Jane McCallum was an early suffragist leader, president of the Austin Suffrage Association in 1915, head of publicity for TESA (Texas Equal Suffrage Association), and Texas Secretary of State (1927-1933). She was also a founder of Austin area League of Women Voters, and she led Petticoat Lobbyists (Joint Legislative Council) in campaigning for Dan Moody as Texas governor. For more about McCallum, see
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc07 on the
Texas State History Association’s website, and for more
about her long fight for women’s recognition, see
On November 13, 1925, AAUW Austin Branch member Mrs. Grace Delano Clark persuaded the organization to take on the project of establishing a library for Austin, and the Austin Public Library Association was born. Branch members went from house to house canvasing for book donations and money for a building, and after three months of collecting books and dollars, the AAUW established a small subscription library upstairs in a room at 810 Congress Avenue. In 1913, Austin mayor Alexander Wooldridge had persuaded the Texas Legislature to purchase and present to the city the half block between Guadalupe and San Antonio Streets facing West 9th Street, and with AAUW’s small library start, the Austin Public Library opened in 1926 at that location in an 1800 square foot wooden frame building housing 1,700 volumes, with Mrs. Clark volunteering as the first librarian. In 1928, she received the Austin Most Worthy Citizen Award given by the Austin-American for her efforts in founding the library. In May 1928, Austin voters approved $150,000 in bonds for a new library building, which was completed in March 1933 under the supervision of the Austin Public Library Commission, with Mayor Wooldridge as chairman and Mrs. Clark as secretary. Until she moved from Austin, she continued as a member of the Austin Library Commission and of its book selection committee, and she also was an active member of many other organizations, including the League of Women Voters.
Mrs. E.G. Sellards was President of the Austin branch 1927-28 and President of AAUW Texas 1928-30.
Mrs. Flora Arrowood, president of the Austin Branch in 1936-37, headed civic drives in Austin in the 1940s, campaigning for better schools and the creation of what is now Mainspring Schools, for passage of bonds to get Brackenridge Hospital accredited, and for adding bookmobile services for the Austin Public Library. To learn more about Mrs. Arrowood, see http://austin-tx.aauw.net/files/2017/01/arrowood.pdf.
Janie Patterson moved to Austin in 1942 to attend the University of Texas, where she was a reporter for The Daily Texan; she graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1946. As a member of the Austin Branch, she was responsible for the Branch newsletter for many years, receiving a certificate of appreciation from the Branch for that work in 2009. AAUW Texas named her an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1994-95. Janie was also involved with senior education through The University of Texas Seminars for Adult Growth and Enrichment and UT Austin Lifelong Learning Institute, serving as administrative coordinator.
Inez Jeffrey’s professional career began when she was left a widow with three children in 1945. Undaunted, she got a loan and opened the Jeffrey School for children ages 2-6. This school, which made use of educational research and used innovative teaching techniques, operated in Austin for 37 years. In later years, Inez was named by AAUW Texas as a Woman of Distinction in 2008, described as founder and director of the Jeffrey School and founder and president of International Diversified Services, where she worked with the business community to seek entry into other countries and to encourage foreign firms to come into Texas. She served as Austin Branch President in1993-94 and was honored by a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1994 and 1998. Wanting to honor Inez by establishing an endowment in her name, Austin Branch members held many fundraising events during a six-year period, and because Inez was a world traveler and tour leader who had visited Russia many times, one of these special events was a book signing for her book, Inside Russia, The Life and Times of Zoya Zarubina. Within six years of fundraising the Branch completed the Dr. Inez C. Jeffery Educational Foundation Research and Projects Endowment of $35,000 in 2002. Inez was also an advocate for the elderly in Texas, writing a weekly column for the Austin-American Statesman on senior issues that ran from 1964 to 1982 and moderating “Families Facing Change,” a series of television programs with a panel of experts in1980. Texas Congressman Jake Pickle said of her that “She knew the law and the rules that go with the legislation because she helped write the law.” She was honored by the Austin Board of REALTORS as Austin’s Most Worthy Citizen in 1995, by the League of Women’s Voters with their first Annual Foreign Policy Lecture in 1996, and also by Women in Communication International’s Liz Carpenter Lifetime Achievement Award and the World Congress President’s Award for “Excellence in Journalism.” For more about Inez Jeffrey, see http://austin-tx.aauw.net/files/2017/01/Statesman-2001-09-11-InezJeffery.pdf
Frances Malmberg received her B.S. degree in 1943, and her M.A. degree in Special Education in 1952 from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught in several Central Texas rural schools before joining the teaching staff of the Texas School for the Blind, where she taught for 29 years, retiring in 1972. Miss Malmberg was a life member of AAUW and President of the Austin Branch 1964-66. She was also active in the Austin League of Women Voters, Brackenridge Hospital Auxiliary, National Council of Good Neighbors, State Committee for the Improvement of Libraries, and Austin’s First United Methodist Church, where she was President of her Sunday School class and a Home Care Visitor. After her retirement, she became a world traveler while maintaining an interest in current events. The AAUW – Frances Malmberg Endowed Scholarship in the Austin Community College Foundation was made possible in 2004 by her legacy and is available to assist female students 25 years or older enrolled at ACC . (See https://austincc.academicworks.com/opportunities/2459 for more information on the scholarship.)
Natalie Balden was born and raised in the Ukraine, immigrating to the United States in 1947. She was a graduate of California State University Northridge, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in Russian. She was a long time member of the Austin Branch, participating in Fellowship Fairs, chairing the Books and Brunch Southwest interest group, and being honored with named gifts from the Branch to the AAUW Education Fund in 1999-2000 and 2010. She also donated many hours to the Austin League of Women Voters.
Annette Haslund graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950 with a bachelors’ degree in Education with an emphasis in Special Education and later earned a master’s degree in Education from Southern Methodist University. Although she lost most of her vision to macular degeneration at age 11, Annette loved education, the arts, and current events. She was active in the Austin Branch, many book discussion groups, the LBJ Library lecture series, and UT Austin Lifelong Learning continuing education programs. Annette was a relentless champion of Reach Out and Read (now Bookspring) and Trinity Child Development Center Preschool in Austin.
After Dr. Janice May received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 1952, she taught as a Professor in the Government Department until her retirement, also acting as a pre-law student advisor. Janice was active with the League of Women Voters, serving as President and Board member of the local organization and also as a Board member of the national organization. She served as a registered lobbyist to governmental officials, explaining League-supported agenda items. She was also a member of the Commission that drafted a new constitution for the State of Texas, but which was not adopted by the voters. Janice was active in the Austin community as a President of the Austin Newcomers Club, a librarian at the Old Quarry Branch for several years, and a Girl and Cub Scout leader. A long-time member of the Austin Branch, she served as President in 1959-60 and helped keep members informed about what was happening in Texas government. On her death, she left $350,000 to AAUW National’s AAUW Fund.
Betty Himmelblau graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and earned a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin. During World War II, she was a Navy WAVE officer, and afterwards she was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Seattle to help rehabilitate wounded veterans. Betty moved to Austin in 1957 when her husband joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at the University of Texas. In Austin, she served on the Austin Planning Commission and then was elected to the City Council in 1975, serving three terms. While on the City Council, she was instrumental in working on health care issues, including establishing Austin’s Medical Assistance Program, and she also shepherded ordinances that created the Austin Commission for Women and the Austin Arts Commission. Her roles in public service included Chair of the Brackenridge Hospital Board of Directors, member of the Brackenridge Foundation Board, member of the Austin/Travis County Health Care Task Force, member of the Statewide Health Care Coordinating Council, and Chair of Central Texas Health Systems Agency and Texas Health Facilities Commission. Betty was also involved in a number of civic activities and causes affecting women. She was President of the Austin Branch in 1961-62 and also served as President of the Austin Civic Ballet, Vice President of the Austin Symphony Society, and member of the executive committee of Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Settlement Club, Junior Helping Hand, Austin Woman’s Club, Athletics Council for the University of Texas Women’s Athletics Program, and Longhorn Foundation and received honors from the Austin Citizen and Women in Communications, Inc.
Peggy Holland, who began attending the University of Texas at Austin in 1958, was the first African-American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from UT’s College of Business, and later she was honored as a BBA star at the college’s 100th anniversary celebration. As an AAUW member, Peggy was honored by the Branch in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2009 with a named gift to AAUW Funds for her service to the branch and once with a named gift to the AAUW Barbara Charlene Jordan American Fellowship. AAUW Texas named her a Woman of Distinction in 2008, and she served as branch treasurer for two years and as membership Vice President for a year. See https://www.dailytexanonline.com/person/peggy-holland for an article about her published in the Daily Texan.
Inés Garcia received her BA in English and Spanish from Texas A&I University in 1963 and her MA in Spanish and English from the same university in 1965. She also took library science classes in the 1960s and foreign language education classes in the 1980s at the University of Texas at Austin. For thirty-two years, she worked at the Texas Education Agency in the Division of Curriculum Development at the Texas Education Agency in Austin. Inés received a Branch President’s award in 2011, and was honored with a named gift from the Austin Branch to AAUW Funds that year. She acted as yearbook editor for a number of years and served as Branch president in 2009-10 and as co-president in 2014-15, as well as AAUW Texas finance officer in 2014-16.
Dr. Jenny Lind Porter-Scott was appointed Poet Laureate of Texas in 1964-65. She founded The Texas Poets Corner and the Jenny Lind Porter Collections in the Cornette Library at Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. Jenny received the Piper Professor award from Piper Foundation in San Antonio in 1976, established a Creative Writing program at Huston-Tillotson University, and received an award from the Texas Institute of Letters for her translation of “Verses on Death by Helinand of Froidmont.” She served as Austin Branch President in 1968-69 and was honored by AAUW Texas as an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1998-99 and as a Woman of Distinction in 2008. The Austin City Council honored her with a Jenny Lind Porter Day in 1995 for her contributions to literature and the O. Henry Museum.
Lottie Gradick was elected by her peers as the first woman president of the Austin Personnel Association (now the Austin Human Resources Management Association in 1969, and in her career at what is now the Texas Workforce Commission, she was a pioneer in the field of human resources. As a fifty-year honorary life member of AAUW, she was a devoted supporter of higher education for women, and she was also a stickler for the proper use of the English language who enjoyed proofreading and editing business and scientific manuscripts into her nineties. She was named a Woman of Distinction by AAUW Texas in 2008.
Sue Rodi and her husband Stephen came to Austin in the late 1960s to go to graduate school at UT Austin. Sue studied rhetoric and composition under Dr. James Kinneavy. She received her Ph.D. in the mid 1970s and began her career in UT’s Department of English (later in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing), where she taught until 2005. Sue enjoyed teaching both literature and composition. She was known for her creative use of the Harry Ransom Center art collection as a source of writing assignments and for developing her “Writing About Women Across the Life Cycle” curriculum. She supervised student teachers and traveled around Texas to train high school faculty. Sue was chosen twice as a UT exchange professor with a French university, first at The University of Paul Valéry in Montpellier and then at The University of Paris-Nanterre. In France, she enjoyed making new friends, absorbing the local culture, and traveling. Sue took an active role in education and civic events in Austin. Of special note was her involvement in AAUW; she served as Branch president in 2007-08, and she loved her Monday night AAUW book club meetings. AAUW Texas named her as an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1990-91.
Often called a trailblazer, Carole Keeton’s public service in the elected arena in Austin and in Texas spans four decades from 1972 to 2007 and is full of “firsts”—First woman president of the Austin School Board, first woman president of Austin Community College Board of Trustees; first woman elected Mayor of Austin, (and still the only woman to serve as mayor of Austin) and the only mayor of Austin elected by the citizens for three terms. While serving as Mayor she was selected “One of the 50 Faces for America’s Future” by Time Magazine and was elected President of The Texas Municipal League representing all the cities in Texas. Elected to statewide office four times, Carole is the first woman in history elected and reelected Texas Railroad Commissioner and the first woman in history elected and reelected Texas Comptroller. As Comptroller, her report on our Texas foster care system, Forgotten Children, won a National Public Integrity Award. Carole began her career as a public school teacher. Her lifelong record of achievement is rooted in her passion for education and public service. She was inducted into the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013. She currently serves as Executive Director, pro-bono, Austinites For Action and as a lifetime member of The Lola Wright Foundation and on the Advisory Board for Girl Scouts of Central Texas.
With a degree in sociology and child development, Suzy Lindeman Snyder was very active in volunteer work as a young mother, particularly early childhood education. In 1973 she was honored by the American Bank for her efforts in organizing volunteers for the Austin schools. She was Coordinator for Community Participation for the AISD, Regional Coordinator for the National School Volunteer Program, a member of the Austin Association for Education of Young Children, the National Association of Social Workers, a founding board member of Austin Community Nursery Schools (which became the Mainspring Schools), and board member of Voluntary Action Center.
Mrs. Zettie W. Cole Salathe established the Albert Schweitzer Scholarship Fund at UT in 1974. The fund, which still exists, was renamed the Zettie W. Cole Salathe Fund in Child Development in 1981.
Veronica Johnson has been a long-time AAUW member, in seven branches in six states. Veronica joined IBM in 1974 as a customer engineer, a non traditional career for women. She moved to Austin as an IBM HR Partner in 1992 and was very quickly active in the Austin Branch and on the Board during the period she lived in Austin. AAUW Texas named her a Woman of Distinction in 2008, describing her as a volunteer and community servant since high school. Veronica served as Branch president in 1997-98 and she also received a Branch President’s Award in 2010 and a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1995, 2000, and 2010. Veronica is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with BS in home economics. She added human resources certification at the University of Texas in 1995.
Elaine Penn graduated from the University of Houston with BBA and a BA in business administration in 1982 and has worked with Migrant Clinicians Network since August 1993, when she supported the organization as a contractor providing accounting services. Since joining as an employee in 2003, she has functioned as the non-profit organization’s Chief Financial Officer, working with the staff and board, with independent auditors year to to perform an audit of the entire organization each year, and with program managers to ensure that budget requirements for each grant are met-–and she also serves as the organization’s Human Resources Director. In the Austin Branch, Elaine served as membership vice president in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and is currently Branch co-president for 2017-18. She was honored with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2016 for working fulltime but holding the record for most interest group memberships.
Born in Hong Kong, Amy Wong Mok came to the United States in 1975 and moved to Austin in 1983. A psychotherapist by formal education, she received a BS in Human Services and a MEd in Community and Mental Health Counseling from Northeastern University in Boston. In Austin, Amy has been involved in community service and championed social causes related to cultural diversity, education, and women’s health. She founded the Asian American Cultural Center in Austin in 2000 and was appointed to a twelve person braintrust for KLRU-TV’s multi-year initiative, Navigating the Digital Divide, receiving an individual community service award from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2010 for that work. Amy has served on many Texas and local boards, including Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, AAUW Austin Branch, Austin Community Council of the Community Action Network, People’s Community Clinic, Capital Area United Way, and the Long Center for Performing Arts. She has also served on the National Advisory Panel on Violence Against Women and the 80-20 Committee (a national Asian American Political Action Committee). Because of her work in promoting cultural understanding, her love for diversity, her passion for social justice and her active efforts to facilitate positive social changes, Amy has been honored by the UT Austin Moody College of Communication by being selected for the American Trustees Project:
Connie Yerwood Conner, M.D., was honored as an Outstanding Woman of the Austin Branch for her contributions in the field of medicine. She became the first African-American Director of Maternal and Child Health in Texas and finally the Chief of the Bureau of Personal Health Services, which provided oversight of the divisions of Maternal and Child Care, Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Disease. She was featured in the Austin American-Statesman’s special edition for the Sesquicentennial in 1986. For more information about her, see
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fconp on the
Texas State History Association’s website.
Life member Onie B. Conley was named an Outstanding Woman of the Branch in 1987 and was honored with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1993. A consummate and dedicated educator, she spent over forty years in the classroom, including summers. She was also dedicated to the Austin community, and many local non-profit organizations benefited from her time, talent, and financial resources, including Girl Scouts, American Red Cross, Holy Cross Hospital, Austin Dramatic Club, George Washington Carver Library and Museum, Old Bakery Emporium, and Capital Metro. As a participant in the Blackshear Neighborhood Group, she served as the liaison between the neighborhood and the City Council, championing such causes as new streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters for East Austin; benches and shelters for bus riders; and ramps on sidewalks for the handicapped in wheelchairs. Her East Austin advocacy efforts also resulted in the new Carver Library and the use of the old library as the Carver Museum and also in the naming of Austin’s Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center in 1992, honoring her and Roy G. Guerrero as persons who dedicated their lives to the enrichment and betterment of the Austin community and its citizens for more than fifty years. For more information on Conley, see http://austin-tx.aauw.net/files/2017/01/Onie-Conley.pdf.
Raemar Shown became a Girl Scouts of America volunteer in 1955 and devoted many years of service to that organization, including twenty years as an executive; she received a 50 year pin in Girl Scouting in 2005. As a member of the Austin Branch, Raemar was involved from the beginning in Expanding Your Horizons and the annual STEM-centered conference for girls that the Branch began co-sponsoring in 1990. In this role she organized Branch volunteers to handle registration and provide support for the managers and presenters of a conference that expanded every year, and after GirlStart began managing the conferences, she served as long-time liaison between EYH and GirlStart. AAUW Texas honored her as a Woman of Distinction in 2008. Raemar also shared her love of life with others through square dancing, church choirs in four different states, Bethany House of Friends Respite Program, and many other formal and informal groups. Among the things that her friends remembered about her were these: “She packed a purse that had anything and everything that anyone could ever need; she stole recipes ruthlessly and never left a visitor hungry or thirsty; she could out eat any Texan at the table and still outwalk them twenty minutes later; she loved to find out what was around the next bend in the road; and she never met a stranger.”
Nita Hornbeck joined AAUW after retiring from 25 years of teaching in 1990 and went on to play a number of key roles for the Austin Branch. First she became newsletter editor, which enabled her to get to know many members. As a leader, she served as Chair of the State AAUW convention in 1994; she and Veronica Johnson co-chaired the local arrangements for the National AAUW convention in Austin in 2001; and in 2003-04 she was president of the Austin Branch. A major focus of Nita’s was public policy: first she became Austin Branch Public Policy Chair, then Texas Public Policy Chair, and finally a member of the National AAUW Public Policy Board, even lobbying in DC. She also helped organize many Legislative Days at the Capitol in Austin. Continuing to focus on education, after Dr. Elaine Kant introduced the Austin Branch to Expanding Your Horizons, Nita became a key organizer in the Branch co-sponsoring the EYH annual STEM conference for girls at the University of Texas beginning in 1990. She was named an Outstanding member of the Branch in 1991 and 1992 and was honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1995 and 2002. AAUW Texas named her a Texas State Honoree in 1994 for her service as Chair of the State Convention. Nita worked with Raemar Shown to involve Branch members in staffing the conferences for the program during the twenty years before Girlstart began managing them. She represented AAUW On the Coalition for Public Schools Board and assisted Cecile Richards in 1995 in founding the Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting public education. Nita, along with Pat Ross, program chair of Texas AAUW, and Cecile organized a group of Branch Public Policy chairs throughout Texas to monitor the State Board of Education, attending meetings and supporting issues.
Dr. Isabel Wheeler joined the Austin Branch after her retirement from teaching at the University of Missouri in 1990 when she moved to Austin to work for Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters. A firm believer in education, Dr. Wheeler served on the Local Scholarship Committee, both as chair and committee member. She was also a founding member of the Branch interest group “Tell Me a Story,” and she told great stories, most of them about real life occurrences. Dr. Wheeler received the International Achievement Award from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International at their 2004 International Convention in MN.
President of SciComp, Inc., a software development company, Dr. Elaine Kant was educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., mathematics) and Stanford University (M.S. & Ph.D., computer science). She is widely published and a much-in-demand keynote speaker. She holds several patents and has received numerous awards for her work. Dr. Kant was the general chair of Austin’s EYH ( Expanding Your Horizons) in Mathematics and Science Careers Conference in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. AAUW Texas named her an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1991-92. She served as president of TWIST ( Tomorrow’s Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology), 1995-1999.
In 1995, Dr. Delia Quintanilla organized the educational consulting firm, Quest: A Consulting Enterprise, focused on assisting historically Black colleges and universities in reengineering the way in which minority teacher candidates are prepared for Texas classrooms. In 1993, she served as Director of the Commission on Standards for the Teaching Profession at the Texas Education Agency, and in 1997, as Director of the Houston Annenberg Challenge, she launched the Challenge’s strategic plan focused on school reform. Her current website Teach Quest offers an online teacher certification program designed to meet the needs of the diverse Texas student population, and she has launched Arroba Productions to produce video games for teachers. Delia served as president of the Austin Branch in 2001-02, AAUW Texas named her a Woman of Distinction in 2008, and the Branch honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1999 and 2002.
Life member Mary Yerwood Thompson was inducted into a National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995. She was a key figure in the shift of women activists’ focus to nursery programs for preschool children. In the Depression, she became director of the WPA Nursery School for children of parents on relief, funded by the Community Welfare Association CWA), a group of Austin Black women. With funds raised from blacks and whites and assistance from the federal government, the CWA provided first a playground and then a nursery school for preschool children of parents on relief. The center served as a site for distributing milk to needy families and a meeting place for many groups. The CWA also secured the services of a city nurse and campaigned for a neighborhood branch of the Austin Public Library. It is an outstanding example of a women’s organization which had the ability to build and sustain a major community institution over an extended period, organizing across race and gender lines to accomplish its objectives. Mary left Texas in order to obtain a graduate degree in social work, graduating from Atlanta University in 1943 but afterwards returned to Texas. The Branch honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1997.
Brenda Scholin, a graduate of the University of Texas with a BS in education and English, is a dual member with the Georgetown branch. She served as Arizona Division secretary, 1983-1984; Austin Branch president, 1987-1988–and she attended the AAUW national conventions in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1995. She was named Outstanding Member of the Branch in 1994, and AAUW Texas named her as an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1988-89. The Austin Board of REALTORS® honored Brenda Willis Scholin with the REALTOR® Community Service Award for 1995.
Dr. Mary Small earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Hampton University, a master’s in journalism from Syracuse University, and a PhD in the history and philosophy of education from Boston College. In partnership with her husband Robert, she was an activist during the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s, and during this period she was also program director for the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus. After over forty-six years at numerous institutions of higher learning, she retired at Huston-Tillotson University as a professor emerita of English and was named Huston-Tillotson’s exemplary teacher of the year.
Catherine (Kay) Goodwin was honored as one of the founders of the Lifetime Learning Institute of Austin at a twentieth anniversary celebration in 1997. She served the Austin Branch as president (1971-73), and she served as chair of the strategic planning committee that established in 1983 what is now Literacy Austin. She and her committee launched the new initiative at a lovely reception for city and county leaders at Caswell House. She was named an Outstanding Member of the Branch in 1985-86. Kay is an honorary member of AAUW having joined in 1949. She has enjoyed several of the branch interest groups over the years and continues to amaze the stitchery group with her skillful work. She graduated from Ohio State University with a BS in home economics.
Mary Ellen Scribner received the Texas Intellectual Freedom Award in 1997 from the Texas Library Association. She is a life member of both the Texas Library Association and the American Library Association. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. In 2009, she retired from a thirty-three year global career in secondary education. In those years, she taught English, history, geography, and theory of knowledge and served as head librarian in Department of Defense schools in Japan and Italy; in international schools in Russia, China, Vietnam, and Ghana; and the Texas public school districts of Fort Worth and Round Rock. She enjoyed traveling for her job to more than eighty countries on six continents and working with students and parents from even more. Since returning to Austin, she has taught adult classes for the Lifetime Learning Institute, including “Antarctica,” “The Silk Road,” and “Spotlight on Africa.” As a member of the Austin Branch, she served as newsletter editor for a number of years during which she transitioned it from print to digital. Mary Ellen received a Branch President’s award in 2010, reached 50-year honorary status in 2016, and is now co-president for 2017-18.
Rachel Muir founded SmartGrrls , a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology at the Girls Technology Center in Austin in 1997 when she was just twenty-six years old with $500 and a credit card. This organization later became Girlstart. Rachel was honored by the Austin Under 40 Awards for Youth and Education in 2000. She was one of 14 Austin women who received the AAUW Texas Women of Distinction Award in 2008 for her work with Girlstart. She also received Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life” award and was named in Fast Company magazine as a Leader in Innovation. Her life and career have been been devoted to empowering girls to believe anything is possible.
Adrian McCulloch obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston-Victoria and a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. She served as the Library Director at Laredo Junior College until retiring and moving to Austin in 1998. She loved archeology, art, reading, and going to museums. In the Austin Branch, she was especially active in book club and art tour interest groups, suggesting topics and planning tours.
In 2002 Gail Simpler received a Staff Excellence Award from the Aeronautical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Gail also received Austin Branch President’s awards in 2002 and 2011 and became a 50-year honorary member in 2016. The Branch honored her with both a Branch President’s award and a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2011. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison earning a BS in home economics.
Dr. Beulah Agnes Curry-Jones (Aggie) was honored in 2003 by the Texas African American Historical Organization with their Dr. Lamar Kirven Lifetime Achievement Award for her volunteer work and community service/leadership in music and music education. Dr. Jones is retired chair of Huston-Tillotson University’s Fine Arts Department, music educator, church musician, community volunteer, and education mentor. In 2014, she and Barbara Foreman received the President’s Award honoring founders of the Austin Chapter of National Women of Achievement, Inc. She was also honored as 2015 Woman of the Year by her beloved Ebenezer Baptist Church in May 2015. For more information about Aggie and her husband Jimmie Jones and their long presence in Austin’s Eastside music scene, see https://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2010-06-18/1042038/
Soon Merz holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Master of Science in General Business from the University of Central Texas. She has served as Vice President for Effectiveness and Accountability at Austin Community College since 2004, leading the strategic planning and data analysis operations of the college, sitting on the President’s Cabinet and participating in many student success initiatives. Prior to coming to ACC, she set up an institutional research office and a statewide data collection and analysis system for the Kansas Board of Regents, directed the Faculty Affairs and Institutional Research office at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and served in the Office of Planning and Analysis at Michigan’s Oakland Community College, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Soon is active in several professional organizations and has served in leadership positions for the Association for Institutional Research, the Texas Association for Institutional Research, the National Post-Secondary Education Cooperative, the National Community College Benchmarking Project, and the American Association of University Women. The Branch honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2014.
Novella Wiley received a B.A.in English cum laude in 1962 and a M.A. in Latin in 1973, both from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught at Austin Independent School District’s Fulmore Junior High and Austin High School for a total of 22 years and became a docent at the LBJ Library after she retired. She served as President of the alpha chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, President of Austin Retired Teachers Association and President of Region 10 of Texas Retired Teachers Association, and the Texas Retired Teachers Association named a conference room for her at State Headquarters in Austin. She also represented the State of Texas and the Austin Branch at many Texas State Board of Education meetings over the years. The Austin Branch honored her with named gifts to AAUW Funds in 1997-98, 1999-00, and 2000-02.
Betty Grubbs is a retired teacher and a former field representative for the Social Security Administration in Austin. She received the Community Spirit Award from the Austin Group for the Elderly in 2006 for her work as a community activist specializing in Social Security and Medicare issues. Betty received a BS (business education) from Villa Maria College (Buffalo, NY) and an MA in the same field from the University of Pittsburgh.
Elizabeth Newell was inducted as an outstanding faculty member into the Austin High School Hall of Honor in April 2006. She served as Branch president in 2000-01, was honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2000, 2009, and 2011, and also received a Branch President’s award in 2011. She represented the Branch in collaborating with other Central Texas groups in planning a Conference on Teaching About the United Nations held at the LBJ Auditorium in Austin on April 2, 2011. She was awarded the Texas Delta Kappa Gamma Society’s State Achievement Award at the AAUW State conference in San Antonio in June 2016. Elizabeth has a BS in chemistry and a MEd in science education, both from the University of Texas at Austin.
Miriam Tormollan was an lifelong educator and activist for the education of women and girls. Joining the Austin Branch in 1974, she was she joined named an Outstanding Member of the Austin Branch in 1988-89, received a Branch President’s Award in 2002, and was recognized at the 2006 AAUW Texas convention in San Antonio as the Outstanding Member in Texas. For fifteen years she served as the central coordinator for AAUW Texas, the “Voice of Texas” on the phone. Miriam represented AAUW in many capacities, including working with the Austin ISD to create a sexual harrassment policy, testifying before the Public Education Committee of the Legislature, serving on the Coalition for Public Schools, mentoring in the Special School for Teenage Pregnant Girls, working with the Lone Star Girl Scout Council, and helping with the Expanding Your Horizons annual conferences for girls that the Austin Branch began cosponsoring in 1990. Following her death in 2012, a memorial fund was established, which the family designated as a scholarship for a UT student in a STEM field. This was awarded to a Girlstart intern on October 11, 2013.
Janie Maldonado was selected as “Educator of the Year” by the Austin Coordinating Council of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International in 2006. She served as branch president for 2005-06 and continues to served the on branch board as parliamentarian. Janie is also the branch’s liaison with Mainspring Schools. She earned a BA (history, Spanish) from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and an MA from UTSA (education management).
Ann Berasley served as Austin Branch President in 1994-1995 and as Texas AAUW President in 2008-2010. AAUW Texas named her an Outstanding Woman of Texas in 1992-1993. She was elected as AAUW’s National Governance Committee Leader for 2015-17. Ann earned a BBA (marketing) and a MBA (business administration) from Texas A&M University.
The following Austin AAUW members were included in the recognition of 100 Women of Distinction at the Texas Centennial Biennium Convention in 2008: Dr. Sherry Gillespie, Lottie Gradick, Peggy Holland, Dr. Inez Jeffery, Veronica Johnson, Rachel Muir, Dr. Jenny Lind Porter-Scott, Dr. Delia Quintanilla, Raemar Shown, Miriam Tormollan, and Pam Wolfe. Pam Wolfe created the booklet AAUW published celebrating this award.
Dr. Sherry Gillespie received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA Congressional Fellowship in 2008 for her work to support legislation on public policy issues involving science and technology. She was named a Woman of Distinction by AAUW Texas in 2008.
In 2009 Nancy Myers was recognized as an Outstanding Austin Woman by the Ten Thousand Villages. Nancy served as Branch president in 2002-03 and the Branch honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1995, 2000, and 2002.
Marsha Endahl Kramer was chosen as Alpha Delta Pi Alumnae of the Year for 2012, was the South Palm Beach County Branch Women of Distinction AAUW Nominee, and received the South Palm Beach County Women of Distinction Soroptimist Award. She has served in a number of leadership roles for AAUW Austin including membership vice president (2010-2011), EF vice president, funds committee co-chair, and co-president (2016-17). She received a Branch President’s award in 2010 and 2011 and the Branch also honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in those same years. Marsha also served as president of the Boca Raton, Florida Branch as president and was on the board of the New Canaan. Connecticut Branch. Marsha earned a BA (sociology) from the University of Toronto and an MS (counseling) from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
After thirty years of practicing law as a state employee, legislative aide, and private practitioner, Maria Luisa (Lulu) Flores was honored in September 2010 as National Latina Lawyer of the year by the Hispanic National Bar Association. The award recognized Flores’s work as president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, her service as a longtime employee of the State Bar and Railroad Commission, and above all, her longstanding commitment to public interest work and community engagement, including her leadership positions in state and local bar associations. At the 2011 Greater Austin YWCA’s Women of the Year Awards Celebration, Flores received a Lifetime Achievement Award for all her efforts to help the women of Texas through her involvement with Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, the Women’s Advocacy Project, and the Center for Battered Women (now SafePlace). As an attorney and partner at Hendler Law, she has also put her legal training and experience to work for the the Austin Women’s Political Caucus and the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin. The City of Austin honored her as an inductee into the Austin Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
Gigi Edwards Bryant was featured with a cover photo and feature story in the August 2011 issue of Austin Woman, focusing on how she became a skilled and well respected child and community advocate. Gigi received a bachelor’s degree in business and computer science from St. Edward’s University in Austin and an MBA from UT Dallas. She has organized several non-profits and worked in state-level appointments from three Texas governors. Gigi was honored as a community leader and fierce advocate for children in foster care at the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Travis County’s CASABLANCA event in February 2012. She was elected to the Austin Community College District Board of Trustees in December 2014.
Linda K. Young was elected President of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 2011. She was appointed to the White House Presidential Personnel Committee for President Obama’s second term and she also served on the White House Focus Group on Women and the Economy. Linda contributed her ACC resources for Nancy Pelosi’s Austin event in Austin August 28, 2013. During the UN General Assembly in September 2013, she met with the first Ladies of African countries to promote their participation in the launch of STEM for Girls in Africa. She has spent over four decades fighting for women’s rights and won many awards: the national women’s leadership Athena Award, the Medal of Honor by the Veteran Feminists of America, and the Women of Wealth Magazine Political Influence Award, among others. For more information about Linda and her struggle for women’s equity, see http://www.mystatesman.com/lifestyles/after-years-linda-young-still-fights-for-women-equity/BE4PohVjZgUfdGELWJ9iDP/
When middle schoolers Priya and Kavya Ramamoorthy, Smrithi Mahadevan and Maanasa Nathan heard about a girls’ swim team required to practice in an old pool while the boys’ team got to use the high school’s new pool and equipment, they first really encountered the sort of discrimination that the United States’ enactment of Title IX in 1972 was meant to prohibit. Their Title IX research work led them to seek help from the local AAUW branch. Veronica Johnson arranged for a meeting at her home with other AAUW members, and Nita Hornbeck, Pat Rehm, and Barbara Waite volunteered to mentor them in web development. The girls were also able to interview Lisa Maatz, the AAUW top policy member in Washington, D.C., and went on to win the Gold Medal in the 2012 National History Day Competition for their website “Title IX: Empowerment Through Education” . They received AAUW’s Title IX Champions award.
Lilac Bauer began serving as the Austin Branch’s Girlstart liaison and volunteer coordinator in 2012 and took on the same role for Latinitas the following year. Prior to those responsibilities, she had served on the EYH Committee in 2010-2011. All these efforts evolved into an expanded STEM committee for the Branch. She built on her experience with the Nacogdoches AAUW Branch where she had also served on an EYH committee from 1995-2007 and as program chair in 2007. Lilac has been honored with gifts from the Branch to AAUW Funds in 1997, 2012, and 2013. Lilac has a BA in English/linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin and an MEd in English and ESL from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Dr. Townsel Dunn (center) and her husband Greg Dunn have established an endowed scholarship at Austin Community College to provide assistance to students planning to enter the teaching field. Melinda is a retired head librarian at ACC as well as an adjunct professor in human development. For several years while serving as head librarian at the ACC Northridge campus, she organized a “living history” program to mark Women’s History Month and sought AAUW members as participants. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas (B.S. and M.S.L.S. in library science) and earned a Ph.D. in ethnological studies at Texas State University. She was the Branch’s LAF vice president in 2007-08 and served as its webmaster in 2010-11
Dr. Mary Braunagel-Brown (r) endowed The Mary Braunagel-Brown Excellence Fund for Young Women’s Leadership at the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. Under the direction of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, this fund supports women undergraduates selected for INSPIRE Leadership, a three-year revolving program serving sophomores to seniors to help develop the skills they need to achieve the highest levels within their chosen academic fields. Mary earned a B.S., an M.A., and a Ph.D. all in French history and all from the University of Texas. She served the Schenectady, New York AAUW Branch as treasurer and was treasurer of the Austin Branch from 2004 to 2008. The Branch honored her with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2004, 2009, and 2013.
For AAUW Texas 2014-16, Inés Garcia was elected as Finance Officer and Judy Reinhart as Texas Central District Representative, and Janani Janakiraman was appointed Website Maintainer. Inés had received a Branch President’s Award in 2011 and Judy had received that award in 2010.
Nickelodeon’s NICK NEWS producer and crew filmed an episode in Austin on November 24, 2014 on Title IX, featuring our AAUW Title IX champions (Priya Ramamoorthy, Kavya Ramamoorthy, Smrithi Mahadevan, and Maanasa Nathan). Soon Merz arranged for the use of a classroom in ACCelerator (the nation’s largest learning lab) at the ACC Highland Campus. Lilac Bauer, Anita Knight, Mary Ellen Scribner plus some ACC students and staff completed a very respectable audience for the filming.
Glenda Lassiter graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in English and from Southern Methodist University with a MA in English. She earned mid-management certification from Texas Woman’s University. Glenda has many interests including writing, reading, bridge, travel, book groups, SAGE classes at UT, Shakespeare Club, and physical fitness. Her personal memoir “Griff” was a winner in the Austin Genealogical Society’s 2015 Writing Contest. She also served as membership vice president for AAUW Georgetown.
In June 2015, the Austin City Council issued a proclamation designating June 21st as Lynn Cooksey Day, honoring her “for her incredible community involvement.” Council member Sherry Gallo cited Lynn’s involvement in Austin Community Television, International Hospitality Council of Austin, and Austin Woman’s Federated Club, her serving on the boards of organizations including Planned Parenthood and United Nations Association of Austin, and her acting as Austin’s “first lady” during her husband Frank’s 1983-1985 term as Mayor of Austin. On June 22, the Council also awarded the Cookseys Barton Springs Pool Lifetime Swim Passes. Lynn was honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2014 as well. Lynn earned a BA (psychology) and an MA (LBJ School-public policy) from the University of Texas.
In 2015 and again in 2016, Dual member of Austin and Georgetown branches Janani Janakiraman, who works at IBM and volunteers as a core team member of IBM’s Women in Technology Community Service Organization, obtained for the Branch a $1000 community education grant for the Branch. These grants were used to purchase tablet computers for Latinitas and Mainspring Schools, to support Latinitas’ Code Chica conference, and to support technical education at Girlstart, Latinitas, and Mainspring Schools. In addition, Janani has taken on the webmaster role for both the Austin Branch and AAUW Texas websites.
Student Affiliate member Divya Ramamoorthy, a biomedical engineering and Plan II Liberal Arts honors student at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected as one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women in April 2015 for her work generating heart tissue. She has also been recognized on Business Insider list of Impressive Students at The University of Texas at Austin and gave a talk on spirit of collaborative research at Austin’s TEDxYouth.
Dr. Tamara Hudgins was inducted into the South by Southwest Interactive Hall of Fame in March 2015 at the festival’s Innovation Awards for her work in expanding Girlstart’s reach in STEM education. In April 2015, she was featured in an article in the Austin American-Statesman. Before her move to Texas in late 2005, Tamara was executive director of a nonprofit that served more than 11,000 Chicago teachers and children every week. Tamara is passionate about creating and sustaining high-quality educational programs that improve teaching and learning. She received her BA from Ohio State, her MA from the Art Institute of Chicago, and her PhD from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. She has taught at the graduate level at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Central European University, and the Prague College of Studies in Art and Architecture.
Soon Merz sponsored the use of the Austin Community College Eastview campus for The Women’s Empowerment Conference in March 2015. The Branch played an active role in the conference, with AAUW President Jeannie Best, Soon Merz, Anita Knight, Judy Reinhart, and Mary Ellen Scribner staffing a table there.
Priya Ramamoorthy, daughter of Janani Janakiraman, was named recipient of the Zonta International Club of Austin Young Women in Public Affairs Award in May 2015, winning a $1000 Regional scholarship as part of the award.
Anita Knight (l) was a finalist for the 2015 Diana L Gorham Lifetime Achievement given annually by the YWCA of Austin. She is an Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bucknell University with a double major in biology and chemistry. She has done graduate work in health administration at Central Michigan University and in environmental engineering at IIT Chicago. She is a life and now an honorary member of AAUW having first joined in 1966. Anita has had leadership roles in three branches and has served AAUW Austin as Branch president in 2013-14 and co-president in 2014-15 as well as chair of the funds committee. She has served on the AAUW state boards of both Michigan and Texas. Anita enjoys networking and volunteering in the community. Her record of service includes church council treasurer and president, member and treasurer of the Midland, Michigan Board of Education, program chair of SCHC (Society of Chemical Hazard Communication), president of Nalco Toastmasters Club, on the Environmental Improvement Commission in Wheaton, Illinois, Newcomers Club of Austin treasurer, Friendship Force Club of Austin treasurer, member of the GlobalAustin board, and on the lecture committee for UT NOVA. She is one of the branch’s most consistent volunteers at Girlstart and Latinitas, and she has given much time and effort to the relatively new Women’s Community Center of Central Texas. Anita has been honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2009, 2012, and 2016.
Ann Berasley was elected as AAUW’s National Governance Committee Leader for 2015-17.
Pam Wolfe was elected as President of AAUW Texas for 2016-18, Marina Rivers was elected as Texas Central District Representative, Ann Berasley appointed Parliamentarian/Bylaws and Janani Janakiraman Website Maintainer. Pam Wolfe and Ann Berasley are former Austin Branch Presidents.
Judy Reinhart has been an active Branch member since joining AAUW in 1989. She was the Austin Branch president for 1999-2000, the Central Texas representative to the AAUW Texas in 2013-14; co vice president for programs for 2014-16, and she is the program vice president for 2017-18. She received a Branch President’s award in 2010. In 2013 Judy took part in the ACC Northridge Women’s History Month program, and in 2015 was one of the branch members who represented AAUW Austin at the Women’s Empowerment Conference. She has been honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 1996, 2000, and 2010. Judy is a graduate of Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri in elementary education, and she received an MLS from the University of Texas at Austin. She has also been an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma and was one of thirty of its members worldwide chosen to participate in the Leadership Management Seminar held at the UT Austin McCombs School of Business in 2016.
Dr. Kay Keys received her BA, MA, and PhD degrees in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught English at Odessa High School and UT Austin prior to becoming a computer systems analyst and team leader at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality until retirement, working with mainframe applications to web-based applications. From 1980-82 Kay lived in New York City while working at the Modern Language Association on a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project to create a more flexible indexing system for MLA’s Annual Bibliography. Kay served as Branch secretary in 2016-17, and as Branch historian in 2016-17, she brought the Branch & Member herstories and Girls in STEM web pages up to date, building on previous member herstory work, responding to feedback and suggestions, and getting a great deal of help from Janani Janakiraman in locating and adding images to illustrate entries, and keeping the webpage versions current. She was honored by the Branch with a named gift to AAUW Funds in 2013 and 2016.
In 2016, Janani Janakiraman’s daughters Kavya and Priya Ramamoorthy, members of the Branch and enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin are putting their energy and talents into growing the AAUW Student Organization there, working with National AAUW and C/U Partner and UT Dean, Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly to get the organization fully registered and viable. Among the goals of these twin students are increasing the e-affiliate membership and interest in AAUW, promoting student awareness of AAUW resources, and ultimately hosting a conference like StartSmart for women student leaders in Central Texas colleges.
After moving her AAUW membership to the Austin Branch in 1984, Pam Wolfe became a valued member who served on the Austin Board of Directors for 20 years. Beginning in 1990 she became the Educational Foundation VP of the Austin Branch. She held many other different offices including, Historian, Study Group Coordinator, Bylaws, Parliamentarian, and Yearbook Editor. Pam also converted the branch member information into a database to allow for easy access and editing. She has served on the AAUW TX Board of Directors for 6 terms. Pam, in her role as AAUW Texas President, arranged for AAUW member participation in and led the group on the Women’s March on Austin on January 21, 2017. She has attended many AAUW Texas Conventions and activities and several AAUW Conventions.