The Last Word: ABC News’ Deborah Roberts On Becoming a Leader — ‘Just Own It’

Texas Women's Foundation presented #BESTSELF and the Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration, setting the stage with a powerful conversation between ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall.

“Just own it.”

Deborah Roberts
ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of “20/20”

… on advice to becoming a leader, in a conversation with Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall at the Texas Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration on April 30.


When it comes to leadership, Deborah Roberts has a clear and compelling message. The renowned ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of “20/20” shared her insights in a powerful conversation with Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall at the recent Texas Women’s Foundation Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration.

Roberts emphasized the importance of paying it forward, saying, “Somebody opened the door for me. I need to open it for others—interns, young producers. They’re waiting for someone to say you can do it.”

Marshall echoed Roberts’ sentiment, quipping, “I love that. It is called HASU: Hook a Sister Up!”

The exchange was a highlight of the “Empowered”-themed event, held at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Drawing from her book, “Lessons Learned and Cherished,” Roberts shared stories of the profound influence mentors had in shaping her life and career, from a teacher who believed in her to a pivotal visit to the journalism department at the University of Georgia.

“I found my calling. I was willing to try something outside my comfort zone,” she said.

From left: Carrie Freeman Parsons, TXWF board chair; Hattie Hill, TXWF executive in residence; Deborah Roberts; Cynt Marshall; and Karen Hughes White, new TXWF president and CEO. [Photo: Kim Leeson/TXWF]

From #BESTSELF 2024 to award winners

As the Texas Women’s Foundation continues its mission to build strong women and a better world, the inspiring words of leaders like Roberts, Parsons, Hill, and others were a reminder of the impact one person can have in uplifting others and creating positive change.

The event was part of a full day of activities, which began with #BESTSELF 2024, a leadership program for middle and high school young women featuring breakout sessions on the power of health, future, and voice. Capital One’s Andrella Thomas and K.J. Grassi of Dallas Mavericks’ Girls Empowered by the Mavericks program kicked off the welcome of more than 200 young women in the program.

The event started with more than 200 middle and high school young women who attended #BESTSELF 2024, a leadership program of Texas Women’s Foundation. [Photo: Kim Leeson/TXWF]

Marlonda Taylor from Dallas College inspired with a talk on the “Power of Your Future” and Veronica Torres Hazley, founder and CEO of Hey Chica! and co-chair of the event, spoke on the “Power of Your Voice.” Hazley was the first-ever TXWF Young Leader Award recipient.

The Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration also recognized several remarkable women for 2024. The Maura Women Helping Women Award and the Young Leader Award winners were honored for their contributions to empowering women and fostering inclusive communities.

Award winners from left: Hilda McClure, Marsha Clark, Dr. Adeeba Raheem, Cimajie Best, Heather Bellino, and Jamila Thomas [Image: Kim Leeson/TXWF]

2024 award recipients, presented by Rosebud Nau, partner with Haynes Boone, and Brenda Jackson, selection committee co-chair, were:

  • Hilda McClure, recipient of the Young Leader Award for empowering wellness among Latina youth and single mothers
  • Marsha Clark, honored with the Maura Women Helping Women Award for her dedication to crafting leadership programs tailored for women
  • Dr. Adeeba Raheem, recognized with the Maura Women Helping Women Award for securing funding to support women and economically disadvantaged students in construction engineering and safety
  • Cimajie Best, recipient of the Young Leader Award for her lifelong commitment to fostering inclusive communities
  • Heather Bellino, honored with the Maura Women Helping Women Award for her work in supporting victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking
  • Jamila Thomas, recognized with the Maura Women Helping Women Award for spearheading initiatives that bolster the education and advancement of women of color.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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