Honoring Professional and Civic Achievements. A Benefit for the TEW Scholarship Fund
To inspire all women to achieve their full potential and give back to the community.
To support programs that recognize, develop and fund the development of all women in the community.
By Linda S. Holt
It all began in 1979 when Carol Roper called Nancy Huckle, Jeann Howse and a couple of others to talk about a group she’d found in Chicago, called IOWE (International Organization of Women Executives). Carol wanted to start a chapter in Houston. This group later dissolved. Since we could not continue to use the name, IOWE, Nancy (who was then the President of the Houston Chapter) called a group of us together to determine if we were interested in continuing the “concept” under another name. We could form a network between these former IOWE groups, or set out in a different direction. It was up to us to determine what our future organization should be.
At that meeting, we voted to leave the IOWE structure and form a new organization. There was great discussion about a name and it was determined Texas Executive Women (TEW) was appropriate.
Our goal was to be something different from the norm, an organization whose membership offered a diversity of professions and to promote women through education while giving back to women’s causes within the community. Our programs were designed to feature topics we could use in our business and in our lives.
The original founders of TEW set the criteria, which included a limit in each profession to only five members for diversification. The organization was initially founded on the premise of giving to our members rather than focusing on giving back to the community, as we do today.
We were driven by two objectives: first to build awareness of TEW and second to raise money to fund our programs. Our first fund raiser was an auction in 1980. The funds that were raised (about $3,000 to $4,000) benefitted only our organization at the time. The time came, however, when we were soliciting donations from outside businesses, etc. At that time, the decision was made to consider other uses of TEW’s funds–i.e. giving to the community. This is when we became involved with the Houston Area Women’s Center for battered women and children.
Everything runs its course, however. Since virtually everyone began doing auctions and tapping the same people for donations, we decided it was time to move onward and upward! As a sequel fundraiser, we started the Successful Women’s Series with speakers such Liz Carpenter, Sarah Weddington, and Andrea Mitchell as speakers.
In 1985 an opportunity to create Women on the Move® presented itself through The Houston Post. It was quite an honor for the Post to select TEW for this joint project. We were certainly not one of the oldest established groups in Houston — just the best.
What became Women On the Move® (honoring business and professional women in Houston) was originally Robert Sakowitz’s idea. He approached the Post with the idea, and they in turned approached TEW. Each co-sponsor had a specific goal and responsibility — and we met them all that first year!
The announcement was made in the Post and nominations began to roll in. The criteria for the Women on the Move® mirrored our own criteria for membership. One of the really tough choices we had to make was to accept the fact none of our members could be nominated, and many certainly qualified! There were over 450 applicants our first year. The Judges included two from the Post, two from TEW, and one from the business community. It was a momentous task to select only 10!
Ticket prices were $25.00 and we worried about filling the main room at the Houstonian – about 350 seats. Our worries of low attendance were unfounded, it was a complete sellout. Nancy Huckle and Sharon Seligman were the narrators. They stood on either side of the stage with a full size slide presentation in the middle. We secretly dubbed them “Dan and Dick” as they took turns narrating the slides of the 10 women honorees telling their stories. And what a first group it was, that Class of ‘85!!! (Honorees included Jan Carson, Dixie Melillo, Joy Dillon, and Judy Novak)
Our goal was to put TEW on the map and to provide a format for business and professional women in the Houston area to be recognized and have their story told. Women on the Move® was to prove the versatility, the force, the impact of business women in the Houston area. In a way, it was also a format for credibility of women in business. Another aspect of the Women on the Move® format has been to include ethnic diversity. As a result of that first event that honored the Class of 85, TEW formed 501(c) (3), Texas Executive Women’s Scholarship Fund. This allowed us to channel the proceeds from Women on the Move® into something we as a group embrace – the education of women. Beginning that first year TEW established a scholarship for women entering their senior year in the College of Business at the University of Houston
We accomplished our goal. The accolades continued for TEW’s WOM but just as important long term relationships were developed with our many friends at the Post.
Beginning in 1995, we are very lucky to have The Houston Chronicle; Foley’s and Channel 11 pickup sponsorship of the event.
To this date past WOM maintain close relationships.
We currently have 270 past WOM honorees.
As a direct result of the funds generated by Women on the Move®, and a lot of dedication on the part of TEW members, Texas Executive Women has accomplished some outstanding things:
Texas Executive Women is an organization committed to “Helping Women Achieve Their Best”!
Note: This article was originally written for presentation at a TEW Strategic Planning Meeting in the early 90’s. It has been revised to reflect the current numbers for Women on the Move® and the TEW mentoring programs as of May 21, 2013.
Revised by Jackalyn Rainosek-5-21-13