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Friends of Women’s Studies hosts Table Talk celebration of Houston women

Annual event benefits the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive & Research Collection

For nearly two decades, Table Talk has invited influential women from the community to dine on a plated lunch while discussing a wide variety of topics with their table companions.  The annual event allows participants to converse, share, and learn from women and men of various cultures, professions, and experiences.

Table Talk is the major event hosted by the Friends of Women’s Studies, a guild that supports the academic program and archive through programming and fundraising. It benefits the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection at UH.

This year’s 18th annual celebration was held on March 6 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston.

The co-chairs for the 2015 event are Caroline Fant, Director of Central Evaluation & Financial Planning at Marathon Oil (retired), and Mandy Kao, VP of Operations at Titan Management and founder of the Mandy Kao Foundation. In addition, this year’s honorary chair is Tina Knowles, entrepreneur and founder of the clothing design company House of Dereon.

This year’s Table Talk conversationalists included prominent women from a wide variety of disciplines ranging from the arts to energy. The 2015 participants were:

The Arts and Media

  • Rhonda Radford Adams, Table Talk Featured Artist, ARTRRA
  • María Gaztambide, Associate Director, International Center for the Art of the Americas, MFAH
  • Christine Ha, Chef/Writer, FOX Master Chef/
  • Reyne Hirsch, Appraiser & Host, The Art of Collecting, KPRC
  • Caroline Leech, Blogger/Writer, Inspiring Houston
  • Mary Magsamen, Curator, Aurora Picture Show
  • Ruchi Mukherjee, Founder/Editor, Lights Camera Action
  • Roz Pactor, Owner, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief, The Pactor Group/My Red Glasses Blog
  • Barbara Padilla, Classical Crossover Soprano; Finalist, America’s Got Talent
  • Jessica Phifer, Associate Vice President, Christie’s
  • Robin Reagler, Executive Director, Writers in the Schools
  • Marian Szczepanski, Author, Playing Santa Barbara
  • Sannam Warrender, Stylist & Fashion Blogger, Sannam & Style
  • Kristin Wong, MSN Reporter, Blogger, Scriptwriter


  • Jacqueline Whitting Bostic, President/Chairman, Antioch Project Reach, Inc.
  • Christina Canales Gorczynski, CEO, First Person LLC
  • Licia Green-Ellis, President & CEO, The Waterman Steele Group
  • Carmen Jordan, Houston Market President, IberiaBank
  • Theola Petteway, Executive Director, OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority
  • Sina Raouf, Community Outreach Manager, METRO/ Parsons
  • Maria Rios, Founder, President & CEO, Nation Waste
  • Anne Taylor, Vice Chairman & Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP
  • Lorie Westrick, Principal, RdlR Architects
  • Andrea Gardner, Longshorewoman, Port of Houston
  • Leisa Holland-Nelson, Co-Founder, President/CMO, ContentActive Web & Mobile Development Co.


  • Wanda Adams, Trustee, HISD Board
  • Anna Eastman, Trustee, HISD Board
  • Gayle Fallon, President, Houston Federation of Teachers
  • Jyoti Malhan, Principal, Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan
  • Carol Shattuck, CEO & President, Collaborative for Children
  • Dr. Paula Short, SV Chancellor, SVP for Academic Affairs & Provost, University of Houston
  • Dr. Ruth Simmons, President Emerita, Brown University


  • Annell Bay, Board Member, Apache Corporation
  • Lemar Brown, Business Opportunity Manager, Upstream Americas, Shell
  • Elizabeth Maberry, Director, Digital Business Development, Direct Energy
  • Hallie Vanderhider, Managing Partner, Catalyst Partners


  • Elizabeth Chiao, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Damla Dryden, MD, OB/GYN, Women’s Specialists of Houston, TCH Pavilion for Women
  • Yamile C. Jackson, PhD, PE, PMP, CEO & Founder, Nurtured by Design
  • Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry, Chief Toxicologist, NKM Environmental Health Sciences


  • Shauna Johnson Clark, Head of Employment & Labor, U.S., Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Sheila Jones, Major, Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lynne Liberato, Partner, Haynes & Boone, LLP
  • Marley Lott, Retired Partner, Baker Botts, LLP & Hermann Park Conservancy Board
  • Annise Parker, Mayor, City of Houston
  • Maria Trujillo, Human Trafficking Program Manager, Colorado Dept. of Public Safety

Personal Growth and Development

  • Deavra Daughtry, CEO & Founder, Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation
  • Teresa O’Donnell, Executive Director, Plant it Forward
  • Purva Patel, Therapist, The Couple Zone
  • Carmen Peña Abrego, Program Coordinator, Houston Public Library
  • Mia Knight Wright, Co-Pastor & Executive Director, The Fountain of Praise & Metamorphosis