time to honor the dads. Last year we had a chance to talk to some prominent fathers about raising kids in Austin and we had so much fun that we decided to do it again this year. Here’s what these dads had to say:

Mason Arnold’s title on the Greenling website is Cookie Monster, but the truth is that this sustainability pioneer and co-founder is one smart cookie out to change the world, for the better. When he’s not driving around in a Prius with a five-foot banana on top, he’s dad to Daxton, who is 2 years old and Cecily, almost a month old.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
The variety of stimulus for kids. Just driving around town is often an endless stream of bright colors and cool sights and sounds. There are awesome parks all over and more and more places to get good, real food even for kids.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
I try to treat my kids like little adults, with the caveat that every experience they’re having is one of a kind to them. Their world really is falling apart when they can’t have more peanut butter. I try to validate their feelings and give them space, but be consistent with my influence. Oh, and my boy loves making a daily plan for his activities that day, which is really good for their brain.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
Everyone taking a nap at the same time.


Greg Hamilton was first elected Travis County sheriff in 2004 after serving almost 20 years in the Sheriff’s Office. In May, Sheriff Hamilton won the Democratic primary and will face Republican Raymond Frank in November. When he is not working to prevent crime and keep our community safe, Sheriff Hamilton spends time with his three children, ages 24, 29 and 30 and four grandchildren.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
A very diverse and caring community.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
To stay involved in your child’s life.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
I just want to celebrate family and friends.


Will Heron is an illustrator and the owner of Will Heron Designs, which makes fun, kid and adult-friendly apparel. He is also dad to 8-year-old Bill and three-year old Lucy, who he describes as “awesome, hilarious, and kind of a pain in the butt — just like their parents.”

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
I love that we can always be outside – year round. When it’s hot, we hit the pools. When it’s cold… wait. It gets cold? Austin has so many great outdoor play opportunities from the obvious Deep Eddy & Barton Springs to the fact that even our grocery stores (Whole Foods and Central Market) have playgrounds. So many great things about Austin, but our city’s park system is one of the best.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
If you find yourself at work too much too soon, make sure to schedule some regular one on one time with your new baby as much as possible, just the two of you. In addition to the obvious bonding that will happen when you two are alone together, it has the extra bonus of giving mom a much needed break. She’ll appreciate the time for herself. Also, get lots of pictures and videos. It’s amazing how rapidly the little ones grow – and even though both my kids are still pretty young, I never get tired of seeing & hearing them when they were tinier.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
I have nearly everything I could possibly want, but I wouldn’t say no to a nice afternoon of laying on the living room floor with wife and kids building a sprawling Lego city. I guess the real gift would be if my wife would let us leave it there. :)


AdvertisementMatt Kouri is at the helm of Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, which works to strengthen the efforts and impact of our city’s robust cast of do gooders. In addition to being recognized in the Community Service category of Austin Under 40 this year, Matt is the proud papa to two boys, 6 and 7, who he and his wife adopted from Russia and is anxiously awaiting word from Ethiopia about the adoption of a 15-month-old girl.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
We of course love the many outdoor amenities Austin offers, and we love to hike through the hills and streams of Austin’s many natural areas. And we especially love the supportive adoptive parents community we’ve found here in Austin.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
Get on the floor and play with your kids, every day. Wrestle with your boys, play make-believe with your girls, and just let them physically experience your attention, time, and focus on them. Kids want to bond with their fathers, but many fathers don’t know quite how to do that (or are too busy to prioritize it!).

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
A call from Ethiopia telling me I can come get my new daughter!


Mike McDonnell is busy this time of year, as the President of Kidventure, a summer and overnight camp which is now entering its 18th year. Mike is also father to three kids: MacKenna, who is 14 years old, Peyton, who is 11 and Hadley, who is 6.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
Austin is a town built for the young at heart.  With the countless opportunities for outdoor adventures, music, food, and culture, it’s easy to be a kid and to raise your own in Austin. We love it.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
Do whatever it takes to remain a kid.  It’s too easy as we grow older to lose the things that make us young.  So let your kids know that you value being a kid by riding bikes with them, swing, watch cartoons, play in the mud or whatever they love to do.  It will draw them closer to you and keep you young at heart.

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
My perfect Austin Father’s Day would be to hike down to Barton Creek with the kids and the dog and spend the afternoon playing in the water!  After that we grab some tacos from our favorite trailer.


Matt Sever, aka Matt the Electrician, has since quit his “day job” and now works full time, writing and performing catchy, upbeat music. An 11-year old daughter and an 8-year-old son call Matt dad.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
I love that Austin has many of the positive parts of a big city: culture, music, art, theater, while still feeling like a small town in a lot of ways. So my kids have access to all of that, without feeling overwhelmed. And, my job doesn’t seem strange to them, in a town full of people making a living in creative ways. So many of their friends’ parents are also artists and musicians and such.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new fathers?
Do whatever the mother says…

What do you really want for Father’s Day?
A bag of salty snacks and a movie night with my family.

How would your children’s father answer these questions?

Compiled by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

2 Comments on Honoring Local Dads on Father’s Day

  1. Wonderful, Will!
    a terrific nephew as well as a lovely dad.
    what a great honor for you — and for Lindsey . . .
    love to all of you — we miss you,
    Aunt S.

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