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Fighting for Kindness

Andra Liemandt, President and Founder of The Kindness Campaign, tells us why love (and support) goes a long way today

Why is building a community extra important today, in these difficult and stressful times?

Community involves uniting with people from different backgrounds towards a common purpose. Developing an authentic community requires dedication, commitment, and vulnerability – which can be hard work! Sometimes it’s scary to show all of our broken parts to others, but that is the foundation of true community. This enables us to show up as our true authentic selves, with all our imperfections and unique beauty, while also allowing others to do the same. I believe it's so important to have a community in our lives because it provides us with a sense of belonging and connectedness. We can find support, encouragement, and inspiration from others who share our values and goals – which ultimately leads to a source of joy and fulfillment. 

Tell us how you realized the importance of kindness.

I have always felt a strong calling to make a meaningful difference in the world, by promoting kindness and empathy. This inner drive inspired me to start The Kindness Campaign (TKC), a non-profit organization that provides art-infused emotional health tools, starting at the age of three. My motivation to create TKC stemmed from a personal tragedy, where a close family friend's suicide left a deep impact. What began as a way to cope for my family and I has completely transformed over the past eight years into something I could have never imagined.

TKC has expanded to reach hundreds of thousands of people with our social-emotional learning programs and curricula. We are working on many new and innovative ways to continue to provide accessible emotional health tools nationwide! I couldn’t be more humbled to work alongside passionate individuals and partners that share my heart for mental and emotional health. 

Why do you think we find it so hard to love ourselves, and how can we change that?

As individuals, we tend to be highly self-critical and focus on our flaws. We see all of our “imperfections” and we think, “would people love me if they really knew me?”  However, the reality is that people do love us despite our imperfections. Though it's not an instinctive process to shift our negative self-perceptions, it can allow us to recognize our positive qualities, such as being a kind friend, a caring parent, a diligent employee, etc. The more we believe good things about ourselves, the more we can build on our self-confidence and self-worth. 

What do you love most about Austin?


There’s so much to love about Austin, TX! It’s been home to my family and me for many years. I love the vicarious charm of the city, but most importantly, I love the people that fill it. They are what makes this city truly special and where I see compassion exemplified. There is such a strong sense of community and inclusivity here that is unlike anywhere else. I also appreciate the diversity and openness of Austin, which allows for unique perspectives and experiences. From the music and arts scene to the eclectic restaurants and beautiful outdoor spaces, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Austin. It is a city that is ever-changing, but I feel fortunate to call it my home.

Name some of your favorite local businesses and places to go.

Some of my favorite local businesses are Estilo Austin, a beautiful boutique founded by my friend Stephanie Coultress, BK Beauty, known for their quality products and support of meaningful causes, and of course, Amy’s Ice Creams – their ice cream always hits the spot. I also love attending concerts at all of the different venues across town to support local artists, like my dear friends at Sonic Guild do so well. 

Who inspires you?

I have a laundry list of people that inspire me day in and day out, but the two that come to mind are my precious daughters, Kate and Elle. Watching them grow up to become confident, brave, intelligent young women has been nothing short of incredible (and emotional for this mama bear!) Every day, I see them working hard and extending kindness to others and it reminds me of why I started this work in the first place. They are a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me to continue spreading kindness and empathy in the world. They have taught me the power of leading by example and the impact that small acts of kindness can have on others.

Share your tips to start your day or week healthily and happily, leaning into self-kindness!

In my opinion, starting the day surrounded by the people I love, my daughters and husband, has been a complete game-changer. After settling in, I begin my morning routine with a brief 2-minute meditation. During this time, I focus on a self-affirming mantra where I breathe in and repeat "I am loved," and then breathe out while saying "I give love." Following this, I reflect on the previous day and write down three things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal. This practice helps me find the good in any situation and sets a positive tone for my day.

Another way I prioritize my emotional and physical health is through regular exercise. Whether I have 15 minutes or 45 to exercise, I believe that movement can set the tone for the rest of the day.

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“This year, I am hopeful for a year full of joy and purpose, to set new goals and intentions, and to invite positive changes into our lives. My hope is to let go of the anxiety that can hold us back and prevent us from living out of true purpose.”