DALLAS, Texas, January 13, 2022Texas Women’s Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2022 Maura Women Helping Women and Young Leader Awards, an honor that celebrates leaders who have helped lift up women and girls. The recipients will be honored at the Leadership Forum & Awards Celebration (LFAC), presented by AT&T, on April 26, 2022, at the Omni Dallas Hotel (555 S. Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75202). Co-chairs are Bonnie Clinton, vice president and chief procurement officer, Indirect Procurement Shared Services, Toyota North America, and Ana I. Hernandez, senior vice president and senior commercial loan officer, PlainsCapital Bank.

The event’s keynote speaker is Radha Agrawal, co-founder, CEO and chief community architect of Daybreaker, a dance and wellness movement that holds events in dozens of cities with a worldwide community of half a million people. Through this movement, she and her group have opened for Oprah and done events for Facebook, AARP and others. Agrawal is a successful entrepreneur (co-founder of THINX and LiveItUp), author, globe-trotting speaker, DJ, inventor and investor. Her book, Belong, discusses creating meaningful communities and relationships. MTV named her as “one of 8 women who will change the world.”

“Our award recipients are amazing and inspiring, and we look forward to hearing their stories and celebrating them for their dedication to lifting up women and girls across Texas and beyond,” said Bonnie Clinton, LFAC co-chair.

Ana I. Hernandez, LFAC co-chair, added: “Our event theme is You Belong. We are thrilled to welcome Radha Agrawal, who will inspire us to create and belong to a more meaningful community.”

The event will feature Leadership Forums with each of the award winners discussing their leadership journey and the particular issue for women where they’ve devoted their passion and interest. The Forums will be followed by a reception and the dinner featuring Radha Agrawal.


4:00 – 4:45 P.M. Leadership Forum
Arlene Ford | You Advocate. : Advocating for diversity and inclusion in education.
Patricia Jasso | You Amplify. : Amplifying women in political office.
Sherri Kermanshachi | You Connect. : Engineering resilience for the next generation.

5:00 – 5:45 P.M. Leadership Forum
Lynn McBee | You Impact. : Creating a ripple of impact through philanthropy.
Patricia Rodriguez Christian | You Diversify. : Inspiring women entrepreneurs.
Thana Simmons | You Build. : Building safe spaces for teen mothers.
Stacy Johnson | You Persevere. : Paying it forward for at-risk youth.

6:00 – 6:45 P.M. General Reception

7:00 – 8:00 P.M. Awards Dinner, Awards, Keynote: Radha Agrawal

8:00-8:30 P.M. Radha Agrawal book signing

Maura Women Helping Women Award:

For 43 years, the Maura Women Helping Women Award has been presented to more than 200 courageous individuals who have catalyzed change for women and girls. This year’s award recipients are:

Arlene J. Ford, Ph.D. (Dallas, TX)
Equity Inquiry Project Inc.

Dr. Ford is the founder of the Equity Inquiry Project Inc. where she consults with organizations—educational institutions, nonprofits, corporations and their leaders—to build capacity around equity, inclusion and organizational change. She speaks nationally on issues of equity and inclusion, and has taught a graduate level course on equity to education leaders at Southern Methodist University. Dr. Ford is a trustee for the Dallas Museum of Art and is a director of Leadership ISD, a nonprofit organization that works to equip civic leaders to advocate for education equity and excellence for all students, particularly the most underserved. She also sits on the national board of LIFT Communities, an organization aimed at racial equity and economic stability. She received her Ph.D. in urban schooling from UCLA, her master’s degree in sociology and education from Teacher’s College Columbia University, her law degree from Harvard Law School, and bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University.

Thana Hickman-Simmons (Dallas, TX)
Viola’s House

Hickman-Simmons is the founder and executive director of Viola’s House, an emergency placement shelter for teen mothers who have an unplanned pregnancy. Raised in a middle-class home on the south side of Chicago, she faced an unexpected pregnancy at 17 and made the decision to keep her unborn child because of her support system. Hickman-Simmons moved to Dallas in 2007 and opened Viola’s House in 2008 after seeing that teen mothers often became homeless and didn’t have resources. Through a partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church, Viola’s House opened one apartment with two beds in 2015. Now, it has helped more than 240 homeless teen mothers in South Dallas through housing, licensed counselors, mentors and educators. In addition to helping these teen moms, she has also created jobs for women including her three daughters. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, is a certified life coach and holds a license of ordination in ministry.

Patricia “Pat” Jasso (San Antonio, TX)
Senior Planet/Retired AT&T Executive

Jasso is a community outreach coordinator and trainer for Senior Planet, a national nonprofit of OATS (Older Adults Technology) targeting seniors 60+. She also taught for OASIS organization for those 50+. Previously, she worked for AT&T until 2011 and served in the Air Force Reserves for 15 years. Jasso is a board member of Brooks Development Authority, board chair for the Texas Business & Professional Women Foundation, director-at-large of Texas Business Women San Antonio and board chair for the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Advisory Board. She serves as coordinator for Can We Talk, a coalition 65+ organizations that plan Women’s History Month (March) and Women’s Equality Day (August). One of her passions is politics, and she serves on the board of Annie’s List. She has received several awards including being inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame for her volunteerism.

Lynn McBee (Dallas, TX)
Young Women’s Preparatory Network

As a volunteer leader for more than 27 years, McBee has worked more than 45,000 hours of service for 30+ nonprofit groups. Her work has made a difference on issues like improving education, serving homeless, protecting children, fighting domestic violence and helping underserved students succeed in college. McBee has served more than eight years as CEO of Young Women’s Preparatory Network, a public-private partnership that creates STEM-focused schools of choice in an all-girls setting. To date, YWPN grads have a 100% college acceptance rate – many of them first generation college goers. She has grown revenues 300% and has partnered with ISDs to improve student achievement. As a biochemistry graduate from the University of Texas, she has worked for 30 years with New England Biolabs as a research scientist, manager and employee owner. She was recently appointed the Workforce Development Czar for the City of Dallas by Mayor Eric Johnson.

Patricia Rodriguez Christian (Irving, TX)
CRC Group Inc.

Rodriguez Christian is an entrepreneurial executive with more than 20 years of C-level experience at privately held CRC Group Inc., a group of family-owned companies. As CEO, she has provided leadership and direction at B2B/B2C companies in retail, restaurant, business processing outsourcing, real estate, and construction, from start-up through maturity. She is passionate about making diversity and inclusion a priority in all endeavors. Rodriguez Christian serves on corporate and nonprofit boards including co-president of Women Execs on Boards, Women’s Business Council Southwest, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and past president of DFW Hispanic 100 where she helped establish the Latina Giving Circle at Texas Women’s Foundation. She serves as an independent board director at Actuated Medical Inc. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Phoenix, a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, and is an alumna of the Harvard Business School with a Corporate Director Certificate.

Young Leader Award:

The Young Leader Award recognizes breakthrough leadership exhibited by a trailblazer who is achieving success in a field, initiative or sector, and creating a path of opportunity for other women to follow. This year’s recipients are:

Stacy Johnson (Round Rock, TX)
Central Texas Table of Grace

After leaving an alcoholic and neglectful mother and entering the foster care system at the age of two, Johnson spent the next 14 years moving from foster home to foster home, dreaming that she would open a children’s shelter to help kids like herself. In 2014, she opened Central Texas Table of Grace, an emergency shelter for children ages 6 to 17 in the foster care system who have nowhere else to go. Its mission is to create a loving, nurturing, homelike environment for displaced youth in the Central Texas area. Today, nearly 500 children have experienced the life-changing, loving, nurturing care offered there. In 2021, with 20% of foster kids becoming instantly homeless after turning 18, she launched the Grace365 program, a Supervised Independent Living Program for kids 18-22 who have aged out of foster care. In 2021, NBC’s KXAN recognized Stacy as the “Most Remarkable Woman of the Year” in Central Texas.

Sharareh (Sherri) Kermanshachi, Ph.D. (Arlington, TX)
University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Kermanshachi is associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and director of the Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environment (RISE) Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington where she leads post-doctorates, and Ph.D. and masters students. She has published more than 200 books, scholarly articles, conference proceedings and research reports and has conducted several research projects. Dr. Kermanshachi has received many prestigious national and regional awards including the 2022 Diversity Leadership Award, 2021 Rosa Parks Leadership Diversity Award, 2020 Women in Technology, 2020 Mark Hasso Educator of the Year, 2018 DBIA Distinguished Leadership Award, and 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Kermanshachi serves as a board member of the CMAA-North Texas and editorial board member of three journals. She received her Ph.D. degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University. She also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering, MBA and bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering.


To learn more about this event including tickets/sponsorships, visit https://txwfleadership.org/
General Admission In-Person: $430
General Admission Virtual: $43
Sponsorships starting: $1,000 and $5,000

For those interested in sponsorship, contact Ashley Lindsay at alindsay@txwf.org or 214.525.5311.

About Texas Women’s Foundation:

Texas Women’s Foundation is Transforming Texas for Women and Girls, empowering them to build stronger, more equitable communities. One of the world’s largest women’s foundations, the Foundation raises funding from a broad base of donors, including individuals, foundations and corporations. These resources support more than $7 million in investments that advance economic security and leadership for Texas women and girls through groundbreaking research, advocacy, grants and programs. Since inception in 1985, the Foundation has invested $57 million in women and girls, including $43 million since 2011. The Foundation’s statewide research on issues affecting women and girls provides decision-makers and lawmakers with critical data to inform policies, practices and programs in the state. Its advocacy, grantmaking and innovative programs support solutions that help Texas women and girls thrive. In addition, Texas Women’s Foundation is an acknowledged leader and advocate in the gender lens investing movement and has deployed 100 percent of its assets – endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds – in a gendered impact portfolio that yields strong financial returns and social benefits to women and girls. For more information, visit www.txwf.org, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram or donate now.

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