2019 - University of Houston
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2019 Biographies

Seun Adigun, DC, MEd
Track & Field Athlete Olympian Bobsledder for Nigeria 

Dr. Seun Adigun, a first-generation Nigerian raised in Chicago, rose to sports stardom early on as a multi-talented high school athlete, then going on to compete in track & field for the University of Houston Cougars, where she specialized in the 100m hurdles and became an NCAA All- American, and NCAA Regional Record holder. A three-time Nigerian National Champion and two-time African champion, she competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, representing Team Nigeria. Adigun hung up her spikes after the 2012 London Olympic Games, but that isn’t where it ended for her sports career. 

The holder of an M.Ed. in Physical Education and a Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Seun bravely pursued the challenge of breaking into winter sports and soon became the first African Bobsled driver to qualify and lead a team from Nigeria to the Winter Olympic Games 2018 in Pyeongchang. Her remarkable achievements captured the world audience–from appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres show, to shaking hands with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Claudia Aguirre
President & CEO, BakerRipley 

As President and CEO of BakerRipley, Claudia Aguirre leads an internationally renowned community development organization that has transformed neighborhoods across Houston for more than 112 years, serving nearly six- 600 thousand people each year with a staff of more than 1,500 at over 60 locations across the Houston region. Aguirre joined BakerRipley in 2010 as Vice President of Community Based Initiatives and worked her way up to Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining BakerRipley, she served as the Director of the Citizen’s Assistance Office for Houston Mayor Bill White, and before that she was a Houston Independent School District Principal. 

The holder of a Master’s degree in Education and a Bachelors in Political Science, Aguirre has received numerous education and community awards and was recently named “Woman of the Year 2019” by Solo Mujeres Magazine. Other select awards include: “2018 Women Who Mean Business” by Houston Business Journal, “2018 Women on the Move” by Texas Executive Women, and “2018 Mujeres Legendarias Houston” by Camara de Empresarios Latinos Houston. On behalf of BakerRipley, Aguirre is accepting the “2019 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award” from Holocaust Museum-Houston. She is the proud mother of a daughter who is pursuing a degree in International Relations at The University of Texas at Austin and a son who is a junior at Strake Jesuit.


Surpik Angelini
Founder & Director, TransArt Foundation for Art and Anthropology 

Surpik Angelini is a Houston-based artist, independent curator, and writer. Her work is rooted in the overlapping disciplines of art, architecture, and cultural anthropology. Trained in art at Mills College and Cornell University (1966-68) and in architecture and urban planning at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (1971-76), she obtained her BArch from the University of Houston (1979). With artist-theorist Abdel Hernandez, she founded the Transart Foundation: a workshop for Art and Anthropology based in Houston, TX. Angelini has directed since 1996, pushing the foundation’s mission to support artists and scholars involved in relevant social, anthropological and interdisciplinary research. 

Angelini’s artistic vision was impacted by her collaborative performances with John Cage and Gordon Matta Clark (1966-68); her theoretical studies with Thomas McEvilley (1990- 1994) at Rice University and her association with the Rice Department of Anthropology (1997), when they co-sponsored Transart’s Artists in Trance: New Methodologies in the Work with the Other, a semester program of lectures, documentary films and cutting- edge exhibitions of anthropologically based art, which she co-curated with Hernandez in 1997. As an artist, she exhibited in solo and group shows in Houston. As a cultural researcher, she has lectured in universities and museums throughout the country. Her critical essays have been published in art magazines, academic journals, artist’s catalogs and monographs.


Jamie Belinne
Assistant Dean, C. T. Bauer College of Business 

Jamie Belinne is the Assistant Dean for Career Services at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston’s Rockwell Career Center. Prior to that role, she managed Recruiting and Staffing at The University of Texas at Austin. Earlier at UT, she built McCombs’ first dedicated MBA Career Services division. As the author of her most recent book, “The Care and Feeding of Your Young Employee,” she has worked with organizations around the country to improve inter- generational management and productivity using proven techniques and real data from her surveys of more than 10,000 young employees. 

Jamie is the immediate past president of the MBA Career Services and Employers Alliance, a global organization of schools and corporations focused on connecting business schools to workforce needs while maintaining honest and consistent reporting across universities. She is the winner of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2012 Professional Change Maker Award for her initiatives around experiential education in large classes and the winner of the 2013 NACE Innovation Excellence Award in Diversity Programming for her e-book. Jamie was a member of Team USA 2009 for the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships and Team USA 2011 for ITU Duathlon World Championships. She is an Ironman, an NSA Professional Speaker and a mother of two.


Basya Benshushan
CEO, Pink Cilantro 

Basya was born into a house that had two rules: no TV, and always keep learning. The second rule was taught by example. Her mother founded and fostered a company that constructed and sold personal computers in a time when the concept was truly foreign. Their household was filled with computers, with a mandate attached: work, learn, explore, and grow. As Basya grew older, these mandates stayed with her. Even if she didn’t enjoy traditional education, she did want to keep learning and growing, especially in digital spaces. 

Social media and digital marketing became those spaces for Basya, thanks in part to a handful of innovative companies. Before “e-commerce solutions” and “affiliate programs” became mainstream marketing techniques, she studied data points, produced content, and pored over strategic game plans that would lead to a robust presence. Basya grew businesses by obeying those same rules: work to produce relevant and interesting content, learn about the space and how it’s constantly changing, explore methods to improve consumer relations, and keep key business objectives in mind. Today her passion for learning and growing has grown beyond just digital spaces--it led to the creation of Pink Cilantro as an Brand Agency in 2014. From Fortune 500 companies, to energetic start-ups and passion projects looking to reach the community, Pink Cilantro serves a variety of needs and is committed to educating the business community for sustainable impact.


Sharon Birkman
President & CEO, Birkman International, Inc. 

Sharon Birkman, President and CEO of Birkman International is the second generation at the helm of the family-owned behavioral and occupational assessment company. Her leadership has been instrumental in ushering in a new era of product development and training initiatives during a time of unprecedented growth. Sharon has an M.A. from The University of Texas and completed the Harvard Owner/President Management program. She assumed her leadership role at Birkman in 2002 following a career as a professional musician and musical director. 

Sharon’s integrity combined with her passion for creativity, the community, her employees and clients are defining features of her leadership style, and they have helped shape both Birkman’s company culture and mission. She is a proud regional winner of the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award and winner of both the local and national Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, consecutively for the past three years. In 2017, Sharon won both the Mary Lehman MacLachlan Economic Empowerment Award and Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business award. She confesses to collecting “too many books” and likes to re-charge with long walks, NPR and going to the theatre.


Oni Blair
Executive Director, LINK Houston 

Oni serves as executive director of LINK Houston, a non-profit organization that advocates for equity in transportation. She was motivated to take on this inaugural position by her commitment to social justice, witnessing the importance of transportation in connecting people to opportunities through her human rights work, and her own experiences relying on public transit to reach education and employment. Oni engages community stakeholders, government officials, regional planning and transportation decision makers, national transportation and human rights organizations, and other entities to shape the transportation landscape in Houston. 

Prior to leading LINK Houston, Oni was a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, where she served as the Office Director for Human Rights in the Near East; special assistant to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; teaching fellow on humanitarian issues at Georgetown University; and in the U.S. Embassies in Jordan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Most recently, Oni served as a senior advisor to the Houston Mayor while on loan from the federal government. Oni earned a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Outside of her formal work, Oni previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Atlas Corps, an international fellowship for non-profit professionals focused on social impact. She has participated in leadership programs, such as the International Career Advancement Program at the Aspen Institute and the American Council on Germany’s Young Leaders Conference. She has received numerous awards from the U.S. Department of State for her human rights work, as well as recognitions from the Houston UN Foundation and Texas A&M University for her service and mentorship.


Constance Bost
Director, French American Chamber of Commerce 

Constance Bost is the Director of the French American Chamber of Commerce in Houston, where her mission is to strengthen the business relationships between France and Texas. Across her career, Ms. Bost has led the growth of different organizations in a number of countries. In Texas, she managed the development of a French retail luxury brand, before joining the Chamber of Commerce. Prior to 2015, Constance Bost launched a sustainable fashion brand in partnership with a non-profit organization empowering women in Vietnam. 

She is passionate about growing businesses that are meaningful and support the community.

Constance served as a Board Member for the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, a non-profit organization providing opportunities for refugees and underserved communities.

She lives in Houston with her husband Julien, and their four children.


Dr. Juliet Breeze
President and Chief Executive Officer, Next Level Urgent Care 

Juliet Breeze, MD, is a healthcare entrepreneur who currently serves as the CEO and Medical Director of Next Level Urgent Care and the Vice President of Vantage Hospice. Dr. Breeze has developed multiple medical organizations from the ground up, including a comprehensive orthopedics practice, a rehabilitation hospital and several surgical centers as well as her two current ventures. She has a deep interest in Healthcare IT and has created proprietary electronic medical records content for all her organizations. 

Dr. Breeze has also furthered the business of others by serving on the Board of Directors for Founders Bank, Vista Bank, the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau and as an advisory board member for several other healthcare and IT start-ups. She is also deeply involved in philanthropy with a special focus on charities, serving the needs of women and children. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas, the Fort Bend Women’s Center, and Casa de Esperanza. She has been honored to receive recent awards including GHWCC Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. Dr. Breeze graduated from Northwestern University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and honors in English. In 1995, she earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine.


Terri Burke
Executive Director, ACLU of Texas 

Terri Burke has been Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas since 2008. In those years, the Texas affiliate has grown from a staff of 7 to a staff of 60. Headquartered in Houston with offices in Austin, Dallas, El Paso and Brownsville on the border, the ACLU of Texas has been a leader in supporting immigrant rights, criminal justice reform and in holding the line in the Culture Wars battles at the Texas Legislature. Instead of law school, her “postgraduate work” after The University of Texas was in reporting on how the sausage is made in two very different state legislatures, as a business reporter covering a boom and a bust, and as a senior editor and an editor-in-chief, leading two different newspaper staffs to Pulitzer Prizes. A native Houstonian, her newspaper career took her through Dallas, Austin, Albuquerque, Abilene, and Hartford, CT.


Myokei Caine-Barrett
Resident Priest, Shonin & Guiding Teacher, Myoken-ji Temple/Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas 

Myokei Caine-Barrett currently holds the position of Bishop of the Nichiren Shu Buddhist Order of North America. She is the first woman and first American to hold this position. She is also guiding teacher and priest of Myoken-ji Temple in Houston, which is home to the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas. Myokei Shonin received priest ordination and Dharma transmission from Ryuoh Michael Faulconer Shonin and is a lineage holder in the Nichiren Shu Order. She received final ordination in 2007 at Kuon-ji Temple at Mt. Minobu in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, by Archbishop Nisso Uchino. Myokei Shonin is the first American woman and first person of African American/Japanese descent to have completed this ordination process. 

Myokei Shonin currently volunteers with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as clergy to two prison sanghas. She has been engaged in this work for 15 years as a full expression of the Lotus Sutra as the teaching of equality. She is currently developing curriculum for [1] the Nichiren Shu tradition and the Lotus Sutra, and [2] dealing with the trauma of incarceration and racism. She also supports weekend trainings for Healing Warrior Hearts, a Texas for Heroes project designed to truly welcome veterans home. This project is open to all veterans from the Vietnam era forward and also offers couple weekends to heal family dynamics. Myokei Shonin is also engaged in mindful conflict management and is a 2015 graduate of Lee Mun Wah’s Stir-Fry Seminars in Berkeley. She has worked with the Center for Healing Racism in Houston for over 20 years to heal the disease of racism. 

She has been published and featured in several publications such as Nichiren Shu News, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and Buddhadharma. She is included in The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Buddhist Women. She was a panelist at Harvard Divinity School’s 3rd Conference on Buddhism and Race, and provided the keynote address at Sakyadhita USA’s first conference “Diversity in the Dharma: Buddhist Women Engage Race & Exclusionary Politics in America.” Myokei Shonin is also a member of the Faith Leaders Coalition of Houston; the North American Buddhist Alliance, and the National Association of Buddhist Advocates.


Dr. Lori Choi
Founder, I’ll Have What She’s Having 

Dr. Lori Choi founded I’ll Have What She’s Having (IHWSH) after conversations with friends and colleagues working in the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest, and in the many acclaimed eateries around Houston--the South’s new culinary capital. In stark relief against the booming success of these industries, women’s health statistics in Texas are worsening. Full-time employees and small business owners in the hospitality industry find it more and more difficult to access affordable health care. Physicians describe the moral quandary of knowing their patients are deprived of life-saving medications or surgeries due to an inability to pay. IHWSH unites women in medicine and the restaurant industry to draw attention to the need for improved access to affordable health care. At the same time, IHWSH curates networking opportunities to build community among the talented women of Houston’s restaurant industry. After 12 months, the organization has grown to over 100 women and raised over $240K for women’s health in Houston. Registered as a non-profit organization in Texas, IHWSH aims to continue its campaign for women’s health via education and fund-raising. 

Dr. Choi grew up in rural North Carolina, the daughter of immigrants, and was deeply impacted by her upbringing as the child of the town surgeon who, in her words, “did everything – delivered babies, set broken bones, performed the annual physicals for the high school football team.” After graduating from Duke University with a double major in political science and international studies, she worked three years in the restaurant business as a waiter and manager. “I always say there’s no better training in bedside manner,” declares Dr. Choi, who turned to medicine as a field in which she felt she could make a lasting difference. Mentored by the cardiac surgeons at Columbia University, earning a young investigator research award while in the lab of Dr. Mehmet Oz, she was naturally drawn to surgery and moved to Houston in order to train at the surgery program at Baylor College of Medicine in 2003. 

Following 5 years of general surgery residency and 2 years of vascular surgery fellowship, Dr. Choi accepted a position as assistant professor at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, where she created a vascular surgery training program, earned accolades for teaching and was named a ‘Rising Star’ physician by Texas Monthly (2013). Recruited by the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Choi accepted a position as Staff Surgeon at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the United States. Several experiences in rural Ohio reminded her of her small-town roots, and in 2016, Dr. Choi began working as an independent surgeon, focusing on underserved and rural areas of the country. This practice, which has led her to small towns of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, West Virginia, Washington and Texas, served to reinforce her growing sense that women are the key element to the health of the family unit and the community. Dr. Choi is proud to help connect women with resources to promote their health and their long-term goals. In her spare time, Dr. Choi enjoys traveling, hiking and eating with her husband, Chef Ryan Pera.


Amy Chronis
Managing Partner, Deloitte, LLP 

Amy Chronis is Managing Partner of the Houston office of Deloitte, LLP, the city’s largest professional services organization. She has more than 30 years of experience serving public and private enterprises, from emerging businesses to Fortune 500 leaders, with a focus on the oil and gas, technology, manufacturing, and consumer products industries. Amy commenced her financial advisory career as an auditor, and became the managing partner of Arthur Andersen’s Austin office in 1999. She joined Deloitte in 2002, was named Central Texas managing partner, and oversaw extensive growth in the Austin and San Antonio markets. Amy moved to Houston in 2012 to serve as Deloitte’s lead relationship partner for a very large integrated oil & gas company, etc. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Deloitte Foundation, the Nominating Committee of the U.S. Board of Directors, and the CEO Advisory Council. 

A CPA licensed by the state of Texas, Amy is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of CPAs. She received her BSBA in International Studies and Accounting from The Ohio State University and completed the Executive Program at Columbia University Business School. Additionally, Amy plays an active leadership role with a number of civic organizations including the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), the United Way of Greater Houston, the National Advisory Council of the Women’s Energy Network (WEN), The University of Texas Accounting Advisory Council, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees’ Audit and Compliance Committee, and the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation Board.


Shauna Clark
Head of Employment and Labor, United States, Norton Rose Fulbright 

Shauna Johnson Clark joined the Houston office in 1994 and is the Head of Employment and Labor, United States. She served as the Partner-in-Charge of the Houston office from 2011 until 2013. A nationally recognized expert in labor and employment law, Shauna is a trusted advisor to clients in a wide variety of industries, from energy and utility entities to healthcare and consumer products providers to banking and finance. Shauna was certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for Labor and Employment Law in 2003. She offers a broad range of services to employers, ranging from preventive advice and training to aggressive litigation when a mutually agreeable settlement cannot be reached. Shauna has led teams in jury, bench and administrative trials under all employment law statutes, including class and collective actions under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. She believes that it is important to give back to the community; therefore she offers continuous pro bono legal services to a variety of not-for-profit and charitable organizations, including an organization that supports victims of domestic abuse and to a local Christian school. Clark received a BA from Louisiana State University in 1990, and JD from Tulane Law School in 1994.


Sonia Corrales
Chief Program Officer, Houston Area Women’s Center 

Sonia Corrales currently serves Chief Program Officer at Houston Area Women’s Center. She has worked in the field of domestic and sexual violence for 26 years and has 19 years of leadership experience. 

Specializing in anti-violence work, she has served on numerous local, state and national boards and/or committees, including Houston Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, Health and Human Services Commission-Task Force to Address the Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect, the SAFER Working Group, and the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso, and an alumna of Leadership Houston Class XXVI, American Leadership Forum-Criminal Justice Class 4, and of the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program. Sonia is the 2016 TAASA Advocate of the Year recipient as a 2018 honoree of the Houston Business Journal‘s Women Who Mean Business award.


Jenn Cox
Executive Director, National Association of Corporate Directors, Texas TriCities Chapter 

Jenn Cox currently serves as Executive Director for the Texas TriCities Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, one of the most successful chapters nationally. She collaborates with the chapter board and advisors to produce world-class director programming and peer-to-peer exchange opportunities for the purpose of enhancing director professionalism and elevating board performance. 

Cox spent 25 years in progressive corporate marketing roles for organizations such as Baylor College of Medicine, Arthur Andersen, MetroNational, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, AIG American General, IDEA digital marketing, and Sunnova. Her team was instrumental in the launch of the e-business practice at Arthur Andersen. She increased and stabilized occupancy rates for The Terrace Retirement Communities; at both Stewart and IDEA, Cox’s team won American Marketing Association Awards for ‘Interactive Presentation’ and ‘Tradeshow Presence’ at large national conferences. Cox developed and implemented innovative marketing plans for AIG American General’s Accident and Health portfolio of products, including the launch of long-term care insurance. Her knowledge and expertise span strategic marketing and planning, branding, as well as digital, email and social media marketing. Cox brings a unique perspective on Business Drivers and Results-Driven Leadership with a unique and diverse level of experience working in large corporations, non-profit, family-owned business and start-up environments. 

Cox holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Business Management from Texas A&M University and is currently pursuing her NACD Board Leadership Fellowship.


Margaret Downing
Editor-in-Chief, Houston Press 

Margaret Downing has been Editor-in-Chief of the Houston Press since February 1998 and during that time has overseen its transition from a weekly print publication to print and online and now an online-only daily publication at houstonpress.com. During her tenure, the Press began the Houston Theater Awards, which recognize each year’s achievements in Houston theater arts. In addition, her writers and photographers over the years have been the recipients of many national, regional and statewide journalism awards including but not limited to: the national Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Pen Center USA award, the national Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and the ASCAP Deems Taylor award. Downing herself has received first place awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Education Writers Association and the National Association for Mental Health. She is a Read Houston Read volunteer.


Lynn Elsenhans
Board of Directors, Baker Hughes, a GE Company; Saudi Aramco; GlaxoSmithKline 

Lynn L. Elsenhans is a retired executive who serves on the board of directors of Baker Hughes, a GE Company, GlaxoSmithKline., Saudi Aramco, and the Texas Medical Center. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Baker Institute of Public Policy and is a Trustee Emeritus of Rice University, after serving as a Trustee for many years. She is a former member of the Council of Overseers at the Jones School, and was on the board of The First Tee of Greater Houston and the United Way of Greater Houston.


TaKasha Francis
Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, City of Houston 

Director TaKasha L. Francis is a respected attorney and a natural leader. A native Houstonian, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, from Texas Southern University (1999), where she excelled as an internationally ranked debater on the world-renowned TSU Debate Team. TaKasha received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law (2003), and the National Association of Women Lawyers named her Outstanding Law Student that year. 

TaKasha’s served for seven years as a Texas Assistant Attorney General for the Child Support Division, securing thousands of dollars in child support collections and successfully trying numerous cases. In 2012, she founded the Francis Firm P.C., a boutique law firm emphasizing Family Law and Civil Litigation. TaKasha was appointed the Director of Neighborhoods for the city of Houston by Mayor Sylvester Turner in 2016. The Department of Neighborhoods is dedicated to improving quality of life in Houston neighborhoods through the delivery of services, innovative programs and strong community partnerships. TaKasha is also an Executive Team Member of Mayor Turner’s city-wide steering committee for Hurricane Harvey recovery and co-chairs the Neighborhood Restoration Program committee, which marshals, coordinates and ensures delivery of effective public and private disaster recovery services. 

TaKasha is proud to be a graduate of the Inaugural Class of the Houston Black Leadership Institute, and of Class 35 of Leadership Houston. This year, TaKasha has been honored as an “Extraordinary Woman Making History” by She Said. She Led. She Is. and Tetra Tech organizations. Her professional affiliations include Houston Black Lawyers Association, Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Fraternity, State Bar of Texas -Family Law Section, National Association of Women Lawyers, the Downtown Group, National Congress of Black Women, and the College of the State Bar of Texas. TaKasha is named as one of the Top 40 Attorneys Under 40 by the National Black Lawyers Organization (2016), Top 50 Black Attorneys in Houston by the D-Mars Business Journal (2014), and Houston’s 40 Attorneys Under 40 to Watch by i10 media magazine (2014). She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.


Kam Franklin
Lead Singer, The Suffers 

Kam Franklin is a singer-songwriter, activist, writer, motivational speaker, and actress from Houston, TX. She is best known for her work with the Gulf Coast soul band, The Suffers, but Kam began performing in public at the age of five. A three-time recipient of the Houston Press Music Award for Best Female Vocalist, Kam has performed on five continents and has performed with the Suffers backed by The Houston Symphony in addition to being featured solo. 

Both Forbes and Vice have featured Kam for her activism and business ventures that seek to create an inclusive environment in the arts for female artists working in all mediums and from all backgrounds. Kam’s unique style and fashion-sense has also been covered by Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, and Nylon. Fronting The Suffers, Kam has performed nationally on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Jimmy Kimmel Live in addition to speaking about The Suffers with Ari Shapiro on NPR’s All Things Considered. 

At home, Kam remains a very active participant in the Houston music scene, producing events that have featured up-and-coming acts from around the Houston area while leveraging her and The Suffers’ international platform to represent the City of Houston and champion her entrepreneurial approach to finding success in the arts for women.


Kelly Gauger
Vice President, Audit Services, CenterPoint Energy 

A nearly 20-year veteran of CenterPoint Energy, Kelly has been in her current role as Vice President of Audit Services since 2012. She leads a team of audit professionals whose mission is to provide the Audit Committee and management with independent and objective assurance and advisory services that improve operations and promote effective internal controls. 

Prior to this role, Kelly has held key roles in Financial Accounting and Financial reporting, was responsible for the accounting records of CenterPoint’s regulated gas and electric businesses, and served as the company’s accounting witness in numerous rate proceedings. Before joining CenterPoint Energy in 2001, Kelly served as Director, SEC Reporting and Treasury Operations for Drypers Corporation, a manufacturer of baby diapers with both domestic and international operations. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business analysis from Texas A&M University and is a Certified Public Accountant.


María C. Gaztambide, Ph.D.
Director and Chief Curator, UH Public Art 

María C. Gaztambide, Ph.D. is Director and Chief Curator of University of Houston System Public Art. In this capacity, she oversees an important collection of public art works by acclaimed local, regional, national and international artists, across all forms of media and styles, provided to the community under a Percent for Art Program that has been in place for 50 years. Prior to that, Gaztambide served as Associate Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where her work straddled research, management, and long-term exhibition projects. She writes regularly on modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art and her book “El Techo de la Ballena: Retro- Modernity in Venezuela” was recently published by the University of Florida Press.


Giselle Rodriguez Greenwood
Editor-in-Chief, Houston Business Journal 

Giselle Rodriguez Greenwood is editor-in-chief of the Houston Business Journal, where she oversees the newsroom and the strategic direction of the HBJ’s online and print news products. Greenwood first joined the HBJ in 2013 as managing editor and previously worked as manager of marketing communications at Kingwood-based Insperity, and at the Austin Business Journal, where she rose from tech reporter to assistant managing editor. Before that, she worked at VentureWire, a New York-based publication covering venture capital and technology. 

Greenwood was recognized in 2018 as a Breakthrough Woman of the Year by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, she was named Best Reporter by the Austin chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and has received numerous accolades from American City Business Journals, the parent company of the HBJ. During Greenwood’s tenure, the Houston Business Journal has won several awards at the Texas Press Association’s annual awards ceremony, including first place for General Excellence in 2015. Greenwood earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Cypress with her husband and two children.


Chef Keisha Griggs
Executive Chef and Owner, Bocage Catering & Ate Boutique Kitchen 

Chef Keisha Bocage realized her love for cooking at an early age. Within her Trinidadian heritage, good food always came with a great memory. After 13 years as an interactive marketing executive, Keisha followed her passion and life-long love of cooking to pursue a career in the culinary industry. After graduating from the Arts Institute Culinary Arts program, and has had the opportunity to work alongside some of Houston’s most prestigious chefs and restauranteurs, crafting techniques in classical French, Asian, Vegetarian, Vegan, New American, and fine dining cuisines. 

Bocage Catering, a full service personal catering company, was launched seven years ago. With Bocage Catering, Keisha has the opportunity to create food and experiences that inspire her diners and create great memories. Keisha’s passion for local and sustainable food sourcing drives her desire to share what she knows, teaching classes on sustainable, healthy and living foods to all ages, from pre-teens to grandmothers. Incorporating fresh and local produce into her seasonal menu offerings and prepared meals allows her the flexibility to introduce new flavors to her clients.


Carol Haddock, PE
Director, Public Works and Engineering Department, City of Houston 

Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E., is the Director of Houston Public Works, the largest American Public Works Association Accredited Public Works Department in the United States. Houston Public Works is responsible for streets and drainage, production and distribution of water, collection and treatment of wastewater, and permitting and regulation of public and private construction. The Department has over 3,900 employees and an annual budget of $2.3 billion.

Carol has an extensive background managing capital engineering projects and programs and has worked for the city of Houston for thirteen years. She is a licensed Professional engineer, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Rice University and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Houston.


Kym Jackson
Owner & Designer, Unique Urban Rocks 

Kym Jackson has worked in the fashion and beauty industries since 1986, when she completed her BA in Fashion and the Arts. A licensed cosmetologist and medical aesthetician and a pageant winner herself, Kym has owned day spas, clothing boutiques, and salons across the country. In addition she has hosted a talk show and is the author of three books: Powder Puff Principles: Enhancing Your Personal Radiance (a collaboration with her mother and daughter), Gentlemen’s Principles: The Code of Manners & Life Management, and Nude: Unveiling Your Inner Beauty & Sensuality. 

Kym’s newest enterprise is Unique Urban Rocks, handmade jewelry made from semiprecious stones. A portion of her sales goes to “Autism Speaks,” a non-profit promoting Autism awareness and education. She aims to enlighten the rocky path traveled with loved ones confronting Autism. Kym volunteers at The Rose Ribbon Foundation, which provides reconstructive surgery to low-income cancer survivors. She and her husband, Willard, have three lovely children – Chauncey, Will, and Blake.


Genevieve Keeney
President, National Museum of Funeral History 

Genevieve Keeney has been with the National Museum of Funeral History (NMFH) in Houston since 2007, first serving as the museum’s Director in 2007 and then as the President/Chief Operating Officer since 2012. She proudly showcases the museum as an educational and cultural resource for all who visit its extensive array of permanent and changing exhibits. Keeney sees the NMFH as a living museum about the culture of funerals throughout history as well as modern times. “Death is sure to happen to all of us, yet most of us don’t plan for it,” says Keeney. “The museum is a neutral place to ponder and discuss this guaranteed event, as well as explore the history of the industry. There’s so much to learn at the museum.” 

Prior to joining the staff of the NMFH, Keeney served 12 years as an Emergency Medical/ Treatment Non-Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army, and spent the last 6 years of her service as the Medical Facilities Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge for several clinics and the Death Reaction Team, which she implemented for the U.S. military’s Wurzberg Regional Command and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. She holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Mortuary Science, an MS in Nonprofit Management and is pursuing an MBA. A licensed funeral director and embalmer, Keeney regularly speaks to local civic organizations, as well as local and national professional groups about the museum and the funeral service profession. Her presentations are often tailored to the specific audience to provide a greater understanding of the profession and the benefit of funeral services to the human condition.


Carol Lewis, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Center for Transportation Training and Research, Texas Southern University 

Carol Abel Lewis, Ph.D. is a Professor in Transportation Studies and Emeritus Director of the Center for Transportation Training and Research at Texas Southern University. She educates students in fundamentals of transportation and urban transportation issues, and conducts operational and policy-related transportation research, including improvement of demand estimation for intercity rail systems and the policy and operational implications of automated vehicles. Lewis is also engaged in defining parameters for multijurisdictional (megaregions) transportation planning. Since joining TSU in 1992, Lewis has conducted research for the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security (DHS), Texas Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and with private transportation consultants. Lewis spent 15 years as manager and director of planning at the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. 

Lewis was honored to be named as the Transportation Research Board’s recipient of the 2016 Sharon D. Banks Humanitarian award at the annual meeting. She is a member of USDOT’s Transit Research Advisory Committee and Chairs the Transportation Research Board’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee. She is a member of the local Transportation Advisory Council at the Houston Galveston Area Council, a board member of the Gulf Coast Rail District and co-chair of the Transportation Advocacy Group. Lewis also chairs the Houston Exponential Connectivity Committee that promotes excellent transportation proximate to the city’s proposed Innovation District. She is honored to have served Board appointments under four City of Houston mayors and Governor Rick Perry. Lewis holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston and M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Iowa.


Janette Marx
Chief Executive Officer, Airswift 

Janette Marx is the Chief Executive Officer of Airswift. Airswift is a global workforce solutions company focused in the energy, process and infrastructure industries. Janette started with Airswift in 2014 and served as the Chief Operating Officer for four years before assuming the role of CEO. Janette has a passion for investing in the development of people to help everyone achieve their aspirations. Throughout her career, she has championed new initiatives including diversification strategies, sales and recruitment growth improvements and operational efficiencies. She has led cutting edge programs to give her teams a competitive advantage. 

In 1994 Janette began employment in the recruitment industry with Olsten Staffing Services. For the next 4 years, she was promoted every 6 months from recruitment roles to on-site account management to new business sales and multi-site management. In 1998 she went to Accountants on Call, later rebranded to Ajilon under Adecco ownership, where her career grew from managing a single business line to multiple over a wide geography in North America as a Senior Vice President. After the Adecco purchase of MPS Group in 2010, Janette headed up the integration of the professional finance business lines in North America serving in a dual role as the National Executive of Operations and SVP for her zone. At the completion of the integration, Janette moved to the Adecco business unit and ultimately ran the Engineering, Technical, Medical and Science division before joining Swift Worldwide Resources as COO in 2014. In 2016, she helped orchestrate the integration of Swift Worldwide Resources and Air Energi, which merged to form Airswift, successfully blending the two cultures. Janette holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and an MBA. Her active interests include scuba diving, traveling and above all spending time with family.


Rebecca Matalon
Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 

Rebecca Matalon is Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Previously Matalon was Assistant Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where she organized exhibitions including Tongues Untied (2015), Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady? (2016), Rick Owens: Furniture (2016), Fischli & Weiss: Der Lauf Der Dinge (2017), Welcome to the Dollhouse (2018), and Décor: Barbara Bloom, Andrea Fraser, Louise Lawler (2018). Most recently, Matalon co-organized Zoe Leonard: Survey (2018), a major mid-career retrospective of Leonard’s work, which debuted at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and traveled to The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in November 2018. From 2015-2018, she was a Co-Founder and Curator at JOAN, a not-for-profit exhibition space in Los Angeles, where she organized solo exhibitions with Nevine Mahmoud (2015), Aura Rosenberg (2016), Roni Shneior (2017), and Harry Dodge (2018), as well the group exhibitions Sylvia Bataille (2015) and Spine: Madeline Hollander, Eva LeWitt, Ragen Moss (2018).


Debbie McNulty
Director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs 

Deborah McNulty is a big picture thinker and architect of strategies to achieve vision with a professional emphasis on systems change, equity and developing the strengths of nonprofit organizations. Her extensive experience includes work in cultural policy, philanthropy, public-private partnerships, community-based organizations and the arts. After graduating from the University of Houston, she joined Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County (now Houston Arts Alliance) at the inception of the Civic Art and Design Program and throughout the effort that resulted in the adoption of Houston’s first percent-for-art ordinance. She was Executive Director of Art League Houston, a nonprofit art school and gallery, coordinating the development and construction of their expanded facility. She was a program officer with the private foundation Houston Endowment, working primarily in the areas of arts and culture and community and economic development. She led the consulting team that assisted the City of Houston in developing its first arts and cultural plan adopted by City Council. She is currently the Director of the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.


Martha Mims, MD, Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine and Chief of Hematology/Oncology & Associate Director of Clinical Research, Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine & Ben Taub 

Dr. Martha Mims is Professor of Medicine and Chief of Hematology/ Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine and Ben Taub Hospital/Smith Clinic where she treats patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Dr. Mims is Associate Director for Clinical Research in the Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor and directs the Clinical Trials Support Unit. She is active in the Southwest Oncology Group, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology.


Gigi Myung
Managing Partner, CDM Enterprise, LLC 

As a corporate executive, Gigi Myung has worked in the oil and gas, energy, automotive, high-tech, retail, and manufacturing sectors. Prior to her current role as Managing Partner, Gigi gained significant and diversified experience in sales and marketing, management, operations, facility management/maintenance, supply chain management, outsourcing solutions, industrial distribution, automotive distribution, and eCommerce integration. Myung’s career started in the automotive manufacturing sector at Toyota Motor Sales USA and Nissan Motor Corporation N.A. and from there she was recruited to Dell.com to develop state and local governments’ eCommerce channels. Since then she has held instrumental roles at The Home Depot, Group 1 Automotive, GLM Energy, Inc., and Advanced Fabric Technologies LLC. 

Gigi earned both an MBA and an MA In International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. She holds a BS in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was named one of the “30 Most Influential Women of Houston 2016” and “50 Most Influential Women of Houston in 2015.” She is Chairwoman of Teen & Family Services and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She serves on the Texas Business Leadership Council which provides elected officials with public policy recommendations to better businesses, education and trade. She has served on the Boards of the Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Technology Center, American Red Cross, Greater Houston Partnership/Executive Women’s Partnership Executive Committee, United Way’s Women’s Initiative, and the Thunderbird Global Leadership Foundation. While her favorite city is Houston, she has lived in Chicago, LA, Phoenix, DC, Denver, Tulsa, Charleston (WV), Seoul, and Shanghai.


Kim Ogg
District Attorney, Harris County 

Kim K. Ogg was sworn in as the Harris County District Attorney on January 1, 2017. A native Houstonian, board certified attorney of 31 years, and nationally recognized victims’ rights advocate, Kim brings a history of public service to the job of Houston’s top criminal justice official. The District Attorney’s mission is to make our community safer through evidence-based prosecution and equal justice for all. This means guaranteeing a fair process to obtain a just result for the victim, the accused and the community in every case. 

Through collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement, and community service providers, DA Ogg believes that we must identify and separate violent offenders who pose the largest danger to the public from low level offenders suffering from addiction and mental illness. She believes that by handling these offenders through alternatives to jail and incarceration, we can re-integrate many people back into the workforce, making our community safer.


Kathleen Tinsley Ownby
Executive Director, SPARK School Park Program 

As the executive director of the SPARK School Park Program, Kathleen Ownby has worked with corporate and community leaders since 1988 to raise more than $21 million for the renovation of Houston-area school parks. 

SPARK has worked with over 200 schools in the Houston /Harris County area. Today there are 150 active SPARK sites in 17 area school districts. SPARK is currently working on a park desert initiative funded by Houston Endowment, the Powell Foundation, and the Kinder Foundation.

In addition to her work with SPARK, Kathleen is on the advisory boards of Urban Harvest and Bayou Preservation Association; on the steering committee of Arts Access Initiative which is associated with Young Audiences, Inc. of Houston; and is a member of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals and Women Professionals in Government. She serves on the governing board of Earth Share of Texas and has been named to the Board of the Houston Levitt Pavilion. Houston Woman Magazine named her one of 50 Most Influential Women of 2012. Kathleen is a 1993 graduate of Leadership Houston Class IX and American Leadership Forum Class XXXVI.

Kathleen is a founding board member of Friends of Westbury High School Foundation serving as President for four years. While attending high school at WHS Kathleen participated in the first summer of Amigos de Honduras (later Amigos de las Americas) inoculating Hondurans in small villages. From this experience, Kathleen learned that she could face any situation with courage and fortitude. She earned a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences and a teaching degree from the University of Houston. Kathleen and her husband David have two grown children and two grandchildren who all live in Houston. In her spare time, Kathleen enjoys traveling and playing bridge.


Stuti Trehan Patel
Judge, Fort Bend County 

Judge Stuti Trehan Patel serves Fort Bend County as a District Court Associate Judge for the 240th and 400th Judicial District Courts. She received her college degree in Social Work with Honors from The University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from The University of Houston Law Center. She is also certified as a civil and family law mediator. For the majority of her career, she served Fort Bend County as a prosecutor for the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office in the general felony, domestic violence and juvenile justice divisions. Judge Patel, along with her husband Mr. Hiren R. Patel and two children, are active in the local community and support many organizations that work with families and children, such as Lunches of Love, Fort Bend Women’s Center, Daya, Inc., Hope Endowment, and local food banks. She has established positive working relationships with the Fort Bend County Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association, Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, Fort Bend County Bar Association, and numerous other local organizations and law enforcement agencies.


Natalie Picha
Councilwoman, At Large Position No. 4, City of Seabrook 

Natalie Picha is City of Seabrook Mayor Pro Tem and Vice President/Sr. Financial Advisor and a partner with The Royal Group at Merrill Lynch. Ms. Picha’s focus on community service has included Civil Service Commissioner, Vice Chair of Economic Development Corp, and Charter Review Commissioner for the City of Seabrook. In addition, she is Associate Vice Chair for the Associated General Contractors of Texas and Economic Alliance board member and committee chair. With a focus on transportation, she also serves as appointed councilmember to the Houston Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Committee. 

Ms. Picha is a graduate of University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in pre-law studies. She is the proud mother of 3 adult daughters. Her chosen philanthropic efforts center around Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Bacliff, Texas, that focuses on ministering to the whole person through education, medical services, a food bank, and parenting/pregnancy crisis services. She also serves with her husband at their church, Clear Creek Community Church. 

Ms. Picha is passionate about mentoring the next generation of female leaders and serves with The Influential Circle, which is committed to fostering leadership, and championing the success of women in the workplace.


Latosha Payne
Judge, 55th Civil District Court, Harris County 

Latosha Payne is the Democratic judge of the Texas District Court 55 in Texas, elected to the office on November 6, 2018. Payne grew up in Acres Homes and Cypress, Harris County, and was the first high school and college graduate in her mother’s family and the first lawyer on either side. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law school almost 18 years ago, she dedicated herself to excelling in the law, serving her community, and working hard for justice. As a result, she was promoted to partner at her International large law firm in only 7.5 years, voted Texas Rising Star - Texas Super Lawyers for seven years in a row, and is the only African-American to receive the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award by the Houston Young Lawyers Association. She has volunteered and coordinated Election Protection efforts for more than 15 years and provided over 1700 hours of pro bono legal service in both civil and appellate courts.


Mary Ann Reynolds-Wilkins
Vice President, Senior Business Development Office, Stewart Title Guaranty Company 

In 2000, after a successful career in academia where Mary Ann ultimately led a school district of 50,000 students and 5,000 employees, and served as an Adjunct Professor for HBU and the University of Houston, she entered the title industry. There she serves as Vice President and Senior Business Development Officer for the Stewart Title Company—a publicly traded company with approximately 7000 offices and affiliates in the United States and a presence in 30-40 foreign countries. Mary Ann was recognized in 2016 as the Top Commercial Sales Producer in the United States. 

Mary Ann has served on 17 Non-Profit Boards throughout the Houston Community including the Houston Symphony, the Houston Chapter of CoreNet; the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce (Past Chair) and she served for many years as a member of the
Real Estate Advisory Committee for the Greater Houston Partnership. Mary Ann has also previously served on the Board of Directors for the Jones Partners at Rice University, the Houston Chapter of NAIOP, Preservation Houston, the American Red Cross, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Ballet, Leadership Houston, the American Heart Association, and she served as the first Chairman of the Board for Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land. 

Mary Ann has been recognized with several awards for distinction, including the first “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2017. An accomplished pianist, Mary Ann has recorded three piano CDs and was co-producer of the musical, “Galveston” which played at the Hobby Center to sold out performances in 2011. She earned a BA in Music Education from West Texas State A&M University; an MA in Music and a Doctorate in Education from East Texas State A&M University as well as an MA in Education from The University of North Texas. She completed post-graduate seminars at the University of Houston, Harvard, and Columbia.


Mónica Rhor
Journalist, USA Today 

Mónica Rhor is a Houston-based national reporter and narrative writer for USA TODAY. Before joining USA TODAY in September, she covered gender, sexuality, spirituality and race issues for the Houston Chronicle. She also has been a staff writer for the Associated Press, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register. Mónica, who was born in Ecuador and raised in New Jersey, also has taught high school journalism and English.

Mónica’s work has won numerous awards, including honors from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2008, she was named AP’s Texas Writer of the Year. One of her stories is included in “The Best American Newspaper Narratives of 2012” anthology, which was released in July 2014. In 2016, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored her with a Presidential Award of Impact.

Mónica is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, IRE and the Journalism Education Association. She has also served as a mentor and co-chair on student projects for NAHJ, NABJ and UNITY.


Lynn Rippelmeyer
Pilot, United Airlines 

Lynn Rippelmeyer is the first woman to fly a Boeing 747 (SWA F/O July 2, 1980), and the first to captain the “Jumbo Jet” across the Atlantic Ocean, on July 18, 1984, captaining People Express Airlines flight #2 from Newark International to London Gatwick Airport. She was also part of the first all-female crew for a scheduled US carrier (with Captain Emily Jones, Air Illinois, DHC-6 Twin Otter, 30 December 1977), and part of the first all-female Boeing 737 crew in 1982 at People Express. 

Rippelmeyer began her career in aviation as a TWA flight attendant in 1972. After qualifying, she became TWA’s second female pilot as a Boeing 727 Flight Engineer in 1978. She has been honored with her uniform being placed in the Smithsonian Institution, being named as Woman of the Year in England (1984), and being featured in a BBC documentary, Reaching for the Skies. She then went on to fly for Continental Airlines when People Express was merged, and later for United Airlines when it merged with Continental. At United, she trained on the B-787 Dreamliner before retiring in 2013. 

While flying daily commercial flights into Honduras, Rippelmeyer often met missionaries and medical teams who volunteered time and service to the country’s poor. She also came to know people of the island of Roatan who were doing their part to help through health care clinics, schools, sports programs and an animal shelter. This led her to found the non-profit ROSE (ROatan Support Effort) in September 2017, to collect, transport and deliver donated supplies to qualifying local non-governmental groups in Roatan and Honduras. ROSE also supports the Roatan Animal Rescue, including the island’s first home-grown veterinarian.


Sallie Rainer
President and CEO, Entergy Texas, Inc. 

Sallie Rainer serves as president and chief executive officer of Entergy Texas, Inc., an electric utility that serves more than 450,000 customers in 27 Southeast Texas counties. She is responsible for the company’s electric distribution system, customer service, economic development, regulatory and governmental affairs, as well as the company’s financial performance. 

Ms. Rainer joined Entergy Corporation in 1984 in the generation planning department. She held various management roles in long-term system planning before being promoted to director of regulatory affairs and energy settlements. Before being named to her current role, Ms. Rainer served as vice president, federal policy. 

Ms. Rainer is a mentor and advocate for women to realize their full potential in the traditionally male-dominated energy industry. Earlier this year, the Houston Business Journal recognized her as part of their 2018 Women Who Mean Business awards. Ms. Rainer currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Interfaith of The Woodlands, Lone Star College Foundation and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Executive Committee, and the Texas Children’s Hospital Ambassadors and Leadership Cabinet. She also serves on the Texas A&M University Engineering Advisory Board. Ms. Rainer holds a BS in engineering technology from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Texas A&M University. She and her family live in The Woodlands.


Anat Ronen

Anat, her husband Ori and son Orr came to the US in 2006 as a “hail Mary” move “before it gets too late” as she explains. Then 35, she and her husband felt they wanted to try something else and create a new life for themselves. Born and raised in the state of Israel, they wanted a life that was not defined by their nation’s problems. Anat started as an administrative assistant, and after two years, applied for a different visa. Her art career started in late 2008, built on native skills, not professional training. Initially her career involved commissioned work, but a few years in she discovered street art – a blank canvas that lets her combine her skills to comment on current affairs, global injustices, social matters and love for animals. 

Always a balancing act, her challenges have helped mold her into an independent woman whose art causes the audience to pause in intelligent reflection and appreciation of beauty. As an untrained artist she has an organic relationship towards art making that corresponds to a vital need, a matter of personal balance and identity. She executes commissions and participates in festivals and projects all over the world. Anat works with a variety of materials including acrylics, latex, tempera, chalk, pen, marker, color pencils, digital and more. Typically working on at least 20 projects at one time, Anat works on a large scale and at a rapid pace. Her work ranges in size from a few inches wide to over 30 feet tall and covering a variety of subject matter. Versatility is her strong suit, and she notes that, “Everything inspires me.” Now 10 years into this new life, the most important thing is to find her true calling and unearth, one project at a time, what she is capable of doing and where it will take her next.


Luz Damaris Rosarlo
General Manager, Goya Foods 

Luz Damaris Rosario, born and raised in Puerto Rico, holds the position of General Manager for the new Goya Foods of Texas manufacturing facility. She received her Bachelor’s in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1985. From there she began her career working as a Formulation Chemist in the food industry, for Goya Puerto Rico, where she held various positions in the company, including; Laboratory Manager and Director Quality Assurance and Quality Control. In 1991 supported by Goya Foods she graduated with her MBA from the Universidad del Turabo. Rosario has taken her passion for Science, Chemistry and Goya Foods and combined it as a “Scientific-Businesswoman” to head up Goya’s newest manufacturing facility in Texas. 

Rosario has severed on numerous boards including those of the Asociación Productos de Puerto Rico, the Dairy Industry of Puerto Rico, and Students in Free Entrepreneurship (SIFE) and was a founding member of the Food Forum of Puerto Rico. She has been a lecturer for the Institute for Food Safety at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez for over 20 years, on issues of food regulation, and as lecturer for the Better Process Control School in Puerto Rico and Latin America. She is a member of the College of Chemists of PR and is recognized nationally for her leadership, service and commitment to her community. She is married to a Puerto Rican businessman, Julian Rodriguez, and has three beautiful sons.


Gaby Rowe
Chief Executive Officer, Station Houston 

Gabriella “Gaby” Rowe is the CEO of Station Houston, a growing hub for startup technology companies, corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. Station Houston has emerged as a leader in the city’s startup ecosystem, its membership now includes over 180 startups, 350 members, 130 mentors, and dozens of high-impact strategic partnerships with corporations that represent the key industries driving Houston’s economy. Gaby is responsible for taking Station Houston to the next level as a dominant global innovation hub and an important partner in the development of Houston’s much-anticipated innovation district. 

Prior to Station Houston, Gaby was an education executive, investment banker and management consultant in New York City for more than 25 years. Gaby received her Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and completed all coursework for a Masters from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, New York. Gaby and her husband, Kenny, have four children. She is an avid runner and an football fan and can be found practicing her “pitmaster” skills on her family and friends most weekends.


Graciela Saenz
Attorney, Law Offices of Gracie Saenz 

Graciela “Gracie” Saenz is a native Houstonian and a product of the Houston public school system. She is a graduate of the University of Houston and the University of Houston Law Center where she obtained her Law Degree in 1986. She is currently the founder of the Law Offices of Graciela Saenz, PLLC located in Houston’s East End. Her practice currently focuses on Government Relations, business, commercial and international business transactions. Gracie is also very involved in leadership positions throughout the community after serving on the Houston City Council from 1992-97. While on City Council, Gracie’s focus was on Children and Youth issues, international affairs, neighborhood stabilization and economic development. She has served on many nonprofits and organizations throughout her career. Gracie currently serves on the Boards of Project G.R.A.D., the S.E.L.F. Foundation, Advisory Board for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Houston and the Advisory Board of the U of H Center for Mexican American Studies. She is actively involved as a member of the local L.U.L.A.C. Council 60 serving as Chair of their Advocacy Committee and on the Board of the C60, Inc. Gracie was recently recognized with a 2018 Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award - Lifetime Achievement Award.


Elizabeth Schwarze
Vice President of Global Exploration, Chevron 

Liz Schwarze is Vice President of Global Exploration for Chevron Upstream, based in Houston, a role she assumed in April 2018. She is responsible for Chevron’s worldwide exploration program, chairs the company’s Global Exploration Leadership Team and is a member of Chevron’s Management Committee and Upstream Leadership Team. Schwarze joined Chevron in 1990 as a development geologist in the Gulf of Mexico and has subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility in the areas of exploration, reservoir management, finance, and business planning. She has worked on projects in Venezuela and Angola as well as the San Joaquin Valley and Permian Basin areas of the United States. 

From 2013 to 2014, Schwarze served as the division manager of Exploration and Reservoir Characterization Services for Chevron’s Energy Technology Company in Houston. From 2014 to 2016, she was general manager of Exploration for Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production Company, based in Singapore, and immediately prior to her current role, she was general manager of Exploration for Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company in Houston. Schwarze holds a Bachelor’s in geology from Duke University, a Master’s in geology from The University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from Tulane University. She is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.


Chasity Sereal
Fashion Designer 

Chasity Sereal started her business in 2009 with inspiration from the late Alexander McQueen. Her first creative idea was to start with a sweet sixteen tutu dress inspired by colorful trends worn by top celebrities. A self-taught artist, she consistently reflects a determined, fearless and eccentric creativity in her designs. Her bridal work gives the modern bride an edgy yet posh look -- for the bridal party that slays! www.chasitysereal.com. Continuously evolving and challenging the standards of high fashion, she is always willing to work with new stylists and photographers. With detailed creativity and inspiring designs, she aims to grow with each gown, developing a national clientele.


Brenda Stardig
Councilmember, District A, City of Houston 

Council Member Brenda Stardig has lived in Houston’s District A for more than 40 years, devoting time and energy to improve the community in many ways. Her compassion and determination is evident across her career and her continuous service as Council Member of District A, representing approximately 280,000 people. During her time on Council, she has served as Vice-Chair for the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee and is currently serving as Chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. 

In the community, CM Stardig has organized numerous crime-fighting initiatives and served as president of several civic clubs. As a Spring Branch Education Foundation member, she worked to strengthen public education, and she has also been a director on many boards for government, financial, and medical organizations. A graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Forum in 2017, Stardig served on the advisory board of the local YMCA and supports the local Lions Club and Rotary. Her efforts have been recognized with the Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor’s Award, the award for Leadership in Excellence in Neighborhood Development from Bank of America and the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Angel Advocacy Award for her support of persons with disabilities. In 2017 she received the distinguished Leon Goldstein Award from Crime-Stoppers for her work on crime prevention and In 2018 the Faillace Award from the Spring Branch Community Health Center and the John E. Wolf Community Service Award from the Houston Association of Realtors. 

In addition to her work as a community leader, Stardig is an accomplished businesswoman. She excelled in the financial industry for 20 years prior to her successful transition to real estate. Before entering her current role, Stardig was a multi-million- dollar producer and trusted throughout the industry. Driven by her faith, CM Stardig has dedicated her life to expanding opportunities for others and preserving the quality of life for the people of District A dedicated her life to expanding opportunities for others and preserving the quality of life for the people of District A.


Doris A. Taylor, Ph.D., Hon DSc, FAHA, FACC
Director, Regenerative Medical Research & Center for Cell & Organ Biotechnology, Texas Heart Institute 

Dr. Doris Taylor is leading international regenerative medicine research efforts, creating cutting edge therapies for chronic disease and “building the future treatments of tomorrow.” An educator with over 25 years of teaching experience, she is truly committed to moving innovative therapies from bench to bedside, while preparing students/fellows to compete at an international level in the field of cardiac and vascular repair and regeneration. 

Dr. Taylor has worked in the field of cardiovascular regenerative medicine since its inception and is a major thought-leader in the field. Her mechanistic insights and effective approaches to cardiac repair and replacement are well established and include a number of firsts, achieved both before and after her arrival at the Texas Heart Institute in 2012, where she established both the Department of Regenerative Medicine Research and the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology, the latter in partnership with the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. She also heads the Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network (CCTRN) Biorepository, the cell and cytokine profiling core lab that serves multiple NIH, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) networks, medical centers, and research foundations in the U.S. and Canada. She holds faculty appointments at Texas A&M and Rice University and serves as a consultant for both academic and commercial enterprises in the regenerative medicine space. She recently founded and leads a new company, Stem Cell Security, LLC, a cell banking and data management company in Houston, Texas. She has published extensively, authoring or co-authoring more than 150 scientific publications and co-editing 2 textbooks. 

Dr. Taylor earned a BS in biology and physical sciences from Mississippi University for Women in 1977 and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, in 1987. She holds many honors, including appointments as a Fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. She has been recognized by the AHA for Top 10 Research Advances. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate by her alma mater, Mississippi University for Women, in 2015; the national Distinguished Alumnus Award presented by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in 2016; and the international Madrid Award for Excellence in Basic and Preclinical Regenerative Research in June 2017. Her work has been recognized and featured by 60 Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC Horizon, BBC News Health, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Associated Press, National Public Radio, NOVA Science Now, Science Channel STEM CELL UNIVERSE with Stephen Hawking, Huffington Post (Canada), and numerous other worldwide media outlets.


Susan Tracy
Head of School, St Catherine’s Montessori 

Coming from a life-long love of learning and from a desire to be in service of others, Susan Tracy has devoted the majority of her adult life to education. In a quest for the optimal learning environment, Susan was drawn to Montessori education as a natural and logical approach to human development built on a foundation of respect for the child. After a dual degree in Elementary Education/ Special Education and a brief role as a teacher in a traditional public school, life’s journey connected Susan with the Montessori approach which has remained her passion for the last 35 years. Having Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Certification, being an AMI Consultant and AMI National Examiner have afforded Susan the opportunity to visit many Montessori schools and Training Centers in the United States and Canada. The graduate work Susan did in Pre- and Perinatal Psychology has validated Montessori’s work with current research and provided scientific validation for the many Prenatal and Infant/ Parent classes that Susan has conducted. 

Still loving every day in a Montessori environment, Susan was called to another position as Head of School at St. Catherine’s Montessori. With a Masters in Educational Leadership, Susan has drawn together a team of talented individuals dedicated to meeting every child where they are and guiding each child’s optimal development. She continues to find pleasure in going to school each day with a community doing joyful work and celebrating life together.


Diane Trautman, EdD
Harris County Clerk 

Dr. Diane Trautman, a life-long Texan and Houstonian, was elected as Harris County Clerk on November 6, 2018 for a 4-year term. Prior to that, she was elected as an At-Large, Countywide board member on the Harris County Board of Education in 2012 for a 6-year term. In that role, she supported federal grants that maximized local tax dollars, resulting in savings for the school districts and the taxpayers. The board reduced HCDE property taxes for the last four years of her term. 

Her past work experience includes tenures as Asst. Professor of Education at both Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin State universities. She has worked as a Teacher in both Houston and Humble ISDs and a Principal in Conroe and Tomball ISDs. Prior to her work in the field of education, she worked in the banking industry at both Texas Commerce Bank (Trust Asset Management) and First City National Bank (Energy Lending). 

Dr. Trautman holds a BA in English and an MS in Secondary Education, both from the University of Houston. She also earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University, where she received the Morphet Award for her dissertation developing a new leadership theory. Trautman is a current member of the League of Women Voters, Women Professionals in Government, the Girl Scouts Alumni Organization, HAAM Covenant Council, Delta Kappa Gamma, and Atascocita Lutheran Church. She and her husband Tim have three grown children and two grandchildren. Dr. Trautman has always believed that as an elected official, she should make government work for the individual, and she is honored to serve the people of Harris County.


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