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Dallas Women's Foundation Ray Hunt, Nancy Ann Hunt, Gail Turner (honoree), Dr. Gerald Turner

Dallas Women’s Foundation held its Leadership Forum & Awards Dinner, presented by AT&T, on April 19 at the Omni Dallas Hotel. The Foundation honored six exceptional women: four received the Maura Women Helping Women Awards, and two received the Young Leader Award, presented by Capital One. The dinner was co-chaired by community and business leaders, Effie Dennison and Jan Sharry.

Dennison, who has received the Maura award, welcomed the sold out ballroom of 700 attendees. “I am always in awe of the great things accomplished by each year’s Maura and Young Leader Award recipients. From the outstanding work of our award recipients to our groundbreaking keynote speaker, tonight is designed to inspire and to motivate all of us to make a commitment, to do our part and to make sure that more women and girls have the opportunity to lead.” 

Sharry added her thanks to the sponsors. “As a sponsor, you are making an investment to address gender inequity.  Your contributions help level the playing field for women and girls. Very special thanks go to our presenting sponsor, AT&T.” (See sponsors at end of press release).

Brenda L. Jackson, award selection committee co-chair and Maura winner, talked about the Maura Award. “The award was established in 1978 to recognize those who have made extraordinary contributions to the success and well-being of women and girls in the North Texas region. Among the recipients are women and men who have blazed trails and made strides in various fields – from company executives and community volunteers, to those serving on corporate boards, in Congress, and even in the White House.” Then she asked all the previous Maura and Young Leader Award winners to stand and be recognized.

Jackson then introduced each Maura honoree with a video that told more about each one:

“For her work creating opportunities for more women being represented on corporate boards and in the male-dominated construction industry, and her contributions building a college to career pipeline that is changing the trajectory for thousands of young girls and women, we award Arcilia Acosta with the Maura Women Helping Women Award.”

“For her tireless contribution building a STEAM program for young girls in at-risk communities to expose them to careers where there is an underrepresentation of females, we recognize Maura Women Helping Women Award recipient Dr. Jocelyn Kidd.”

“For her role designing and delivering programs that help women find and align their lives with their true purpose, and for providing critical services for women and children in need, we celebrate Maura Women Helping Women Award recipient Cynthia Mickens Ross.”

“For her vision and wholehearted dedication to creating services and ensuring resources for the most marginalized and desperate women and girls – and her courage and determination in fighting to protect girls and women from the ravages of human trafficking, we honor and celebrate Maura Women Helping Women Award recipient Gail Turner.”

Caren Lock, Dallas Women’s Foundation board chairwoman and selection committee co-chair, and Stephanie Jeffery, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Capital One, Young Leader Award sponsor, introduced the two women under the age of 40 who are breaking barriers to help women advance in leadership.

“For exemplary efforts, tremendous courage and vision to create change for women and girls who are victims of human trafficking, we recognize Dr. Vanessa Bouché with the Young Leader Award.”

“For confidence, courage and tremendous effort in raising her voice and putting herself on the line to make change and represent her generation in politics, policy and community, we recognize Brooke López with the Young Leader Award.”

Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Dallas Women’s Foundation president and chief executive officer, added her congratulations to the honorees and thanks to the event co-chairs and sponsors. “As we reflect on this vision of equity, I want to acknowledge the role and impact of our founders and the loss of one this past year, the late and so deeply loved Vivian Castleberry.” Thompson recognized the founders in the room, and then she introduced a video. “As you can see from the video, we still have a long way to go to reach equity and equal representation in the halls of power, whether in the C-suite or in Congress. So to give you a real tangible sense of the steps we need to take in order to reach our goals, let me give you a number:  115 is the number of steps to the front door of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.”  She asked people to give at least $115 to further the Foundation’s mission.

After dinner was served, Jennifer Biry, AT&T Technology and Operations chief financial officer and Foundation board member, introduced Nina Tassler. “Nina is an author, entrepreneur, mother, philanthropist and the former chairwoman of CBS Entertainment. She also wrote a book entitled What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women with excerpts from her interviews with notable women and the advice they gave their daughters.”

Tassler told the audience that everyone has a story worth telling. She told her life story of growing up as a daughter of Puerto Rican mother who converted to Judaism before she married, a child of a mixed marriage, and the only Jewish/Puerto Rican kid in her school.

“Throughout my life, and over the course of my career, I have been concerned with three central issues: gender equity, unconscious bias and the exploration of class in America.”

She talked about her career at CBS Entertainment and how she tried to address these three issues. “In order to create the greatest opportunity for success, we had to ensure that every individual at CBS, from executives to support staff to the hardworking people who cleaned our offices at night, were not only recognized for the hard work, but their salaries, raises and bonuses were always looked at through the lens of gender equity.”

About failure: “Each failure provides an opportunity for another success.”

About working moms: “To quote Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘I’ve often said that I have had it all in my long lifetime, just not all at the same time.’ This became my mantra.”

Her closing words included a quote from the late Governor Ann Richards: “This is your life. It is the only one you get, so no excuses and no do-overs. If you can make a mistake or fail at something, you learn from it, you get over it and you move on. Your job is the be the very best person you can be and to never settle.”

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T, Inc.        

Speaker Sponsor: Catherine M. Coughlin Endowment for Women’s Leadership

Crystal Sponsor: Capital One Bank, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Texas Capital Bank

Diamond Sponsor: Axxess, Jones Day

Emerald Sponsors:  Ellenore Baker & Julie England Art, David B. Miller Family Foundation, Ernst & Young LLP, Nancy Ann Hunt

Gold Sponsors: Archer Western, CARCON Industries, Celanese Corporation, Kaleta A. Doolin, Frito-Lay, Inc., Beverly Goulet, Brenda L. Jackson, Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Jan Sharry, Major General Mary L. Saunders USAF (Ret.), Texas Instruments, U.S. Risk LLC

Media Sponsors: Dallas Business Journal, DCEO

Dallas Women’s Foundation is the largest regional women’s fund in the world. It is a trusted leader in advancing positive social and economic change for women and girls. The Foundation was built on the belief that when you invest in a woman, there is a ripple effect that benefits her family, her community and her world. Dallas Women’s Foundation has researched, funded and demonstrated the ripple effect since 1985 in North Texas, granting more than $37.6 million since inception and over $4.5 million annually to help create opportunities and solve issues for women and girls. With the support of its donors, the Foundation unlocks resources to improve education and quality of life, give voice to issues affecting women and girls, and cultivate women leaders for the future. For more information, visit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

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