NEWS & MEdia

Notable events and achievements of women and girls in the community.



Texas Executive Women (TEW) Shares the Amazing Accomplishments of 2016 Recipients of Prestigious Women on the Move (WOM) Award

HOUSTON (Sept. 8)—Some of the most powerful and successful women in Houston have been honored by TEW’s Women on the Move program. The legacy continues this year with the naming of the ten members of the Class of 2016, and the recipient of the Rising Star Award.

“Each nominee was amazing in her own right, exuding strong leadership, impressive career achievement and an exceptional heart for service,” said Debra Ibarra Mayfield, a co-chair of the 2016 WOM luncheon. “Our judging committee had a challenging task in selecting only ten of these phenomenal women to honor at this year’s luncheon.”


Maria W. Boyce is a native Houstonian and a third-generation Texan. She is employed by Hogan Lovells LLP, and is a member of the Global Leadership Team of the firm’s Litigation, Arbitration, and Employment Department, the largest in the firm. As an attorney, Boyce deals with complex commercial and intellectual property cases. As a female partner in a law firm since 1997, Boyce has had the opportunity to mentor many extraordinary women in what remains a male-dominated profession. She has been appointed to several leadership positions during her career and has pushed hard to create opportunities for women, minorities, and LGBT lawyers. She also dedicates significant time to mentoring and inspiring others. In just the past 18 months, she has published a chapter regarding expert witness testimony in well-recognized legal publication, Texas Business Litigation. She has also spoken on legal issues and developments to the Women’s Energy Network and the Texas Minority Counsel Program, a Texas Bar Association-sponsored seminar sponsored by the Texas Lawyer. Boyce’s trial results have been recognized in the American Lawyer, the National Law Journal’s “Top 100 Verdicts of 2012,” and the Texas Lawyer. She was also named one of Texas’ Top 50 Women Lawyers in 2013.

Katy Caldwell is a native Houstonian who grew up in the Bellaire/Meyerland area. Caldwell attended St. Thomas Episcopal from kindergarten through her senior year. The profound loss of
her father, and the resulting intimate exposure to the health care system, put her on the path that led her to become the person that she is today. Caldwell is the CEO of Legacy Community Health and loves being able to work in a place that provides access to quality healthcare for anyone, and works to end discrimination. Caldwell’s goal has always been to serve the public and in 1991, when she was elected Harris County Treasurer, the high of her four-year term was participating in the implementation of the Ryan White Care Act, the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Wendy Dawson was born in Brusly, Louisiana. She began working in emerging markets in 1989 after earning a degree in International Business from the American University in Paris, France. Rising to VP of Business Development for the energy subsidiary of the French Bank Societe Generale in New York, she proceeded to lead the opening of the Houston marketing office. When her four year old stepson came into her life, his previous diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Diagnosed was a new phenomenon for her. She set out to find suitable social skills classes geared to high-functioning children on the spectrum. Not having found such a program that offered 100% social skills concentration, offering precursory training for the situations he would face, she and her husband created Social Motion Inc. It is a specialized program designed to teach social/job skills, enrichment activities, and provide parents with strategies to navigate the world after a child’s diagnosis.

Janine Iannarelli, is from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, one of four children raised by two WWII U.S. Navy Veterans. With her own funds and a huge dose of bravado, in 1997, Iannarelli started Par Avion Ltd., an international business aircraft brokerage firm based in Houston. Her father taught her not just how to persevere, but to prevail. Par Avion buys and sells pre-owned business aircraft valued from $3 to $65 million. Recently, Iannarelli received an appointment to the Texas Aerospace & Aviation Advisory Committee by Governor Abbott, serving as its presiding officer. She was also recently appointed to the European Business Aviation Association’s Associate Member’s Sales & Acquisition Committee.

Amy Lynn McGuire, born in New York is the Leon Jaworski Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy. Dr. McGuire received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, her J.D. from the University of Houston, and her Ph.D from the Institute for Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. McGuire’s research focuses on ethical and policy issues in genomics and human genetics with a focus on genomic research and the clinical integration of emerging technologies. She has been named to many national committees and reviewing bodies with responsibility for approving grant recommendations and funding decisions, reviewing research, and setting national policy priorities in genetics and bioethics. Some of the most notable are the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program Advisory Council, and the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research,Genomics and Society Working Group. Dr. McGuire’s current research is being funded by the NIH-NHGRI and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Paula Mendoza is a native Houstonian. She is known as an entrepreneur, innovator, advocate and barrier-breaker. In 2011, with one hundred dollars in her business bank account, Mendoza established Possible Missions, Inc. It is an experienced project management company specializing in Project Management Solutions throughout all industries across the country. Possible Missions, Inc. is on track to exceed $20 million in both project management services and product sales. She earned a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Houston and later completed continuing studies in both the Community Minority Business Advancement Program and the Rules of Engagement: A Leadership Institute provided by the University of Texas at Austin. Mendoza was appointed as the first Hispanic woman to serve as chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) from 2009-2010, has been the only female to serve a full two-year term as chairman of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC), and she has also served as a past board member of the Texas Board of Public Accountants. In 2013, Mendoza was appointed to a six-year term to the University Of Houston System Board Of Regents, becoming the first Hispanic female to receive the prestigious appointment.

Mia Mends, a Ghanaian immigrant who has benefited first hand from the opportunity the United States offers, was uprooted with her family at the age of seven due to political unrest. She shares that her parents always reminded their children not to squander any opportunity. Being admitted into Wellesley College and then later Harvard business school was for her, the quintessential American Dream come true. These experiences dramatically impacted the trajectory of her life, and her sense of what was possible. In 2014, Mends became the CEO of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, USA. In 2016, Mends became CEO of Inspirus, after she lead Sodexo´s acquisition of the Employee Engagement company. She joined Sodexo Benefits and Rewards in 2012 in the newly created position of Vice President of Sales for Americas Region in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In that role, she was charged with overseeing sales processes and the strategic and profitable growth of Sodexo´s products and services through diversified distribution channels in 8 countries in Latin America.

Carrie Potter, born in Omaha, Nebraska, earned her Masters of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Potter had a passion for sports and business that led her to an internship with start-up company PMG Sports & Entertainment her senior year. After graduating, she was promoted to Marketing Manager then Senior Vice President of Operations. In its first three years, the company represented seven top picks in the NBA draft. Being a woman in a male dominated industry was never intimidating to Potter. With determination and self-confidence, she knew that she could hold her own, and by the age of 23, she had negotiated her first million-dollar deal. In 2006, Potter formed The Carrie Potter Group, LLC to manage professional athletes with a focus on three key priorities: protect their earnings, invest for their future, and give back to the community. Her advisory business expanded its services and now offers financial planning and business consulting services to both small businesses and professional athletes.

Karen Carter Richards is a native Houstonian and is the CEO and Publisher of the Forward Times Publishing Company, the South’s largest independently owned and published newspaper. Her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic and the importance of community. Richards’ parents always stressed the importance of the Black Press and the value of its consistent voice. At the age of seven, her father put a basket on her bicycle and she had to deliver the newspaper in her neighborhood. Richards received a degree from The University of Houston and was recently nominated and selected as 1st Vice Chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which consists of more than 200 African American newspapers across the country. She serves as the chairperson of “Go Red Girlfriend,” an African American Awareness Initiative for the American Heart Association, and has recently founded the Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship & Youth Foundation. The foundation benefits low-to-moderate income Houston high school seniors and college students interested in various areas of journalism.

Laura Robertson is a native Texan and fourth-generation Houstonian. She was born at St. David’s Hospital, across the street from The UT Law Center while her father was a third year law student. Robertson dreamed of attending UT Law for as long as she can remember. Once accepted and enrolled as a student, she worked tirelessly to earn her spot and her first professional accomplishment was graduating with honors in 1998. Currently, Robertson is the Deputy General Counsel for ConocoPhillips. She credits many of her professional achievements to the negotiating skills that she began developing at King & Spalding. She has been the lead negotiator in several settlement discussions with foreign sovereigns and state owned oil companies. In 2016, she negotiated a 157 million dollar settlement in a tax dispute.

Meet our 2016 Rising Star Awardee

Nicole Soussan is a native Houstonian and this year’s Rising Star Award Recipient. This is the third year TEW has given the award which recognizes an up and coming professional. Soussan attended Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in African-American studies. Upon graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and began to train as an English teacher in Watts through the Teach for America program at Locke High School. It was then that she found a voice in pursuing law after witnessing alleged police brutality against one of her students. She is currently an associate in Reed Smith’s U.S. Commercial Litigation Group. She primarily represents clients in the energy industry at the trial and appellate levels. In addition to energy litigation, she has experience in real estate, employment, and trade secret litigation. She was recognized with the Texas Young Lawyers Association President’s Award of Merit and the Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service.

Buy a Lunch, Change a Life

You can meet these amazing 11 women, while helping raise scholarship funds for girls and young women who truly need it by attending the 2016 Women on the Move Luncheon. It will be held Tuesday, November 15 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Houston’s Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. 77045. For additional information regarding the Texas Executive Women or the special event, visit:

For Immediate Release
For more information contact
Lezlie Mahan
eEvents Group, LLC


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