1999 - University of Houston
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1999 Biographies

Lauren Anderson
Principal Dancer, Houston Ballet 

A native Houstonian, Lauren Anderson is a perfect role model for Houston girls. Trained executively at the Houston Ballet Academy from the age of seven, her association with Houston Ballet continued as she joined the Ballet Corps in 1983. In 1986 she was promoted to soloist and in 1990 became the first African American to be promoted to principal dancer. Anderson danced with Houston Ballet from 1983 to 2006. 

In January 2007, Ms. Anderson assumed her new role of in Houston Ballet’s Education and Community Engagement program where she conducts master classes at area schools, and lectures to students on dance and her historic career as one of America’s most distinguished African-American ballerinas. 

In the spring of 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture awarded her with a permanent exhibit.


Mary Bacon
State District Judge, State of Texas 

Judge Bacon had a very distinguished career in law and on the bench. Receiving her law degree in 1972 from the UH Law Center, she was appointed Associate Judge of the 245th Family District Court in 1981. In 1983, she was appointed to the bench of the 338th Criminal District Court. She was returned to that bench by Harris County voters for four consecutive elections. She retired on December 31, 1998. 

After specializing in family law for 10 years, Judge Bacon became an associate judge to State District Judge Henry Schuble. In 1983, Judge Bacon was appointed by Governor Mark White to the 338th Criminal District Court, where she presided until her retirement in 1998. In 1999, Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, where she focused on furthering employment education for female prisoners.


Susan Bischoff
Assistant Managing Editor, Houston Chronicle 

Susan was the assistant managing editor of the Houston Chronicle and was responsible for the Chronicle’s 17 weekly feature sections. After 23 years at the chronicle, Susan considers herself a naturalized Houstonian. As a Chronicle reporter she covered education and business news, later becoming business editor. 

After retiring from the Chronicle, Susan was the first president of the Houston Public Library Foundation. Today, she develops and coordinates community projects including Holocaust Museum Houston's twentieth anniversary project.  She serves on the boards of Houston A+ Challenge, the Greater Houston Visitors & Convention Bureau and The Lamar Tower. She is past president of the Executive Women’s Partnership, a committee of the Greater Houston Partnership. The American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the March of Dimes, the United Way, and Girl Scouts are only some of her professional and personal affiliations.


Karey Bresenhan*
CEO, Quilts, Inc.  

Karey Bresenhan is a trailblazing woman intrapreneur who opened the Great Expectations Quilt Shop in 1974 and is today the president of Quilts, Inc., which was named one of the “Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses” of 1997 by the Houston Business Journal. Karey, a fifth generation Texas quilter, has co-authored several books on quilting. Not only is she a quilt maker and quilt expert, who serves as an appraiser, she is also a quilt historian. She serves as director of the Texas Quilt Project to document the state’s quilts heritage. 

Born in Gilmer, Texas, she has lived in Houston her entire life. Carrie is married to local attorney Maurice Bresenhan, Jr.


Silvia Castaneda
Health Beat Reporter, Channel 2 News 

Accomplished award-winning journalist, television sales/special projects manager, on-air commercial talent, and television station community affairs liaison with more than 27 years of experience in the broadcast industry, Silvia Castaneda is a native of Wellington, Kansas. Since her graduation from Wichita State University with a BA in Radio/Television and Spanish Literature, Silvia's TV reporter career has taken her to several new stations, from Wichita to Miami to Sacramento, to Houston and now to the Greater Nashville Area. During her tenure at KCRA-TV in Sacramento, Silvia received an Emmy Award for her Current Affairs/Special “Guadalajara: After the Disaster” in 1992. She continues to receive awards and accolades  for her news stories. In 1998 she was awarded “Media of the Year Broadcast Television” by the American Heart Association, Houston chapter.


Betty Chapman
Texas Women’s Historian 

A local historian, Betty has spent much of the last 20 years teaching, lecturing and writing. Her goal is to instill in others an appreciation of Houston's past and to preserve its history for future generations. In addition to writing her weekly column for the Houston Business Journal, she has authored several publications including Historic Houston, and Illustrated History and Resource Guide and Houston Then and Now. She is currently working on a book which will track the involvement of women in the development of Houston. 

Betty is a native of Tupelo, Mississippi. Since moving to Houston, she has immersed herself in research and study of the city and its people, which is evident in her work. Betty has served on the boards of the greater Houston Preservation Alliance, The Heritage Society and the Houston Junior Forum. She and her husband, Bill, have two daughters and two granddaughters.


Elisabeth Coe
Executive Director, Houston Montessori Center; Middle School Teacher, School of the Woods

Betsy is an internationally known leader in Montessori education. Executive Director at the Houston Montessori center and a middle school teacher at the School of the Woods, she received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Union Graduate School in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1988. Her teaching career spans over 30 years, 20 of which have been in Montessori setting. She has presented many seminars locally, nationally and in such faraway places as Saudi Arabia and China. She is the past president of the American Montessori Society. Betsy has received many honors and awards including the Outstanding Teacher award from the Houston Montessori Center, the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of America, and she was named a Notable Woman of Texas. 

Betsy currently lives in Houston with husband Ray. They are parents of two grown daughters.


Ellen Cohen
President and CEO, Houston Area Women’s Center 

A strong commitment to women and women's issues is a good definition of Ellen Cohen’s work. She is president and CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center and current member of the Executive Committee of the Texas council on Family Violence. In 1995, Ellen was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to the State Gender Bias Implementation Committee and by the United States Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services to the National Violence Against Women Advisory Council. 

Among her many recognitions, the NAACP’s Outstanding Service Award, Woman’s Hospital Research and Education Foundation's “Celebration of Life” award, the American Jewish committee's Human Relations award, and the Texas Executives Women's “Woman on the Move” award. 

Ellen has lived in Houston since 1977 with her husband and two children.


Gabrielle Cosgriff
Co-Author, Chicks on Film 

Editor and author Gabrielle Cosgriff came to Houston in the late 60’s just in time to become involved in the feminist movement.  She was one of the founding editors of Houston Breakthrough, a 70s feminist journal. Since then, she has founded several local publications including Houston Metropolitan magazine and Southwest Spirit magazine. A native of England, Gabrielle became fascinated by the image of women in American culture, which eventually led to her recently published book, Chick on Film: Video Pick for Women and Other Intelligent Forms of Life, co-authored with Anne Reinfenber and Cynthia Thomas. 

Gabrielle serves on the board of several local organizations including the Association of Women Journalists and KPFT Radio Pacifica. She is a past president of the Unitarian Fellowship of Houston. Her awards include Houston YWCA Woman of the Year, 1979.


Chitra Divakaruni
Author, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart

Indian American Writer Chitra Divakurani is a new resident of Houston, having recently relocated from California. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and is the author of several books, including Mistress of Spices, Arranged Marriage, and the upcoming Sister of My Heart. She has also written several poetry books. Her most recent literary awards include the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award and the American Book Award for Arranged Marriage and Best Books of 1997 Award from the LA Times and Critics Pick: Best Paperbacks of 1998 from the Seattle Times for Mistress Spices. Other awards include the Girl Scouts’ World of the Arts in 1997, Women Of Achievement 1987 and the Federation of Indian Associations Excellence in Literature and Community Service, 1995. 

Chitra’s prose and poetry reflect her interest in travel, women’s issues and the immigrant experience. She lives in Houston with her husband and two children.


Debra Duncan
Host & Senior Producer, Great Day Houston

Debra Duncan hosts Houston’s newest live hour program “Debra Duncan” on KTRK/ABC-13. Debra, who is the child of military family, grew up all over the country and in Taiwan. She graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, with a Bachelor of Science, Radio-Television-Film. She worked for three years in Dallas with WFAA-TV, where she worked as co-host for “Good Morning Texas” and also authored the stations early morning new cast. She comes to Houston most recently from New York, where she was co-host for “Our Home” on the Lifetime Network. 

Her talents have been recognized with numerous awards, among which are a regional Emmy for Best Feature, two Emmy nominations, and a Best of Gannett award. In Houston, Deborah lends much of her time to help such groups as the Urban League, the End Hunger Network, the NAACP, the SPCA, Northwest Assistance Ministries, and the African American Museum. Her husband, Roland Martin, is a third generation Houstonian.


Carolyn Clause Garcia

Carolyn is a litigator turned mediator who spends her business days resolving disputes and negotiation for clients. She is a former state District Court Judge with more than 22 years experience at the courthouse. She teaches trial advocacy and has published over 100 articles on jury selection, evidence and trial presentations. Carolyn is a newly appointed Bank Director at Farmers Merchants Bank and Trust Co. and is also on their executive committee. She is the first woman to serve since the inception of the bank in the 1930s. She earned her JD from South Texas College of Law, a Master of Science Degree from Tulane University and a Bachelor’s degree from St. Mary's in New Orleans. 

Carolyn's family rounds out her life. She and her husband Charlie had been married 31 years and have two grown children, one still in college.


Sylvia Garcia
Controller, City of Houston

Silvia R. Garcia is the Controller for the City of Houston. Prior to her election she served as Director and Proceeding Judge of the Houston Municipal Court System from 1987 until her swearing in on January 2, 1998. She has the distinction of having been appointed for an unprecedented five terms and serving under two mayors. Before joining the city, Sylvia was a lawyer with the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation and served on the City's First Appraisal Review Board. She also served as administrative law judge for the EEOC and headed her own law firm. 

Silvia received a Social Work and Government degree from Texas Women's University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Her community service record includes positions on over 25 boards and commissions, including the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, the Houston Hispanic Forum, the Texas Southern University Foundation, and the Institute of Hispanic Culture.


Debbie S. Gibson
Senior Vice President, Personal Trust Department, Chase Bank of Texas

With almost 25 years of banking experience in the Houston area, Debbie is currently Senior Vice President, Group Manager at Chase Bank of Texas in the Houston Personal Trust Group. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M and attended Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. 

Debbie is Chairman of the American Cancer Society-Houston and current director of Houston Estate and Financial Forum. She is past president of the Houston Business & Estate Planning Council.


Dr. Nellie Grose
Holistic Family Practitioner

Nellie Grose received her medical degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1968. She is Board Certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. With extensive training and general medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, surgery and behavioral science, Nellie practices holistic medicine. Her work is based in a philosophy of medical care that leads toward optimal integration of mind, body and spirit and emphasizes personal responsibility and cooperative partnership between doctor and patient. 

She has served on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine, where she continues to serve as a volunteer teacher. Her special interests are in stress and illness, preventive health, sexuality, and women's Health. Nellie belongs to several professional organizations which allow her to contribute to education and research. Most importantly she is a mother of two adolescent sons, Eric and Erwin.


The Reverend Helen Havens
Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Reverend Havens has been Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School since 1981. Born in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Rev. Havens is a graduate of Rice University, has a Master of Arts in English from Indiana University and obtained her Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1975. 

In addition to her parish ministry, she currently serves on the AIDS Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, the Board of Autry House, the Advisory Board for Girls, Inc., and the Advisory Board of Planned Parenthood. She is also a National Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. She was a member of the first class of the Clergy Leadership Project in 1992. Rev. Havens and her husband, Sandy, have two children and four grandchildren.


Elizabeth Heflin
Resident Company Actress, Alley Theatre

Resident company actress Elizabeth Heflin is in her third season at Houston’s Alley Theatre. She has appeared this season in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, How I Leaned to Drive, and last season in Spider’s Web and Noises Off. She has made her Alley debut as Clytemnestra in The Greeks in 1997. She has also appeared on Broadway and on several television series. Ms. Heflin has studied with the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware. 

Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Elizabeth has lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but currently considers Houston home. Not only is she an accomplished actress, she also plays guitar and likes to sing. She credits her artistic abilities to her artist father.


Glenda Joe
Asian American Community Advocate; Executive Director, Houston’s Asian American Festival

Glenda Joe is a native Asian American Houstonian. After attending the University of Houston Honors Program, Glenda went on to found several groundbreaking organizations. Great Wall Enterprises, of which she was president, is Houston’s only marketing, research and advertising firm specializing in Asian markets regionally and nationally. The Council of Asian American Organizations, which she founded in 1980, was instrumental in developing the conflict resolution strategies that peacefully resolved the conflict resulting from Ku Klux Klan aggression against Vietnamese fishermen along the Texas Gulf Coast. Houston’s Asian American Festival Association, of which she is founder and executive director, presents a full range of Asian ethnic cultural arts.


Kay King
Head of Fashion and Interior Design, HCC

Kay is head of the award-winning Fashion & Interior Design Department at Houston Community College-Central. She was described as "Local fashion guru Kay King" in a Chronicle column which wrote of her recognition by the Sickle Cell Association when they awarded her the Athena Award for her contributions to the fashion scene. Kay returned recently from China where she lectured to 50 fashion designers and executives of the Jinan Garment Corporation on how to make their garments more marketable to the American consumer. Kay is a fashion instructor and a member of the Fashion Group, the Museum of Fine Arts Textiles & Costume Institute. She is past president of the Federation of Houston Professional Women. 

Kay was recently photographed for an article in the Chronicle titled Off Their Rockers, which showed her "instant face lift" photograph as she plunged from an airplane (with parachute) in celebration of her 60th birthday! A previous memorable birthday celebration was a hot air balloon ride.


Lisa Malosky
TV Show Host; Sideline Reporter, Commentator, Houston Rockets & Houston Comets

Lisa is in her fourth season as a member of the Rockets television team. She serves as studio host for the Rockets road games telecast on WB-39 and as a sideline reporter for home games. She is also a member of the WNBA Houston Comets television team, serving as a sideline commentator. Before joining NBC, she worked four years as a sports anchor for KPRC-TV 2 in Houston. Lisa, the daughter of college football coach Jim Malosky, Sr., also played four years of college basketball at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she obtained a BA in English. 

Lisa moved to Houston in 1991 after gaining television experience in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota. She and husband Don Friedell live in Houston.


Trinh Pham
Local Architect and Active Community Volunteer

Award-winning success cannot stop this young designer from searching for a new career which requires letting go of everything that she knew, to discover her new dreams. Trinh is a brilliant young designer who has a portfolio of diverse work. From the design of leather objects and portfolios to the design of corporate identities, she has built a practice that expresses her clients' desires through materiality, color, form and texture. 

Trinh's career and community activism has put her in Texas Monthly, the Chronicle's This Week, and on Channel 13, among others. Her next venture is now in formation.


Patricia Smith Prather
Executive Director, Texas Trailblazer Preservation Assoc. & Community History Center 

Patricia loves driving the back roads of her native Texas, looking for rare wildflowers and visiting out-of-the-way places, but it was upon noticing the lack of any people of color at the Harris County Heritage Society's Museum of Texas History that she discovered her mission. She is cofounder and Executive Director of The Texas Trailblazer Preservation Association, dedicated to preserving the important legacy of the African American presence in Texas history. Author, preservationist, historian, and lecturer, Patricia focuses on history in her writing and presentations. Her articles about African American leaders have been published in state and national publications including Texas Highways and American Visions. She coauthored From Slave to Statesman: The Legacy of Joshua Houston, Servant to Sam Houston. She and her work have been featured on television, radio and in daily and weekly newspapers. 

A Tuskegee University graduate, Patricia is a board member of the Harris County Historical Commission, the Heritage Society, and Buffalo Bayou Partnership and has been active with the San Jacinto Girl Scout Council among others.


Chris Rogers
Mystery Writer, Dixie Flannigan Series 

When lightning struck the office of her marketing business at 3 a.m. on the day before Halloween in 1982, Chris Rogers recognized it as a sign to make some decision about what she really wanted to do when she grew up. Seven years later, she finished her first novel. And seven years after that, the 50-something grandmother sold a three-book contract and a movie option to her Dixie Flannigan series. The first book in the series, Bitch Factor, has been released in hardback and paperback. The sequel, Rage Factor, has just been released. Among her many awards and honors, she has received the 1995 Mystery Writers of America 50th Anniversary Short Story competition, the 1997 Empire Productions Screenplay contest, and the Scriptwriters-Houston Ten by Ten Best Mystery Novel in 1992. 

Chris, who lives in Houston, works full-time in the internal audit department at Bank United in Houston. She also has a home in the tiny community of Hilltop Lakes, north of Houston, where she escapes on weekends and holidays to focus her attention on writing.


The Reverend Angela Shannon
Pastor, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church 

Reverend Shannon, a native of Gary, Indiana, has been the pastor of Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church since March 1997. She is the first African American and the first woman to serve Augustana. Rev. Shannon received her Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1996. During seminary studies she lived in Hyderabad, India, for one year as a pastoral intern (vicar). Her work has taken her to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Beijing, China, and many other places. She is intensely interested in fostering cross-cultural understanding and interfaith dialogue.


Gail Donohue Storey
Novelist and Poet, God’s Country Club and The Lord’s Motel

Gail Donohue Storey is the author of the novels God's Country Club and The Lord's Motel, as well as a book of poems. Both her novels were favorably reviewed by The New York Times Book Review and others. Her fiction, poetry, articles and essays have been published in several national magazines and journals. Gail teaches fiction and memoir workshops for Inprint, has taught inner-city children through Writers in the Schools, and volunteered as a literacy tutor. 

Originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a former librarian with three Master's degrees, Gail spent several months in total silence at a Buddhist monastery before beginning her comic novels about relationships between women and men, haves and have-nots, and Yankees and Texans. She now lives in Houston with her husband Porter Storey.


Lori Valencic
Corporate Nutritionist, Randall’s

Lori is a nutrition consultant, speaker, and author who has communicated food, nutrition and health information for over 15 years with various corporations and food companies. She is the Corporate Nutritionist with Randalls Food Markets and the author of Randalls Cookbook. 

Lori received her Master of Education degree from the University of Houston and her BS from Northern Michigan University She received the 1996 SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists) Achievement Award, recognizing extraordinary professional achievement. She is active in the Houston Area Dietetic Association, the Texas Dietetic Association, and served on the board of SCAN for 5 years. Lori serves on the Board of the Houston Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Lori and her husband, Bill work with Caring Critters, Animal Assisted Therapy and, with their 2 shelties, visit patients at Methodist Hospital.


Mitzi Vorachek
Community Education Vice President, Houston Area Women’s Center

Mitzi was the vice-president of the Houston Area Women's Center's Community Education Program from 1989-1998. She directed public education and professional training programs, research on domestic violence and rape prevention, publications, and the Women's Center Hotline. She is a former college instructor, secondary school teacher, communications consultant, newspaper columnist, and foreign trade zone executive. 

She has been a member of several organizations including the Texas Leadership Team, the National Health Care Initiative, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the Public Policy Committee Texas Council on Family Violence, and the League of Women Voters of Texas as associate director.

Mitzi currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana, where she and her husband have built a home. She is pursuing a new career in "no heels, not hose, no hassles." She continues to volunteer for organizations working toward the end of violence against women.

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