The Texas Women’s Foundation, a leader in driving social and economic change for women, girls and families in Texas, has named seven recipients of its 2022 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards. The honors celebrate leaders who have helped, in various ways, to uplift women and girls.
At its Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration (LFAC), to be held April 26 at the Omni Dallas, honorees will discuss their leadership journey and the issues that drive their passions. A reception and dinner will follow.
Radha Agrawal will be the keynote speaker
Radha Agrawal, Co-Founder, CEO and Chief Community Architect of Daybreaker, a dance and wellness movement with a global community, will be the keynote speaker for the event.
“Our honorees are incredible and inspiring,” says LFAC Co-Chair Bonnie Clifton, “and we look forward to hearing their stories and celebrating them for their dedication to uplifting women and girls across Texas and beyond. “
Over its 43-year history, more than 200 people have received the Maura Women Helping Women Award. Here are the 2022 winners:
Patricia Rodriguez Christian, Irving
CRC Group Inc.
As CEO of privately held CRC Group Inc., Rodriguez Christian has been a loyal provider of leadership and direction in B2B/B2C retail, restaurant, business processing, outsourcing, real estate and construction. While guiding them from start-up to maturity, integrating diversity and inclusion has been a priority in all of his endeavors.
She is also co-chair of Women’s Execs on Boards; serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Council Southwest and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council; and is an independent director on the board of directors of Actuated Medical Inc.
Rodriguez Chrstian is the past president of DFW Hispanic 100, where she helped establish the Latina Giving Circle at the Texas Women’s Foundation.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, and is an alumnus of Harvard Business School with a certificate of corporate director.
Arlene J. Ford, Ph.D., Dallas
Equity Survey Project, Inc.
As founder of the Equity Inquiry Project, Ford consults with educational institutions, nonprofits and businesses on creating equity, inclusion and organizational change within their operations. She also speaks out nationally on these issues. She has taught college-level courses for education officials at Southern Methodist University.
Ford, a trustee of the Dallas Museum of Art, is also a director of Leadership ISD, a nonprofit organization that aims to equip civic leaders with the skills to champion equity and excellence for all students. She sits on the National Board of LIFT, which empowers families to break the cycle of racial inequality and underinvestment in their communities.
Ford earned his master’s degree in sociology and education from Teacher’s College Columbia University; his doctorate in urban education from UCLA; and his law degree from Harvard Law School.
Thana Hickman-Simmons, Dallas
Since 2008, when Hickman-Simmons founded the emergency placement center for pregnant teens with nowhere to go, Viola’s House has helped thousands of young South Dallas women with housing, counseling, mentors and a education. In 2021 alone, through its residential and community program, Viola’s House served an impressive 3,855 young mothers.
It’s a cause close to Hickman-Simmons, CEO of Viola House.
Years ago, as a 17-year-old herself facing an unexpected pregnancy in her hometown of Chicago, Hickman-Simmons had a strong support system. When she moved to Dallas, she decided that other girls would have the same.
Viola’s House began as a mentorship program for teenage girls facing unplanned pregnancy. When Hickman-Simmons learned that many of them were at risk of homelessness, Viola’s House expanded to include a residential program.
Hickman-Simmons was instrumental in creating jobs for women, including her three daughters. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, is a certified life coach, and holds a ministry ordination license.
Patricia (Pat) Jasso, San Antonio
Senior Planet / Retired AT&T Executive
Jasso is Community Outreach Coordinator and Trainer for Senior Planet. Launched in 2013 by OATS (Older Adults Technology Services), Senior Planet helps seniors learn computer basics and develop useful skills like digital photography and online job hunting.
She also worked for AT&T and served in the Air Force Reserve for 15 years. She is a board member of Brooks Development Authority and Annie’s List, chair of the board of directors of the Texas Business & Professional Women Foundation, executive director of Texas Business Women San Antonio, chair of the board of the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Advisory Board.
Additionally, Jasso is the coordinator of Can We Talk?, a coalition of more than 65 organizations that plans commemorations for Women’s History Month and women’s equality. She was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame for her continued volunteerism.
Young Women’s Preparatory Network
For the past eight years, McBee served as CEO of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, a public-private partnership creating schools of choice in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in an all-girls setting. To date, these girls, some of whom are the first generation in their families to attend college, have a 100% acceptance rate.
Under his leadership, YMPN’s revenue grew 300% and the organization partnered with independent school districts to improve student achievement. She was recently named Workforce Development Czar for the City of Dallas.
Additionally, this volunteer leader for more than 27 years has contributed nearly 45,000 hours of service to more than 30 nonprofit organizations on issues such as improving education, serving the homeless, addressing domestic violence, child protection, and underserved student success. .
McBee earned a degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas and worked for 30 years with New England Biolabs as a research scientist, manager and employee owner.
Sharareh “Sherri” Kermanshachi, Ph.D, Arlington
University of Texas at Arlington
Dr. Kermanshachi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at UTA and Director of the Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environment (RISE) laboratory.
His national and regional honors include the 2022 Diversity Leadership Award, the 2021 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award, the 2020 Mark Hasso Educator of the Year Award, the 2018 DBIA Distinguished Leadership Award and the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award 2018.
Additionally, she has published over 200 books, scientific articles, conference proceedings and research reports. She has served as a board member of CMAA-North Texas and on the editorial board of three journals.
In addition to his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University, she also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering, an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering.
Young Leader Award
The Young Leader Award recognizes groundbreaking leadership demonstrated by successful trailblazers who create avenues of opportunity for other women. This year’s recipients include:
Stacy Johnson, Round Rock
Central Texas Grace Table
Johnson was taken from an alcoholic and neglectful mother at age 2 and placed in the foster care system. For the next 14 years, she moved from house to house, fulfilling the dream of one day opening a shelter for children like her.
Her dream came true in 2014 with the opening of Central Texas Table of Grace, an emergency shelter for children ages 6 to 17 who have nowhere to go. Since then, he has helped nearly 500 children receive loving, caring and life-changing care.
Because 20% of children in foster care become homeless after turning 18, Johnson in 2021 launched Grace 365, a supervised independent living program for 18-22 year olds. That same year, KXAN, an NBC affiliate, recognized Johnson as Central Texas’ Most Outstanding Woman of the Year.
To learn more about the Texas Women’s Foundation Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration or to purchase tickets, go here.
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