Skip to main content

Hundreds turnout for the 20th Annual Table Talk Luncheon

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program presented the 20th annual Friends of Women’s Studies Table Talk 2017 on March 22 at the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel  The event celebrated the accomplishments of Houston by women over the past 20 years.

The lively lunch honored 60 Houston women of accomplishment from diverse fields and backgrounds, in a format that builds connections.  One at each table, the conversationalists, shared their life experiences and stories with the guests seated with them. Over the past two decades, more than 600 Houston women leaders have been honored.

“Table Talk is a chance for women to exchange information on what worked and what didn’t in building their careers and families and making a success of their lives in a fast changing environment,” said Elizabeth Gregory, director of the Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and a professor of English at UH. “It’s really a folklore event. Women are not trying to impress each other with what they do. They’re exchanging vital information on how to negotiate the changing roles of women by sharing their own stories.”

This year’s honorees included Lauren Anderson, Houston Ballet; Deci Autin, VP Project Management and Execution, ExxonMobil; Susie Distefano, CEO Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital; Samara Faridi, Poshak Fashion & Style; Julie Baker Finck, President, Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation; Sheri Kirmani, MD, My Pure MD; Cheryl Mills Knight, Brand Director Kendra Scott Jewelry; Bonna Kol, President, Asia Society; Lisa Malosky, Sports Journalist and Producer; Martha Montalvo, Executive Assistant Chief/Former Interim Chief, Houston Police Department; Chau Nguyen, CMO, Houston Area Women’s Center; Annise Parker, Former Houston Mayor, SVP Neighborhood Centers; Carrin Patman, Board Chair, Houston METRO; Juanita Rasmus, Pastor, St. John’s United Methodist; Dr. Martha Serpas, Prof. of Creative Writing, UH: Deepa Sidhu, Journalist, Houston Texans; Kiran Verma, Chef/Owner, Kiran’s Restaurant; Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, University Museum, TSU; Beth White, CEO, Houston Parks Board; Andrea White, Editorial Board, Houston Chronicle; Lynn S. Wyatt, Philanthropist; Dr. Kelly Zuniga, CEO Holocaust Museum Houston.  For a complete list of 2017 conversationalists, visit

Co-chaired by Sippi Khurana, MD, Terry Morales, Misti Pace-Krahl and Angela Shippy, MD, the luncheon surpassed its $250,000 goal, setting a new high.  Table Talk Honorary Chair Winell Herron spoke of the founding of H-E-B by Mrs. Florence Butts in 1905 and announced that H-E-B would provide $20,000 in scholarship funds to WGSS over the next two years.  Special thanks were given to Ms. Herron and H-E-B for their ongoing recognition and support of the Houston community’s strength in diversity and to Laura and John Arnold for their leadership level support.

Friends President Leah Barton and WGSS Director Elizabeth Gregory noted accomplishments by and for women over the past century and looked forward to continued progress for the Houston community in all fields through the contributions of all its citizens, regardless of gender.

To learn more about WGSS, visit