Women Helping Women: Texas Women’s Foundation Honors Seven Trailblazing “Agents of Positive Change”

Meet the influential women who will be honored by the Texas Women's Foundation for their work in catalyzing change and new opportunities for other women and girls.

The virtual event will be next level, says TWF CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson.

Dallas-based Texas Women’s Foundation, which claims the status as the largest regional women’s foundation in the world, has announced the seven recipients of its 2021 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leadership Awards.

The honorees are “agents of powerful and positive change for women and girls in Texas and beyond,” says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, the foundation’s president and CEO. The seven will be virtually honored at an awards celebration, presented by AT&T, on April 29, 

A reimagined event will celebrate their remarkable achievements—and offer timely and relevant inspiration, she says. 

Next-level virtual event

The Texas Women’s Foundation was one of the first North Texas organizations to host a virtual event in 2020 after the pandemic struck. It quickly converted its annual Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration into a series of well-attended virtual conversations, Dawson told Dallas Innovates.

“This year, we’re taking things to the next level,” she says.

Adriana Gascoigne—author of Tech Boss Lady and CEO of global nonprofit Girls in Tech —will kick off an event that’s aimed at energy and engagement.

Attendees can join one of several professional development-styled breakout sessions. Designed as leadership forums, each will host a moderated discussion with the award recipients about issues and their own pathways to leadership. There will be opportunities for event attendees to interact and participate, Dawson says. The sessions will be recorded and available to attendees within 24 hours.

That will be followed up with an “intriguing podcast series that ticket buyers can enjoy on their own schedule,” she says. The series Gender Matters, which is supported by Kimberly-Clark, will feature in-depth interviews of the seven honorees. 

Meet the Texas trailblazers

Trisha Cunningham, Jin-Ya Huang, Revati “Rani” Puranik, Judy Treviño, and Cheryl Polote Williamson were the 42nd group of women given the Maura Women Helping Women Award, which is presented to individuals who have catalyzed change for young girls and women alike. This cohort of women will join more than 200 previous honorees who have received the award. 

Diana Mao and Kim Roxie also received the Young Leadership Award, which is presented to individuals who have achieved success in a field, initiative, or sector creating a path or opportunity for other women to follow.  

Bios information is provided by the Texas Women’s Foundation.

2021 Maura Women Helping Women Recipients

Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of  North Texas Food Bank [Photo: Kim Leeson]

Trisha Cunningham
President and CEO
North Texas Food Bank

Cunningham and a team of 200 employees and thousands of volunteers worked with more than 200 partners in their feeding network to provide access to 97 million meals last fiscal year. Prior to serving at the NTFB, a $200 million nonprofit leading the fight against hunger in North Texas, she was Chief Citizenship Officer at Texas Instruments, where she aimed to build stronger communities globally. Recent awards include being named as a Dallas Business Journal’s 2020 Women in Business honoree and 2020 Most Inspiring Leader, D CEO’s Dallas 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in 2019 and 2020, Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas 2019 Distinguished Alumni, and Junior League of Collin County’s 2019 Nonprofit Executive of the Year. Cunningham also serves on multiple nonprofit boards and engages in civic opportunities, along with spending time with her family.

Jin-Ya Huang, founder of Break Bread, Break Borders [Photo: Danny Fulgencio]

Jin-Ya Huang
Artist & Impact Innovator for Immigrant Women
Break Bread, Break Borders (BBBB)

Huang crosses boundaries as a social impact, community development, and creative innovator. Her focus aims at the intersection of equity, design, and social justice work. The founder of Break Bread, Break Borders—a culinary training social enterprise— she “economically empowers refugee women from war-torn countries through the storytelling of cooking, food, and culture.” Credited as an acclaimed interdisciplinary artist, Huang examines her Asian identity and diasporic immigrant experience through her works. A published writer and public speaker, the impact innovator keeps an eye on “new approaches to entrepreneurship, empowering women and improving race relations.” She also serves on numerous advisory boards and is a member of the Texas Women’s Foundation’s Orchid Giving Circle. Huang Huang is a current fellow of PLS, the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, and “regarded for her ability to bring communities and people of all backgrounds together and has a reputation as a bridge builder.”

Revati Puranik, co-owner and CFO of Worldwide Oilfield Machine, executive director of Puranik Foundation [Photo: TXWF]

Revati “Rani” Puranik
Intrapreneur & Global Change Agent for Young Women
Worldwide Oilfield Machine

Puranik, a motivational speaker and a certified Master Coach in Leadership Development, is passionate about mentoring the next generation of leaders. She also serves as executive director of the Puranik Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Worldwide Oilfield Machine. Puranik, Founded by her mother and now managed by her eldest daughter, it represents three generations of women committed to education, wellness, and sustainability. The foundation operates a residential school in India called Vision International Learning Center. Puranik, who was named a “Top Leading Women in Energy” by the Houston Business Journal and Business Woman of the Year by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, is wrapping up her first book titled “7 Letters to My Daughters.” It’s slated for release later this year.

Judy Trevino, executive director of CCVI Ministries [Photo: TXWF]

Judy Treviño
Charity Leader & Advocate for Women’s Financial Empowerment
CCVI Ministries Inc.

Treviño, a San Antonio native who is most proud of “being a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” is currently pursuing her doctoral degree. The executive director for international nonprofit CCVI Ministries, she was appointed by the Governor of Texas to the Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board and by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg to the City of San Antonio’s Audit Committee. Active on several boards, the leader was elected to the Texas Business and Professional Women’s Foundation board recently. Treviño, who graduated from the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Latina Leadership Institute and participated in Leadership San Antonio Class 41, has presented to Latina Leadership Institute and the Boardroom Project that educates women in running for public office or serving on a board.

Cheryl Polote Williamson, CEO of Williamson Media Group, CEO of Cheryl Polote Williamson, founder and CEO of Soul Reborn [Photo: TXWF]

Cheryl Polote Williamson
Filmmaker, Author, Speaker & Entrepreneurial Activator
Soul Reborn

The “nationally acclaimed, multi best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker and executive producer, transformational speaker and success coach” has ushered 438 men and women into thriving entrepreneurship. Williamson, who is CEO and founder of Williamson Media Group aims to connect others to their purpose. An influencer and business leader, she’s founder and CEO of nonprofit Soul Reborn. The 501(c)(3) charitable organization has supported some 4,500 disenfranchised, under-served, and previously incarcerated women with lectures, classes, summits, and conferences. Topics span leadership, entrepreneurship, money management, etiquette, storytelling, and philanthropy. Williamson spearheaded the organization’s service to 10,000 frontline and essential workers and children and families in need from March through December 2020 in the pandemic. Williamson tours nationally motivating audiences.

2021 Young Leadership Award Recipients

Diana Mao, president and co-founder of Nomi Network [Photo: TXWF]

Diana Mao
Global Crusader & Protector Against Human Trafficking
Nomi Network

Mao is “an abolitionist with a mission to eradicate human trafficking in her lifetime.” As a champion for change, her “visionary skillsets have urged Nomi Network forward into enormous growth and success.” Nomi Network works to combat human trafficking by creating pathways to safe employment, helping women and girls break the cycles of slavery in their families and communities. Mao is a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar, New York Academy of Medicine Fellow, and also co-chaired the Nexus Human Trafficking Modern Day Slavery Work Group from 2013-2019. In addition, she’s served on the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking, which advises Federal agencies and Congress on how to strengthen programs for survivors of trafficking. The young leader also received the 2018 Pioneer Award from Asian Americans for Equality and 2018 Recent Alumni Impact Award from New York University. Mao travels extensively to raise awareness and funds for Nomi Network and build partnerships to fight human trafficking.

Kim Roxie, founder and CEO of LAMIK Beauty [Photo: TXWF]

Kim Roxie
Entrepreneur & Catalyst for WOC Founders
LAMIK Beauty

Roxie, the founder and CEO of clean beauty brand LAMIK Beauty, opened her own shop at age 21 with a $500 investment. Running the story for 14 years, she became the youngest African-American woman to have her products carried in a major department store. In 2019, she pivoted the business, launching LAMIK, which caters to multicultural women, as an e-commerce beauty company. Last year, the entrepreneur partnered with an augmented reality company to launch a tech-enabled website that allows consumers to digitally try on cosmetics. Roxies, who has received awards including the Barack Obama Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Service, is one of the Houston Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” the American Business Journal’s Most Influential Young Executives, and one of the “30 Black Stars” by Face2Face Africa. The City of Houston officially named June 23rd as Kim Roxie day in her honor.

Investment in women

Since 1985, the foundation, formerly known as the Dallas Women’s Foundation, has invested $57 million in women and girls, according to a press release. Texas Women’s Foundation focuses on advancing economic security and leadership for women and girls through research, advocacy, grants, and programs. 

Details for the Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration event can be found here.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report. The story was updated with additional event information and honoree bios on Feb. 9 at 11 a.m.

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