Lyzz Donelson Catalyst Fund


To Donate to the Fund – Click the Donate button at the top of this page. The Catalyst Fund is managed by the Austin Fire Foundation, which operates as a part of the Greater Austin Crime Commission, so you will see that on the donation page. Paypal is best – when submitting your donation, please include the following in the Paypal Notes field:

“EARMARK THIS DONATION FOR THE LYZZ DONELSON CATALYST FUND.”

Elizabeth “Lyzz” Forysth Donelson applied to the Austin Fire Department on October 8th, 2001, and joined AFD Cadet Class #107 on June 25th, 2002, starting her almost 21 year career in the department. She retired on May 5th, 2023 as a Lieutenant in charge of Fire Station 48 in East Austin. During her career, Lyzz was promoted to the rank of Captain and for three years was in charge of the Austin Fire Academy, seeing more than 200 new Austin Firefighters graduate under her leadership. She chose to retire as a Lieutenant in operations, serving her final year in charge at Station 48. Lyzz was a founding member of the Emergency Services Pipes and Drums Association (ESPADA), the Robotics Emergency Deployment Team (RED team), and was chairwoman of the San Jacinto Night fundraiser for 13 years, which raised money for the Austin Fire Museum and the Austin Firefighters Relief and Outreach Fund. It is difficult to find a firefighter in Austin that didn’t serve with, work for, or volunteer alongside Lyzz at some point in their career.

Lyzz remarked once, early in her career, that she did not want to be a female firefighter. She just wanted to be a firefighter. She just wanted to do the job well, to serve the city, its citizens and be a strong member of a crew on an engine. She also wanted to do these things without sacrificing her aspirations for a family. The scope of her career, and her accomplishments as a City of Austin Firefighter are testament to the fact that she succeeded. One of her true joys, however, was finding ways to demonstrate to her two children, and the children of the City of Austin that not only can girls be firefighters, but girls can be firefighters IN CHARGE. She was a regular at public education opportunities with the department, taking her Engine and crew to elementary and middle schools across the city to read stories, show off the gear, let kids turn on the sirens, and answer endless questions about the job. It never failed that she would find a young girl in the back row with wide eyes who just wanted to talk to the ‘girl in charge.’ By demonstrating excellence as a firefighter day in and day out for more than 20 years,  Lyzz has been the catalyst for many young girls and boys to consider the Fire Service as a career.

It is in this spirit of catalysts that we establish the Lyzz Forsyth Donelson Catalyst Fund. The purpose of this fund is to purchase books for local Austin Elementary Schools, which clearly demonstrate that anyone can be a firefighter, no matter your gender, race, or background. Lyzz loved reading to the classrooms full of children (many times to the classrooms of her own children) and showing them, live and in living color that women can indeed be firefighters. Your donations will help purchase books with the same theme, to donate to each of the approximately 80 Elementary schools in Austin. We will donate these books to the schools in Lyzz’s name, and include a short biography of Lyzz to demonstrate that you can do anything in the department that you want to; put out fires as a firefighter, drive the engine as a driver, lead a team as a lieutenant, run the academy as a captain, learn to play the bagpipes, raise funds to preserve history and to help injured firefighters, have children, have a family, and make hundreds and hundreds of lifetime friends. We are also working closely with The Austin Fire Department to find ways to have current Austin firefighters engage with these elementary schools to read these books and continue being catalysts for young girls and boys to want to be firefighters when they grow up, just like Lyzz.

Please donate to this cause and help us build a stronger link between the Austin Fire Department and the girls and boys of our great city.

All donations are tax deductible. Please make a note that your donation is for the Catalyst Fund when submitting so that we can earmark the funds. 

To Donate to the Fund – Click the Donate button at the top of this page. The Catalyst Fund is managed by the Austin Fire Foundation, which operates as a part of the Greater Austin Crime Commission, so you will see that on the donation page. Paypal is best – when submitting your donation, please include the following in the Paypal Notes field:

“EARMARK THIS DONATION FOR THE LYZZ DONELSON CATALYST FUND.”

Check back here for photos and stories of our donations, and hopefully pictures and videos of Lyzz alongside current Austin Firefighters reading these books to our kids!

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