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EWTG Highest Honor
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The mission and vision of Executive Women in Texas Government embrace developing and encouraging women by offering opportunities for professional growth, education, and advancement. In 1993, EWTG began an annual tradition of honoring an accomplished member who has demonstrated excellence in her personal and professional life, as well as a commitment to the community. The Woman of the Year award recognizes an individual woman who epitomizes the values for which EWTG stands and represents the best of who we are as women and as leaders. Judges looked at nominees accomplishments in the following five categories: educational achievements; career accomplishments; participation in EWTG; community involvement; and overall leadership qualities to make their selection.

Our 2017 Woman of the Year was born and raised in central Texas. She held close relationships with extended family throughout her early years, and in those early years, she developed a dedication to education and learned the importance of giving back to the community.

She received a scholarship to attend Durham Business College where she earned a legal secretary certificate, thus beginning her public service career at the Texas Attorney General's Office. While working full time, she took night classes at The University of Texas and later Austin Community College to earn an associate's degree in business administration. In 1990, she joined the Texas Department of Transportation as an administrative assistant. She demonstrated a commitment to the department and community by her dedicated involvement in outreach programs such as TxDOT's adopt a highway and Capitol 10K teams. She chaired the department's Employee's Advisory Committee and served as the department's blood drive coordinator for several years, which earned recognition not only for her but an agency award as well.

Valuing education, she completed her bachelor's degree in organizational communication at St. Edward's University in 2005, mastering coursework in public relations and policy, leadership theory, innovation, and organizational change. With educational accomplishment, she gained professional advancement. As an information specialist in the media production section of the communications division at TxDOT, she performed research, prepared, and edited historical information for use in print and audiovisual productions. She also assisted in scheduling and coordinating photo and video assignments, helped monitor budget expenditures and equipment inventory, and oversaw office operations such as reviewing time sheets, expense reports, purchasing, and other matters. She went on to earn a master's degree in human services administration at St. Edward's University in 2011, excelling in studies related to budgeting, conflict resolution, program management and evaluation, leadership development, ethics, and systemic intervention.

She has increased her knowledge of government and nonprofit work through Leadership Women programs, gaining an understanding of the inter‐connectedness of the issues, dynamics, and cultures that propel this state, our nation, and the world. She's a 2013 graduate of Leadership Texas, 2014 graduate of Leadership America and has participated in Leadership International, traveling through Mexico in 2015 and Scandinavia in 2016, learning how governments, businesses, and industries around the world are meeting the needs of their local, regional, and national communities.

This longtime EWTG member has been active in her executive success team and served on EWTG's governing board as a program and mini-course director, recruiting dynamic speakers on leadership matters for EWTG's monthly seminars and hands‐on training sessions. Over the years, she has served on EWTG's finance committee, education committee, and resolution subcommittee of the conference committee; and she has chaired the scholarship committee multiple times, leading a team to ensure EWTG supports and invests wisely in its members. She is a frequent contributor to EWTG's community service projects, whether it's creating Easter baskets, gathering handbags for hope, or collecting teddy bears.

Community service is her passion. In addition to TxDOT's community outreach programs and her work with EWTG, she has worked with several non-profits benefiting women, children, and the elderly. Through Austin Junior Forum, Denice has led teams of volunteers for The Settlement Home for Children and helped organize activities for girls in residential foster care. She has volunteered with AGE of Austin, which provides seminars on home‐based elder care and social events for the elderly. Her service also includes The Horse Boy Foundation, which provides therapy and support for families with autistic children; and Mobile Arts, which organizes art activities for elderly persons dealing with Alzheimer's and disabilities related to aging. She has also served as recording secretary, corresponding secretary, and historian for Austin Junior Forum. Denice has given countless hours to its fundraising projects: Christmas at Caswell House, which raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for central Texas charities and nonprofits organizations. She also participates with the Teddy Bear Program, which provides stuffed animals to the Austin police and fire departments and Travis County sheriff and EMS offices to give to children in crisis situations.

Since 2007, she has served on various focus committees for Impact Austin, including having served as the Family Focus Health & Wellness Subcommittee Chair. She has served as an officer and scholarship chair for P.E.O., the Philanthropic Educational Organization for women, and given her time to mentor and tutor economically disadvantaged children in Austin Sunshine Camps.

Denice Bettencourt family - photo After an impressive 35 years, she retired from state service and rededicated herself to community service. She joined The Settlement Club, a fundraising organization that works for the financial support of The Settlement Home for Children. She began working with the backpack program at Anderson Mill Elementary School, which provides weekend food for students on the school lunch program; and she volunteers with the Caswell House Etiquette Class, helping teach children dining and social skills.

In her free time, she loves to read and has led a local book club for several years. She also enjoys physical fitness, getting outside for nature walks, and most importantly spending time with family. At every opportunity, she is planting the seeds of her love for education and community service in her grandson who, with her support, has recently completed his first fundraiser: a read-a-thon for his school.

The 2017 Woman of the Year is an inspiration, whose desire to do good in the world energizes others to do good in the world as well. She leads gently but firmly by encouraging team members in doing what they do best and can coordinate the efforts of many so that, as a team, all may succeed. She excels in planning, organizing, and delegating but is not afraid to jump in herself and do what needs to be done, working shoulder to shoulder with her team. Her style is that of a servant leader, a teacher, and guide, a nurturer, and champion. She is an exemplar of patience, whether working with colleagues and other professionals, or with children or the elderly in the community. She is soft‐spoken, but within her lies a strength that can withstand the storms of life, and when you need it, she will lend you her strength and help you stay the course toward your own goals. She is Denice Bettencourt, EWTG's Woman of the Year for 2017.

Submitted By Shalyn Bridges
Public Relations Director

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