Texas Women’s Foundation raced to raise funds in support of women and girls at its 37th Annual Luncheon on October 6th at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. With the theme of Transforming Texas, the event featured Allyson Felix, the most decorated American Track & Field Olympian of all time.
The Annual Luncheon is the Foundation’s principal fundraiser in support of its work to advance women’s economic security, leadership, education, health and safety in Texas through research, advocacy, programs and grantmaking.
The award-winning Garland High School step team fired up the attendees with their energetic routines and chants to much applause.
Hilda Galvan, Texas Women’s Foundation board chair, welcomed everyone, “Thank you to Garland ISD’s step team. Your performance encourages us to step up and step in to transform communities for women and girls.”
TXWF board members and business leaders, Laura Nieto and Rachel Vinson, served as luncheon co-chairs. Nieto said, “Like Hilda, we are also pumped up and ready to take our mark in this race!”
Vinson added, “By being here today, you are joining the race to advocate for policies and practices that support under-resourced women and families across our state.”
Laysha Ward, executive vice president & chief external engagement officer at Target, introduced via video Catherine Helm, Target Corporation’s Dallas’ district team leader. Helm introduced Allyson Felix.“Allyson is fighting inequities by leading initiatives advocating for maternal policies, access to education and helping the next generation of mothers and athletes.”
Helm introduced Felix as a five-time Olympian, winner of 27 global medals at the Olympics and World Championships, entrepreneur and co-founder of Saysh, mother and wife. Then she introduced moderator Cynt Marshall, president and CEO of The Dallas Mavericks and TXWF board member. The Dallas Mavericks also served as the presenting luncheon sponsor. Marshall just wrote a book entitled “You’ve Been Chosen: Thriving Through the Unexpected,” a memoir offering hope and practical guidance for navigating life’s most difficult challenges. Each attendee received a copy of the book.
Marshall and Felix held a conversation sharing their love of track (both ran track), sports, motherhood, role models and transformation.
Here are some takeaways from Felix:
She was a basketball player and decided to try track. She found friends and said, “This is my thing that makes me feel alive. I found out I like to win.”
Felix parted ways with Nike (shoe line) when they asked her to take a 70 percent pay cut because she was pregnant and Nike was unwilling to support maternal protections. At that point, she realized she didn’t have a footwear sponsor. Her brother said, “What if we did this ourselves? Here is an opportunity to create Saysh—shoes designed for and by women.”
“I saw my colleagues who are moms struggle with childcare.” She started competing again when her daughter was eight months old, and it was challenging. “We offered free childcare at our national championship.”
Where she draws her inspiration:
“It comes from women like you (Cynt). You’ve really set the tone. It’s seeing strong women in roles of leadership.”
Advice for the 200 teens in the livestream room next door:
“We think we have to have a massive platform, but you don’t. Start where you’re at. Know your worth and know your value.”
Marshall added, “That’s right. Never lose your priorities. We appreciate you, Allyson. Keep that wonderful spirit.”
Texas Women’s Foundation played a video with Miki Woodard, Texas Women’s Foundation president and chief executive officer. “One of my favorite quotes by Allyson is: ‘When you see me run, know that I’m not running for medals. I’m running for change. I’m running for greater equity for each of us. I’m running for women. More than anything, I’m running toward a future where no woman or girl is ever told to know her place.’”
As Woodard spoke about the future, a picture was shared of the 200+ students who were next door experiencing the luncheon program. The students were from Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Sunset P-TECH, Early College High School – Carrollton and Woodrow Wilson High School (girls’ varsity track team).
Woodard invited the co-chairs back on stage, and Nieto and Vinson donned their tennis shoes to continue the race! “We can’t continue to stay where we are… we have to sprint towards a better Texas for all. Let’s cross this finish line together. Thank you.”