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Women Leaders on the Move in Houston Business and Community

Women Leaders on the Move in Houston Business and Community

Women are major contributors to the economy holding nearly 48 percent of all U.S. jobs and accounting for approximately one-quarter of the current GDP (gross domestic product), according to studies by McKinsey & Company. In Houston, the trend continues with the city being recognized nationally as a top market for woman-owned businesses. Texas Executive Women is an organization that supports and recognizes women along their career paths in all industry sectors. Its largest annual event honoring women leaders, the Women on the Move® Award Luncheon, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar Street, Houston, TX 77010. During the luncheon, 11 outstanding Houston area women will receive the prestigious Women on the Move award.

The Women on the Move program got its start 30 years ago by Houston family icons, the Sakowitzes and Hobbys, who created the award to recognize the outstanding contributions of women leaders. Their vision was to award ten women who exemplify the best of the best of Houston’s top female leaders in various capacities in hopes that their stories would inspire and encourage others. The program was also a platform to raise scholarships for high school girls aspiring to be a woman on the move one day.

Last year, Texas Executive Women added a new award. Embracing the importance of grooming the next generation of female leaders, the Rising Star award was created to recognize one young professional woman up-and-comer.

Interesting to note, the career paths of the 2015 Class of Women on the Move are closely related to studies that show women in business are attracted to careers where they believe they can make a difference on behalf of others. The following Women on the Move honoree highlights are indicative of this trend:

Nory Angel, executive director/CEO, SER Jobs for Progress, has served in this role since 2009. SER Jobs for Progress is a nonprofit organization that provides education, training, employment and empowerment services to those in need. Angel has dedicated her career to helping people transform their lives through workforce training and employment.

Christina Morales Berger, president/CEO, Morales Memorial Foundation, has carried her family’s tradition of driving progress in Houston’s East End by continuously overcoming obstacles and giving back to the community. Morales Berger took the reins of the Felix H. Morales Funeral Home family business in 1993. She has continued to provide caring and personalized funerals with the same empathy and exceptional service as her grandparents had since 1931.

Melanie Brown, head of Technology Operations Strategic Execution Office, CenterPoint Energy, oversees annual strategic planning and initiative operationalization, and special projects with a $110 million portfolio. Brown also is an author and public speaker who empowers business leaders and organizations to succeed by providing practical and pragmatic strategies enabling business owners to establish innovative, competitive marketplace solutions.

Victoria Bryant, president, Ambassadors Caregivers, has an ambition to make a difference and leave a legacy. She provides professional caregiver services to seniors, the disabled, and anyone who needs an extra hand. The organization also helps children care for their elderly parents.

Jane Cummins, executive director Educational Programs, Inspiring Communities dba The HEART Program, has served adults with developmental disabilities for nearly 13 years. Because of her work, she was appointed by Houston’s Mayor and City Council to serve as commissioner on the Houston Commission on Disabilities. She also currently serves as president of the Texas Lyceum, Texas’ preeminent nonprofit, non-partisan leadership organization.

Gina Gaston Elie, news anchor, KTRK-TV, ABC13, enjoys sharing news stories that inspire viewers and give them information to make better decisions, big and small, and grow as a human being. Gaston Elie had strong female role models in her formative years who taught her that her face and figure were not the best cards in her deck; however, her confidence, intellect and optimism were.

Julie Hardin, partner, Reed Smith LLP, is a trial lawyer with national litigation experience serving as lead counsel to energy companies facing complex commercial or products liability disputes. Hardin is a graduate of Leadership Houston and serves on the board of directors for Girls Inc. of Greater Houston and The Women’s Resource, and on the Advisory Council for Dress for Success Houston. She has been recognized by several news publications for her professional and community contributions.

Jonita Wallace Reynolds has been the CEO of Gulf Coast Community Services Association, Inc. since December 2003. GCCSA’s programs and services are designed to educate, equip and empower the un-served in Harris County. This notable public speaker is a true servant-leader who awakens daily with the desire to personify Gandhi’s profound words, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Through her professional and community roles, she works tirelessly to help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, and hunger.

Gayle Slaughter, senior associate dean for Graduate Education and Diversity, Baylor College of Medicine, is dedicated to improving the quality of life through training the next generation of scientists and physician scientists. She has developed and currently directs several programs including SMART (2,400 college alumni); IMSD (110 under-represented PhD alumni); and IRACDA post-doctoral research and education programs that help transform curricula at three Houston universities.

Cheryl Lyn Walker, Welch Chair, professor/director, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Institute of Biosciences & Technology, is an active researcher, conducting cutting-edge research on how the genes individuals inherit, and exposures to chemicals in the environment, determine risk for diseases such as cancer. As director of the IBT, Walker connects the strengths of Texas A&M University in College Station to the clinical powerhouse of the Texas Medical Center, leading partnerships between A&M and TMC institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, Methodist Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

2015 Rising Star: E. Nicole Baldwin, founder/CEO, Biao Skincare LLC, is a United States Army Veteran and studying aesthetician who is delighted to pass down her grandmother’s cherished tradition of naturally-derived skin care formulations. Baldwin is a burn victim and survivor who has used her own skincare line to virtually eliminate physical scars from her face and body. She formulated her safe and effective beauty and skincare line to address the unique complexion needs of women of all ages and races.

“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this year’s class and we are looking forward to the awards luncheon with great anticipation,” said Friederike “Rike” Hass, Texas Executive Women executive director. “Women on the Move is an opportunity to be inspired by the achievements of great women and also raise college scholarship funds for the next generation of great leaders.”

Sallie Sargent Houston Super Bowl Li Host Committee President and CEO Women on the Move Award Luncheon keynot speaker

Sallie Sargent
Houston Super Bowl Li
Host Committee President and CEO
Women on the Move Award Luncheon keynot speaker

Texas Executive Women is excited to welcome Sallie Sargent as the event keynote speaker. Sargent is president and CEO of the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee.

Sargent is a 28-year veteran in sports marketing, event management, and has a resume that includes All-Star games, college bowl games, Republican and Democratic conventions and a variety of other events.

The 2015 Women on the Move Award Luncheon is underwritten to date by: Platinum Sponsor H-E-B; Gold Sponsors Morales Memorial Foundation, Sofia Adrogue/Gray Reed & McGraw, PC/Kelli Cohen Fein/Caroline Baker Hurley/S. Shawn Stephens and Y. Ping Sun; and Silver Sponsors Ambassadors Caregivers,ConocoPhillips, MDS, Inc., Debra Ibarra Mayfield, Nancy Hall, Shira Yoshor, KPRC-TV, Melanie Gray/Winston & Strawn LLP, and Susan Soussan/Elizabeth Ray/Katie Kennedy.

In-kind sponsors to date include: Barfield Photography and Lisa Malosky Productions, and media partner Houston Woman Magazine.

For additional event details, ticket and sponsorship reservations, and information regarding the Texas Executive Women mentoring and scholarship programs, visit the organization’s website at

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