2001 - University of Houston
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2001 Biographies

Elma Barrera

A well-known television reporter with KTRK Channel 13, Elma Barrera joined the station in the early 1970s as the first Hispanic woman in Houston's TV news and one of just two women at Channel 13 at the time. She is a UH graduate with degrees in English and Spanish literature. Recognized for her support of Chicana women, Ms. Barrera chaired the first national Chicana conference in Houston during the 1970s. She is also one of the founders of Houston's first Spanish television station, Channel 45, and a founder of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Last year, she was one of the first inductees into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ (NAHJ) newly created Hall of Fame.


Anna Pearl Barrett

Anna Pearl Barrett is a globe-trotting retired Spanish teacher and the director of the Foreign Language Academy at Bellaire Senior High School. She is a storyteller, an educator and a linguist, who grew up in Barrett Station, a town founded by her ex-slave grandparents, Harrison and Annie Jones Barrett. Ms. Barrett has degrees and certificates from many colleges and universities, including TSU, Middlebury College of Languages, the University of Madrid and Purdue University. Her mission, she says, is to write, publish, and promote wonderful reading and visual materials which celebrate our ethnic diversity in a positive and wholesome manner, to encourage  young people to develop an appreciation for books and reading, Her Neecie books and her documentary film, Barrett Station: Legacy of an Ex-Slave, have received very positive reviews.


Kathleen Cambor

Kathleen Cambor, the former director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, is also a 1987 graduate of the program. Her short fiction has appeared in many magazines including American Short Fiction, Southwest Review, and The Graywolf Annual. Her first novel, The Book of Mercy, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, was awarded the Janet Heidegger Kafka Prize for the Best Book of Fiction by an American Woman, and the Steven Turner Prize for Best First Book of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. It was a New York Times Notable Book of the year in 1996, was one of five finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. She is a recipient of the Transatlantic Review Award from the Henfield Foundation, a Creative Artist Program Artist Award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and a residency at Yaddo. She has read her work throughout the United States and in Europe and has also lectured on compassion and the art of medicine. She is a member of the Arthor’s Guild and the Texas Institute of Letters. Her recently released novel, In Sunlight, In a Beautiful Garden, explores the tragedy of the 1889 Johnstown flood with insight and compassion.


Deborah M. Cannon

Deborah M. Cannon is the Central Region Small Business Banking Executive for Bank of America, responsible for the small business line in the Central Region. She is also President of Bank of America in Houston. In this capacity, she serves as the senior banking executive for community and civic activities in Harris County. Active in the Houston community, Cannon serves on a number of boards of directors including the Greater Houston Partnership; The United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast; Center for Houston's Future; the Women's Museum, and many others. In 1998, she was given the Women of Excellence Award by Women's Enterprise Magazine. A long-time resident of Texas, Ms. Cannon is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.


Ann Criswell

Recently retired from the Houston Chronicle, Ann Criswell accumulated thirty-nine years of service, with thirty-four years as food editor. She created the Food Section in 1966 and was its sole editor until her retirement. In 1999 she received the Hearst/Eagle award, Hearst Newspapers’ highest service recognition. She was named the first honorary member of the South Texas Dietetic Association and has received other awards from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and Texas Restaurant Association. She is the author of nine cookbooks on recipes from Houston’s best restaurants as well as The Food Chronicles, a cookbook celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Food Section. She has contributed more than 2500 cookbooks to the library at the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at UH. Houston Community College and the School of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Houston have established scholarships in her name.


Nabila Drouby

Nabila Drouby was born in Beirut, Lebanon, where she married and raised three children. She received a BA in political science from the American University of Beirut in 1947 and a degree in nursing. In 1974, her family emigrated to Australia. She became involved with Dominique and John de Menil’s Rothko Chapel, a sanctuary open to all faiths and committed to human rights. Her family moved to Houston in 1978, and she served as Executive Director of the chapel from 1991 to 1996. Her honors include the Medal of Merit from the Lebanese government, the Florence Nightingale Medal from the International League of Red Cross, and in 1998 the 1st Award of the Arab American Cultural and Community Center.


Ada Edwards 

Ada Edwards has been a community activist for a number of years. She has assisted the community with a number of issues, including preservation of some of Houston's oldest communities. She has been an active voice for civil rights and justice for all citizens. She is currently the community affairs director for Radio One.


Deborah Gary

Debbie Gary is a professional air show pilot and an aviation writer. She began flying air shows in 1971, became the first woman in the world to fly on an antique biplane. In between her beginnings in the 1970s and her return to air show flying in the 1990s, she married, raised a family, earned a degree in Journalism at the University of Houston, and began freelance writing for a number of magazines, including Air & Space, one of  Smithsonian's magazines.


Celina Garza-Ridge

Celina Garza Ridge is a Director of Mir Fox and Rodriguez, P.C. and provides advisory and business development services to their clients. A Certified Public Accountant, Ms. Garza Ridge has spent a third of her career working for a multi-national company, has owned her own business, and has served as CFO to a multi-state firm. Most importantly, Ms. Garza Ridge has been very active in Houston, serving on several boards and commissions at the request of the last three Mayors of the City of Houston, and the last two HISD Superintendents. She is the first Hispanic Woman to serve on the Board of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority. She is the immediate past president of the Greater Houston Women’s Foundation, and an ALF Fellow. Ms. Garza Ridge has been recognized by a number of organizations for her contributions to Houston’s civic organizations.


Barbara Gubbin

Barbara Gubbin assumed the directorship of the Houston Public Library in 1995, after serving as assistant director from 1989 to 1995. Under her leadership she has increased both public and private funding, been active in legislative affairs, increased technology, overseen facilities improvements, enhanced community connections and partnerships, and focused on planning. During her tenure, Youth Services has been a top priority. The Power Card Challenge, the library's effort to sign up new juvenile customers, has resulted in more than 178,000 new juvenile customers in less than three years, with circulation of juvenile materials increased more than 30 percent.

Ms. Gubbin earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Birmingham (U.K.) and received an M.A. in Library and Information Studies from the University of London. She is active in various community and leadership roles including the American Library Association, OCLC Users Council, the Urban Libraries Council, AMIGOS, the Houston Read Commission and the Texas Council for the Humanities.


Uma Gupta, PhD

Dr. Uma Gupta, Dean of the College of Technology, is one of three women deans at the University of Houston. Dr. Gupta received a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in 1991 from the University of Central Florida with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems. There she received a university-wide award for best dissertation. Her research interests include managerial issues in information systems, retention of IS personnel, and artificial intelligence. She has published numerous articles and several books, including An Introduction to Management Information Systems and Management Information Systems: A Managerial Perspective. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Community Leader in Information Technology Award and the Creighton University Kelly Award for multi- disciplinary curriculum development integration technology with other business disciplines. Dr. Gupta is originally from India and now resides in Houston with her family.


Rose Harris, PhD

Dr. Rose Harris is an Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at Ohio State University. She is currently on leave and is a visiting scholar in African American Studies at the University of Houston. Dr Harris received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in Political Science. She is editor of the collection African American Women in Politics: A Reader and is preparing her dissertation for publication as a book.


Jennifer Hays, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Hays is an Associate Professor in the Baylor Department of Medicine, where she serves as Director of the Center for Women’s Health and as Principal Investigator for the Baylor Clinical Center of the Women’s Health Initiative. The Center for Women’s Health was formed in 1996 to develop and promote interdisciplinary research and education for women. Dr. Hays is also the Senior Director of the Office of Health Promotion, which serves as a resource for all of the departments within the College. The Baylor Clinical Center of the Women’s Health Initiative is the largest study of women’s health ever funded.

Dr. Hays also holds an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston, where she is an active participant in training and supervising doctoral student research in developmental psychology. She has published numerous scientific articles on the use of behavioral strategies for dietary change in adults and on promotion of the development of good health habits in children. She writes a monthly column on Women's Health that is published in newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada.


Maria Jimenez

Maria Jimenez has been the director of the American Friends Service Committee/Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project (AFSC/ILEMP) since 1987. The AFC is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. The ILEMP coordinates the work of community-based organizations in Houston, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, documenting abuse is in the enforcement of immigration laws, and helping border area residents exercise their rights. Prior to ILEMP, Ms. Jimenez worked as a union organizer in Texas and for 10 years as a community organizer and adult educator in Mexico. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the AFL-CIO Union Community Fund (Washington), the National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights (Oakland), Greater Houston Fair Housing, and the Houston Justice Peace Forum among other organizations. She has received numerous awards and fellowships including a Charles Bannermen Fellowship (1994) and the Community Service Award of the National Hispanic Institute (Austin). She is a frequent speaker at national and local conferences on immigration immigrants’ rights issues.


Elouise Jones

Elouise Adams Jones was born in Houston to Jack and Julia Adams. She spent her early childhood in Missouri City and later moved back to Houston. The move from a small country town to the big city was her first experience with culture shock. Her earliest influences were her mother and other women in her family who were, and are, excellent cooks, each with a distinctive cooking persona. Other influences were country living and farming in both Texas and Louisiana, and much later, Julia Child. The rich ethnic flavors of Houston as well as a summer spent in Europe helped bring it all together for Ms. Jones in terms of her culinary influences. Before embarking on her culinary endeavors, Ms. Jones’s work experience included KTRK-TV Channel 13, the Houston Chronicle and a commercial artists group. In 1968 she started a small catering business, the Traveling Brown Bag Lunch Company, which led to the opening of Ouisie’s Table on Sunset Boulevard in 1973. The original Ouisie’s Table closed in 1989 but was reopened in 1995 at its present location on San Felipe Road.


Barbara Karkabi

Barbara Karkabi has worked as a journalist in the United States, England, and the Middle East. She began her career at the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, and covered the beginning of that country’s 20-year civil war. In 21 years as a general assignments reporter in the features department of the Houston Chronicle, Karkabi has covered a wide variety of issues, from serious to humorous, including the women’s movement, human rights and mental health issues, profiles, and local features of all kinds. She has won both local and statewide awards.

Karkabi is married to fellow Chronicle reporter Mike Snyder and is the proud mother of a budding writer/dancer, Megan, 15. She is an avid traveler, a board-member of the Friends of Women’s Studies and Co-founder of the Association for Women Journalists, Houston chapter.


Vanessa Lacoss

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Vanessa joined the 1994 teach for America corps in Houston. She taught middle school history for two years at Fondren Middle School on Houston’s southwest side. Following her two-year commitment, she traveled to Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. There she taught English oral communication to high school students in a small city near the base of Mount Fuji. Vanessa returned to the U.S. in July of 1997 to assume the position of Executive Director of Teach for America in Houston.

As Executive Director, Vanessa is responsible for management, fundraising, building and directing the Community Advisory Board, driving public relations efforts and creating relationships with other education-related organizations.


Carol Lewis

Track and field champion and UH alumna Carol Lewis was a member of the 1980, 1984, and 1988 U.S. Olympic teams and of the U.S. National track and field teams for 1978-1988 and 1991. Ranked in several national and international events, Carol broke the American record twice in the same Long Jump competition in 1985, and became the first American to legally surpass the 23 foot barrier. Today, Carol Lewis is an expert analyst and interviewer on track and field events with the three major television networks, and is in training for the next Winter Olympics as a member of the bobsled team. She holds a BA in both Journalism and Radio & Television from the University of Houston.


Lydia Lum

A fourth-generation Chinese-American, Lydia Lum is a freelance journalist on leave from her staff writer’s job at the Houston Chronicle. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and San Francisco, while she researches and writes a book manuscript that re-creates the pre-World War II Chinese immigration experience through Angel Island, near Alcatraz. From 1910 until 1940, Chinese immigrants were stopped and detained at Angel Island. They were interrogated until they could prove their relationship to U.S. citizens. Of the nearly 200,000 Chinese who came through Angel Island, only a few hundred are believed still living.

As a diversity consultant, Lydia also lectures on “Ellis Island vs. Angel Island.” She currently is the Texas correspondent for Black Issues in Higher Education magazine, as well as contributing to other publications. Lydia is a native Houstonian and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She is a mother to two cats and enjoys hiking, swimming, running, and rowing.


Annise Parker

City Council member Annise Parker is in her second-term. She currently chairs the Neighborhood Protection and Quality of Life Committee. She also serves on eight other Council committees and represents Houston on the Alliance for Interstate 69 Texas board and at World Energy Cities Partnership meetings. Parker played a leadership role in the passage of several ordinances: Alleys, Street Closure, Subdivision (Chapter 42), Tree and Shrub, and Wild (Exotic) Animals. In January, Parker was honored as Council Member of the Year by the Houston Police Officers Union.

Annise Parker worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years, including 18 years with Mosbacher Energy Co. She also co-owns a bookkeeping and income tax company and sold her bookshop, Inklings, in 1998. A third-generation Houstonian, Parker is the daughter of Kay Dunagan Parker and Ivy “Les” Parker. She graduated from Rice University in 1978 with a BA degree in sociology, anthropology and psychology. Parker and her life partner, Kathy Hubbard, have been together since 1990.


Elizabeth Rockwell

Elizabeth D. Rockwell, Executive Director, Private Client Division of CIBC Oppenheimer Corp, is widely recognized as an expert in retirement, estate, investment and tax planning. She currently serves as President of the UH College of Business Administration Foundation Board, is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board and is an Executive Professor for the college. In September 1997, the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Career Services Center was opened at the UH College of Business Administration.


Gracie Saenz

Native Houstonian Gracie Saenz came from a family of eleven and grew up in the near north side, where she attended Marshall Middle School and Jeff Davis High School during the years of desegregation in the early 70’s. She received a BA in Spanish from the University of Houston in 1978. After 6 years in the business world, Gracie decided to return to school and pursue a law degree at the University of Houston Law Center. During her last semester of law school, she gave birth to her third child. After graduation, Gracie became an Assistant District Attorney with the Harris County DA’s Office, a position she held for four years, after which she set up her own law firm. In 1991, with the help of family and friends, Gracie ran for Houston City Council, and became the first Hispanic woman to hold an at-large position on City Council. During her tenure on City Council, she served as Mayor Pro Tem under Mayor Bob Lanier. In 1997, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of Houston.

Gracie is presently with the law firm of Oppel, Goldberg & Saenz PLLC, practicing international and transactional law. Gracie belongs to several boards and commissions and gives generously of her time to community action. She is a recipient of numerous leadership, community and business awards. She is celebrating a 28-year marriage to Eloy J. Saenz, a retired Houston Police Officer, and has three children and one grandchild.


Patty Salles

Patricia Salles is the president and founder of Vista Design Associates, Inc., a full- service marketing and communications firm established in Houston, Texas in 1997. Over the past fifteen years, she has been providing full- service marketing and communications strategy, planning and implementation to encompass advertising, public relations, direct mail, web- based communications, special events and promotions, and tracking. Her results-oriented approach has earned Vista countless local and national awards for a wide range of projects in a variety of industries. In fact, the beautiful Table Talk invitations have been designed by Patricia and Vista Designs for the past four years, as well as the brochures for the Women’s Archives and Research Center. Having spent six years in Europe and North Africa, Patricia is or has been fluent in Spanish, Italian, German, and French. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, she is a member of the Houston Advertising Federation, and a board member of the Friends of Women’s Studies. For further information on Patricia and Vista Design check out the website at www.vistadesign.com.


Betsy Schwartz

Betsy Schwartz can boast over twenty years of leadership in nonprofit organizations, with expertise in relations with boards of directors, corporate leaders and elected officials, fund development, fiscal accountability, volunteer and employee management, media and community relations. She is currently the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston, a position she has held since 1980. She has a BA from the Univeristy of Denver and an MA in Social Work Administration from the University of Houston. She is the recipient of several honors and awards including the “Women on the Move” Award, and the Houston Police Department Special Citation Award, for the creation of the Crisis Intervention Team. Currently she serves on several community organizations including Community Concerns Committee, Adult Education Committee, American Jewish Committee, State Bar of Texas Grievance Panel, Mental Health Needs Council, and Congregation Beth Israel.


Sandy Sheehy

Born in New York City in 1945, Sandy Sheehy has lived her life on the leading edge of the Baby Boom. After graduating from Vassar with a major in English and minor in philosophy, she enrolled in the graduate program in philosophy at UT Austin but left school to pursue her true calling: writing. She worked at an Austin advertising and public relations agency as copy chief, but eventually moved to Houston in 1978 and spent the next 20 years writing for several national magazines. In 1981, she married fellow journalist Tom Curtis.  In 1990, her first book, Texas Big Rich (Morrow), a group portrait of the state’s financial elite, appeared. Meanwhile, at her fortieth birthday party, Sheehy had an epiphany: she needed more and closer women friends. Over the decade that followed, she made cultivating strong female friendships a priority, which led to her work on Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship.

Sheehy and her husband live in Galveston with their two cats. Her grown son and three grandchildren live in New Hampshire.


Terrie Sultan

Terrie Sultan is the newly appointed Director of the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. Prior to joining the Blaffer Gallery, she was curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, a position she held for 12 years. Ms. Sultan has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad and lectured on issues related to contemporary visual art and culture. An accomplished author, her most recent publications include, Donald Lipski: A Brief History of Twine published by the Madison Art Center and distributed by DAP/Distributed Art Publishers, New York, and Kerry James Marshall. She was a member of the founding board of Etant donné the French-American Endowment for Contemporary Art, and co-commissioner for the international exhibition at the Taijon South Korea International World exhibition.

Ms. Sultan was born in Asheville, North Carolina, received her BFA in Painting at Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, and her MA in Museum Studies at the John F. Kennedy Center for Museum Studies in San Francisco.


Angela Thompson

Dr. Angela L. Thompson is a Marriage and Family sociologist whose specialty is the wedding industry in contemporary American society. She received her BA in English and Sociology from Wellesley College, and both her MA in Sociology and Women’s Studies and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brandeis University. She is currently a Sociology Instructor at Texas Christian University. Dr. Thompson’s most recent work, Unveiled: Secrets of the Wedding Industry, is a practical guide for brides and grooms on how to avoid scams as they plan their wedding.


Wendy Watriss

Wendy Watriss is a photographer, curator, journalist and writer. She is one of the founders of FotoFest, an internationally known photographic arts and education organization based in Houston. She has served as FotoFest’s artistic director since 1991. Watriss began her professional career as a reporter and writer for national newspapers in the U.S. and later became a producer of news documentaries for national public television in New York. Prior to that, she worked internationally as a professional photographer and her work has been published and exhibited around the world, receiving numerous international awards. She is the author of numerous essays on international politics as well as photography and has worked extensively in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. She is the recipient of numerous grants, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts/Mid-Atlantic Arts Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation. She has also received awards from the World Press Foundation (the Netherlands), Missouri School of Journalism “Pictures of the

Year,” the XI International Interpress Photo organization and the Women’s International Democratic Federation (Germany).


Jane Weiner

Jane Weiner graduated from Bowling Green University with a degree in deaf/elementary education and a minor in dance. Before her move to Houston, she had the unbelievable opportunity to work with the Doug Elkins Dance Company for a decade of fine dancing, touring and experiences. She currently studies ballet with Victoria Vittum, teaches Pilates at Core Fitness, is the artistic director of HOPE STONE, Inc., and directs the Youth Arts Program each summer at the Bates Dance Festival in Maine. She also works side by side with her sister Susan in directing the Pink Ribbons Project, Dancers in Motion against Breast Cancer.

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