Five Outstanding Women Are Honored At The Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Forum And Awards Dinner

The Dallas Women’s Foundation really knows how to throw a VIP reception. Consider the one held before the group’s May 9 Leadership Forum and Awards Dinner, which was intended to honor the recipients of the foundation’s 2017 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards.

Inside the packed VIP reception room at the Omni Dallas Hotel were not just one or two, but all five of the women who were the very first recipients of the Women Helping Women awards back in 1978 and 1979. Mixing with the guests were Maura McNeil, for whom the Maura Awards are named; Vivian Castleberry; Ginny Whitehill; the Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson; and the Hon. Adlene Harrison.

Maura McNiel*

Adlene Harrison and Susie Marshall*

Francis Griffin Brown and Ginny Whitehill*

Vivian Castleberry and Hind El Saadi El Jarrah*

Outside the VIP tete-a-tete, meantime, many of the evening’s 850 guests were preparing to sweep into the Dallas Ballroom for the program and a wonderful dinner (saffron poached pear salad, grilled petite filet and breast of chicken, assorted vegetables, and two types of tarts). The event’s co-chairs, Cheryl Alston and Laura V. Estrada, got things under way by thanking the presenting sponsor, AT&T, before giving way to Roslyn Dawson Thompson, the Dallas Women’s Foundation’s president and chief executive officer.

Laura V. Estrada, Brenda L. Jackson, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Cheryl Alston*

Ros thanked everyone and pointed out that, since 1985, the foundation has invested more than $32 million in “advancing positive social and economic change for women and girls in our community.” Then Brenda Jackson, the foundation’s selection committee co-chair, presented the honorees for the 2017 Maura Awards, which recognize exceptional leaders who have pioneered the way in improving lives for women and children.

Elba Garcia, Lupe Valdez and Madeline McClure*

Amy Ooi, Tonya Parker and Wei Wei Jeang*

Ellenore Knight Baker and Cynthia Nwuabani*

This year’s Maura winners were: Dr. Hind Jarrah, Ph.D., executive director of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Madeline McClure, founding CEO of TexProtects, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children; the Hon. Tonya Parker, judge of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County ; and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Dallas County. The 2017 Young Leader Award also was presented by Ellenore Knight Baker and Zeenat Sidi to Cynthia Nwaubani, CPA. 

In a series of videos about the honorees, Jarrah urged women to “look at leadership as an ability to serve.” Parker said that while there are “lots of women lawyers,” they need to take more prominent roles in the legal system: “We’re not getting speaking roles at the courthouse. Come argue the brief—don’t just write them!” Added Valdez: “Do what you need to do to step up and grow a little bit.”

Following a plea for donations—”Text Maura to 41444 to donate. Don’t hesitate; do it now!”—AT&T’s Jennifer Biry introduced the evening’s keynote speaker: Carla Harris, who is vice chairman, global wealth management, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley.

Harris, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013, told the attendees that “you take your life from success to significance when you do things for other people.” And doing for others through leadership, she said, is “all about the letters in the word ‘leader.’ ” Then she proceeded to tick off the word’s six letters, attaching a nugget of wisdom to each one.

Carla Harris*

“L is for ‘leverage,’ ” Harris began. “You need to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, and leverage other people’s ideas. E is for ’empower.’ A leader must define what success looks like for [her people], even when you’re operating in an obscure environment. A is for ‘authentic.’ Authenticity is at the heart of your power, and at the heart of powerful leadership. If you’re authentic, people will trust you, and it will motivate and inspire others to be authentic, too.

“D is for ‘decisive’ and ‘diversity,’” Harris continued, first explaining the decisive part. “Meg Whitman, when she was at eBay, said, ‘The price of inaction is greater than the price of making a mistake.’ Make people know that you are decisive!” As for diversity, Harris said, “We are all competing around innovation. To be innovative, you need a lot of different ideas in the room. You need a lot of perspectives. You need a lot of experience. So, you need a lot of different people. There’s the business argument for diversity!

“E is for ‘engage,’” Harris went on. “You must engage your people. You can’t motivate by fear. This is especially true for women and millennials. What motivates them? You need to ask them, ‘What’s your experience? What’s the stretch experience you’re looking for?’”

Finally, Harris said, “R is for ‘risk.’ You must be comfortable taking risks. The way to differentiate yourself is to show that you’re comfortable taking risks. Why don’t we take more risks? Because we’re scared. Fear. And fear has no place in your success equation. If you’re not sure about trying something, always default to the try.”

Harris’ message was especially apropos because, when it comes to women and girls in North Texas, no group “defaults to the try” like the Dallas Women’s Foundation. As it proved, once again, with this dinner.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

JUST IN: Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Forum And Awards Dinner Plans Announced Including Keynote Speaker Carla Harris

Carla Harris*

And the good news just keeps rolling in! Dallas Women’s Foundation is popping with news on all fronts regarding the Leadership Forum and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, May 9, at the Dallas Omni Hotel. Dinner  Co-Chairs Cheryl Alston and Laura V. Estrada have arranged for Vice Chairman, Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley Carla Harris to be the keynote speaker. In addition to being a presidential-appointed chair of the National Women’s Business Council, the Port Arthur native has written “Strategies to Win” and “Expect to Win” and gospel singer.

As for the recipients of the 2017 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards, DWF President/CEO Ros Dawson Thompson revealed quite a lineup. The 2017 Mauras will be presented to the following gals at the dinner:

  • Hind El Saadi El Jarrah*

    Hind El Saadi El Jarrah, Ph.D. – Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Jarrah has promoted the understanding and respect for multicultural diversity, especially for her three daughters. To preserve her culture and to instill it in her daughters, in 1982 she co-founded the Arabic Heritage Society, a nonprofit whose mission was educational, cultural, social and charitable to preserve and promote understanding of the culture. From 1983 to 1991, she served as principal of the Arabic school. After 9/11, widespread misconceptions about Islam and Muslims resulted in her giving speeches about these topics to promote understanding. In 2005, she co-founded and continues to serve as the executive director of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (TMWF), a nonprofit that empowers Muslim women and their families and addresses critical needs of this population including counseling, legal services and play therapy. In 2012, TMWF opened Peaceful Oasis, a shelter for victims and children of domestic violence, which has served more than 1,500 clients from all faiths and races.

  • Madeline McClure*

    Madeline McClure, LCSW – As the founding CEO of TexProtects, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, McClure is on a mission to prevent child abuse. After a successful nine-year career in finance on Wall Street, she started a second career to help abused and neglected children by creating large-scale systemic change through legislative advocacy. Under her leadership, TexProtects has led or assisted in the passage of 41 bills that have improved the Child Protective Services system, and advocated for and secured $100 million for family support home visiting programs, which currently serve more than 21,000 families across Texas. Recently, McClure led successful efforts to make positive changes to Texas’ Child Protective Services, including a recent approval of pay raises for 5,000+ frontline CPS caseworkers, of which 75 percent are female.

  • Tonya Parker*

    The Honorable Tonya Parker – Judge Tonya Parker has been Judge of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County since she was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. During her tenure, she has served with the highest remarks and approval ratings. She currently serves as the Presiding Judge of the Dallas County Civil District Courts and is the immediate past president of the Texas Association of District Judges. By serving honorably in her position, she has elevated the status of and opened doors for women. In addition, she is involved with IGNITE, a non-partisan organization aimed at developing political ambition and training for young women (ages 14-22) to run for public office. Parker serves as a mentor to these young women, helping them learn how to be impactful contributors to society, especially if they are elected. Parker also finds time to serve on many legal associations, civic boards and commissions. A passionate speaker, she’s often asked to give speeches to legal groups and schools, including an impactful commencement speech she gave to Richardson ISD graduates in 2015.

  • Lupe Valdez*

    Sheriff Lupe Valdez – The youngest child and only daughter born to migrant farm workers, Sheriff Lupe Valdez became the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Dallas County in 2005. Re-elected for her fourth term in 2016, she is the only Hispanic female sheriff in the nation and one of four female sheriffs in Texas. Because her mother was determined that she would receive an education, Valdez worked two jobs to put herself through college. After college, she enlisted in the Army Reserves where she rose to the rank of captain, and also earned a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. As Sheriff, she has partnered with the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court, Parkland Hospital, Dallas County Constables, the District Attorney’s Office and several judges to improve county law enforcement. Some of her successes include hiring 400 new detention service officers, expanding the highway patrol system, and improving healthcare for mentally ill inmates.

Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Young Leader Award recognizes breakthrough leadership exhibited by a woman under the age of 40 who is achieving success in a field, initiative or sector, and creating a path of opportunity for other women to follow.

Cynthia Nwaubani*

Presented by Capital One, this year’s Young Leader Awardee will be Cynthia Nwaubani, CPA. “Because of the important role education played in Nwaubani’s life, she has devoted her time on efforts to promote education, empowerment and financial independence for women and girls. She earned her MBA and CPR certification while working full-time and raising a family, and now works as a relationship manager for Wells Fargo & Company. She was recently recognized with Wells Fargo’s “Living with Vision and Values” award just two years into her career. She’s passionate about connecting women executives and clients, as well as global diversity that focuses on diversity of thoughts, ideas and experiences. Through her involvement with 4word women’s group, she is able to grow with other women leaders who work, love and pray. Nwaubani also mentors women business owners from countries that have been affected by war or genocide through the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women.”

According to Ros, “We are proud to honor and celebrate exceptional leaders who are blazing trails for women in their professions and communities. These women have dedicated themselves to creating opportunities for women and girls to accomplish their goals, and their stories are an inspiration to us all.  We also look forward to hearing from the dynamic Carla Harris, who will encourage us to do even more to advance women’s leadership at work and in the community.” 

Dinner tickets starting at $150 and sponsorships are available right here!

* Photo provided by Dallas Women's Foundation

JUST IN: Deadline For Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 2017 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards Extended

While the Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Awards Dinner presented by AT&T isn’t until Tuesday, May 9, the process is underway to select the recipients of the 2017 Maura Women Helping Women Award and the Young Leader Award.

Originally, the deadline for nominations was Friday, January 6.

Yipes! Folks who have been away for the holidays just realized that January 6 is less than a handful of days away. To accommodate those procrastinators, DWF President/CEO Roslyn Dawson extended the deadline to Monday, January 9. Whew!  

BTW, the dinner is being co-chaired by Cheryl Alston and Laura V. Estrada, with the presidential-appointed National Women’s Business Council Chair Carla Harris as the keynote speaker.

Carla Harris*

While you’re thinking about whom to nominate, remember the Maura honors “courageous individuals who have catalyzed change for women and girls in North Texas.” Established in 2013, the Young Leader Award “recognizes breakthrough leadership exhibited by a woman under the age of 40 who is achieving success in a field, initiative or sector, and creating a path of opportunity for other women to follow.”

So, scratch that adorable head, think of an outstanding gal, download the form and who knows? You may be the source for the 2017 Maura and/or Young Leader.

* Photo courtesy of Dallas Women's Foundation