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October 2014 Newsletter
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October 2014

In This Issue

1. President's Corner
2. Board of Director Nominations 
3. Annual Conference
4. Ronald McDonald House
5. Mini-Course
6. Networking Secrets
7. Capitol Cruise
8. Speed Networking
9. EWTG Houston
New and Renewing Members


Quick Links

EWTG Web Site

Board of Directors

Thank you 2013 Sponsors!

Quarterly Scholarships

EWTG scholarships are awarded on a quarterly basis to those wanting an opportunity for professional advancement or personal growth. All interested members are encouraged to apply; financial need is not a factor. Take a moment to treat yourself to a course you have been putting off or a conference you would love to attend.

Guidelines for qualifying for a scholarship and applications are available on the EWTG website at The Scholarship Committee will accept applications for the 2014 third quarter until 5:00 p.m. on September 30, 2014.

EWTG Board Meetings

The EWTG Board holds its monthly meetings at the Carver Library in Austin on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The agenda for each meeting will be posted on EWTG's website by noon on the Monday before the meeting.

A summary of the board meeting minutes is also posted on the website.

Tanya Skaarup, Editor
Communications Director

Committee Volunteers Needed

Please look over the Committee Descriptions on the EWTG website and consider becoming more active in the organization.
Participating on a committee is a great way to support EWTG, learn new skills and to meet other interesting executive women. As with so many things, "the more you give, the more you get."

Follow EWTG on Twitter

Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people or organizations through the exchange of quick, short messages. Go to to sign up and start receiving EWTG's updates.


President's Corner

5 Cs of CEO
What It Takes to Move Up


Sign up, listen up, and move up – become the executive! Conference season is here, and I am pleased to announce to all our members and partners our two phenomenal keynote speakers for EWTG 28th Annual Professional Development Conference, “Building Careers and Developing Leaders!”


The morning festivities will kick off with Amy Henry, finalist on NBC’s popular hit series, “The Apprentice” and author of What It Takes: Speak Up, Step Up, Move Up.  The book shares her secrets and advice for success in the modern workplace. Amy’s book has now been translated in six languages and is making an impact on professionals across the world. 

Amy is a born and bred Texan and a formidable businesswoman who has spent the past 20 years working for leading technology companies across the United States, such as IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Eastman Chemical, Schlumberger, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.  

An estimated 27 million viewers watched Amy in action as the “last woman standing” on NBC’s hit business series, “The Apprentice.” Since then, Amy has appeared across the United States and Canada speaking about strategies on how to move up in today’s workplace. Amy will fill the morning general session full of energy, her personal experiences, and real scenarios along with practical advice, step-by-step guides, and tips to apply in your daily business trenches!

After the morning presentation, EWTG Conference will move into the first workshop session with hard skills line up and then reconvene for our luncheon keynote to cap off the start of a dynamic morning.  Ambassador Karen Hughes will open up the afternoon from the mind and experience of a global leader who has led strategic efforts from Texas to DC.

Ambassador Karen Hughes, the Worldwide Vice Chair of international communications firm Burson-Marsteller. Karen is one of the world's foremost communication strategists. She has more than 35 years of public policy, communications and political experience, from helping lead winning presidential campaigns to serving at the highest levels of government.  


Karen previously served as Counselor to the President, where she advised the President on policy decisions and led the White House Offices of Communications, Press Secretary, Media Affairs and Speechwriting. She also served as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs where she dramatically reshaped the State Department’s communications with audiences across the world.   She is a wife, a mother and a long-time Sunday school teacher. 

She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and author of Ten Minutes from Normal, a memoir of her experiences working with President Bush. She will share some of her personal stories from the White House and give the insight to what it takes to be a successful executive, whatever the situation.

This stellar year with two widely known global speakers is setting the pace for EWTG’s 30th Anniversary Celebration at the 28th Annual Conference.  The conference is featuring top headliners for the workshops such as William Kuntz, Executive Director of TDLR, Dr. Susan Johnson, Debbie Saviano, and Pamela Benson Owens and Laura Logan of Leadership Women!  

Register today and do not miss out on hearing the stories from two trailblazers!

Liza C. Willmore
2014 EWTG President


EWTG 2015 Board of Director Nominations

Liza C. Willmore, EWTG President

Thank you to everyone that took the time to give some thought to those members they wanted to nominate as the new EWTG leadership to serve as the 2015 board.  Connie Williams, 2007 EWTG President and 2013 EWTG Woman of the Year, is adeptly chairing the Nominating Committee for the 2015 leadership. Look in the November Newsletter to learn more about the 2015 EWTG Board of Directors joining Laure McLaughlin, President Elect.

Corporate Bylaws Process

  • The corporate bylaws provide that the Nominating Committee present a recommended slate of candidates to the Board at its October meeting.
  • The list will indicate which candidates are recommended by the Nominating Committee and which candidates are recommended by petition.
  • If no candidates are recommended by petition, the slate is elected by acclamation.
  • If there are petition-recommended candidates, voting instructions and eligibility information for members will be published in the November 2014 newsletter.

For a description of each Board of Director position, visit:  

EWTG 28th Annual Professional Development Conference
"Building Careers and Developing Leaders"

Denise Pittard, Vice President & Conference Chair

Early Bird Registration ends on October 31, 2014.

To register for the conference and lock in the early bird special discounted rates, be sure to visit now!  On November 1, regular rates will go into effect.

If you plan to take advantage of the special room rates negotiated for the EWTG 2014 Annual Conference, you need to make your room reservations no later than November 2.  After that date, the rates will go back to the normal Embassy Suites rates for overnight lodging.

The Conference is set for Sunday, November 23 through Monday, November 24, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Spa and Conference Center in San Marcos, Texas.  We encourage you to consider arriving Sunday, November 23, and relax with a discounted spa treatment, reserved especially for our group.  Then join us for the networking reception Sunday evening as we gear up for the conference activities on Monday, November 24. 

Early-Bird Conference Registration (now through October 31, 2014)
Member - $199
Non-Member - $249

Regular Conference Registration (November 1, 2014 – November 14, 2014)
Member - $249
Non-Member - $299

On-Site Conference Registration
Member - $299
Non-Member - $349

The conference is the premier educational forum for government professionals interested in developing practical, comprehensive, and real-world solutions for managing changing rules and standards, new business practices, and technological advances and bring greater efficiency to government operations. State government, higher education, and industry experts will cover a wide range of topics relevant to leadership trends, governance practices, and emerging management models in the public sector.

If you would like additional information or may be interested in being part of one of our Conference Committees, please contact me at

We look forward to seeing you there!


Caring for the Families Caring for the Kids
Ronald McDonald House

Saturday, October 25, 2014

10AM - 12PM

Shawana Ellison, Community Service Projects Chair

EWTG Community Service Project
Giving a Helping Hand to the
Helping Hands of the Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Texas provides lodging and support services to over 1,700 families each year through the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room.  The mission of RMHC of Central Texas is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas became licensed and incorporated in 1983 and began providing lodging and support services to families of critically ill and injured children in February 1985.  The first Ronald McDonald House had eight rooms and a staff of one.  In 1989, The Ronald McDonald House moved to the corner of 15th and Trinity in downtown Austin and expanded to 13 rooms.  Thousands of families stayed in this House in its 18 years of operation next to the University Medical Center, Brackenridge.

When Children's Hospital of Austin made plans to move from its location at Brackenridge Hospital to the new Mueller Development several miles north, the Board and leadership of RMHC Central Texas determined it was critically important to build a new House to be near the new pediatric medical center.  In December 2007, the new Ronald McDonald House opened next door to Dell Children's Medical Center and more than doubled in capacity, to 30 suites including a number of new amenities for visiting families.  Because the entire Mueller Development (where the House is located) follows green building principles, and because the medical center was being built to US Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, the Ronald McDonald House followed green building practices as well.  As a result, Austin's Ronald McDonald House is the first LEED Platinum certified Ronald McDonald House in the world.  By building a green House, it built a healthy House for the children and their families.

Cleaning things is one way of making places look neat and tidy.  EWTG has the opportunity to give a clean environment for the babies and make the accommodations for the parents better by allowing for a healthier environment that is in order with positive energy.  People tend to feel cool and clean if the area is well polished and well cleaned.  EWTG will provide assistance with cleaning and contribute our service to a sanitary environment for the babies and their families in the facility.

The families that we will be benefiting are facing many challenges.  I have seen in the past the level of support EWTG and its members have shown toward assisting others.  EWTG has a reservation to volunteer to help deep clean the Ronald McDonald House on Saturday, October 25th from 10am to 12pm.  All of the cleaning supplies and sanitary gear will be supplied to clean guest rooms and common areas.  In addition to the cleaning, we will also have a group a tour of the house after the completion of our cleaning services.  There is no better way to show the “EWTG Spirit of Support” than by helping families in need.  I am confident that we will show up in mass for this great community service project, and I thank you in advance!

If you are interested in giving a helping hand, please email Shawana Ellison, EWTG Community Service Projects Chair, at

Kitchen Facility for Residing Families

Mini-Course - October 8, 2014

Engineer to Entrepreneur: 
Success Story to Polkadot Cupcake Factory!


Olga Lee
Owner, Polkadots Cupcake Factory

In the summer of 2008, Polkadots Cupcake Factory opened its doors — a dream project of husband-and-wife team Olga and Ben.  

Olga, a graduate of the University of Texas, Cockrell School of Engineering's Chemical Engineering Program, one of the top 10 undergraduate programs in the nation, wanted to pursue more beyond her days of consulting and traveling!  After working long hours over various projects for multiple large consulting firms, she decided she wanted to do something with her chemical background in a fun and delightful venture.  Then came the idea of continuing her education at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA!

After her intensive training and understanding that much of baking has a large part in the understanding of chemistry, she found her niche.  Olga moved back to Austin and took on a day job working with a major consulting firm during the day; and at nights, she experimented with different recipes and developed delicious pastries which eventually became Polkadots Cupcakes.

After a few years of corporate Excel guru by day and baker by night, she decided to ditch her button down suits and high heels to put on her aprons full time to create fun, whimsical cookies, cupcakes, and culinary masterpiece pastries!

You Asked and We Answered!

Networking Secrets that Open Doors


Liza C. Willmore, EWTG President

This year presented itself it with new opportunities for growth and expansion! We took your input and brought you two new events geared at the very core of our mission: opening doors for you!

Our Summer Cruise brought in more than 125 attendees aboard the “Pride and Joy,” set against the beautiful Austin City Limits skyline on Lady Bird Lake, Shayla Rivera opened insights into personal and professional paths. 

The sharing of knowledge is the sharing of wealth, and EWTG offered the perfect setting for the exchange.  Topped off with a generous buffet evening reception, hosted by Education Events Chair, Dokpe Ogunsanya, everyone came with excitement and left with a new highlight to a Wednesday evening.

This Fall, our Membership Events Coordinator, Brittany Eck, hosted EWTG’s first Speed Networking at the Texas Capitol!  Set in the Legislative Conference Center, with the beautiful marbled floors of the Capitol and invigorating energy of the Capitol Dome, attendees discussed their current business trends and practices and also shared their experiences in new ventures. Everyone made new connections and had business cards ready!  Several past presidents and Women of the Year Award Winners were also in attendance to share their leadership wins and offered ideas for developing your future network.

Photo credit: StuckinCustoms

Please give a big thanks to Brittany Eck and Dokpe Ogunsanaya for the new doors they have opened for our members!

EWTG Networked, Relaxed, and
Found Some New "Pride" and "Joy!"

Dokpe Ogunsanya, Education Event Chair

The cruise attendees are still talking about the Summer event with rave reviews! Shayla Rivera’s presentation truly inspired all 125+ attendees aboard the EWTG Cruise, “Networking and Relaxation.”  Her inspiring life story will leave an imprint in our memory and inspire the group in keeping our momentum to move forward and upward. 



Shayla Rivera has been named "Funniest Latina Comedian" by the prestigious organization "Latin 2015". Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Shayla Rivera grew up with an avid interest in machinery and fixing things.  Rivera's family always encouraged her to go to college and have a professional career. Rivera attended Texas A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering.  Then she joined McDonnell-Douglas Space Systems at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, working on NASA's shuttle and space station programs for the next eight years.  Stymied by a lack of enthusiasm for her field, Rivera left to pursue her abiding interest in psychology and became a motivational speaker.

In Shayla Rivera’s keynote "ABC - Awareness Begins Change," she shared a very important lesson: everyone indeed 'knows' that anyone can accomplish anything they would like to do.  Drawing an inference on the scientific experiment of “Coaching Well-Trained Fleas," she focused on the skill set necessary for overcoming self-imposed limitations, based on personal beliefs and conditioning.  The fleas in the experiment were enclosed in a jar and taught to only jump as high as the lid, because the pain of repeatedly hitting the lid train the fleas to only jump at a lower height.  Don’t be trained to hit below the mark! To surpass that mentality, set a goal, make a plan, and aim as high as you can.  

Her presentation was outstanding and the audience loved her enthusiasm and how she kept everyone engaged; reaching out to people on both the upper and lower decks of the boat.  Her motivating and humorous presentation sends a message to people with great fun, but still to the point.  She stated that “Our (women) core problem is that we don't even know what we believe, why we believe what we believe, and where the belief came from.  Our conditioning and upbringing are the answer to that and the key to achieving real change.  She believes “the best way to learn, grow and change-in other words be enlightened-is to lighten up.”  Shayla is unique and sincere.  Her message is real yet, humorous.  If laughter is the best medicine, the audience definitely got enough dosage to last for a long time.


Deborah Shaw, Financial Officer
Brenda Grays, Chair of EWTG Brazos Valley


Dokpe Ogunsanya, Education Events Chair
Brenda Grays, Chair of EWTG Brazos Valley


Carol Lauder, EWTG 2010 President and Guest

For more pictures of the event, click here
To see Shayla in an upcoming event, visit


Ready, Set, Go!

Brittany Eck, Membership Event Coordinator

What is Speed Networking?
Speed networking is for professionals what speed dating is for those in the dating scene - an opportunity to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time. The event is not just for job-seekers, it is for anyone who would like to expand their network and make new contacts. 

EWTG hosted the inaugural EWTG Speed Networking event on October 7 in the Legislative Conference Center of the Capitol Extension! The fun event accelerated introductions, facilitated conversations, and helped members expand their network of professional contacts.

Plenty of business cards, smiles, and excitement floated through the event as each group rolled through the lightning couples-rounds of seven-minute introductions!  Seven minutes may sound like a long introduction, but with two people who have first met, it is basically a three and a half minute introduction on each side!  Members learned the art of speech in summarizing their introduction in three short sentences, also widely known as the “elevator speech.”  This is a concept that has been taught throughout the world of business – do you have yours yet?



EWTG Houston Affiliates

Cindy Hale, Affiliates Director

EWTG’s July Service Project , in which the Houston Affiliates partnered with Operation Shoebox to provide American Service Members overseas with care package items, was a great success.  Donations included personal care products, batteries, sunscreen, paper and pens/pencils for letters home, and everybody’s favorite, candy (heat-resistant, of course)! 

This photo shows just a fraction of what was collected for service member packages.  Items were shipped to Florida (Operation Shoebox home base), where they will be packaged into shoebox sized gifts for transportation to our troops overseas.


Alex Pope Speaks to Houston Affiliates on Climate Change


Among those in attendance was Chief Meteorologist at KPRC-TV, Frank Billingsley (Channel 2 in Houston), pictured here with Climate Speaker Alex Pope (in the middle), and Elizabeth Patrolia, Chair Elect for the Houston Affiliate Chapter.

Houston’s EWTG Affiliates August Program, “CLIMATE SCIENCE: It’s Not Rocket Science”, drew a crowd of more than 50 people to hear Alex Pope, Retired NASA Engineer and Climate Theorist, present an overview of the climate debate, identify concerns about climate modeling, and discuss his own theory regarding present day climate change.

Mr. Herman Alexander Pope served as an engineer with the National Aeronautic Space Administration at Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC) from 1963 to 2007.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech.  Mr. Pope’s contributions to space exploration include the Gemini, Apollo, Space Shuttle, and Space Station missions that included the X-38, a wingless lifting body reentry vehicle used as a Crew Return Vehicle for the International Space Station (ISS).  Mr. Pope is a member of The Right Stuff Climate Group, a gathering of highly educated and experienced scientists and engineers from various disciplines.  This group takes on the challenge of evaluating two sides of the climate change debate; the computer climate model advocates and those whose theories are based on observation and who question the relationship between CO2 and temperature changes in the Earth’s present and past climates.


New and Renewing Members September 2014

Alesia Brown, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
Lynda Cobler, Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Dee Halliburton, Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.
Becky Jackson, HHSC - Office of Inspector General
Chelsea Migura, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Nancy Prince, Texas Department of Public Safety
Silvia Ramirez, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Lindsay Turman, City of Richardson
Adrienne Valtierra, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Linda Baker, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Christy Bearden, Texas School for the Deaf
Katharine Chambers, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
Joyce Cooley, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Patti Dathe, TXDOT
Anita Eddie, Employees Retirement System of Texas
Shawana Ellison, Texas Education Agency
Dawn Eserini, Employees Retirement System of Texas
Becky Garza, DADS
Carolyn Gonzales, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Paula Elizabeth, Griffin Comptroller of Public Accounts
Roxanne Gruhlke, Texas Workforce Commission
Lesley Guthrie, Governor's Comission for Women
Erin Hutchins, NIC -
Stephanie Jenkins, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Sondra Johnson, Texas Department of Transportation
Theresa McShan, Health & Human Services Commission
Jelondra Phillips, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Wanda Polk, Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Susan Reyna, Texas Attorney General
Darcie Schipull, Texas Department of Transportation
Kay Steed, Employees Retirement System of Texas
Rebecca Tate, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Cheryl Taylor, Texas Department of State Health Services
Marianne Woods Wiley, Teacher Retirement System of Texas
Mercie Zapata, Texas Department of Public Safety


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