In a season of giving thanks, recent events make me especially grateful to live in such a visionary, prosperous, and generous city. In that spirit, I’d like to highlight a few of my innovative she-roes powering our region.
Jennifer M. Ware: Jen is an alumna of Leadership Women, and has spent her career developing female leaders. In her current role as CEO of YW of Dallas, she launched the Women’s Enterprise Center, empowering women entrepreneurs through incubation and acceleration services. Graduates of the YW Dallas’ 60-hour, 10-week program have turned their hobbies into profitable companies, gaining the business savvy, poise, and confidence to pitch their ideas to a room full of bigwigs.
Nancy Nasher: With her spouse David Haemisegger, Nancy Nasher took the philanthropic legacy of her parents Ray and Patsy Nasher to new heights in 2015. This year, the Nasher-Haemissegger family launched the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s annual Soluna International Festival of Art & Music and endowed the Nasher Sculpture Center’s $100,000 Nasher Prize to be awarded in April 2016 to Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo. They also made the largest gift in the history of Temple Emanu-El for its renovation and expansion. Best of all, their jubilant celebration of NorthPark Center’s 50th anniversary saw the 50 Years of Giving campaign contributing to 50 nonprofits.
Noelle LeVeaux: In her current role as Chief Marketing Officer for the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Noelle launched Dallas’ BIG campaign showcasing how inclusive Dallas really is. But her recent TEDxSMU talk highlights how she balances her stellar career and single motherhood while surviving cancer. Entrepreneurs often struggle to stay healthy, so Noelle is a great role model for anyone seeking simple ways to make each day great.
Florence Shapiro: Former Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro serves as a director of (my employer) Communities Foundation of Texas, producer of North Texas Giving Day, which this September raised $33 Million for more than 2,100 nonprofits in 18 hours, making it the nation’s single-largest, community-wide day of giving. Through the Junior League of Collin County (which she co-founded), Senator Shapiro also launched Go Govern! this fall to prepare women for elected and appointed office. She also chairs Educate Texas, which this year partnered with The Teaching Channel to equip educators with on-demand professional development tools.
Regina Montoya: Since becoming one of the first Latinas to make partner at a major corporate U.S. law firm, this Wellesley College and Harvard Law alumna has worked in the White House and served on the board of directors for more than a dozen organizations. In addition to working on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential bid, Montoya also chairs Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ Task Force on Poverty. It’s a daunting task, especially since Dallas’ poverty rate is among the highest among major U.S. cities. But solutions addressing the root causes of inequity must be found or economic prosperity cushioning the blows of global economic crisis and collapsing fossil fuel prices will thwart Dallas’ progress.
These women (and scores more I haven’t time to name) are making Dallas an internationally renowned hub of innovation addressing the world’s greatest challenges.
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