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Holiday Edition, November/December 2014 Newsletter
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Holiday Edition - November/December 2014

In This Issue

1. President's Corner
2. A Year to Be Thankful

3. Woman of the Year
4. 2015 Board of Directors
5. Leadership Texas Graduates
6. October Luncheon Recap
7. Community Service Project
8. 2014 Sponsors
9. 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

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

EWTG closes out our 30th Anniversary with a successful 2014!  The 2014 board consisted of more than 50 years of combined service and achieved our mission in promoting leadership in service by developing new opportunities for training, bridging public private partnerships, and expanding our reach into the affiliates through video training. 

Over 140 volunteers dedicated time and expertise to this cause, and it totaled over 18,000 hours throughout the state. From the new video training courses to the Affiliates, scholarship opportunities, and engagement series from education cruises and networking receptions, we have hit a new mark this year.

Our two keynote speakers for the 28th Annual Professional Development Conference tied our theme together in sharing their personal challenges, accomplishments, and tips and advice. These two Texas stars gave EWTG new perspective and insight into their successes. 

I will always remember the words of Amy Henry to brand, edit, build relationships, and take risks.  Foremost, I will forever be thankful for Ambassador Karen Hughes and her personal insight from the marbled halls of the Texas Capitol to the White House. Serving our nation in such an unprecedented set of circumstances and sharing her personal stories, it offered the group an exceptional view in strategic communication. For all those in attendance, we would all agree, her candor and wit is unmatched. 

In the end, a big thank you to each of you for your dedication and service, and I wish you the best in the new year!

Best and warmest wishes,
Liza C. Willmore
2014 EWTG President


A Year to Be Thankful!

Denise Pittard, Vice President

What an incredible year 2014 turned out to be! The Conference Committee began its work in January to plan EWTG's 28th Annual Professional Development Conference.  The year also marked EWTG's  30th year in existence.  The theme selected for the conference was Building Careers and Developing Leaders.

The conference was once again hosted at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Spa and Conference Center– with well over 700 conference attendees attending 36 Workshops throughout the day. 

EWTG brought in two well-known Keynote Speakers – Amy Henry and Ambassador Karen Hughes! Both Keynoters connected their personal stories of leadership and career development, striking a chord with many of the attendees.

Behind the scenes, and working non-stop to make this year’s conference a success, were the incredibly dedicated 2014 Conference Chairs. These ladies worked tirelessly to bring to life the 2014 Conference. Please join me in congratulating and thanking the EWTG Conference Chairs for 2014:

Jennifer Dormer, Facilities Chair
Trina Edwards, Exhibits Chair
Debbie Peterson and Ruth Doss, Silent Auction Co-Chairs
Karen Howard, Program Chair
Bobbe Walker, Registration Chair
Grace Nobles, Resolutions and Evaluations Chair

On behalf of the Conference Chairs, we also want to express our sincere appreciation to the 2014 EWTG Board for their support, with special acknowledgment to Liza C. Willmore, President, for sharing her clear vision for Conference. 

I have sincerely enjoyed serving as the 2014 Vice President and Conference Chair, and appreciate the opportunities for growth this position has presented.

2014 Executive Women in Texas Government's Woman of the Year Awardee...

Susan K. Durso!

On November 24th during the EWTG Conference, Susan K. Durso was named 2014 EWTG's Woman of the Year.  Each year EWTG is proud to recognize a member as the Woman of the Year.  This is a woman who has made a difference in EWTG, her profession, and her community through life-long learning and her support of other women.

This year's winner, Susan Durso has made a difference in EWTG through her active participation within the organization since she joined in 1998.  This year Susan is serving on Program Committee.  She also has served five terms on the Board of Directors: Affiliates Director in 2003 and 2004, President Elect in 2007, President 2008, and Membership Director in 2012. Susan gives back to EWTG through regular committee service and through her participation in annual conferences as a presenter and moderator.  Susan participates in the organization's mentoring program--she has been a member of the same Executive Success Teams for sixteen years!  In addition, Susan has conducted board training to incoming EWTG boards for many years helping to prepare new board members for their service and contributing to successful accomplishment of the organization’s mission.

Susan holds three degrees and has held progressively responsible professional positions throughout her career.  Susan is currently the Contracts Administration Manger for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.  Susan’s prior positions, in which she served as general counsel for three state agencies, have broadened her knowledge and skill sets because of the diverse nature of the three agencies’ roles and missions.  Susan is a proven leader, who offers her time generously to mentor others in their professional development.  Susan also contributes her time and talent to her community having served on community boards and volunteering for community services such as Dress for Success and the Capital Area Food Bank.

We, again, congratulate Susan K. Durso for being honored as our 2014 Woman of the Year!


Connie Williams, Nominating Commitee Chair

The Executive Women in Texas Government is pleased to announce the incoming 2015 Board of Directors, approved by the 2014 Board of Directors on October 15, 2014.

Laure McLaughlin
Retired (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)
Communications Director
Debbie Peterson
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Jennifer Dormer
Texas Department of Aging & Disability Services
Membership Director
Debora Shaw-Boatner
Retired (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)
Bobbe Walker
Texas Department of Family & Protective Services
Program Director
Dokpe L. Ogunsanya
Dupsy Enterprises
Financial Officer
Gena Minjares
Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company
Public Relations Director
Amy C. Redmond
Texas Public Broadcasting Association
Katrina Burch
Teacher Retirement System
Mini-Course Director
Karen Howard
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Affiliates Director
Cindy Hale
Retired (Texas Department of Aging & Disability Services)


Grays & Skaarup: Graduate 2014 Leadership Texas


Brenda Grays, of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services (TEEX) - Knowledge Engineering, and Tanya Skaarup, of the Texas Department of Information Resources, are both proud graduates from the 2014 Leadership Texas; a prestigious year-long program for outstanding women leaders throughout the state with diverse backgrounds.  The LT Program provides opportunities for leadership education and hands-on experience to help women improve their leadership skills and expand their knowledge of the diverse issues, dynamics and cultures that impact the state of Texas.  Due to their extraordinary contributions to the Executive Women in Texas Government (EWTG), both Grays and Skaarup were the beneficiaries of Professional Development Scholarships from EWTG enabling them to participate in the program and graduate November 11, 2014 in Austin.

Judy Ray, "Fastest Grandma in the West"

Recap from October Monthly Luncheon


Joelyn Weeks, Programs Director 

Judy Ray, high-performance vehicle driver, grandmother, and BMW salesperson, "drove home" the message that one can achieve anything they want, even when others tell them no.

When first meeting Judy, she seems quiet and unassuming.  But as she shared her experiences of falling in love with race cars and learning to drive them, while excelling and scoring in first place, one quickly learns that she is full of energy and passion for her sport. Meeting participants were entertained while also hearing Judy's message about perseverance. 

In early career of driving high performance vehicles, she was told she could not participate, or that the activity was only for the guys.  She drove anyway, and continued to break some records.

Ray continues to be involved in racing but takes pride in her focus on driver development and especially focused on addressing issues regarding teenage driving programs. She uses knowledge as an experienced racer to teach teens and adults the nuances of safe driving. In the teen classes, Ray insists that parents and children study together. Bad driving habits – just like other habits – are passed down between generations.

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

October 25, 2014


Shawana Ellison, 2014 Community Service Chair

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.

On Saturday, October 25th, EWTG took the opportunity to provide a clean environment for the babies and make the accommodations for the parents better.  We were able to give helping hands in cleaning common areas.  We also were given the opportunity for a group a tour of the house after the completion of our cleaning services.  This allowed us to see the services the facility offers and how RMHC serves the Austin community and the surrounding area within a 50 mile radius.  I want to give a big thank you to EWTG and the members who attended this Community Service for being available to provide assistance with the cleaning and providing a sanitary environment for the babies and their families in the facility.

It has been my pleasure to serve as the 2014 Community Service Chair for EWTG.  We have had some great events this year which started with the Easter Baskets of Love, the Looming of Hats for Dell Children’s Hospital, the Helping Hands of the Ronald McDonald House, and the final event of the collection of Teddy Bears for SafePlace.  Thank you to everyone who remembered to bring your teddy bears to the Annual EWTG Luncheon on December 9th.  Because of your support and generosity, EWTG has been able to serve in a great way.  Thank you for your support!


Thank you - 2014 Sponsors!!

Executive Women in Texas Government would like to thank its 2014 sponsors for a successful year.

Contributed by: Shannon Kelley, 2014 Development Chair

Diamond Level - $5,000
NTT Data, Inc.

Platinum Level – $3,500

Gold Level - $2,000
ESI International

Silver Level - $1,000
CPS HR Consulting

Bronze Level - $500
Apollo Education Group
DCS – Dynamic Computing Services Corporation
SHI Government Solutions


New and Renewing Members November 2014

Sonya Badgley, TxDOT
Laurie Buchanan, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Heather Poggi-Mannis, MicroAssist
Kathryn (Kate) Watson

Alsie Bond, CIty of Bryan
Kimberly Carella, ESI International
Angela Curry, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Pamela Darden, Texas Military Department
Jennifer Dormer, Texas Department of Aging & Disability Services
Amanda Hafer, Texas Military Department
Kathryn Harris, Office of Injured Employee Counsel
Stephanie Heffner, East Texas Council of Governments
Gloria Maynard, General Land Office
Patricia Ortiz, Health Professions Council
Denise Pittard, Retired -TX Department of Motor Vehicles
Christina Randle, Effective Edge
Susan Rossiter, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Chessie Zimmerman, City of Lakeway


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