Crawfish, Crayfish, Crawdads – Oh my!





The Women’s Home could not have asked for a more beautiful day to host our 2016 Crawfish Boil. Almost 500 guests gathered at West Alabama Ice House on Saturday, April 2, 2016 for a day of pinching mudbug tails in support of The Women’s Home. In just under four hours, our enthusiastic crowd threw down 2,400 lbs. of crawfish while enjoying an amazing slate of silent auction items and special spring merchandise from The Cottage Shop’s Mobile Boutique. The party went to a whole new level when the Travelocity Gnome dropped in for a surprise visit.

With the support of 64 event sponsors and over 80 volunteers from Bank of America, Houston Methodist, The Women’s Home and Williams, the event grossed over $80,000!

We are grateful for the extreme generosity shown by all of our sponsors this year and would like to especially thank Houston Methodist (our premier sponsor), Admiral Transfer and Rigging, Inc., the John P. McGovern Foundation, Marine Foods Express, Cole Chemical and Distributing, Katy & Logan Boatman, Desroches Partners, Inc., and Williams for their major sponsorships.

Special thanks to 2016 event chairs Matthew Corbett, Courtney Goldberg and Natasha Prather for their amazing leadership as well as the Crawfish Boil Host Committee for their time and support. Their hard work helped The Home supersede its goals for 2016!

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Landmarks & Legacies: 2015 Gala Recap

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On Friday November 13, 2015, nearly 400 guests gathered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel to take a walk through The Women’s Home’s history with our 2015 Landmarks and Legacies Gala. This year our honorees were eight individuals whose support and dedication have shaped the history of The Home. This year’s honorees, JoAnne King Herring our Hall of Fame Honoree, Jane Cizik, Adele and Ber Pieper, Bette Stead, Kay and René Joyce, and Mandy Kao, exemplify the compassion and dedication that has enabled The Home to grow into the successful organization it is today.

Honorees were all in attendance as the evening began with the premier of this video, narrated by none other than JoAnne King Herring herself, in which each honoree spoke of the impact of The Home and wove together the narrative of our history.

Guests bid on fabulous silent auction items coordinated by gala co-chair Tracy Faulker, whose hard work alongside co-chairs Harry Faulkner and Fran Fawcett Peterson ensured the evening would be unforgettable. The hall was decorated in brilliant fall colors courtesy of Linda McInvale from Memorable Events. Deborah Duncan, Mistress of Ceremonies, led guests through the evening program, partnering with Morton Auctioneer and Appraisers’ General Manager Angus Adam who put on his best British charm for the crowd during the paddle raise.

After dinner and the program, guests danced the night away to the Richard Brown Orchestra accompanied by the electric vocals of Deborah Duncan. Among the crowd were familiar and new faces alike including Karina Barbieri, Marie Bosarge, Donae Chramosta, Scott and Michelle Ensell, Jenna and Brendan Gilbert, Yasmine Haddad, Janice and Charlie Hall, Staci and Dr. Quang Henderson, Anika Jackson, Ryan Korsgard, Gina Li, Beth Madison, Lisa Maloskey, Miya Shay, Evin Thayer, Tammy Tran Nguyen, Jim and Elaine Turner, Sue Trammel Whitfield, and Margaret Alkek Williams. The Women’s Home Young Professionals showed up in force, representing the bright future of The Women’s Home. Together, guests raised $320,000 in support of The Women’s Home programs and mission.

Shop. Taste. Empower. Holiday Edition 2015 Recap

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On the sunny autumn of Sunday of November 15, 2015, The Cottage Shop opened its doors for our Holiday Edition of Shop. Taste. Empower. We hosted this second edition of Shop. Taste. Empower after the smashing success of our first one this past May which saw over 200 guests in the three hours the shop was open. Media Sponsor Houstonia Magazine’s contribution helped raise excitement for the event. Members of the University of Houston Marketing Club’s volunteer efforts helped promote the event beforehand.

The Holiday edition of this fabulous Cottage Shop event saw an equally amazing turn out, with over 200 shoppers perusing and purchasing amazing merchandise generously donated by the Houston community. Notable donors included Francesca’s Boutique and mother and daughter owned Tres Chic Boutique. Francesca’s donated boxes of shoes, jewelry, accessories and gifts to the shop, and Tres Chic, owned by mother-and-daughter team Susan and Elizabeth Hancock, generously donated over 100 pieces of stunning high fashion clothing, which were on sale in the boutique.

Guests were able to receive holiday fashion advice from notable experts in attendance. Vintage Expert and Fashion Stylist Dawn Bell guided shoppers on the best styles from another time. She was accompanied by 2015 Miss Houston Vintage Alice Berry, who modeled several outfits from The Cottage Shop’s vintage segment. Fashion Designer Becky P. Hollands provided style advice to shoppers upon request alongside The Houston Chronicle’s Fashion and Beauty Editor, Joy Sewing. Guests received expert hair and make-up advice from Shany Cosmetics and By Terry stylists, as well as Make-Up Artists Justine Hernandez, Kenya Hunt, and Lydia Lutz and Lipstick and Brunch fashion and beauty blogger, Nicole Kestenbaum representing Lush Cosmetics.

WholeFoods, Paulie’s and Jodycakes provided sweet bites while Greenway Coffee and TopoChico provided refreshing beverages to fuel guests. In addition to all the items for sale, guests could bid on the silent auction which included incredible items from Aerial Yoga, Alexis Schadel for the Home, Be There in Five, Boheme, Burd Life, Clark Cooper Concepts, Greenway Coffee Company, Soul Healer Janelle Hoyland, Make-Up by Kenya, Mod Your Body Fitness, MW Cleaners, Seasons 52, Serente Spa, Shany Cosmetics, and Dr. Stephen Wolfson.

Volunteer Victoria Salinas, along with several of her coworkers and students who volunteered for the day, continuously carried in and sorted the donations brought in by generous attendees. Shoppers cleared through merchandise as fast as it was brought out on the floor, with a cornucopia of clothing, shoes, accessories and gift items to shop from. The sales by the end of the three hour event reached $10,000. Thank you to all who came out and made this second edition of Shop. Taste. Empower. a rousing success!

Missed the event? Don’t worry, The Cottage Shop has fantastic deals all season long on amazing items for anyone on your gift list—including you!

The Women’s Home Re:Entry Summit September 2015 Recap

b2ap3_thumbnail_Re-Entry-COllage-SmallerOn September 30, 2015, The Women’s Home held our very first Re:Entry Summit, a day long symposium dedicated to discussing the issues women face upon re-entering society after incarceration. The event brought together panelists and speakers from across the nation who have dedicated their work to researching the ways the criminal justice system affects those involved. Chau Nguyen, then Manager of Community Involvement for The Home, and the emcee for the morning, opened the Summit by giving thanks to Texas Bar Foundation for awarding the grant which made this summit possible. Attendees then saw a short video of one of The Home’s graduates, who spoke on her experience with re-entry.

The morning’s keynote speakers, the authors of A Country Called Prison, Drs. Mary D. Looman and John D. Carl opened the day with the origins of their book. The Drs. research began when Dr. Looman noted to Dr. Carl that incarcerated people share a distinct language, pro-social behavior (ways of dressing and presenting yourself and interacting with others), and similar childhood narratives. Dr. Carl, a sociologist noted that these commonalities are the things that a country’s culture is built on, and the two began researching how our current prison system alienates millions of citizens, effectively preventing them from ever fully re-entering society.

Drs. Looman and Carl went on to explain how the United States’ incarcerated population, at over 16 million, is just slightly smaller than the state of Florida, and those incarcerated carry lifelong disadvantages from stigma and poor resources that are passed to the next generation. Prison systems, Dr. Looman noted, are the only industry she has worked in where there is not a unified goal for all those involved. Those incarcerated are focused on leaving, behavioral staff like her are focused on getting them needed medical treatment, administrative staff focus on keeping the prison running, and security staff are focused on preventing any physical violence. Prisons are also the only organizational structure that do not specialize their treatment, unlike schools or hospitals where those using services are divided by age, learning level, or needed treatment. This leads to situations like 19 year olds on their first nonviolent drug charge being roomed with convicted pedophiles or experienced convicts whose only mentorship is how to survive best in the prison system. This failure to categorize and provide specialized services and training to those incarcerated creates an environment where inmates stagnate until they are released, with no resources, social skills, or pro-social skills to help them recover and avoid returning.

After this provocative opening, attendees left the main room to the morning breakout session of their choice. The morning sessions included:

A more in depth look at Dr. Looman and Dr. Carl’s eleven proposals to address the problems their opening speech laid out

A panel featuring keynote speaker Dr. Andrea Leverentz and The Women’s Home graduate, Natasha Jones that examined the journey from prison to re-entry from the lived perspective

A behavioral health panel featuring Career and Recovery’s Alternative Program Director, Jeff Berry as well as The Women’s Home Executive Director, Paula Paust and Tina Carr, a graduate of The Women’s Home who now works within the Harris County Jail providing mental health services

A look at the impact of diversion courts and similar initiatives by the Honorable Judge Denise Bradley, Director of the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, Teresa May, SAFE Program District Attorney Crystal Okorafor, and graduate of The Women’s Home and STAR court client, Anna Rabe who now works as an account manager and recruiter for a staffing firm

A panel focused on how activism and programs within the community can enact change and provide support with the Executive Director of Angela House, Maureen O’Connell as well as their Associate Director, Alycia Welch, and Brigid’s Hope’s Program Director, Regina Walker.

After lunch, former news anchor and friend to The Home, Fran Fawcett Peterson, introduced the afternoon’s keynote speakers, Senator John Whitmire and Dr. Andrea Leverentz. Senator John Whitmire gave a speech addressing how, from early on in his career, he recognized the need to provide treatment and support instead of punishment to individuals brought into the judicial system for nonviolent drug offenses. The Senator made the point that when dealing with infractions, our justice system often fails to differentiate between whether we are afraid of those who have broken the law or angry with them. This failure means that nonviolent offenders, many of whom are charged for offenses relating to addiction or drug possession, are being sentenced to serve terms that will follow them throughout their life. Senator Whitmire advocated for alternatives such as diversion courts, which allow those brought in on charges like drug possession the opportunity to seek treatment rather than incarceration. He also advocated for a process that would allow for eventual expungement of records after former inmates had made changes to their lives and were again productive citizens.

Dr. Andrea Leverentz followed Senator Whitmire with a presentation elaborating on the research she discussed during her morning break out panel. The author of The Ex-Prisoner’s Dilemma, Leverentz began researching the effects of incarceration upon women after discovering a lack of information and data focused on the gender specific needs of women re-entering society from prison. Dr. Leverentz presented how interviewing formerly incarcerated women in Chicago and Boston revealed a common language the women used for talking about their experiences. Dr. Leverentz noted that this language, adopted from the program provided by a local nonprofit that provided support services to women struggling with addiction and re-entry, created a narrative similar to the 12 step program. She discussed how this narrative was not always appropriate or helpful in facing barriers of re-entry to the community.

The summit broke out again for afternoon sessions covering:

Employment barriers and finding and maintaining work with Second Chance Chief Executive Officer Robert Coleman and Barbara Irving, Career and Recovery Services’ Director of Veteran and Housing Services

The overlap between those facing chronic homelessness and repeat incarceration with Mandy Chapman-Semple, Special Assistant to the Mayor for the Homeless Initiative and Coalition for the Homeless’ Director of Programs Eva Thibaudeau

The Honorable Judge Angela Ellis and Angela House and Healthcare for the Homeless’s Program Director, Dr. Andrea Link discussed how human trafficking and prostitution can trap women in a revolving cycle of incarceration and re-entry and how judicial solutions like GIRL’s Court, a diversion court designed to help minors leave human trafficking and expunge criminal records, and health oriented solutions like The Healthy and Whole program can help

The Honorable Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore, No More Victims Founder, Marilyn Gambrell and Big Brothers Big Sisters Director of Houston Enrollment & Special Projects, Jenifer Butler discussed the impact incarceration can have during and after incarceration on family members, children and caretakers

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church’s Senior Associate Pastor Matt Russell discussed his research on the how men and women differ in building narratives of recovery and viewing their experiences with incarceration

Attorney at Law and Program Director of Beacon Law at The Beacon Leslie Schweinle Ginzel discussed the importance of providing comprehensive legal services to women re-entering society.

The symposium concluded with a keynote speech from Texas House of Representatives Member Senfronia Thompson, who spoke about the recent victory she and her cohorts accomplished that struck down legislation preventing those with drug-related felonies from accessing SNAP food benefits and being able to rent an apartment. She recounted how when an opponent of this change said ex-offenders should be tested if they want to receive food stamps, she countered that they already experience random drug screenings through the judiciary system, and adding an extra layer of testing wastes government funds. Representative Thompson, who has been in office since 1972, spoke about how politics make for strange bedfellows, and that she and her colleagues will be doing work to reduce prison terms across the board in the upcoming legislative sesson.

The Re:Entry Summit bid farewell to over 180 attendees with closing remarks from The Women’s Home Development Director, Marcia Tapp, who thanked the presenters and speakers and affirmed the important work they and those who attended the summit do every day. Marcia also brought to the stage The Women’s Home Intern, Haley Sparks, who worked for months alongside Marcia to help organize the Summit and played an integral role in seeing the event to fruition.

Leaning In and Taking Names September 2015

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The Women’s Home Young Professionals will host Leaning In & Taking Names on Thursday September 24, 2015, a panel discussion on career path insights with renowned community leaders. The panel will run from 6 to 8pm at United Way of Greater Houston and feature Reliant’s Vice President of Customer Care Operations, Bill Clayton; United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Honorable Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod; CEO of Pink Petro, Katie Mehnert; and Methodist Hospital Breast Cancer Center Medical Director, Luz A. Venta, M.D.

These professionals are leaders in their fields, with long and varied careers. They will speak on their experiences and offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions and glean important insights on how to develop and negotiate their own professional opportunities.

William Clayton oversees Reliant’s call center and mid-office operations and is responsible for leading the company’s customer care and service operations for their mass market customers. With a background in political science and nearly two decades of experience in utility and retail electric industries, William has held roles in residential load management, field operation, retail marketing, program development and retail operations.

Jennifer Walker Elrod, was appointed and twice elected Judge of the 190th District Court of Harris County, Texas, before taking her current position. A Baylor and Harvard Graduate, Judge Elrod was in private practice before serving as a judge. She has also taught as an adjunct professor for University of Houston Law Center and served as the M.D. Anderson Visiting Public Service Professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law. She is a member of the Baylor University Board of Regents, an elected member of the American Law Institute, a member of the board of the Houston Urban Debate League, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges Association.

Katie Walthall Mehnert is the Founder and Chief executive Officer of Pink Petro™, a social media channel designed to connect and support the professional development of women working throughout the energy industry and help close the field’s gender gap. Katie is also the president of Cognovi Communications, a consulting business that helps companies in the energy industry transform culture, improve safety and identify operational risk. Her consultation work is informed by her previous leadership roles with companies like BP and Shell.

Dr. Venta received her first faculty appointment in 1988 as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. She became an Associate Professor there in 1994. She served as the Medical Director of Section Breast Imaging at the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital while at Layola. In 2000, Dr. Venta was recruited to Houston Methodist Hospital to lead the breast imaging group and joined the faculty of the Baylor College of Medicine as a Professor of Radiology. In 2005, she received her faculty appointment at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Tickets are on sale for $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Space is limited so purchase yours before they run out by clicking here.  Don’t miss this opportunity to ask these accomplished professionals for insights into their success and advice on building experience.

reNew & reDo 2015

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On Wednesday August 19, 2015 The Women’s Home’s 6th annual reNew and reDo fashion show took the Wortham in style despite the stormy weather. Over the course of the evening, the 500 guests shopped all night, fueled by sweet and savory bites from Lady Lavender Confections and Hungry’s Café and Bistro. Among the crowd were Deborah Duncan, Marie and Nancy Dang, Susanne Glasscock, Yasmine Haddad, Janice Hall, Harriet Hart, Ajay Khurana, Mary Axelrad, and Julie Mahler.

Guests watched as volunteer models including Nancy Almodovar, Nick Anderson, Katy Boatman, Cindy Castañeda, Will Chang, Donae Chromosta, Ianne Fastoff, Tracy Faulkner, Varda Dror Fields, Rita Garcia, Nina Gutierrez-Garcia, Sanaz Harirchian, Quang Henderson, Staci Henderson, Euan Holden, Kenya Hunt, Sippi Khurana, Peta-Gay Ledbetter, Laith Mahmood, Naureen Malik, Kristen McDaniel, Nick Merchant, Shawntell McWilliams, Michael Pearce, Bharat Pothuri, and Rachel Suliburt walked the runway in ensembles styled once again by Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar from the designer donations to The Cottage Shop.  All menswear was custom made by LUCHO. LUCHO donated a portion of the custom suits’ sales to The Women’s Home and after the show, the runway styles were wheeled onto the floor to join the rest of the designer clothing, shoes and accessories in the pop up Cottage Shop Boutique where the shopping excitement was in full swing as guests purchased top shelf brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Dior and many others for bargain prices.

The event featured a silent auction stocked with clothing, accessory, travel and event packages donated from a number of local and national businesses as well as five dresses donated from the closets of this year’s Fashion Icons Carrie Colbert, Joanne King Herring, Tatiana Masse, Theresa Roemer and Elaine Turner. The icons were acknowledged with applause and their own walk on the runway during the show’s opening. The event raised $130,000 for The Women’s Home.

Couldn’t come to the big event? Head over to The Cottage Shop for a chance to shop all the remaining merchandise from reNew!

A Woman of Substance 2015

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From Left to Right: Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring

On Wednesday April 8, 2015, literary enthusiasts gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel Downtown for afternoon tea with Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring. Among the audience was former first lady and longtime friend of Barbara Taylor Bradford, Barbara Bush. The Women’s Home Board President Brenda White and Joanne King Herring, who is an accomplished diplomat and the granddaughter of The Women’s Home founder, Mrs. Laura Sampson, opened the tea with a few words about The Home’s mission for an audience of familiar and new faces. Ernie Manouse, host of PBS’s InnerVIEWS served as the MC, moving throughout the room taking questions from the audience. Joanne and Barbara entertained guests with anecdotes of their early careers, including Barbara’s recounting of when she first met Mrs. Bush and how a spill down the stairs landed her at the feet of the former first lady. Joanne recounting her time as a news anchor, a position she achieved while promoting The Home to news networks, said it felt like always running quarterback to be heard in a male dominated field.

Among the guests were both long time readers of Bradford’s work as well as new followers, including mothers who had passed the books along to their daughters. Bradford when asked on her writing process, explained she keeps track of her characters using notecards for reference, pinning her main cast to a corkboard in her work space and keeping the rest at hand in a Manolo shoebox. On being asked about how she dealt with the increasingly tricky issue of protecting her intellectual property in the age of the internet, Bradford recounted an extended legal battle she and her husband, Robert Bradford undertook upon learning one of Robert’s film adaptations of her novels was being reproduced without their knowledge in India.

Questions drew to a close on the subject of childhood literacy, when discussion turned to Bradford’s The Write Stuff short story competition for young girls in the UK and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy which provides literacy programs for adults and children across the U.S. Herring brought the tea to a neat finish thanking Bradford and inviting guests to purchase Bradford’s latest novel, The Cavendon Women at the back where Bradford would sign.

2015 WholeLife Luncheon

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2015 Laura Sampson Community Award Honorees from Left to Right:

Dr. Sippi Khurana, Elaine Turner, Alden Clark and the Reverend Michael Gott, Jindi Vincent (former President ofThe Women’s Energy Network)

Late on the sunny morning of Friday June 5, 280 guests gathered at the Houstonian Hotel for our 2015 WholeLife Luncheon featuring author Carine McCandless. Emceed by The Women’s Home Advisory Board Member and Great Day Houston Host Deborah Duncan, the luncheon began with thanks to sponsors before recognizing our 2015 Laura Sampson Community Award Honorees. Recognized for their philanthropic dedication to their communities, our 2015 honorees were Dr. Sippi Khurana, Elaine Turner, Alden Clark and the Reverend Michael Gott and The Women’s Energy Network. The Women’s Home Executive Director Paula Paust then announced our 2015 WholeLife® Award Winner, Bryson Blair. The WholeLife Award goes to a graduate of The Women’s Home Treatment and Transitional Housing program who has flourished in her life and recovery. Bryson’s perseverance, bravery and honesty embody what it means to live a whole life.

Carine McCandless took the podium for the final portion of the luncheon, where she told the story of her brother, Chris McCandless also known as Alexander Supertramp, who was first made famous by Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild. Carine explained how the longer she spoke about her brother’s story at engagements and schools, where her candid honesty with students regularly led one in the crowd to come privately to her for help, the more she felt compelled to come forth with the whole story. This led to the writing of her memoir, The Wild Truth, which details how a childhood marked by domestic violence both emotional and physical, deeply shaped both her and Chris’s lives.

Carine explained that while her brother was drawn more and more to the wilderness for refuge from their family struggles, she found herself driven to the city and involved in relationships that mirrored the violence of her family home. When faced with these difficult situations, Carine invoked the image of two roads, one clear, straight and smooth, but somehow unsettling, the other winding and potholed, but with signs of promise for the journey ahead. Carine committed to the harder more rewarding path at each turn in her life and found success.

Carine’s story shows the same determination and indomitable spirit she recognizes in her brother. Time and again she found the strength to leave toxic relationships and the commitment to go through school, to run her own business, and begin a family she never expected to have.

Guests of the luncheon each received a signed copy of Carine’s memoir, The Wild Truth and had the opportunity to speak with Carine and have their book personalized after the program. Guests also bid on silent auction items provided by presenting sponsor Morton Auctioneers & Appraisers, 2015 honoree and bronze sponsor Elaine Turner, and fashion boutique Lucho. Attendees raised over $85,000 that will go towards helping women like Bryson build whole lives.