Managing Director of Community Relations
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Cecilia Abbott has devoted her life to serving others. She was a teacher, vice-principal and then principal at several schools across Texas. Most recently she served as the principal of the Cathedral School of St. Mary in Austin from 1996 to 2001. Governor Perry appointed Cecilia to the State Board of Educator Certification where she served from 2001 to 2008.
Cecilia has also focused on health care for seniors. Since 2004, she has served as the managing director of community relations at Harden Healthcare, a network of senior adult health care facilities and services.
Cecilia is a product of the American Dream. The granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico, Cecilia was raised in San Antonio by parents who were both educators. They instilled in Cecilia, her sister and two brothers the power of education. Cecilia took the lesson to heart and went on to study two years at the University of Texas and then earned three degrees from the University of St. Thomas in Houston: a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Theology.
Cecilia believes strongly in giving back to the community that has given her so much. She serves on the University of St. Thomas Board of Directors, Huston-Tillotson Board of Directors as well as the advisory boards for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Holy Trinity Seminary, and the Austin Diocesan School. She is also a member of the Women’s Symphony League, the National Charity League, and the Dell Children’s Women’s Trust.
Cecilia is a proud wife and mother. She and Greg have been married for 30 years, and they live in Austin with their daughter, Audrey.
Clear Channel Outdoor - Houston
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With over 25 year’s expertise in leadership positions in advertising, marketing and media in both New York City and Houston, Donna Baker is currently President of Clear Channel Outdoor Houston division, which operates in a 10 county area and is one of the company’s largest markets.
Ms. Baker has long been recognized as a leading professional in strategic planning, budget preparation, compensation and incentive plan development and has expertise in developing custom cross platform media sales programs. Prior to returning to Houston, she served as President Eastern Region for Gannett Outdoor for six years and General Manager of the Clear Channel Outdoor Mall Division in New York City for four years.
Her management and marketing skills have been used in her own firm, The Baker Advantage, TAA Media; and Clear Channel’s predecessor, Patrick Media Group. Prior to joining various media companies Ms. Baker worked in several advertising and sports marketing firms in both Kansas City and Houston.
A native of Missouri, Ms. Baker attended Central Missouri State but moved to Houston in 1975. She is active in a number of non-profit organizations including: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a donor, sponsor and committee member; the President’s Council of the Houston American Advertising Federation; the Houston Mental Health Association; the Advisory Council of Media Alliance and the Advisory Council of The Dream Fund. She is a current member of the board of the Houston Better Business Bureau. She is a past president of the Houston Advertising Federation. She was recognized for achievements by past employers such as Gannett where she developed and launched new media products establishing New York City’s subway system as a viable media product. She has also been featured in Ad’s Week Magazine’s “Women to Watch” issue.
The Blair Law Firm, P.C.
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A proud 5th-generation Texan, Nelda Luce Blair is a triple Board Certified real estate attorney and founder of The Blair Law Firm. Nelda just completed three terms as Chairman of the Board of The Woodlands Township during its transitional phase into a unified government, and she continues to Chair the Board of The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau. Nelda serves as President of the Conroe ISD Education Foundation and on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for the Lone Star College System. The South Montgomery County/Woodlands and the Greater Houston Women’s Chambers of Commerce Boards of Directors also include Nelda Blair. Governor Rick Perry appointed Nelda to the University of Houston System Board of Regents, where she now sits as Chairman.
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Alejandra Bueno is based in San Antonio, Texas and since November 2008, she has been Governor Perry’s South Texas Regional Representative. Previously she served as Director for International Business at the Office of the Governor in Austin. A native of Mexico City, Alejandra and her family moved into Texas in 2000. Her prior public engagements include the Office of the President of Mexico, National Council for Science and Technology and Council for Culture and Fine Arts, all of them federal agencies where she served as Assistant Director for International Affairs.
Some of her job duties during her present position include the representation of the Office of the Governor in the South Texas Region with special focus on economic development activities. Other assignments include the organization and representation of the State of Texas at the Border Governors Conference, the organization of international trade missions and the organization and presentations in seminars and events to promote the State of Texas for foreign investment.
Alejandra received her Law Degree in Mexico with Honors at the Universidad Iberoamericana, she obtained later a Masters Degree in International Law by the National University of Mexico, and in Texas she received a Master in American Laws (LLM) from the Law School at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently a candidate to the New York State Bar Association. She is proficient in English, Spanish and French.
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Stephanie Cavender of San Antonio is a business manager for Monteris Medical. She is a member of the Green Hand Garden Club and the World Affairs Council, and an executive board member of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Cavender received a bachelor’s degree from Salem College.
Osborn Heirs Oil and Gas Co.
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Julie Crosswell of Houston is vice president of Osborn Heirs Oil and Gas Co. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Dean’s Advisory Council, and University of Texas Fine Arts Advisory Council. She is an advisory board member of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, and an executive committee member of Communities in Schools of Houston and Mental Health of Greater Houston. She is also a past member of the Saint Mary’s Hall Board of Trustees, and a past board member of Bo’s Place, the Houston Ballet and the Alley Theatre. Crosswell received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and is a licensed master social worker.
Senior Vice President, Global Technology Strategies
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
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Susan Davenport is the Senior Vice President of Global Technology Strategies for the Austin Chamber of Commerce in Austin, Texas. In her current role she manages the Greater Austin Technology Partnership (GATP) whose mission is to develop and implement the strategies designed to improve Austin’s global competitive position for technology innovation. Encompassed in these duties is the development and execution of the region’s overall existing industry program, Portfolio Austin, which serves business interests in the five county Austin-Round Rock MSA. In addition Susan serves as the Program Manager for the Central Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization, a virtual organization housed and managed by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which focuses on the commercialization of disruptive technologies within a fifteen county, Central Texas region. Over the past six years the initiative has assisted 32 regional companies with garnering over $57 million of investment and regional universities and research entities an additional $30 million of funding from the State of Texas Emerging Technology Fund.
During her eleven years at the Chamber Susan has been actively involved with general economic development duties for the greater Austin region, as well as strategy development and implementation for emerging industry sectors. Prior to joining the Chamber Susan worked in both the medical and legal fields in the Houston and Austin areas.
Susan was raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, and holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She also graduated with a Master of Public Affairs from The University of Texas at Austin – Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
In addition to her current activities Susan has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Breast Cancer Resource Center and the Central Texas Chapter of the American Heart Association in Austin. She is also a past member of the Seton Forum of the Seton Family of Hospitals. Currently she is serving on the Board of Directors for the Capital Area Workforce Development Board. Susan is an avid runner and enjoys reading and writing in relation to current events.
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Diana D. Denman of San Antonio, TX, has lived a life of volunteerism in the fields of National Defense, Foreign Policy, Museums, and Hospitals.
As an Election Observer, she has served in Honduras, Russia, and the Ukraine. As a Presidential Appointee, Co Chairman of the Peace Corps Advisory Council and a member of the Museum Service Board. In areas of National Defense, a member of the Department of Defense, DACOWITS and WHINSEC Boards. She has also served on the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution and the Jamestown Foundation. She is an Associate of Hillsdale College and a member of the Philadelphia Society. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Mount Vernon Junior College and is a former member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Mrs. Denman is Chairman/President of the Southwest Texas Corporation. With a BA in Journalism from George Washington University, she also studied Radio, Television and Theater Arts at American and Catholic University, Washington, DC.
Locke Lord LLP
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Lauren M. Fincher is an attorney at the law firm of Locke Lord LLP in Austin, Texas. Locke Lord consists of approximately 650 attorneys who have earned a solid national reputation in complex litigation, regulatory and transactional work. Ms. Fincher practices in business and financial services litigation. She has experience representing clients in state government litigation and regulatory matters, including deceptive trade practices actions, fair debt collection actions, and food and drug regulatory matters. Ms. Fincher also has experience representing clients in a variety of matters in both state and federal courts, including online copyright infringement, mortgage lending and servicing practices, consumer protection, credit reporting practices, and contract claims.
Ms. Fincher is a former Judicial Clerk for The Honorable Nathan L. Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court. She is a member of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the Young Women’s Alliance and also serves as a guardian ad litem for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Ms. Fincher received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
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Janice Manning Flores moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Austin, Texas in 1999 so her husband could start an advertising agency, LatinWorks. Originally from San Antonio, Flores graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Masters in Counseling from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She and her husband, Manny have two daughters, Jessica at the University of Texas and Caitlin at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy. In addition to caring for her family Janice is a member of National Charity League, Capital of Texas Chapter, Helping Hand Home, Women’s Symphony League, and has served on committees for the St. David’s Taste of the Town.
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A lifelong resident of Austin, Amanda Beck Foster received a BBA in Business from the University of Texas at Austin in 1978. Foster concentrates her time on managing her family business interests and enjoying her family. As a mother of two adult daughters, she celebrates the pursuits of young women as entrepreneurs. Foster is a member of Helping Hand Home Society, The Junior League of Austin, Les Amis de Hospice, The Seton Development Board and Women’s Symphony League. She has served on many community boards and has chaired numerous fundraisers for local charitable organizations.
Co-Founder and Publisher
AW Media, Inc.
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Melinda Garvey is regarded as one of the most dynamic women in the greater Austin area for her work as a successful female entrepreneur, community philanthropist and role model.
As founder and Publisher of Austin Woman Magazine, and the new ATXMAN Magazine she is responsible for leading the fastest-growing niche publications in Central Texas. As a community leader, she is a powerful contributor to many Austin organizations and serves as a mentor for young organizations and businesses. Currently, Garvey is serving as Entrepreneur In Residence for The McCombs Business School at The University of Texas.
With proven publishing and marketing expertise, Garvey has guided austinwoman Magazine to become the first successful women’s business and lifestyle publication highlighting entrepreneurs and causes in the greater Austin area. The magazine has become highly recognized for its in-depth profiles and success stories on distinguished, educated and interesting women, with well-remembered covers on Susan Dell, Luci Baines Johnson, Jody Conradt, Liz Carpenter, Wilhelmina Delco, Elizabeth Christian, Gay Gaddis and many others. ATXMAN, after only a few short months is following closely in its sibling’s footsteps with a focus the great men in Austin.
In 2006, Garvey was one of nine women nationwide selected to receive Office Depot’s “Businesswoman of the Year” Award. She also is the 2006 winner of BIG Austin’s “Most Creative Company Award” and the Greater Austin Business “Community Advocate Award.” Austinwoman also recently won the Hispanic Chamber “Best Media” award and BIG Austin’s award for “Best Business Practices”.
Garvey is a graduate of DePauw University and holds a Masters in International Management from the University of Maryland University College. When she’s not selling the publication or buzzing about the community, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful New Zealander husband and four year old son, Beckom.
Owner and President
Hondo’s on Main
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Cris Graham was born and raised in Fredericksburg. She graduated from Selwyn School in Denton and attended the University of Denver. Cris then worked as a Montessori teacher at St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio. As an Air Force wife living in The Netherlands, she was responsible for American families stationed in that country while their husbands were deployed to Desert Storm. After her husband retired from the Air Force, the family returned to Fredericksburg. She went to work at Luckenbach, managing the store and co-producing Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic for five years. A few years later, she opened Hondo’s in Fredericksburg, combining the magic of Luckenbach with great food and music. She has also served as a member of The Governor’s Commission on Women.
Cris has two grown children – Alice Welder and Captain John S. Graham – and three grandchildren.
Texas Governor’s Commission for Women
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Lesley Guthrie is the Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women and brings more than 20 years of state and federal government experience to the position. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Lesley worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman Sam Johnson, managed major gifts for the University of Texas System, and developed an extensive community relations program for Vignette Corporation. Lesley is a board member for the National Association of Commissions for Women and serves as a member of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas Advocacy Committee and GENAustin’s We Are Girls Conference Committee.
Lesley is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.
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Susan Hance is an attorney and an active participant in the community. Susan holds positions in numerous organizations including the Board of Directors of Ronald McDonald House, Charities of the Southwest, the National Advisory Board for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Texas Regional Office, Advisory Board. Additionally, she represents NCMEC, Texas Regional Office on the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, chaired by the Texas Attorney General.
A native Texan, Susan was born and raised in Houston. After graduating from the University of Texas with a B.B.S. in Special Education, she received a law degree from Southern Methodist University.
Susan and her husband, Texas Tech University Chancellor Kent Hance, have 5 children and 7 grandchildren.
Executive Director of Community and Donor Relations
The University of Texas System
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As Executive Director of Community and Donor Relations, Melissa Jackson leads the Office of Community and Business Relations at The University of Texas System.
A fourth generation Austinite, Melissa has been involved in numerous community organizations and has served on the boards of The Junior League of Austin (President and Sustaining President), The Women’s Symphony League, Helping Hand Home for Children, Paramount Theatre and American Lung Association. She was appointed to the Governor’s Commission for Women.
Currently, she serves on the Community Advisory Board of Helping Hand Home for Children. She also serves as on the board of the Beacon State Fund, a non-profit organization which supports the Governor’s Commission for Women.
Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Vice President, Government Relations
United Surgical Partners International, Inc.
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Milla Perry Jones is vice president of government affairs for United Surgical Partners International. USPI owns and operates over 200 healthcare facilities in 26 states, of those 50 ambulatory surgery centers and 7 surgical specialty hospitals are in Texas. In her role with USPI, Jones passionately advocates at both the state and national level for physician ownership of healthcare facilities.
Following graduation from Texas Tech University, Ms Jones completed a dietetic internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and became the Director of Food Services for Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas in 1970. Jones returned to Dallas and Baylor in the mid 80s where over the course of 20 years she became a senior fund raising officer for Baylor Health Care System Foundation.
Jones is a board member of the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society and Physician Hospitals of America, a founding member of the Texas Physician Owned Hospital Association , and the conference chair and charity event founder of Ambulatory Surgery Centers of America. She is also a board member of Dallas Summer Musicals, Inc., Texas Horse Park, and Texas Cultural Trust. She sits on the advisory boards for Cattle Barons, Frost Bank of Texas, and Southwest Transplant Alliance.
Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University.
Texas Department of State Health Services Council
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Glenda Kane has been a public health advocate for 30 years. She currently serves as chairman of the Texas Department of State Health Services Council, as well as a member of the MD Anderson Board of Visitors and other health-related institutions. Throughout her career as a public servant, she has been involved in the United Services Organization (USO), having served as president, and was the first female commissioning chairman of a naval vessel, the U.S.S. Gonzalez.
Her major interests are cancer, having helped initiate the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Fund, as well as the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast program at MD Anderson, both of which were the first two comprehensive treatment programs for those diseases. Her other major interest is mental health and substance abuse and their devastating impact on society; she is currently working on a re-design of the system in Texas.
Her advocacy is to give a voice to those who have no voice.
City of Austin Aviation Department
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Jamy Kazanoff was bitten by the airport bug 15 years ago, when she was tapped to lead a communications effort to help gain community buy-in to convert an old air force base into a state-of-the-art commercial airport—the award-winning Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Today, quality customer service, building the best team in the industry, and achieving superior financial results are her anecdotes for soothing grumpy passengers and harried airline executives. Ms. Kazanoff is Assistant Director for the City of Austin Aviation Department, the municipal government entity that owns and manages the commercial airport. Her work focuses on expanding air service options for customers, improving non-airline revenue sources for the self-sustaining airport, and directing Airport Public Information and Marketing. Customer Service, Art and Music, Visitor Information, Community Outreach, and Advertising Sales are also in her group.
Jamy serves on the executive team of the 9 million passenger Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and reports to the CEO. Jamy holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Before her employment with the City of Austin, she worked for advertising agencies, Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and American Heart Association National Headquarters. In all, she brings 25+ years of public and private sector experience to her programs and efforts.
Jamy is on the Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA) International Steering Group. She’s also a member of the Austin Airport Task Force and Austin Business Travel Association. She chaired the 2008 Marketing and Communications Steering Group of ACI-NA, a national trade organization of airport members enplaning virtually all domestic and international airline passenger and air cargo traffic in North America.
Jamy Kazanoff loves to cook, travel and enjoy the great outdoors. She lives and tries to stay cool in Austin, Texas.
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Shelby E. Krause is a current resident of Dallas, Texas, and is proud to serve in the office of U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson of the Third District of Texas. Krause has previously worked for the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, Weber Shandwick Worldwide, served as First Lady’s Director of Scheduling during Governor Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign, and worked in the Office of the Governor at the State Capitol. She serves on the Advisory Council of the Texas Conference for Women with her mother Sheri Krause, who has shown her how important it is to be involved in one’s community. Krause is also involved with several other organizations in Dallas, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas Dallas – Think Ahead Group, Salvation Army of Dallas Junior Auxiliary, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, Dallas Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma, as well as serving on the board of The Slipper Club of Dallas. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History.
Texas Historical Commission
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Sheri Shelby Krause of Austin is past chairman of the Texas Historical Commission. She is managing partner of JBS Holdings, LP and is vice-president of Krause & Associates, LLP. Krause serves as a board member of The Sam Houston Society–Friends of the Governor’s Mansion. She also serves on the Texas Conference for Women’s Advisory Council, and is a member of the Austin Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund and the Dell Children’s Medical Center Women’s Trust. She is a past president of Central Texas Seton Family of Hospitals’ Development Board and the Elizabeth Ann Seton Board. Krause has served on several Gubernatorial Inaugural Committees and was the recipient of the Junior League of Austin’s prestigious Community Service Award. Commissioner Krause has a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Art History from Southern Methodist University.
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A native Texan, Mrs. Kreisle was born in Austin and has lived there most of her life. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she has been a public school teacher and librarian. Mrs. Kreisle has also served on the boards of many organizations including the Junior League of Austin, Heritage Society of Austin, Settlement Home , Helping Hand Home and Women’s Symphony League. She currently serves on the boards of the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion and the Beacon State Fund. She is married to Matthew Kreisle III and they have one daughter, Claudia.
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Dr. Christie Leedy is the owner of Abilene Dental and has been practicing innovative esthetic and cosmetic dentistry for over 20 years. She is a graduate of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She was appointed by Governor Perry to serve on the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners in 2011. Dr. Christie, as her patient family calls her, is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American and Texas Dental Associations, and a founding member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health.
Dr. Christie was appointed to the Texas Women’s Commission in 2001. She is the creator of the Angel Smiles program; where dentists can donate a smile to someone in need and in memory of someone they love. She is also a speaker and mentor for Young and Motivated, a program which helps to enable young adults to transform into the leaders of tomorrow. In Abilene, she has served on the advisory board of the Noah Project a center of care to protect domestic abuse victims. An avid supporter of the Go Red for Women campaign; Dr. Christie is committed to raising awareness for women’s health issues. She will also be a 2012 participant in the “Dancing with the Abilene Stars” to benefit the Hendrick Home for Children.
For the past 8 years, Dr. Christie has been named a “Super Dentist” in cosmetic dentistry by Texas Monthly, an honor that is voted on by her peers. Each week she is featured on the KTAB news segment “Healthy Living 4 U”, where she educates viewers on the latest that dentistry has to offer. She also participates in” Tooth Tuesday” a weekly radio spot promoting dental health awareness on all local cumulus stations. Dr. Christie was also featured in the Winter 2010 edition of Abilene Living which showcased her love for her patients and her community.
Dr. Christie grew up in Haskell, TX where she met her friend and mentor Anita Perry. Anita helped to inspire her to follow her dream of becoming a dentist. Her parents Nan and Tommy McAdams are her role models. They taught her to value her family and friends, and to always have passion and commitment in her work. Dr. Christie has lived and worked in Abilene since 1990. She has two grown sons Corey (25) and Jace (23), who share her love of life and family. They enjoy family karaoke nights where Dr. Christie is considered a fantastic backup twirler.
Texas Oil & Gas Association
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Lisa Lucero grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and now makes Austin her home. Lucero is serving her fourth term on the Governor’s Commission for Women. Prior to joining the Texas Oil and Gas Association staff, Lucero held positions at ExxonMobil, the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Racing Commission and the Texas Senate. Lucero has been recognized for volunteer efforts on behalf of St. Austin Catholic School and Parish. Lucero attended the University of Texas at Austin. She and her husband Homero have 2 daughters, Olivia and Lilly.
Founder and Executive Director
I Live Here, I Give Here
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As founder and chief executive officer of I Live Here, I Give Here, Austin’s Campaign for Philanthropy, Patsy Woods Martin leads a collaboration of individual philanthropists, nonprofit organizations, family foundations, local businesses and religious leaders. The group is working to increase awareness of the needs in Central Texas and the role each of us can play in creating solutions to those needs. This pioneering movement to deepen and expand the culture of personal philanthropy in our community by inspiring Central Texans to share their financial resources more generously is built on public awareness, nonprofit mobilization, and donor education.
Before assuming her role at I Live Here, I Give Here, Patsy was the vice president of resource development for United Way Capital Area. She has been a key fundraiser and volunteer for a wide range of Austin nonprofit organizations for over twenty years. Patsy currently serves on the board of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and the Women’s Fund of Central Texas. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Junior League of Austin, Leadership Austin, and is a founding member of Impact Austin and UWCA’s Women’s Leadership Council. She has also co-chaired galas for the Helping Hand Home for Children and Hospice Austin and was a member of the Board of Regents at Texas Tech University. Patsy received Leadership Austin’s Polly Scallorn award for community trusteeship in 2010. She has been recognized by Ballet Austin as a “Woman on Her Toes”; by the Junior League of Austin as “Volunteer Extraordinaire” and by the Girl Scouts of Central Texas as a “Woman of Distinction”.
Patsy and her husband Jack have three grown children: Mackenzie, Andy and Shannon. The Martins have called Austin home for over 30 years.
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Carol McGarah, Blackridge CEO, has worked in and around the Texas Legislature since 1991. She represents several Fortune 500 companies and is well-known and regarded for her experience and knowledge of various topics including: education, energy, environmental issues, financial institutions, IT, and transportation.
Previously, McGarah served as the Committee Director of the powerful Senate Natural Resources Committee. During her 10 years with this committee she established solid relationships with key members of the legislature and various environmental agencies, and developed a thorough knowledge of Texas’ air, water, and waste issues.
McGarah dedicated countless hours to the preparation and passage of groundbreaking pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 1 in the 75th Legislative Session and Senate Bill 2 in the 77th Legislative Session. Both of these bills dealt with state water management measures and greatly impacted the state.
McGarah was also instrumental in the development and passage of SB 5 in the 75th Legislature, which created the Texas Emissions Reduction Program. This program has served as a model for numerous other states across the country, and has been a vital component in assisting Texas meet the Federal Air Quality Standards.
Dining by Design Catering Co.
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Becky McKinley of Amarillo is a cookbook author, owner of Dining by Design Catering Co. and food journalist for Accent West Magazine as well as a contributor to many online food websites and newspapers. McKinley also servers on the Governors Commission for Women. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, International Caterers Association and James Beard Foundation, and a board member of the Samaritan Counseling Center, Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Advisory Board, and the Women’s Philanthropy Fund. She is also a past board member of the Baptist Saint Anthony Hospital Foundation, Polk Street United Methodist Church, KACV Public Television, Junior League of Amarillo, Amarillo Symphony Guild, Harrington Cancer Center, and City of Amarillo Traffic Commission. McKinley received a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University.
Internal Medicine, University Health Services
University of Texas at Austin
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Melinda McMichael, M.D., practices primary care and internal medicine at the University of Texas at Austin University Health Services. She previously served as medical director of that organization, and continues to contribute in various clinical and administrative capacities. Her current practice includes a special interest in the treatment of eating disorders.
Dr. McMichael received her medical degree from the University of Kansas and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she served a year as chief resident and clinical instructor in internal medicine. She is board certified in internal medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She is a member of the Travis County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association and the American College Health Association.
In 2007, Dr. McMichael was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Medical Board; she currently holds the position of board vice-president.
Chief Financial Officer and Board Member
Martin Automotive Group, Inc.
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Kay Martin McNutt of Austin is the Chief Financial Officer and a board member of Martin Automotive Group, Inc., a southwest Louisiana based Daimler-Benz Freightliner, Mitsubishi Fuso and GMC truck dealership which serves commercial, fleet and retail clients in local, regional and national markets. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University, Kay spent a decade as vice president of a major Houston bank in commercial real estate construction lending. She then moved to Austin and continued her real estate career as a commercial broker while raising two children with her husband, Gordon. She has enjoyed volunteering for and serving on various boards of non-profit organizations and foundations including The Helping Hand Home for Children, Inc., The Junior League of Austin, The Women’s Symphony League, Les Amis de Hospice, Casis and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Schools’ Parent Associations and the Boys Scouts of America…to name a few. Kay has lent her financial expertise to many of the organizations that she has served through the development of budgets, financial oversight, structuring of policies and procedures, and dealing with financial institutions in the handling of account relationships and securing credit. She truly believes that by serving and giving back, you gain an education that is invaluable to you personally as well as professionally.
Fund Development Specialist
House of Friends
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Alison Meador has spent the last fifteen years in Special Event Planning and Fundraising for both nonprofit entities and political campaigns. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Alison and her husband, Jeff, have raised their family in Austin, Texas.
Alison is a member of the Helping Hand Society, past member of the Junior League of Austin, The Elizabeth Ann Seton Board, where she served as Ways and Means Chairman, and the Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors. She served as Director of External Relations for the Austin based HeartGift Foundation. Currently, Alison is employed by House of Friends, an Alzheimer’s respite program, as a Fund Development Specialist.
Publisher & CEO
Defender Media Group
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Sonny Messiah-Jiles is the CEO and Publisher of the Defender Media Group (formerly the Houston Defender Newspaper), Houston’s leading Black Information Source. The media group includes the Defender newspaper , the website www.defendernetwork.com and several social media sites. She has been at the helm of the company since 1981 when she purchased the newspaper at age 27.
Messiah-Jiles served as the chairperson of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (The Black Press of America), a federation of African-American newspapers across the country. She also served as the National Alumni Chair for the Houston Alumni Organization (University of Houston). Currently, Messiah-Jiles serves as Vice President and Director of Grand Slam, a marketing/investment consulting firm. Her professional activities include being the first African-American female board member of the Greater Houston Partnership, and she currently serves on the M.D. Anderson Board of Visitors. She has served on the Advisory Board of J.P. Morgan Chase-Houston, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, Center for Houston’s Future, NAACP-Houston, JobPlus, Hester House, March of Dimes Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, American Diabetes Association, and American Leadership Forum.
Messiah-Jiles recently received the Houston Association of Black Journalists Trailblazer Award. In addition she has been honored with many other awards including the Phenomenal Woman Award, NNPA Publisher of the Year, American Civil Liberties Freedom of Speech Award, YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Year, Jaycees “Outstanding Texan”, “Women on the Move”, UH Distinguished Alumni Service Award and the National Dental Association Civil Rights Award. She has been named by EBONY Magazine as one of the100 most influential Black Americans. She and her husband were awarded the “Community Service Award” by the University of Houston Downtown. In December 2008, Messiah-Jiles was inducted into the Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce inaugural Hall of Fame along with former first lady Barbara Bush and eight other women.
Messiah-Jiles received an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and did postgraduate work at Texas Southern University and Rice University.
Prior to purchasing the Defender, Sonny worked as a radio news reporter, a television talk show host, and an advertising account executive at the Houston Chronicle.
Messiah-Jiles is married to Jodie Lee Jiles an investment banker. They have two sons, Jodie and Clyde. She is a native of McNair/Baytown, Texas.
Honorary Consul General, Iceland
Mica Mosbacher Interests, LLC
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Michele “Mica” Mosbacher fills a number of leadership positions in the worlds of business, international trade and philanthropy. As sponsor and director of Off-Track Events at Godstone Ranch Motorsports, Mosbacher successfully blends these areas via the popularity of motorsports racing. Godstone Ranch Motorsports, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was formed to raise awareness and funds for select charitable organizations through the professional Grand-Am racing circuit. Godstone and its ruby red Ferrari 458 GT recently formed an alliance with the American Red Cross of Central Texas.
Mosbacher also serves as the Honorary Consul General to Iceland, a position she was appointed to in 2010. She is Vice Chair for the University of Houston Board of Regents and was appointed to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) host committee. Mosbacher was inducted into both the Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She was instrumental in bringing the public art installation, Tolerance, to Houston which features sculptures by the renowned Spanish sculptor, Jaume Plensa. Mosbacher serves on the board of the American Hospital of Paris Foundation.
The widow of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, she is an award-winning feature writer and motivational speaker. Born in Florida, Mosbacher grew up in Houston and received her communications degree from the University of Texas.
Law Office of Harriet O'Neill
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Justice Harriet O’Neill retired from the Supreme Court of Texas in June of 2010, having served two terms on the Court and nearly eighteen years in the judiciary. With a special interest in improving the lives of abused and neglected children in foster care, Justice O’Neill spearheaded the Supreme Court’s creation of the Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, which works to improve judicial handling of child-protection cases through strategic collaboration, technology, training and innovative pilot projects. As a member of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, Justice O’Neill worked to assure low-income Texans access to our civil courts for basic legal needs like protection from domestic violence, and securing benefits for veterans. In recognition of her outstanding service, Justice O’Neill has been named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and received numerous awards, including the Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Award, the Texas Appleseed Good Apple Award, the National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award, the American Bar Association Friend of the Family Award, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner’s Award, and was twice named “Appellate Justice of the Year” by the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.
After leaving the bench, Justice O’Neill founded the Law Office of Harriet O’Neill, PC, in Austin, where her statewide practice concentrates primarily on complex business litigation and appeals. Justice O’Neill is a frequent author and speaker. In 2001, she was First-Prize winner in the National Law Day Speech Awards. She also writes and lectures for continuing legal education programs. And she continues her interest in child and family welfare by serving as Chair Emeritus of the Children’s Commission.
Harriet enjoys reading, golf and traveling, particularly with her husband, Kerry Cammack, and their three children.
Texas Secretary of State, Elections
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Louri O’Leary serves in the Elections Division as the Administration Manager for the Secretary of State John Steen and previously served Governor Rick Perry as the Research Manager in the Economic Development & Tourism Division. In 2010 Louri was appointed by Governor Perry to the State Employee Charitable Campaign State Policy Committee.
Previous occupations include Governmental/Political Relations at the Texas Association of REALTORS; Senior Analyst at MGT of America; Executive Director at the Texas Federation of Republican Women; Governor Bush General Counsel Division; and elementary school teacher.
Ms. O’Leary is a member of St. Theresa Catholic Church Pastoral Council. Louri is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington and has her Master’s in Education Administration from Texas State. Louri is married to Jim Harrison who is the Director of the Intergovernmental Relations at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Co-Head of Global Client Service
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Amy Paddock is Co-Head of Global Client Service for Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Partnering with account teams, Amy leverages H+K’s unparalleled expertise to establish H+K as a strategic partner and thought leader to achieve clients’ business objectives. She also manages campaign strategies for Fortune 50 clients involved in complex financial transactions and reputational, public image, legislative and regulatory issues.
Prior to joining Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Amy was an associate in the equities division of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and was a financial analyst in Credit Suisse First Boston’s Latin American Investment Banking Group.
Amy has an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
Parsley Coffin Renner LLP
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Julie Caruthers Parsley is a partner at Parsley Coffin Renner LLP in Austin, a firm focused on a broad utility, energy, and telecommunications practice. Prior to forming the firm, Ms. Parsley served as a Commissioner on the Public Utility Commission of Texas. In that capacity, she also served on the Governor’s Energy Planning Counsel and as President and Vice-President of the Regional State Committee of the Southwest Power Pool. Prior to her service on the Commission, Ms. Parsley served as Solicitor General of Texas with the Office of the Attorney General, she is board certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Certification and of Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. She received her J.D. from the Texas Tech School of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University.
Regional Vice President
CHRISTUS Health Southeast Texas
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Ivy Pate of Beaumont is regional vice president of CHRISTUS Health Southeast Texas. She is a member of the American and Texas Hospital associations, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Grant Makers Alliance of Southeast Texas, and Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Government and Public Affairs Committee. She is also a board member of the Southeast Texas Nonprofit Development Center, a member of the Rotary Club of Beaumont, past chair of the Three Rivers Council Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Dinner, and past co-chair of the American Heart Association of Beaumont Go Red for Women Luncheon. Pate received a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University.
Perini Ranch Steakhouse
Vice President and COO, General Counsel
Austin Community Foundation
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MariBen Ramsey is Vice President and General Counsel of the Austin Community Foundation. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.B.A. in Accounting and received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. After 12 years practicing corporate/securities law and serving as partner at an Austin law firm, she joined the staff of the Austin Community Foundation.
MariBen has served on numerous boards of non-profit organizations at the local, state, national and international level. She brings not only her legal expertise to these organizations but also her abilities to problem solve, build partnerships and lead others to creative solutions. MariBen advises a variety of non-profit organizations – from startups to well established agencies – in governance and board development, strategic planning and fundraising. She also counsels individuals, families and businesses in their philanthropic giving.
MariBen is an active community volunteer and has received many recognitions and awards, among them the Austin Business Journal’s Women of Influence in 2011, the Junior League of Austin’s Community Service Award and Volunteer Extraordinaire Award and the Travis County Women’s Lawyer Award for Community Service. Her favorite recognitions are the “Best Unsung Behind-the-Scenester” from the Austin Chronicle in 2011 and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Special Recognition award at the 2011 Philanthropy Day, where she was named “Austin’s Best Friend.”
Texas Star Alliance
Texas Cultural Trust
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Jennifer Ransom Rice serves as executive director for the Texas Cultural Trust, after 20 years of marketing and communications experience in public relations and state government. As chief of staff for state Senator Florence Shapiro, Jennifer was afforded the opportunity to utilize her skills in politics, government, communications and management. She previously served as Communications Director for the Texas Comptroller; in addition to authoring a weekly column in The Citizen’s Journal, a newspaper in East Texas; working as News Director for a small radio station; and serving as Assistant Director of Public Relations at Wadley Regional Medical Center Foundation in Texarkana. She has also worked on several local and state political campaigns.
But her love is in the arts, and Jennifer believes in the importance of art in our everyday lives, and the impact it can have on student learning in the classroom. Through her work in the Texas Senate, she advocated for a stronger emphasis on arts education in public schools. At the Trust, she continues that mission, promoting arts as an economic driver and increased exposure to the arts in the classroom. She is actively involved in her community, volunteering with a variety of organizations in Austin, including the Junior League of Austin, Women’s Fund of Central Texas, Dell Children’s Medical Center, Art Alliance Austin, Zach Theatre, Umlauf, Women’s Symphony League, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, and JDRF Austin.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Midwestern State University, and her master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas, where she serves on the advisory council for the College of Fine Arts, as well as the 1883 Council and as public affairs chair for the Texas Exes. She is a graduate of Leadership Austin, Class of 2006, and was in the 2010 class of Power Pipeline, administered by Leadership Texas. She and her husband, Chuck, have one son, Charles.
Founder & President
M Rentals, Inc. DBA Fiesta Rentals
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An accomplished professional with experiences that include entrepreneurship, business management, creating companies, and serving as a leader in the business and local community. Highly skilled in implementing and executing new business strategies, managing a team, working with diverse team members, and conceiving innovative ideas. A self-directed leader and visionary who incorporates knowledge of business and life experiences into each work endeavor.
M Rentals Inc.
Founder & President
El Paso, Texas
Founded M Rentals as government contracting with multiple core capabilities. Developed a commercial washer and dryer rental and service program for the government. Expanded business model to include Domestic Lease Program, moving services, and warehouse management services. Secured contracts to grow the business with 10 military bases from California to South Carolina and grew company employee count to 35.
Smart Life LLC
Founder & President
El Paso, Texas
Founded Smart Life to meet the growing demands in the corporate housing industry. Developed client base in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and El Paso, TX. Purchased main competitor in El Paso which launched Smart Life as the largest corporate housing company serving the Texas – Mexico border.
El Paso, Texas
Created commercial real estate company to meet the demands of my growing real estate portfolio.
El Paso, Texas
Successfully turned bankrupt franchise into profitable location. Working in a male dominated industry, Mrs. Salazar Harper became one of a handful of female rental dealers in the United States. In 1992, she was awarded the Colortyme Top Ten Franchisee of the Year, and in 1993 she garnered the coveted Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) Dealer of the Year. She is also the founder of Women of RTO.
Stroman High School
Mrs. Salazar Harper’s story serves as an example for other entrepreneurs, especially women business owners, as she has overcome many obstacles in order to succeed. She traveled to El Paso in 1990, and without benefit of family or friends, she quickly adopted the city and set to work creating a business that would provide employment for others. She started her business without capital by accepting a “no money down, take over payments” sweat equity arrangement. Without any formalized training or a college degree, she took on the many challenges of owning and operating a small business. She created opportunity where none had existed.
Mrs. Salazar Harper served for ten years on the board of directors for the Texas Association of Rental Organizations (TARA), serving in all executive positions, including Chairman. She served six years on the board of directors for the National Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) trade association. She served as the APRO Political Action Committee (PAC) Chairwoman for five years, and created a contribution system that rewarded industry leaders and increased PAC revenues from $30,000 to $200,000+. She has testified three times, on behalf of the national industry, before the United States House of Representatives Banking Subcommittee on pending federal legislation. In September, 2002, HR1701, the Consumer Rental Purchase Bill was successfully passed in the United States House of Representatives. Mrs. Salazar Harper has testified three times, on behalf of the state industry, before the Texas House Legislature Insurance Committee and Business Committee.
President Bush’s administration recognized her hard work and high energy. In June 2001, she was invited to speak at the White House at an economic policy roundtable conducted by Dr. Lawrence Lindsey, special advisor to President George W. Bush. The other attendees included Dr. Vance Coffman, CEO of Lockheed Martin and J. Carter Beese, President of Riggs Bank and former Commissioner of the Securities Exchange Commission.
In 2002, Mrs. Salazar Harper was named one of the Dynamic Dozen by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. This award was presented in recognition of El Paso’s small to medium sized businesses who have demonstrated significant growth and who show great potential for continued success.
In 2002, Mrs. Harper was selected as one of the recipients of Women of Enterprise Magazine’s Women of Excellence. The award, sponsored by IBM, is given to Texas women whose initiative, spirit and achievements have made a positive difference in both the business world and the community.
In 2003, Mrs. Salazar Harper was selected as a member of the Advisory Board for State National Bank, now BBVA Compass, and served for seven years. She assisted the bank in identifying female entrepreneurs who need to obtain financing for their small businesses. Thomas Casaday, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sierra Providence Health Network, appointed Mrs. Salazar Harper to a three year term on the Governing Board of the two Tenet-owned hospitals. She acted as a liaison between the administration and the El Paso community. Her appointment expired in 2006.
In 2003, the United States Small Business Administration awarded Ms. Harper the District Director’s Choice Award. The SBA Administrator, Hector Barreto, presented the award during the 50th Anniversary Economic Growth Tour.
In 2004, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Ms. Harper as a Commissioner for the Texas Women’s Commission. She helped fulfill the mission of promoting opportunities for Texas women through education, outreach, research and referral services.
In October 2005, the Small Business Administration District Office presented Ms. Harper with the Small Minority Business of the Year award.
In 2006, Governor Rick Perry appointed Mrs. Harper to the Texas State Family and Protective Services Council for a five year term, expiring in 2011.
In 2008, Ms. Harper was named to the Board of the Texas Governor’s Mansion. In 2009 she became the Treasurer of the Sam Houston Historical Society.
In 2009, Ms. Harper was profiled by the University of Texas- El Paso in their National Hispanic Entrepreneurial Oral History Project. Her oral history details her success and growth in the rental industry and is available at the UTEP library and on the worldwide web.
In 2010, Ms. Salazar- Harper was awarded a scholarship to attend the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College’s Minority Entrepreneurs Program.
In 2011, she was named the Vice President of PHMA, the Professional Housing Managers’ Association- Tri State Chapter at Ft Bliss.
In 2012 Texas Governor Perry appointed her to the Texas Veterinary Licensing & Regulation board for a period of 4 years.
Mamie Salazar Harper is a tireless advocate of small business. She works closely with the Small Business Administration’s El Paso District Office and SBA Business Partners. She has volunteered her time to work with the SBA and SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, on various seminars and conferences held throughout the year. She has been a keynote speaker at the SBA annual finance conference, and helped other business owners understand the process of access to capital. She was the host of “It’s Your Business” a SBA television show that interviewed successful small businesses. She has worked with the SBA and KXCR Radio 89.5 FM as the host of “The Small Business Connection,” a program aimed at helping entrepreneurs. She acknowledges that the highlight of “The Small Business Connection” occurred when she conducted a live radio interview with the former SBA Administrator, Hector Barreto.
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Julie Shannan has created, launched and managed some of the most innovative and effective informal education programs for girls, parents and teachers. Ms. Shannan is a recipient of the prestigious “Austin Under 40” Award for leadership in Youth and Education. She currently serves on the Texas Girls Collaborative Project Leadership Council, serves on the Women Shaping Texas Advisory Committee for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, a member of NASA Human Health and Performance Center, and is an advisory board member for SciGirls, a PBS show for girls and science.
Ms. Shannan graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelors in Biology and has developed nationally recognized science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs that have been funded by Oprah’s Angel Network, the Texas Education Agency and the National Science Foundation. Ms. Shannan’s passion for science and math drive her to constantly create cutting edge programs that spark girls’ intellect and creativity while engaging the Central Texas community in the process.
Strategic Legislative Advisor
Office of Speaker Joe Straus
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Patricia A. Shipton served as a member of Governor Rick Perry’s senior staff from January 2001 to September 2004. Ms. Shipton was the first Hispanic and the first woman to hold the post of Director of Legislative Affairs in the Governor’s Office. As Legislative Director she was Governor Perry’s chief liaison to the Texas Senate, the Texas House of Representatives, Lt. Governor’s Office and the Speaker’s Office. In addition, Ms. Shipton worked closely with the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, the Black Caucus, the House and Senate Republican Caucuses, the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses and the House Rural Caucus. As Legislative Director, Ms. Shipton was responsible for securing passage of Governor Perry’s legislative initiatives including the Trans-Texas Corridor, the Texas Grants II Program, a Border Telemedicine Project, Master Math and Master Science Teaching Programs, Government Re-Organization Act, a Model Sea Water Desalination Project, Medical Liability Reform, the Texas Enterprise Fund and balanced budgets.
A native of Laredo, Texas, Ms. Shipton is a 1983 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, earning a BA in English and Psychology. Ms. Shipton worked as a legislative staffer for a number of years, and as a government affairs consultant prior to joining the Governor’s Office.
In September 2004 Ms. Shipton returned to the private sector as a government affairs consultant.
Founder and CEO
iGnite Your Life
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Neissa Brown Springmann is the founder and CEO of iGnite Your Life. In 2000, Neissa received a B.S. degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas where she began a career in the health, wellness and fitness industry. Soon after Neissa moved to New York City to pursue a career in television. Following her stint in New York, Neissa moved back to Austin and opened a non-competitive gymnastics business in Round Rock, Tx, where she continued to work in the fitness field. Realizing she was not fulfilling her divine calling, she sold her gymnastics business and in 2006, she founded iGnite Your Life. Neissa is passionate about inspiring women to honor their temple through physical, spiritual and mental nourishment and discovery so they can reach their greatest potential and live their best life.
Demand Generation and Marketing Professional
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Kate Stoker is an experienced marketing professional focused on technology products and services. Currently she serves as a marketing project manager for Cisco’s direct sales tool, managing a variety of demand generation and marketing communications to support awareness and integration with Cisco’s Unified Computing server line. Previously, she spent 8 years at Dell in a variety of B2B marketing and sales roles, including Global Product Launch Campaigns and Microsoft Brand Management, including the launch Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.
In addition to her professional experience, she gives back to the community in a variety of areas. Her interests center on empowering women in business and technology and building strong communities that integrate the private sector as part of the economy, job creation and sustainability.
She is currently a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow, a program facilitated by the Robert J. Strauss Center that brings together individuals from all over the state to engage in dialogue that addresses global challenges that Texas will face. She is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Texas Conference, one of the state’s major events for professional women that provide inspiration and resources for empowerment of women across the state.
In the Austin community, Kate is very involved in Leadership Austin. She is a graduate of the Essential Class of 2013 and the Emerge Class of 2000 and she continues to support the organization as the Emerge Program Chair, coordinating efforts to engage and develop the next generation of young leaders that will make a lasting impact in civic and non-profit organizations throughout Central Texas. Kate currently serves as a member of the Symphony BATS board of directors and is an Advisory Council member for GivingCity Magazine. She also served 5 years on the Board of Directors, including President, of The Young Women’s Alliance, an organization that brings together women for professional and personal development. Previously she served as a mentor for Explore Austin, an organization that board member of The Creative Fund. She was named one of GivingCity’s New Philanthropists in 2012 and is a member of the Texas Exes and Women Communicators of Austin.
Kate is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a B.A. in Economics in 2003, and is currently working towards her MBA at the University Of Texas McCombs School Of Business.
Writer, Communications Consultant
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A Telly Award-winning freelance writer, Austinite Wendy Taylor’s published work includes topics from financial literacy to childhood marriage, and social media marketing. Her work appears in ExPat Travel & Lifestyle and InFluential magazine, and has been distributed through USAToday, TheWashington Post, The L.A.Times and The Wall Street Journal. Through her feature writing, she’s completed profiles on respected politicians and humanitarians, as well as athletes and celebrities, such as Vernon Davis, Jenniver Esposito and Christy Turlington. A confessed travel junkie, she compensates for living in the Texas heat by traveling whenever she can to her beloved Ireland.
Vice President, External Affairs
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Leslie Ward, Sr. Vice President External Affairs AT&T Texas, is responsible for developing and executing strategies impacting AT&T’s participation in the Texas political process. Her responsibilities include state legislative policy and initiatives for Texas, development of legislative and political strategy, as well as the management of the AT&T Texas PAC. Ms. Ward was appointed to her current position in 2008 having previously served in numerous legislative and regulatory positions within AT&T. She has been ranked as one of the top corporate lobbyist in Texas since the inception of the ranking system by Capitol Inside.
Ms. Ward joined SBC (now AT&T) in 1998 following ten years in the Government Relations division of Sprint.
Ms. Ward holds a BA in Political Science having attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. In addition, Ms. Ward completed work in Corporate Community Relations at Boston College.
Ms. Ward currently serves on the Board of the Texas Taxpayers Association, the Texas Conservation Coalition Research Institute Board, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, and was recently elected to serve on the Board of the Texas Cultural Trust. She is on the Selection Committee of the Texas Medal of Arts and is a sustaining member of the Austin Junior League. Ms. Ward was appointed and served on the Texas Supreme Court Emergency Preparedness Task Force, and previously served on the Board of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
She resides in Austin, Texas with her husband Don. They have two children.
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Jimmy Westcott, wife of businessman entrepreneur, Carl H. Westcott, is the mother of two sons, Court, a graduate of Vanderbilt University with an MBA from SMU and Chart, a 2007 graduate of Vanderbilt University who received his law degree from SMU in May,2011. Court and his wife, Kameron, also a graduate of SMU, 17 month old daughter, Hilton, and Chart all live in Dallas.
Jimmy is a Summa Cum Laude Graduate of Mississippi College where she was elected to Pi Alpha Theta , history honor society and Pi Gamma Mu, political science honor society. She continued graduate study in history, political science and jewelry design. She is the owner of Jayhawk Design and the creative director of Polished.com.
A long time community volunteer, Jimmy recently served as Honorary Co-Chair of the 2012 WINGS New Friends New Life Luncheon. Her deepest concerns are for the women and children of our country that suffer daily from abuse of all kinds. Her activities and awards include the following:
- -First woman Chairman of the Board of The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas
- -Chairman of the Board of Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.
Member of the Crystal Charity Ball.
- -Past Chairman of the Family Gateway Advisory Board.
- -Recipient of the Pi Beta Phi Unsung Angel Award.
- -Past Chairman of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation National Awards Luncheon.
- -Member of the President’s Advisory Council of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation.
- -Trustee of Southwestern Medical Foundation and is on the Children’s Health Services of Texas Board of Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
- -Served on the United Way Executive Committee and the United Way Board.
- -Served on the Boards of Greenhill School, The Child Care Group, and the Dallas Arboretum, The Center for Brain Health, and the Dallas Symphony.
- -Co-Chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society and was presented The United Way Above & Beyond Award.
- -Received the Dallas for Children Children’s Champion Award.
- -Co-Chair of the Center for Non Profit Management’s first annual awards dinner.
- -Served as Chair for StageFest, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Community Gala and Co-Chair of the Dallas Symphony Gala.
- -Founder of the Texas Stampede La Riata.
- -Appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Governor’s Commission for Women. For that Commission she chaired The Domestic Violence Committee.
- -Co-chair of the Genesis Mother’s Day Luncheon.
- -Appointed to serve on the state Crime Victim’s Institute Advisory Council and on the state Crime Victim’s Service Advisory Council.
- -Organized a toy drive, which resulted in a personal delivery of 9000 toys to Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop for the children of soldiers stationed at or deployed from Ft. Hood.
Through the Westcott Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Westcott established the Dr. Eugene B. Tragus Chair in Molecular Cardiology at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in 1993. They also contributed the funds for the new soccer field at Southern Methodist University known as the “Westcott Field.” They have served as Honorary Co-Chairmen of the Dallas Heart Ball, the AMFAR Concert and the Dallas County Heritage Society Old City Park “Circus in the Park.” They hosted the Westcott Pro-Am benefiting the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation and Inner City Youth. The Junior Golf Foundation’s mission is to introduce the game of golf to children of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds by providing instruction by PGA golf professionals, playing opportunities and by administering a scholarship program. Mr. Westcott established a chair in honor of his wife named the Jimmy Elizabeth Westcott Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Neurology. The Westcotts also enjoy funding college scholarships for at-risk youths.
Special Events Consultant
The Events Company