Meet the Women Helping Women: Texas Women’s Foundation Honors 7 Female Leaders, Raises $475K

Seven female trailblazers took home awards during TXWF's 42nd annual Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration.

Adriana Gascoigne, author of Tech Boss Lady and founder and CEO of Girls in Tech also offered advice as a women who was the only female and woman of color at numerous startups.

Dallas-based Texas Women’s Foundation is continuing its mission to transform Texas for women and girls with its recent 42nd annual Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration (LFAC).

Presented by AT&T, the virtual event honored seven female pioneers who have made positive impacts, while blazing a trail for those to follow. It’s a testament to what the foundation, which is one of the world’s largest women’s foundations, was founded to do: Empower women and girls to build stronger, more equitable communities.

TXWF CEO and President Roslyn Dawson Thompson

TXWF honored five women with the Maura Women Helping Women Award and two with the Young Leader Award. Also announced was the foundation’s new podcast, Gender Matters, which will be a series full of in-depth interviews with each award recipient, Kimberly-Clark Corp. executives, and TXWF CEO and President Roslyn Dawson Thompson. Kimberly-Clark Corp., the multinational personal care corporation that’s headquartered in Irving, is sponsoring the podcast.

The event was anchored by a keynote conversation with Adriana Gascoigne, author of Tech Boss Lady and founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, and AT&T’s SVP of Engineering and Operations, Marachel Knight. 

Gascoigne gave insight into her life and career, and offered advice for those who have been in her shoes as the only female and woman of color at numerous startup companies:

• Leadership starts at the top.
• Resiliency is an important quality in starting a business.
• Find your passion and purpose.
• Find the right partners and the right funding sources.
• Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Jennifer Biry, chief financial officer of AT&T’s Warner Media business; Roslyn Dawson Thompson, TXWF’s president and chief executive officer; Jana Etheridge, senior vice president, chief of staff & customer office, Financial Services, Capital One; and Hattie Hill, president and CEO of T.D. Jakes Foundation, also spoke. Etheridge and Hill served as this year’s event co-chairs.

After the event wrapped, attendees were given a selection of breakout Leadership Forum sessions to choose from. Each featured a moderated discussion with award recipients about key issues and their own pathways to leadership. 

It was then revealed that LFAC had netted $475,000 to drive TXWF’s work.

The foundation each year raises funding from a broad base of donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. Since its founding in 1985, $57 million has been invested to help Texas women and girls thrive. These resources help advance economic security and leadership via groundbreaking research, advocacy, grants and programs. 

Last February, TXWF announced that its “gender lens” investment strategy led to 100 percent of its financial assets being invested in a 100 percent gendered impact portfolio. This yielded strong financial returns and social benefits to women and girls—and led to TXWF being the first and only women’s fund or foundation to move its assets into gendered impact.

“We hope that we can inspire others to become part of what is now a global movement around impact investing,” Dawson Thompson previously stated. “And specifically for women’s funds and foundations, we can demonstrate how, by mission-aligning 100 percent of our assets with our philanthropy, we can powerfully accelerate the change we seek in the world.”

Award recipients

Here’s who took home awards at the 2021 iteration of the Leadership Forum and Awards Celebration, and why TXWF chose them.

Maura Women Helping Women Award

Trisha Cunningham [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Trisha Cunningham is leading in calm and in crisis as the president and CEO of North Texas Food Bank by leading a staff of 180 that helped serve 97 million meals in 2020.

Revati “Rani” Puranik [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Rani Puranik is an intrapreneur and global change agent as co-owner and Global CFO of Houston-based Worldwide Oilfield Machine and leading supporter of an Indian school. 

Judy Trevino [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Judy Treviño is paying it forward as executive director of CCVI Ministries, an international nonprofit organization that is transforming the lives of people and the community.

Cheryl Polote Williamson [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Cheryl Polote Williamson, Maura Award recipient, is helping people find their power through their purpose as founder of Soul Reborn and Cheryl Polote Williamson LLC.

Jin-Ya Huang [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Jin-Ya Huang invests in women as the founder of Break Bread, Break Borders that empowers refugee women economically through the storytelling of cooking, food and culture. 

Young Leader Award

Kim Roxie [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Kim Roxie is an entrepreneur and catalyst for women of color as founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty that caters to multicultural women. 

Diana Mao [Photo: Texas Women’s Foundation]

Diana Mao is transforming women from victimized to victorious as the president of Nomi Network whose mission is to eradicate human trafficking.  

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