Texas Women’s Foundation Honors Seven Female Leaders Helping Other Women

The Leadership Forum and Award Dinner took place on Thursday, recognizing women who have helped pave the way for those like them.

The Texas Women’s Foundation honored seven women Thursday during their 2019 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards.

The event, which was presented by AT&T, recognized leaders who have positively impacted the lives of women and girls across Texas.

Texas Women’s Foundation, formerly the Dallas Women’s Foundation, aims to ‘Transform Texas for Women and Girls,’ and is one of the largest women’s funds in the nation, reaching communities all across the state. The foundation has over $35 million in assets, which goes towards research on issues currently affecting women and girls and raises approximately $8 million each year. Additionally, the foundation sustains $5 million to support programs dedicated to helping the women of Texas thrive, as well as providing annual grants and mission-focused gendered asset investments. 

This year’s keynote speaker was Sallie Krawcheck, co-founder of Ellevest, which invests in women-led companies that build stronger economies, and chair member of Ellevate Network. Krawcheck has been named one of the “100 Most Creative People” by Fast Company and is the author of “Own It: The Power of Women at Work”, which empowers women to be successful leaders in their career of choice.  

“We are humbled to pay tribute to these incredible women who are contributing their passion, skill and time to blaze trails for women and girls to follow,” Texas Women’s Foundation president and chief executive officer, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, said in a statement. “We are also very pleased to welcome Sallie Krawcheck as our keynote speaker. She has made it her mission to help women unleash our financial power, so that we can build savings and wealth in order to invest in women to make powerful change in our communities and world.” 

There were five honorees for the Maura Women Helping Women award, and two recipients of the Young Leader Award. 

The Maura Women Helping Women has been given to influential women who are creating change for other women and girls for the past 40 years. This year’s recipients included: 

  • Sally Dunning: As the chair of the Greenhill School Board of Trustees, Dunning works to expand student diversity and promote gender equality through scholarship programs. She also served on the board of Annie’s List, working to help more women get elected into both local and state offices, and has also served on other community initiatives. She co-chaired Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, with an end goal of $12.5 million to ensure accessible healthcare for all women. Dunning works as an interior designer and has been helping clients for over 50 years. 
  • Dee Dee Bates: As one of New York Life’s first female partners as a financial executive, Bates is the leader of New York Life’s Women’s Market Unit (Dallas), providing career opportunities to women across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She has also founded and chartered multiple women’s organizations like Women’s Top of the Table and Women’s E-Innitiative, and is president of the Collin County Black Chamber. 
  • Ana I. Hernandez: Originally from Mexico, Hernandez is a first generation college graduate who is now senior vice president and senior loan officer at PlainsCapital Bank. She advocates strongly for Latina professional women and is an active mentor for young women enrolled in Dallas-area’s middle and high schools. She also volunteers at charities such as Genesis Women’s Shelter, The Family Place, and Feed My Starving Children, helping victims of physical and financial abuse become economically secure and packaging meals for low income members of the community.
  • Nicole Small: Small is the CEO of LH Holdings Inc., as well as the president of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. Recently, Small has promoted the Lyda Hill Philanthropies If/Then initiative, working to promote women in the world of STEM and open opportunities for young women in the field. Small is also the former CEO of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and is a current member of the Hockaday School Board of Trustees, Dallas Assembly, Charter 100, YPO, and the International Women’s Forum.
  • Ashlee Kleinert: She and her husband co-founded The Kleinert Foundation to address the vulnerable positions in the community, with a focus on sex trafficking. Kleinert is also the founder of Ruthie’s Rolling Café, a gourmet grilled cheese food truck. She also co-founded Executives In Action (EIA) in 2009, which generated $5 million for North Texas not-for-profit organizations before merging with Catchafire.org in 2016, bringing the organization to a national level. Kleinert has partnered with New Friends New Life, Texas Women’s Foundation, St. Phillip’s School, SMU Dedman College, Shelter Ministries of College, Rebecca Bender Initiative, and SMU Maguire Center for Ethics.


The Young Leader Award is granted to impressive women under the age of 40 who are creating a path to success for other women to follow. Recipients include:  

  • Dr. HaeSung Han: Co-founder of POETIC, Dr. Han is a clinical psychologist and board-certified art therapist. POETIC is an aftercare program for young girls leaving the juvenile justice system who have been trafficked and exploited. After working as a clinical director at Letot Residential Treatment Center, Dr. Han saw the need for programs like POETIC, which aims to to stop the cycle of re-victimization through a four-systems model. She is currently on the board of the North Texas Art Therapy Association. 
  • Ana I. Rodriguez: As a graduate of SMU, Rodriguez currently serves as the director of the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative, which is the country’s only business-school-based national center of excellence that focuses on promoting Latino talent into executive business positions and expanding diverse leadership. She is a non-profit executive, organizational strategist, and inspirational speaker, working to create leadership opportunities for diverse groups. Rodriguez also works with Fortune 500 companies to grow multi-cultural talent with opportunities for their global organizations, and hosts high school students with limited opportunities to tour and find ways to continue their education at SMU. 

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