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“I’ve always believed that when you educate a girl, you empower a nation.” —Queen Rania of Jordan

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Your care is close to home at one of our primary care clinics. Find a location near you. | 512.509.0200

Physicians are employees of Scott & White Clinics, an affiliate of Baylor Scott & White Health. ©2016 Baylor Scott & White Health. BSWCLINICS_110_2016 CE 11.16


Plastic Surgery from a Woman’s Perspective. 2017 Super Doctors® Rising Stars® honoree Dr. Christine Fisher is inspired daily as she works with her patients, undergoing cosmetic surgery of the breast and body due to pregnancy or aging, or to restore the breast after cancer treatment. For breast reconstruction patients, Dr. Fisher offers natural options such as DIEP Flap reconstruction, implant-based and nipple-sparing reconstruction, and ‘hidden scar’ techniques resulting in no scars on the front of the breast. For cosmetic patients, she offers re-shaping of the breast with breast augmentation or reduction, and body-shaping procedures such as tummy tucks and liposuction. Call today to speak with her patient care team, who will help you navigate the restorative journey. 1015 E. 32nd St Ste 306 | Plaza St. David | Austin, TX 78705

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ROCK STARS What would our world look like if we all recycled? Can you even imagine? Today, our planet is suffering. The hole in the ozone that protects us from harmful UV radiation, those nasty rays that cause skin cancer, is larger than it has ever been. Our oceans are teeming with debris and enough plastic is thrown out every year to circle the Earth four times. Our landfills are growing by the second and unless we take a stand, waste will take over our planet. Scary, right? So, what can we do? BY LAUREN JONES

YOU CAN RECYCLE WHAT? What can we recycle? You may think recycling only applies to things like paper, aluminum cans and glass bottles, but guess what? Common household items like electronics, washers and dryers, car batteries and light bulbs can also be recycled. Recycling is one of the best things we can do to protect our The fate of our planet, so why wouldn’t you take an extra minute (or two) to put your recyclables in that little blue bin?

to their Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Once at the MRF, the recyclables are separated, processed, and compressed into bales, which are then shipped off to processing facilities around the country. Currently, TDS is working to move all of their processing in-house to the neighboring TDS Eco-Industrial Park, which will reduce costs, planet create jobs and cut their carbon footprint. Not only does TDS do a great job at keeping our communities clean, but they go above and beyond to spread the word about recycling. Every year, TDS offers collection services for Fiesta San Antonio and ACL, where they educate vendors on what items can be recycled and composted and provide easily recognizable signage. During ACL 2016, TDS diverted enough trash to cover a football field six stories high.

is on all of us.

TEXAS DISPOSAL SYSTEMS TO THE RESCUE Now that you have decided to do your part, let me introduce you to Texas Disposal Systems (or TDS for short). TDS has been helping keep Central Texas beautiful for the last 40 years as one of the largest independently operated waste management companies in the country. Their mission is to divert waste from the landfill and repurpose it for a new life, which can include traditional closed-loop recycling, where one item, such as a soda can is reused to make another soda can, or open-loop recycling, where a material is used for an entirely new purpose. Every day, TDS picks up recyclables from residential neighborhoods, businesses and schools and transports them

IT’S ON US The fate of our planet is on all of us. It’s not just one person’s job to recycle, one neighborhood’s or even one country’s responsibility. It’s on every single person on this planet, all 7.5 billion of us. Once you finish reading this article, take a look around your home and set aside any items you can recycle. If you’re not sure where to place an item, head to to get more info. The more trash we divert from the landfill, the healthier our world becomes. For more information on how you can make a difference, visit


A CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL EARTH OR A POLLUTED ONE: IT’S YOUR CHOICE Toxic chemicals from plastics thrown into the landfill can leach into groundwater and make us sick.

Recycling and composting are the best ways to divert trash from the landfill.

Did you know that household items such as washers and dryers can be recycled too?

Recycling just one ton of office paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space and enough energy to heat an average home for six months.

At 1,609 pounds per person per year, the U.S. is the No. 1 trash-producing country in the world. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.

The more materials put in landfills creates more greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to global warming.

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Photo by Annie Ray.



Photo by Niki Jones.






Five Must-dos for August

SAVVY WOMEN 24 COUNT US IN Women in Numbers 26 B OTTOM LINE Shopgate’s Casey Gannon 28 F ROM THE DESK OF kidsActing’s Dede Clark 30 G  IVE BACK Boys & Girls Clubs’ Misti Potter 32 P ROFILE Expect Respect’s Barri Rosenbluth 33 PROFILE MamaLingua’s Aileen PassarielloMcAleer and Christia Madacsi Hoffman

Lighten Up Cannon + Belle

WELLNESS 72 WAITING ROOM Breaking Out 76 E AT THIS, NOT THAT Protein Snacks 78 H  ER ROUTINE Christine Pollei


Alys Porter

MUST LIST 35 DISCOVER Mustang Island, Texas 38 ROUNDUP Stay Sharp 40 L ITTLE LUXURIES Game Changer

STYLE + HOME 42 SPLURGE OR STEAL Taking Care of Business 44 BEAUTY Gluten-free Makeup 46 MAKE ROOM A Functional Flair 12 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

ON THE COVER Photo by Annie Ray, Makeup by Anaya Mason Hair by Vicki Lynn Kelley










Established in 1998

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Jill Case, Kim Eagle, Afton Jones, Niki Jones, Doyin Oyeniyi, Natalie Paramore, Amanda Pinney, Alys Porter, Rachel Rascoe, Alessandra Rey, Phaedra Rogers, Abigail Rosenthal, Gretchen M. Sanders, Shelley Seale

Because our readers look to us to help them make informed choices, including which doctors to see, we have launched a powerful digital solution—ATXDOCTORS.COM.

CONTRIBUTE TO ATXDOCTORS.COM Become a part of our online directory featuring Austin’s leading doctors and health-care centers


Stef Atkinson, Andrea Calo, Andrew Chan, Scott Flathouse, Clay Hoffman, Sarah Holcomb, Jane Ko, Dustin Meyer, Lisa Muñoz, Natalie Paramore, Richard Porter, Annie Ray, Lakshan Weeraratne, Jessica Wetterer

Answer our readers frequently asked health questions in an exclusive Ask An Expert article

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Madilyn Biscoe, Leslie Paetschow

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Claire Cannatti, Monica Grice, Sarah Holcomb, Amanda Pinney, Abigail Rosenthal, Regan Velchoff


Emily C. Laskowski, Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, Mary Anne Connolly, Elizabeth Eckstein

Austin Woman is a free monthly publication of AW Media Inc., and is available at more than 1,250 locations throughout Austin and in Lakeway, Cedar Park, Round Rock and Pflugerville. All rights reserved. For submission requirements, visit No part of the magazine may be reprinted or duplicated without permission. Visit us online at Email us at 512.328.2421 | 3921 Steck Ave., Suite A111, Austin, TX 78759

Physicians and healthcare providers, we welcome your participation. Please contact us at: or 512.328.2421


Growing up, my schooling was not a straight and narrow path, by any means. Contrarily, when written down on paper, I’d say it looks more akin to a family’s winding ancestry tree, with all its branches and parentheses and names of past. From kindergarten through 12th grade, I went from public school to private school to home school, back to private school, then home school to public school to home school to college. No lie. And looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted my path to be any different. Some may look at those schooling choices and see a world of indecision, but each transition, each turn, each branch on the tree was indeed a plan. If I’m playing favorites, my preferred form of school—until I got to experience college, of course—was home schooling, mainly because, as the aforementioned quote from Mark Twain mentions, it was the one form of schooling that didn’t interfere with my education. What about socialization? Do you get to study in your pajamas all day? What about football games? What about prom? I was on the receiving end of all these questions and none of them ever phased me. Home school was an escape from what I considered to be the four walls of prison cooping me up for eight hours a day just to come home to be cooped up inside another four walls, working for another four hours on homework just to do it all over again the next day. Traditional schooling was tiring and exhausting, and I felt deprived of a life outside of school. The times I re-enrolled in public or private school acted merely as a testing ground to see how I had progressed in my self-taught studies. Spoiler alert: I was doing just fine.

Join the conversation @AustinWoman #TheEducation&STEMIssue


Home school allowed me to pursue other passions I had to keep at bay when I was in private or public school, from running in the mornings before school work started to reading free magazines at the library during lunch, attending a couple classes for college credit at Austin Community College and taking horseback-riding lessons in the afternoon with no homework in sight when I returned home later that evening. To each parent her own, of course, when deciding what type of schooling is best for her children, and I completely understand that not everyone has the ability to home school. With schools of all shapes and sizes back in session this month, I feel called to set a few things straight about us home-schoolers. Yes, we have plenty of outlets to socialize, from club sports to home-school co-ops. Yes, occasionally I’d get to stay in my PJs for a couple more hours in the mornings, and it was awesome. No, I didn’t go to football games, but, then again, I wasn’t too won over by the idea of standing in a cramped row of bleachers for a three-hour stretch anyway. And no, I didn’t go to prom, but I did take a family road trip to watch the sunrise and sunset at the Grand Canyon. August is our Knowledge is Power issue and, with that theme in mind, it’s pivotal to recognize that knowledge comes from both inside and outside the comfort of a school’s four walls. Knowledge can be gleaned from the discovery of a new bird you see on the shores of Lake Austin, through a patch of dried seaweed you find on a hike through the Hill Country or on a visit to peruse old black-and-white photos and 1800s map drawings at the Austin History Center. Knowledge and education are all around us; we just have to be empowered to hit the pause button on school—or on work, for that matter—to see it. Sincerely,


Photo by Lisa Muñoz.


have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” I fell in love with those words, a quote from the inimitable Mark Twain, from the moment I saw them plastered on a wall in the Rec Center at the University of Texas.

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© 2017 Texas Children’s Hospital. All rights reserved. MPR1668_070117










This month, we asked our contributors: What is one of your favorite school memories?


COVER PHOTOGRAPHER, “IN THE PILOT’S SEAT,” PAGE 48 Since 2005, Annie Ray has focused on bringing out the “real stuff” in everything she shoots. Her relationship with every subject will make 1,000 words say so much more. “One of my favorite school memories is chicken-friedsteak Thursdays!”



Doyin Oyeniyi is a writer and digital storyteller with an interest in sharing the stories of marginalized people. She was born in Nigeria, but has lived in Texas for most of her life. After graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree of journalism in multimedia journalism, she’s written primarily for online outlets such as Bustle, Everyday Feminism and Doyin is passionate about exploring and sharing the stories of black Austinites through a web series called Austin While Black. When she’s not writing or working on an AWB episode, she’s most likely reading fantasy novels, watching Doctor Who or pretending to train for another marathon. “When I attended UT Austin, I joined the African Students Association and it was the best decision. Yeah, they threw amazing parties, but I also found a community that made me feel at home in Austin, and I met some of my closest friends through that organization.”



Claire Cannatti was born and raised in Austin but fled the heat last year to attend Wellesley College. She plans to major in media arts and sciences, and minor in astronomy and math. Her dream job is editing a magazine, so she’s excited to be interning for Austin Woman. “I think space is just about the coolest thing ever, so I loved standing out in the freezing cold to look through telescopes in my first-ever astronomy lab last semester. Once, classes were canceled until 8 p.m. because of a blizzard, but lab started at 8:30 p.m., so we still had to slog up to the observatory.”



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Natalie Paramore started her blog,, as a way to share what recipes she was cooking and the new places where she was eating in Austin. Since then, she has grown her site to include recaps of her travels and lifestyle tips. Natalie loves using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients in the dishes she creates and counts exploring the ever-growing Austin food scene as one of her favorite hobbies. Follow along on her adventures on Instagram @natalieparamore. “I always loved school growing up, and my favorite memories always revolved around school-supply shopping! I still love getting new pens, pencils and notebooks, even as a grown-up.”


➥ More page turning. Take a deeper dive into the story behind South Congress Books, a woman-owned bookstore and staple on South Congress Avenue that’s been selling special editions and collectable books since 2011.

➥ More school lunches. Salad bars, in-classroom breakfasts and on-campus

food trucks all have one thing in common: Annaliese Turner. We sat down with the nutrition-and-food-services director for the Austin Independent School District to hear how she’s reinventing cafeteria food for approximately 83,000 students throughout the district.

➥ More entrepreneurs. Hear how Brizy Tait, the founder of Little Roseberry, is using her background as a biochemistry engineer to create skin-safe beauty- and hair-care products for kids.

➥ More creative writing. One local nonprofit is teaching kids from all backgrounds how to express themselves through storytelling, one writing workshop at a time. A free program, Austin Bat Cave introduces kids to all forms of creative writing, from fiction to poetry, through industry-expert-led workshops.



IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN We’re over-the-moon excited to be giving away one copy of Grace Bonney’s New York Times best-selling book, In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs. Everyone in the Austin Woman office adores this inspirational read, which celebrates an exceptional group of strong, talented and creative women who have blazed trails, launched their own businesses and supported other women along the way. With each flip of the page, you’ll learn life and career lessons from a wide range of women, including Tavi Gevinson, Jodie Patterson, Linda Rodin, Preeti Mistry, Issa Rae, Liz Lambert, Eileen Fisher and Thelma Golden, among others. Each woman’s story is unique—just like your own—yet the messages they share are universal. To enter, keep an eye on our Instagram account, @AustinWoman, for the giveaway announcement in August. Word to the wise: We like to be spontaneous. A winner will be chosen and notified at the end of the month.





Pay It Forward Aug. 3, 7 p.m. AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, 1900 University Ave. White Linen Night Aug. 5, 6 to 9 p.m. Second Street District ChickTech ACT-W Conference Aug. 5 and 6, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Norris Event Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 365 Bat Fest Aug. 19, 4 p.m. to midnight Congress Avenue Bridge Austin Fall Home & Garden Show Aug. 18 through 20, times vary Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St. Thinkery21: Come & Make It Aug. 24, 7 to 10 p.m. 1830 Simond Ave.


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Check out the August agenda from our favorite local insiders. AUSTIN ICE CREAM FESTIVAL “You can sample from all of Austin’s best ice-cream shops and eat all the frozen treats at the Austin Ice Cream Festival—my dream come true! Don’t miss the sweetest and coolest event this summer. Love ice cream as much as I do? Try competing in the half-gallon ice-cream-eating competition or the no-hands ice-cream sandwich competition. Bonus: The event is also dog-friendly.” Aug. 12, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. | Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. | Ticket prices start at $10.

Jane Ko @atasteofkoko


Aug. 26, 2 to 5 p.m. | Mohawk Austin, 912 Red River St. | The event is a benefit event for Central Texas Food Bank. Admission is $2 or free with a donation of two canned goods.

Kristy Owen @365thingsaustin

NEIMAN MARCUS FALL TREND EVENT “I love the Neiman Marcus Trend events. They host an in-store fashion show to highlight and talk about the hottest fashion trends for that season from luxury labels. It’s a great way to learn about what’s happening on the runways at New York Fashion Week. This year’s Fall Trend events are Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. They always have sips and bites and fun activities.” Aug. 9 and 16, 5:30 p.m. | Neiman Marcus, 3400 Palm Way RSVP to or call 512.719.1213.

Katie Kime @katie_kime

FREE DANCE LESSONS AT THE WHITE HORSE “Who said cardio had to be at 7 a.m.? Get your heart rate up with live tunes on the dance floor! I like to swing out and sweat Wednesdays at 7 p.m. with Four on the Floor, but they also offer Cajun dancing on Tuesday nights and Texas two-step dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.” Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 7 p.m. | The White Horse, 500 Comal St. | Admission is free.

Adriene Mishler @yogawithadriene

BOB ROSS: THE JOY OF PAINTING & DRINKING “It’d be a challenge to replace the calm voice, skilled artistry and candid character of TV host Bob Ross, which is half the fun of trying to imitate him. Swap that bowl of popcorn for a canvas, paintbrush and libation of your choice, and join the crew at Full Circle Bar for an evening of episode reruns and virtual instruction from Ross himself. So, you can’t seem to master the brushstroke technique tied to painting pine trees? Don’t worry. Something tells us Ross would say that’s completely OK. After all, his relaxing, trancelike show was called The Joy of Painting.” —April Cumming Aug. 31, 8 to 11 p.m. | Full Circle Bar, 1810 E. 12th St. | Free with RSVP.

Austin Woman @austinwoman


Austin Ice Cream Festival photo by Jane Ko. Quesoff photo courtesy of Quesoff. Neiman Marcus photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

“Not to be cheesy, but this is a must-do if you claim to like queso. Come celebrate cheese in its best form. Contenders—from local restaurants and home cooks to neighbors and top chefs—will be concocting all varieties of queso, from meaty, spicy, veggie and wild card, and everything in between.”

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Facts and figures on females from throughout the world. BY AMANDA PINNEY, ILLUSTRATIONS BY JESSICA WETTERER

$1,500 That’s how much more money, on average, women owe upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, compared with their male counterparts. According to a new study released by the American Association of University Women, the burden of student debt has a larger impact on women, who make up more than half of the total college population and, in 1996, surpassed men in earning bachelor’s degrees. The study estimates women hold about 64 percent of total student debt, or approximately $833 billion, meaning the female population represents nearly two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in total outstanding education loans throughout the country. Because of gender wage disparity, the study found, it takes the average woman nearly two years longer to pay off her debt than it does a man.

30 Years Old The age when a woman with a master’s degree or higher-ranking degree first becomes a mother is estimated to be 30 years old. Data analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center determined highly educated women who are currently between the ages of 40 and 50 waited longer than those with a lesser education before having their first child. The data cites 54 percent of women with at least a master’s degree wait until after their 20s to start a family, with one-fifth of these women waiting until age 35 to become mothers. Childbearing patterns of women with a higher level of education contrast with those of women without a degree. For example, 62 percent of women who did not attend college had their first child before reaching age 25. According to the study, the female population polled is split on whether women who want to advance professionally should have children earlier (36 percent of votes) or later in life (40 percent of votes) if they want to reach a top executive position.

62 Million Approximately 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. Michelle Obama brought this number to light as part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, a project she launched in 2015. The initiative funds community projects to address the issues that prevent girls from receiving an education, specifically targeting a country’s failure to invest in education for girls. In her message, the former first lady indicated that a 15 to 25 percent salary increase for each additional year of secondary education a girl completes. Studies have shown that increasing the number of girls enrolled in school by just 1 percent can boost an entire country’s gross domestic product and agricultural output. According to the Let Girls Learn initiative, educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school, a statistic highlighting the ripple effect achieved when women are empowered by the ability to live up to their potential.

14 Percent Among all women between the ages of 25 and 34, the number of those who are homemakers fell from 43 percent to 14 percent between 1975 and 2016. The reasoning: This 41year time span saw a dramatic change in values among young people regarding what was traditionally considered to be a pivotal adulthood milestone. A study conducted by the United States Census Bureau found more than half of today’s Americans believe marrying and having children is less important than educational and economic accomplishments. This change in mindset means a change in the traditional role of women. In 1975, the share of young women in the workforce stood at not quite half, but today, that number has risen to more than two-thirds of young women.

6.4 Percent Between 1995 and 2012, the number of women intending to major in science and engineering fields rose by 6.4 percent. A study by the National Science Foundation noted the steady rise in female freshman at four-year institutions choosing to study science and engineering, an increase from 27.1 percent in 1995 to 33.5 percent in 2012. Although the number of women interested in these fields has grown, men are still more likely to plan a science or engineering major when entering college. Although women in the U.S. make up close to 50 percent of the workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions. Today, government initiatives and diversity programs are doing their best to close this gap, and many universities now offer special STEM support and incentives for women hoping to enter these fields. 24 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

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Shopgate’s Casey Gannon discusses how her career trajectory launched her into the tech field. BY SHELLEY SEALE

Casey Gannon spent her entire childhood traveling to exotic locales throughout the world. With a father who was a civilservice engineer, she and her family lived in places such as the Philippines, the Azores and Japan, to name a few. While in Japan, Gannon’s parents started a maintenance-supply business for government contracts in Asia. As a teenager, Gannon started working side by side with them, learning administrative skills like accounting, payroll, business management and bidding on government contracts. The experience taught her something else, as well: just how much work it takes to run a company. “I learned that if you aren’t passionate about your work, you have a higher probability of failing, and life, in general, is a lot less fun,” Gannon says. “I was captivated by international trade and understanding different economies and the cultures that drive them.” In 2001, she moved to Austin to study international business at St. Edward’s University, “Bro culture is real, continuing there to obtain her master’s degree in 2007. She and women are fully intended to return to Japan to continue working in underrepresented the family company, but during her last year of grad school, in the tech world.” two major events occurred that changed the course of her life: Gannon’s parents sold their company, and a member of the Sustainable Energy Utility advisory board offered Gannon an internship at a tech startup he was launching. “When we sold our company, it left me in a position to reconsider what I really wanted to do with my life,” Gannon says. “I had zero experience in [technology marketing], but was willing to put in the hours to figure it out.” Gannon was apprehensive about it, as she wasn’t sure she had the creative knack for marketing. “I’m extremely pragmatic and logical,” she says. “But it turned out that my creativity came in the ability to be resourceful, see the big picture and figure out which puzzle pieces were needed to get there.” After working for several startups focused on consumer mobile apps, in December 2015, Gannon took on the role of vice president of marketing, services and partnerships at Shopgate, a retail mobilecommerce platform. “It’s so rewarding to have such a direct impact on the success and direction of the business and the opportunity to define the company culture,” she says. “It’s even more satisfying to work with such an inspiring group of smart people who are shifting and redefining what today’s workforce looks like.” Gannon’s career in tech marketing hasn’t been without its challenges, though. The rapid growth at Shopgate—expanding from a team of two to a staff of 45 in just a year and a half—is one of them. Another more obvious challenge is that of being a woman in a maledominated industry. According to Business Insider, more than half of all tech companies have no women in executive positions, and 70 percent of tech companies don’t have a single female board member.


“Bro culture is real, and women are underrepresented in the tech world,” Gannon says. “I’ve dealt with an incredible number of demeaning comments and experiences. I’ve been asked about my kiddo in interviews.” She adds that sexual harassment doesn’t even faze her anymore. Still, she says she doesn’t personally feel held back within the industry. “I pick my battles and teachable moments, and I don’t shy away from sharing my opinions,” she says. “I’ve made lifelong friendships with some incredible men and women in the tech industry, and been given chances to advance my career and passions without hesitation from both male and female leaders. I applaud all of the effort from groups like bossbabesATX and Girls Who Code to drive awareness and encourage women to continue to expand into the tech field.” Here, Gannon offers five solid pieces of advice for women for getting ahead in whatever career they choose, and balancing the various ups and downs of life. Build a community. “Don’t try to do it all yourself. Between family and friends, I have a great support network to help usher my son around to activities and watch him when I need to go out of town for work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be there for others in return.” Network. “My career growth was significantly impacted by the people I had taken the time to get to know.” Don’t be a “yes” woman. “Many people, but women, in particular, shy away from voicing a dissenting opinion or challenging the norm. Be prepared to defend your stance, but let your voice and ideas be heard.” Take care of yourself. “My priorities have always been my son, my work, and then myself, but I suffered. I didn’t take enough care of myself because I was too busy taking care of everyone else. Once I made myself a priority with exercise and nutrition, I felt like a better parent and employee. I also use a lot of services, like Instacart, to give me back more free time from mundane tasks. I have more energy, a more positive attitude and am overall more confident.” Do the things you fear. “One year, this was my resolution: to do all of the things I feared, within reason. I feared public speaking, so as soon as I was asked to speak, I sucked it up and did it. Now I speak regularly. If you fail, you learn, but either way, you grow. And more than likely, you’ll shock yourself.”

Photo by Lakshan Weeraratne.

“If you aren’t passionate about your work, you have a higher probability of failing.”





The artistic director and founder of kidsActing casts a light on the lessons she’s learned from teaching theater for 37 years. BY AMANDA PINNEY, PHOTO BY STEF ATKINSON Dede Clark could never get enough of the blinding stage lights and rolling cameras. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in theater education from the University of Kansas, Clark worked in theater in New York City before completing her master’s degree in film at the University of Texas.

Clark realized she wanted to bring her love of theater and acting to children of all ages and talent levels, and in 1980, she founded kidsActing in Austin. With a host of programs suitable for all acting levels, ranging from young beginners to advanced performers, the studio features everything from summer camps and musical-theater classes to audition workshops and full-scale productions. The emphasis at kidsActing is on making the kids feel welcome by providing an inclusive environment for everyone. To commemorate her 37 years spent working as a theater teacher, Clark reflects on the top five lessons she’s learned from being a mentor for kids, whether it was in front of or behind the curtain.

HER LESSONS 1. Cherish each individual. “You have to cherish each child for who they are and whatever they bring to the table. They don’t have to be a certain type of person to be successful, to have their lives enriched, to give to the community. It’s about letting each person be safe in discovering who they really are. This is a safe place for that. We have kids in shows that range from being really timid to wildly outgoing. We have kids with a various range of disabilities that we teach. We have kids on every gender spectrum. And it’s all good. It’s all wonderful because that’s who they are.” 2. There’s a solution to every problem. “Screaming at people doesn’t get you anywhere. Everything can be handled, and when you work in this business, you know that stuff happens. It just happens. You always have to be able to go, ‘OK, how are we going to solve this?’ It also translates into life. Instead of worrying about something, you just say, ‘OK, all right.’ When you work with kids, having the ability to not freak out is really valuable because they are mirrors. If you’re tense and crazy, then they’re going to be tense and crazy, and then everybody gets crazy. Ultimately, it all works out in the end.” 3. Everybody bonds without a cellphone. “I have a rule that when [the kids] walk in the door, they put their cellphones in a basket. They power them off and put them in a basket. My attitude is simply that you’re here, there’s a community engagement, there’s creativity, we’re going to build something together. If you’re texting, you’re not building anything but your thumb muscles. What happens is everybody bonds so much more because there is real interaction. When we first started doing it, I had parents that said, ‘My kid can’t be without their phone,’ and I said, ‘Oh yeah, they can.’ I haven’t lost one yet. I’ve been doing this for 37 years, and I haven’t lost a kid yet.”


4. Hard work pays off. “That’s all there is to it. Theater is about that. It’s about responsibility, teamwork, creativity, hard work—all of that in one. The kids thrive on hard work. They’d rather be here than other places. So, the long hours are not a problem because everybody is working toward the same goal and everybody wants the best show possible. They love what they’re doing, so they’re engaged. I think the value of hard work paying off comes from the value of discipline in doing something that you love. These kids are doing [theater] because they thrive and they love it.” 5. Be kind. “It’s really important to me that all the kids treat each other with respect and kindness. Sometimes you get a young kid who’s very successful, gets a lead [role] and all of a sudden, they start to cop an attitude. Well, we nip that in the bud really fast. One of the things we do here is I triple cast all my advanced shows so, for example, there will be three Belles in Beauty and the Beast. When they’re not playing the lead, they play a chorus part. I call it my diva-prevention plan, and it works. What happens that is beautiful is, instead of the kids wanting to be better than one another, I see kids work together. We want them all to really get that they’re a team, that if one sinks, they all sink. If they all float, then it’s great.”

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As the new CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, Misti Potter has big ambitions for the 50-year-old organization. It’s not unusual to spot a crayon drawing hanging in a proud parent’s office. But when Misti Potter explains some of her kids colored the butcher-paper banner behind her desk, don’t be fooled: She’s not referring to her two sons, but her 12,000 kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Since becoming CEO of the organization in March, Potter now oversees BGCAA’s 28 clubs and four outreach organizations, which provide after-school programming focused on academics, leadership and healthy living to youth ages 6 to 18. The clubs are concentrated in low-income areas, where many kids don’t have access to much food, Wi-Fi or transportation at home. Raised in the oil fields of Stanton, Texas, Potter faced many hardships of her own growing up. When she was 12, she lost her mother to cancer. “We lost essentially everything,” she remembers. With more than $1 million in medical bills, the family sold their house and cars. “We went from having these really big Christmases to having absolutely nothing under the tree.” Potter forged her own way through college. Though she disliked the sport of basketball, she harnessed her athletic talent to earn a full-ride scholarship to a college in Alabama, where she soon discovered her knack for raising money. When a student ambassador challenged her to raise $100 for a fundraiser one afternoon during her freshman year, Potter placed $150 in his palm 15 minutes later. “It wasn’t even hard!” she says. She soon landed a job in the college’s grant department. And after Potter received her degree in behavioral science, she went to work in the nonprofit world. Starting off as an administrative assistant in a tiny Boys & Girls Clubs office in North Alabama, Potter set two ambitious goals: to become the president of BGC’s national professional association and to run a multimillion-dollar organization. Before she turned 40, she had achieved both goals, serving as the association’s third female president in 75 years. “I truly believed that I needed to earn my way up and I needed to understand every level of the organization to do it well from the top,” Potter says. “I was an administrative assistant. I ran programs. I ran clubs. I ran resource development. I’ve done finance. So, I’ve done every piece of an organization and really stair-stepped all the way up.” Throughout Potter’s 20-year career with Boys & Girls Clubs, she’s helped organizations in Montgomery, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn.; Dallas and 30 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

Rockwall, Texas, open new clubs and expand budgets, sometimes by millions. In Rockwall, she rescued the club from a state of insolvency within 90 days, growing it from 70 to 800 kids during the course of four years. For Potter, the best part about waking up every day—a ritual that begins with coffee at 4:30 a.m.—is that she gets to help kids. “The business side is what I’m really good at, but the reason I do it is for the kids,” Potter says. “If I can’t keep that relationship and that touchpoint, I don’t think the business side would matter.” She engages with kids in the occasional basketball game or during “power hour,” a homework period at the beginning of each afternoon. After power hour, kids split into age groups and head to curriculumbased programs, through which they learn about topics such as finances, college prep, body image and health. This fall, 12 BGCAA clubs will offer a new STEM program, teaching concepts like engineering and entrepreneurship. The clubs run from 3 to 8 p.m. every day, a time when kids often don’t have adult supervision or access to positive after-school activities. For some, the snacks and dinner served by staff will be their last meal of the day. Not only does the club serve as a second family for some students, but BGCAA kids have also shown higher school attendance, graduation rates, grades and college enrollment than their peers in the Austin Independent School District. BGCAA celebrates it 50th anniversary this year and has grown from impacting 328 students in 2001 to more than 12,000 students in 2017. Yet, Potter says, 50,000 kids in the Austin area still have little to no access to a positive after-school program. A whiteboard displays her next goal: raise the number of registered BGCAA members to 15,000 by 2020. This spring, the organization purchased property to build the Legacy Club, a site that will serve as many as 1,000 kids annually and include a STEM learning center, hands-on lab, library and art studios. The drawings in Potter’s office serve as reminders of the organization’s impact, illustrated through each kid’s story. One of her kids, Dennis Vera, the BGCAA’s 2015 Youth of the Year, “used to go to McDonald’s for internet at 4 in the morning to get her homework done,” Potter says. Now Vera attends college on a full-ride scholarship and is studying in Spain. “The things they overcome and where they end up in life is just phenomenal,” Potter gushes. “And you can’t help but love what you do.”

Photo by Richard Porter.







Through her abuse-prevention-and-education program, Expect Respect, Barri Rosenbluth is showing kids what healthy relationships look like. The adage to treat others as you’d like to be treated is typically the gold standard in teaching kids how to relate to others. But what if a child has never been taught how to treat others with kindness? What if that child’s daily life is infiltrated by abuse, thus making violence the go-to method of relating to others? Just because something is familiar—the norm, so to speak— doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing. That’s where Barri Rosenbluth and her team at Expect Respect at the Safe Alliance step in. Rosenbluth is the senior director of Expect Respect, a comprehensive program for kids aimed at preventing dating abuse and violence. It offers support for anyone who’s experienced violence from a dating partner. Additionally, it provides school-based counseling and support groups, educates teachers, nurses, coaches, parents and clergy on the warning signs of abuse, and teaches kids how to create healthy relationships. Rosenbluth’s career started at the Center for Battered Women in 1990, shortly after she received her master’s degree from the University of Texas. She was the organization’s outreach-services coordinator at a time when violence prevention wasn’t being discussed. “Something I noticed early on is that we had it backwards,” Rosenbluth says. “We spent all our time and resources on treating people after they’d experienced violence. No one was educating youth about what a healthy relationship looks like. It made more sense to start the conversation early, before they started dating.” Noticing a problem is one thing, but changing public policy is another. She knew it would take creativity, tenacity and a touch of bravado to make a teen-dating, violence-prevention program a reality. Despite her warm and compassionate temperament, Rosenbluth’s determination was the catalyst in assembling a team committed to changing the norm. “If adults don’t make it easier for victims to report and get help,” she says, “everyone’s safety is in danger.” She and her team worked tirelessly to prevent bullying, sexual harassment and dating violence, striving to make schools safer for targeted students. Finally, in 2007, state legislation was passed requiring all Texas school districts to have a dating-violence policy 32 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

that included enforcement of protective orders, training for teachers and administrators, and counseling for affected students. “Every school has a portion, maybe 10 to 15 percent of students, who are struggling with multiple forms of abuse,” Rosenbluth explains. “They’re experiencing trauma, difficulty learning, unhealthy peer relationships, poor body image and substance abuse.” That’s where Expect Respect can make the biggest impact, she says, not just at the onset of trouble, but in the midst of it as well. With its multi-level approach aimed at teacher training, positive parenting education for adults, and education and support for students, Expect Respect aims to leave no stone unturned. It took many years of facilitating support groups, visiting classrooms and collecting data to make Expect Respect what it is today. Rosenbluth will be the first to admit it took a village to develop a program that creates quantifiable results. “I don’t give up easily and I’m in this for the long term,” she says. “I like to be creative and I like to have fun with other people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I don’t always have all the answers, but I am good at engaging other people who do.” Her forward-thinking outreach model has put Expect Respect on the map. The initiative has received countless awards, including recognition by the U.S. Department of Justice, which means the concept is being emulated in other cities throughout the country. The program has also landed her on The Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR, World News Tonight and gotten her a seat at former Vice President Joe Biden’s Violence Against Women Act anniversary celebration. Most notably, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published the results of its five-year evaluation of Expect Respect support groups in the Journal of Preventive Medicine. Data from the evaluation shows continued exposure to violence at home, school or in relationships is harmful and leads to greater danger to the community. According to the CDC findings, “Expect Respect support groups offer positive outcomes for students, and may provide a significant return on investment in terms of future savings.” Through this study, Expect Respect has quantifiable data to prove it is possible to prevent negative outcomes for vulnerable youth. “Our staff, whether they are in a counseling or educational role, show young people what it looks like, sounds like and feels like to be respected and valued,” Rosenbluth says. “We model healthy relationships with every young person in our care and with our school and community partners. If we’re going to be successful, we must live what we teach.” Rosenbluth and her team are determined to change the trajectory for kids in need. To do so, they’re starting by changing the norm.

Photo by Sarah Holcomb.



Two women set out to break through cultural barriers for anyone with a smartphone and a willingness to learn. BY ALESSANDRA REY Hoffman agrees. “My daughter was one of those who would sleep for a maximum of 45 minutes at a time, Hoffman recalls. “I was constantly breastfeeding her and I kept wondering how could I possibly engage my mind? New “I had been looking for some resources when my daughter was about parents don’t want to feel like they’ve stepped off a cliff. They want to 4 months old,” Hoffman says. “I knew that I wanted to expose her to feel like there is still some sort of intellectual engagement.” Spanish. It was the most obvious choice of languages in Texas. But my The app organizes hundreds of different words and phrases background was in French.” alphabetically and into sections labeled with different routine At the time, another mother, Aileen Passariello-McAleer, was offerhousehold activities such as “Eating and Drinking” and “Getting ing classes out of her home in order to help other moms learn Spanish Dressed.” Each term and in a way that would specifiphrase is accompanied by a cally benefit their relationAileen Passariello-McAleer and Christia Madacsi Hoffman voiceover, with the English ships with their children. version recorded by Hoff“I taught Spanish in my man, which allows readers home, and Christia was actually one of my students,” to actively practice while Passariello-McAleer says. multitasking. “I was teaching based on In building their app, chunk learning, so, categoPassariello-McAleer and ries-based, including topics Hoffman gathered research like changing, sleeping on the benefits of learnand eating. One day after ing a second language in a class, [Christia] came up child’s first few years. They to me and told me I should learned that knowing difput [the class] online. She ferent languages not only turned out to be the yin to helps one break cultural my yang.” boundaries, but it also has After graduating with a many academic benefits. biology degree from Geor“Kids who are bilingual gia Institute of Technolend up being better test ogy in 2002, Miami native takers because they have Passariello-McAleer spent different ways of connectyears working for IBM in ing terms and concepts,” New York City. Her work Passariello-McAleer exin the health-care space as a client manager inspired her to pursue a plains. “They have an ability to cross-reference in their brain.” master’s degree, which she completed at the University of Texas. It’s been two years since the duo placed their app on the market, “That experience gave me a taste of business, which I really enjoyed,” and Passariello-McAleer and Hoffman are now focused on social Passariello-McAleer says. “I chose UT because of its great entrepremedia and grassroots marketing. They prioritize community buildneurship program and Austin’s culture for startups. I knew that one ing through meetups, multicultural events and partnerships with the day, I wanted to start my own business.” Austin Independent School District. After working at various startups in Austin, she realized it was time “At the meetups, it is so wonderful to see so many people who were to create something of her own. It was only after she began to raise her both native Spanish speakers and then people who are self-taught and children in a bilingual household that she decided to share her experithose who just have an interest in learning more,” Hoffman says. ences with others who were eager and willing to learn. With hundreds of users already engaging with their product, one of Hoffman, armed with an associate’s degree in visual-communication their top priorities is to spread MamaLingua’s mission. design, is a published poet who formerly owned her own writing and “We’re not just a product company. We are building community design agency. Her creative experience helped Passariello-McAleer maonline in Austin by recommending and creating resources. There is an terialize her goal of owning a company that promotes multiculturalism. emphasis on a global workforce,” Passariello-McAleer says. “MamaWith their joined forces, MamaLingua was born. The app, available Lingua is a way to give their kids a leg up in the world.” for both iOS and Android platforms, hosts an enormous number of “My goal as a mother is to ensure that my daughter has the expoSpanish terms and phrases, all of which are organized by categories. sure to languages to build the foundation,” Hoffman says. “This is It is one of the only language-learning apps that focuses on content a much bigger thing than just a product. It’s a tool at the center of specific to a mother’s life at home with her child. a movement.” “We, as mothers, do stuff with our babies every day,” PassarielloMcAleer says. “So, why not learn the language that I need to do my MamaLingua is available for download on the iTunes App Store and activities? As a mom, it’s impossible to sit down in front of the computer Google Play Store. and do a module.”

Photo by Clay Hoffman.

Christia Madacsi Hoffman was desperate to find a way to raise her infant daughter in a Spanish-speaking household. There was just one problem: She didn’t really know Spanish.


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Mustang Island, Texas, may soon become— dare we say it?—a luxury travel destination. STORY AND PHOTOS BY NIKI JONES

Cinnamon Shore’s neighborly feel meshes perfectly with its beachside beauty.





After 12 years in Texas, I can say I finally think like a Texan (a great thing since thinking like a New Yorker was exhausting). When considering a beach vacation, I’ll admit I rarely consider heading down to the Texas coast, even though I’ve been a number of times. Instead, when I think of the beach, Mexico

pops into my mind, and I’ll wager a good number of Central Texans have the same idea. It isn’t that I’m not proud of our 350-plus miles of coastline; it’s just that I don’t equate the Texas shore with luxe amenities or next-level cuisine, which is what I seek in a vacation. But that all seems to be changing.

My travel partner and I headed south from Austin on a Tuesday morning and a slightly less than four-hour drive later, arrived at the ferry landing, where there was a 45-minute wait. Once aboard, we crossed the Corpus Christi channel in less than 10 minutes. The ferry, which is free, isn’t the only way to get to Mustang Island from Aransas Pass; you can also enter on the south end of the island via the causeway. We celebrated our arrival on the island with ice cream at Desserted Island, a quirky pink shack with an eclectic mix of décor and plenty of seating, both inside and out. One Blue Bell cone later, we were ready to head down to Cinnamon Shore, where we were booked for the next two nights. Cinnamon Shore is a 300-home beachfront community of homes and condos, half of which are in the rental pool. As soon as we pulled onto the property, we felt the vibe of a small-town, neighborly community. Large homes—some accommodating as many as 16 people—are mixed in with small condominiums, so there is something for everyone. Family is a major focus at Cinnamon Shore. There are great large lawns where volleyball games are played and movies are shown, a stocked pond to fish (The folks at the poolside café will even throw your catch on their grill!) and large fire pits with ample seating for s’mores nights.

Sip a cocktail at the poolside café overlooking Cinnamon Shore’s fishable lake.


Desserted Island is even cuter on the inside.

One thing that sets Cinnamon Shore apart from other properties is its list of (for-a-fee) amenities. Golf carts are available to rent if you don’t feel like walking to the beach. Call the front desk to request chairs and an umbrella to accompany you to the beach the next day, and they’ll be set up by 8:30 a.m., adorned with your name scrawled on an adorable chalkboard. Do you feel like a bonfire? The staff is happy to build you one, and you can even upgrade to include an ooey, gooey s’mores package. Are you in the mood to bike around the neighborhood on a beach cruiser? No problem! Cinnamon Shore has got you covered. Our first night, we were excited to check out the local fare and headed back toward town to try the popular Irie’s Island Food. Though the eatery is open until 9 p.m., when we arrived at 7 p.m., we were disappointed by the sign stating Irie’s was sold out of eats and closed for the day. A quick check of Yelp led us to Roosevelt’s at the beautiful and historic Tarpon Inn, and we were quite happy to dig into the Roosevelt’s Trio appetizer, as well as a wedge salad and Parmesan-crusted flounder, and were pleased with the friendly and attentive service. The next morning, we strolled down to the beckoning beach, where a pair of cute cinnamon-colored lounge chairs and a giant umbrella awaited us on the pristine sand. (Cinnamon Shore ensures its stretch of beach is meticulously groomed each day.) Visitors to the Texas We spent most of the day lounging and playing in clear, cool water, save coast now expect a for an hour or so at the Cinnamon higher level of service Shore pool, where we recharged and accommodations. with burgers, tacos and margaritas. Exhausted from a full day’s sun, we were more than happy we had to travel only about 60 yards to dinner that night, as we had reservations at Lisabella’s Bistro and Bar, Cinnamon Shore’s airy onsite restaurant featuring coastal cuisine. After dinner, we headed back to our balcony and watched the sun set over the bay. On our final morning, we wanted to try one last time to get some authentic, no-frills breakfast, so we drove toward town to Frankie’s Kitchen only to be disappointed again by a sign announcing the restaurant was closed all week due to illness. Bummer! A cute place next to the ice-cream shop had caught our eye that first day on the island, though, so we headed over to Eat’s, where Executive Chef and Owner Billy Joe Wilson welcomed us and told us all about his home-style meals. It was hard to choose from the menu of innovative comfort food, but we settled on avocado toast with heirloom tomatoes and feta cheese, and a pork chop with eggs, both of which were absolutely phenomenal.

Cinnamon Shore provides the perfect setup for relaxation.

Our short experience on Mustang Island seemed to show us signs everywhere that the old businesses that operated on island time are being phased out in favor of newer, modern businesses. The dawn of 2015 brought the opening of Mustang Island’s Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Club, a 222-acre luxury property of vacation rentals and a pristine 18-hole golf course. The advent of Airbnb and other vacation-rental companies has clearly brought competition to the vacation-rental market. The adorable but ramshackle cabins of the past just don’t seem to be cutting it, and visitors to the Texas coast now expect a higher level of service and accommodations. Case in point: While we personally didn’t start our trip to Mustang Island with an expectation of innovative dishes and top-notch amenities, we got awfully comfortable with it all pretty quickly. JB’s German Bakery is the real deal.

Eat’s avocado toast was just one of its many delicious offerings.

Ready to begin our journey back to Austin, we got in the car, stuffed and happy, this time traveling to the south end of Mustang Island past beautiful Mustang Island State Park, over the causeway and onto South Padre Island, where we had one last stop: JB’s German Bakery. We loaded up on authentic, homemade brötchen—a German bread—as well as strudel and cookies to bring back home. Full disclosure: Most of those goodies didn’t even make it past San Antonio! ATXWOMAN.COM |  37





These six Austin startups engage kids in learning opportunities year-round. BY ABIGAIL ROSENTHAL It’s officially August, a time when kids of all ages and grades start dreading the back-to-school shopping trips and supply lists that mark the end of summer and the beginning of yet another school year. Before the first bell rings, take a glance at these six female-led startups in Austin that focus on emphasizing the fun in education fundamentals, showing students that learning doesn’t just mean memorized math equations and run-on reading lists.




As part of the fight to get more women in STEM fields, Girlstart focuses on getting girls excited about science, technology, engineering and math with hands-on activities through its after-school and summer programs. Girlstart has been successful in its goal. So far, 87 percent of participants have entered a four-year university, with 80 percent pursuing STEM majors and careers. Since it was founded, Girlstart has reached and helped teach more than 16,000 girls. After-school programs are available in 19 school districts in Central Texas, with more to come as Girlstart expands into other Texas regions.

The arrival of fall marks the beginning of college-application season for high-school seniors. SchooLinks is an online platform that helps ease any application worries, matching students to schools and professions that best fit their needs and wants. The program starts by matching students with majors based on their personalities and interests, then locates colleges that reflect that interest before breaking down the application process—for enrollment and scholarships— to keep students focused on their goal. “We are simplifying what can be a daunting process by providing [students with] an engaging and fun experience,” Founder and CEO Katie Fang says.

This project-based learning program introduces the creative side of computer science to elementary-school kids who might not find the subject taught in their own schools. Hello World offers students the chance to explore and learn about web development, game design and other revolutionary skills associated with the field of computer science. “Our team recognizes there’s enormous opportunity held in STEM industries, and we aim to place our graduates at the front lines of technological advancement to give them access to the most influential careers in the world,” Founder Sabina Bharwani says.




Geared toward girls in high school who have never taken a computer-science course or who might not consider a career in tech, ChickTech offers workshops to get girls interested in pursuing technology-related careers. This fall, 100 nominated girls from the Austin area will get to participate at no cost. In August, ChickTech will also be part of the first ACT-W Austin Conference, a gathering featuring workshops, panels and other opportunities to meet fellow women in tech.

Founded by an Austin couple looking to prevent the “summer slide” in their five kids, Brain Chase keeps kids learning throughout the summer break and into the after-school days. Through the web platform, students complete challenges to try to locate $10,000 buried in a secret location, with the first player to correctly guess the coordinates winning an all-expenses-paid trip to dig up the prize. “Learning and adventure are the two founding goals of Brain Chase,” Co-founder Heather Staker says. “We started this treasure-hunt business to give families fun IQ-building activities to do together during the summer and after school.”

One might not expect kids to get excited about money and finances, but Gayle Reaume is accomplishing just that through Moolah U. The program’s flagship weeklong pop-up camps teach kids how to manage their money—right now and further down the road—by teaching them how to create their own businesses. For kids age 12 and older who have completed the camp, Moolah U now offers its long-term Apprentice Program to help students gain leadership experience and build on the concepts they learned in camp.


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The next time you’re headed out to a football game, check that your handbag follows the new sizing regulations. Kelly Wynne, a contemporary Austinbased handbag line, offers unique designs for the bold, daring woman. The line’s handbags are composed of genuine leather in signature printed and embossed patterns, featuring exclusive prints designed by Kelly Wynne Ferguson herself. Wynne’s mission is to empower women to dream, dare and “wynne” with bold and meaningful designs. Wynne has pulled out the style playbook and designed a new handbag perfect for this fall’s football season. Her newest design, she says, “is a total game changer for those who don’t want the new NCAA and NFL stadium regulations to cramp their style.” The new rules say fans and game attendees can only carry a clear bag or a handbag that’s a maximum of 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches inside the stadium. For the woman who doesn’t want everyone seeing what’s in her bag, the Kelly Wynne Game Changer Mini, which comes in four stylish color variations, meets the new handbag-size regulations and is the perfect alternative to a clear bag. No University of Texas football game-day look would be complete without the burnt-orangehued Game Changer Mini in sandstone. Once you’ve appeased security, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is your team taking home the wynne! Kelly Wynne Game Changer Mini in sandstone, $315, Kelly Wynne at Domain Northside, 3211 Palm Way,


Photo by Andrew Chan.



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Bold stripes and an oversized tote add a modern twist to a classic work look. PHOTOS BY ANNIE RAY STYLED AND MODELED BY ASHLEY HARGROVE

Boss Komina striped jacket, $495 Boss Lanina white sleeveless top, $215 Boss Vilea black pencil skirt, $245 Kate Spade black Havana tote, $378 Stuart Weitzman black suede sandals, $398 Michele Serein 16-diamond watch face with diamond band, $3,695 All available at Nordstrom, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.691.3500,

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SET YOUR SKIN FREE Gluten-free makeup products are earning crowd appeal among those with gluten sensitivities. BY AFTON JONES Maybe you haven’t heard of gluten-free makeup, but it’s becoming a more common clarification and selling point on certain makeup packages lining store shelves. Why? Isn’t it odd for gluten to be in makeup? It actually isn’t. Gluten and gluten-derived ingredients are in a great deal of makeup. For many people sensitive to gluten, such as those who have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, they are not just internally sensitive, but also may be topically sensitive. If you avoid putting gluten in your body, sometimes it helps to avoid putting it on your body too. With this revelation in mind, we rounded up five of our favorite gluten-free makeup picks. FOUNDATION: Omiana Creamy Matte Intense Coverage Foundation Pot, $38,

EYELINER: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Precision Longwear Liquid Eyeliner, $20,

With a rich, moisturizing formula that isn’t too thick and doesn’t leave skin oily, this all-natural foundation is an amazing daily wear—even in the Texas heat! The coverage is excellent and it leaves the texture of skin feeling natural and velvety.

LIPSTICK: Red Apple Lipstick, $23.50,

With rich, creamy, gorgeous formulations, Red Apple Lipstick is named after its flagship product: lipstick. Red Apple has a cult following of beauty-product lovers who feel personally invested in the company, as customers are welcome to help name new colors and pitch ideas. And it’s all for good reason: You can’t go wrong with these amazing lipsticks. (P.S. They’re also all vegan.)

MASCARA: Mirabella Waterproof Mascara, $26,

This is the best gluten-free mascara on the market, bar none. It doesn’t flake, smudge or smear, even when you’re outside for hours at Blues on the Green and dripping sweat on everything within a half-mile radius. Also, it makes lashes look amazing. 44 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

Tarte formulates its products without gluten. Crosscontamination could be an issue here, but if you’re not incredibly topically sensitive, you’re likely just fine using them. So, take advantage of the amazingly easy-to-use long-wear eyeliner. It boasts no running, no smudging, sharp lines and pure gorgeousness.

EYE SHADOW: Honeybee Gardens Palette,


These palettes boast beautiful colors, surprising lasting power and cute little compacts to stash in your bag. Whether you’re just getting started with gluten-free makeup or want to add a new splash of color to your makeup kit, these palettes are a fun and easy addition.

You don’t have to accept a different standard of

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Austin’s premier breast reconstruction surgeon, Elisabeth Potter MD, takes a personal approach to breast reconstruction. Dr. Potter was Fellowship trained at MD Anderson in Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery Reconstruction and is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. Call 512.867.6211 to schedule a consultation. 6818 Austin Center Boulevard, Suite 204 Austin, Texas 78731





The kids’ room inside interior designer Suzanna Santostefano’s home is ready for its close-up. BY APRIL CUMMING

IN THIS ROOM r Pax wardrobe from Ikea r hooks and brackets from Home Depot r salvage wood from Fine Lumber & Plywood Inc. r kilim rug from eBay r terrarium from Zookeeper Exotics 46 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

Santostefano writes on her website,, that her mission with the design of any new room is “to strive to transform living spaces into homes and sanctuaries that inspire warmth and creativity.” To date, her interior transformations have been featured in Design Sponge, Domino and Houzz. Here, she shares a page from her secrets-of-the-trade playbook, laying out the rules she followed when approaching the redesign of her kids’ sleep, study and playtime quarters.

r small box, wood truck, antique basketball bench and vintage globe from the Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas r sheets from Target r chalkboard paint from Home Depot r rocking chair from Overstock

r DIY light r pillows from Etsy r round table from West Elm r bamboo Roman shades from Select Blinds

Photos by by Andrea Calo.

Interior designer Suzanna Santostefano’s home is a model of crafty flair and functionality, as displayed in her kids’ room. “I would say there are three layers to the room: the foundation: built-ins; the utilitarian: hooks, benches and storage boxes; and the beautiful: rugs and textiles,” Santostefano says of the space. “We demoed the closet because the closets in older homes don’t offer the functionality of modern storage. So, where the closet was, we built in bunk beds with lots of added storage: a pullout trundle for sleepovers, deep drawers for costumes and shelves for books and collections.”

“” “Our bunk room is shared by our middle and youngest kids. In designing this space, functionality was key. It needed to fit the storage needs of two young kids while not feeling overly cluttered. The key is to break up the space with different elements, both old and new. If we used all Ikea components, it would feel like an Ikea showroom. But by building in the closets and adding vintage pieces, it gives the room its own unique feel.” —Suzanna Santostefano


“In this room, the 1950s closet wasn’t functional, so we demoed it and added bunk beds in its place. For closets, we built in Ikea wardrobes—and added a reading nook between—that provide so much more space than the original closet.” MAKE YOUR HOME PERSONAL.

“Adding objects that are special to you and that have a story make a house a home. In the kids’ room, their collections are important to them. So, to keep it organized, I started collecting metal workboxes and small drawers for them to store their acorns and rocks in. The boxes became a usable object that added a unique layer to their shelves.” PAIR OLD WITH NEW.

“The functionality of the room is definitely in the built-in wardrobes from Ikea and built-in bunk beds. Adding the vintage kilim rug, salvaged wood shelves and Moroccan pillow is what makes the room feel cozy and look interesting. I love Ikea storage for functionality, but it’s good to break it up with another layer.” KIDS HAVE DESIGN AESTHETICS TOO.

Photo courtesy of Suzanna Santostefano.

“I layered the room with textiles that I would use in any other room in the house. I put a small table in the center of the room for them to play games on or build Legos. I love a chalkboard or magnet board for the kids to have a place to hang their pictures and artwork, and in the bunk room, each bed has a chalkboard. We’ve used sheets of corten steel in other spots for magnets. Hooks and a small bench at the entry are great for hanging coats and dropping backpacks.” MASTER THE ART OF CRAIGSLIST.

“I love Craigslist for that special find. There are a few keywords that I stay on top of: vintage, midcentury, pair, rug. And every now and then, I browse the Materials page.” GROUND THE ROOM WITH A RUG.

“Every room in my home is grounded with a rug. It’s what brings the space together. I like vintage rugs for their durability and design. The kilim rug can stand up to the daily use of the kids.” ATXWOMAN.COM |  47

In the Pilot’s Seat As the president of Huston-Tillotson University, Colette Pierce Burnette is in pursuit of what makes her happiest: fulfilling her destiny as an educator by building an environment in which all students have a voice, feel challenged and are actively encouraged and pushed to grow toward greatness in the world outside the classroom. BY DOYIN OYENIYI, PHOTOS BY ANNIE RAY MAKEUP BY ANAYA MASON, HAIR BY VICKI LYNN KELLEY

“I think education is the civil-rights issue of the day, and I think that education is a weapon,” Colette Pierce Burnette says. “It’s a weapon against poverty. It’s a weapon against ignorance. It’s a weapon against all the things that [ail] society. When you get that education and no one can take it from you, it gives you options.” Pierce Burnette is explaining her view on education while sitting in her office in the Anthony and Louise Viaer Alumni Hall at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black school that officially became a university in 2005. The college was created when Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, which opened in 1875, and Samuel Huston College, which opened in 1876, merged in 1952. July 1, 2017 marked Pierce Burnette’s two-year anniversary as the president and CEO of the university. When Pierce Burnette talks, a small smile occasionally makes an appearance. It’s the smile of somebody who wears her confidence easily, who’s sure of what she knows and what she’s learned. Pierce Burnette will be 60 in December, and as she talks about education and the path that brought her to her current position as the second female president in Huston-Tillotson’s history—and the first female president since the schools merged in 1952—it’s clear she knows what she’s talking about. The belief in the dynamic power of education was instilled in Pierce Burnette at a young age and confirmed again and again by her experiences. Her father’s large family migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, from the South, and she

grew up with them in the city in the 1960s and ’70s. But for Pierce Burnette, her story really starts with her grandmother, who she describes as a light-skinned black woman from South Carolina. It was her grandmother’s experiences of discrimination alongside her husband, Pierce Burnette’s grandfather, a dark-skinned black man, that led her to place an emphasis on education in Pierce Burnette’s life. “I know she truly appreciated the value of an education and what it could do for the quality of your life,” Pierce Burnette says. It was her grandmother who began drilling math skills into Pierce Burnette’s mind at a young age. She recalls trips with her grandmother to the butcher shop, where her grandmother would request extra butcher paper. Once back home, her grandmother would write her math problems and English lessons on the paper and paste them throughout the kitchen—a teaching method that allowed Pierce Burnette to solve problems and memorize spelling while she ate. On days when she had tests, sometimes Pierce Burnette wouldn’t be allowed to eat until she completely understood the information. Her grandmother’s rigorous training piqued her interest in math, and soon, she excelled at the subject. Today, Pierce Burnette still sees the value in those abilities she learned. “I think young people should take as much math as they can,” Pierce Burnette says. “Whether you’re going to be a history major, a journalist, a philosopher...math makes you think critically and it stretches the brain in ways that other courses of study cannot, that other subjects cannot.”

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Although she was a first-generation college student (Her mother finished high school and her father had a 6th-grade education, but later got his GED.), Pierce Burnette says going to college was such an unquestionable expectation for her that she practically considered it the 13th grade. “I didn’t know college was optional,” she says. It wasn’t until she attended Ohio State University that Pierce Burnette realized she was a product of an underserved high school. She’d been educated and pushed by teachers who encouraged her to be confident, but the lack of resources weren’t apparent to her until she went to college. She recalls walking into a chemistry lab for the first time at Ohio State and realizing the only equipment she recognized were the beakers and the elements chart. She took advantage of the resources at Ohio State that were available to students of color and made connections with classmates who’d come from wellresourced, affluent high schools, classmates who typically tended to be men, in order to adjust and keep up.

Finally, she applied for a position at Robins Air Force Base, where her husband worked. Because of affirmative-action regulations, she knew she could at least get an interview, and even though the interviewer was disinterested and skeptical (He smoked during the interview and, at one time, even pulled up a book on engineering schools to make sure Ohio State was an accredited university.), she eventually got the engineering position. It wasn’t until Pierce Burnette watched the 2016 movie Hidden Figures last year that she realized the significance of her experiences. She says her first day at the military-base job was very similar to what Taraji P. Henson’s character, the real-life Katherine

“I didn’t know college was optional.” In 1980, she graduated from Ohio State with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and systems engineering, and soon began working at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati as an operations support engineer. Soon after she started her first post-college job, Pierce Burnette met and married her husband, Daarel Burnette, an officer in the Air Force. Her husband’s military work had them traveling throughout the world, living a lifestyle that helped Pierce Burnette develop a love of travel and a passion for how it helped challenge and improve her understanding of the world. Travel also gave her the skills to build great work teams since at nearly every new location where her husband was stationed, Pierce Burnette would get a new job. While they were in Washington, D.C., she worked as an analyst for the Washington Post, and even had her own consulting firm called CompuMent when they lived in Colorado. Adjusting to new work environments was not always easy, especially as an African-American female engineer. Pierce Burnette remembers a time when her husband was stationed at a base in a small rural town in Georgia called Warner Robins. Part of her family had grown up in the South and her husband was from the South, but for Pierce Burnette, it was her first time actually living there. And although she’d felt resilient and confident in other situations, her resilience didn’t get her past the not-so-subtle racism. “I turned in my application everywhere and I couldn’t get a job,” Pierce Burnette says. “I couldn’t understand. I’ve got this degree from Ohio State, [which was] in the top 10 engineering schools in the nation, and I came from Procter & Gamble, a very reputable company. I had excellent references, everything. And there were signs all over that they were desperate for engineers.”


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Johnson, experienced when she walked into the bay of engineers to be met by a sea of white, male faces staring back at her. The movie helped Pierce Burnette realize the significance of what had come before her, she says, adding that the film changed her life. “When I saw the movie Hidden Figures, I realized that the monumental moments that happened in that movie happened in the ’60s. That happened six years before I entered Ohio State,” Pierce Burnette says. “And I didn’t get the gravity of what had happened before me, to pave this way or to open this trail…to give me an opportunity.”

But understanding how far things had come also made it frustrating to see how far things still have to go. The lack of diversity in the realms of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, is something Pierce Burnette has personally experienced her entire career, and seeing the struggle continue for other generations can be disheartening. “It makes me sad because I sit on an advisory board for my alma mater, Ohio State, now, and [they are] still talking about how we can increase the number of students of the field of engineering,” Pierce Burnette says. “I graduated 37, almost 40 years ago and that makes me sad.”

“Whether you’re going to be a history major, a journalist, a philosopher...math makes you think critically and it stretches the brain in ways that other courses of study cannot, that other subjects cannot.”


At Huston-Tillotson, Pierce Burnette has a chance to do something about that frustration. In April 2016, the university was awarded a $1 million grant from the United Negro College Fund in partnership with the Lilly Endowment as part of the Career Pathways Initiative. The initiative places an emphasis on better preparing students for their careers after college. With the grant, Huston-Tillotson will be able to provide better resources for students, from internships and mentorships to development of better curriculum. As the school rolls out the initiative in the upcoming school year, Pierce Burnette says the focus will be on kinesiology majors, business majors, communications majors and computer-science majors. For Pierce Burnette and her goal of increasing diversity in STEM, being located in Austin has its benefits; some of Huston-Tillotson’s corporate partners for the initiative include Google Fiber and Additive Robotics, as well as outlets such as the Austin American-Statesman and KUT FM radio. During her years traveling for her husband’s military career, Pierce Burnette had yet to make the transition from the corporate world to education. Her husband was a Morehouse College graduate and, although his work took their family throughout the country and the world, every year, they would travel to Atlanta to attend the Morehouse homecoming, an event in which alumni would gather to connect and remember their time at the historically black college. Those experiences at the homecomings gave Pierce Burnette a sense of a college experience that was very different from the one she’d had at Ohio State, a predominantly white institution. That experience of being surrounded by educated and confident African-American people who passionately loved their alma mater and maintained a strong sense of camaraderie for their school stuck with Pierce Burnette. She started thinking about how she’d like to work at a place like a historically black college or university about the same time her husband was thinking of retiring. After 18 years of traveling for his military work, Pierce Burnette could finally entertain thoughts of settling down, not just in one location, but also in a career that made her happy. “That was my push to do something I want to do, so, even though his career has been good to me, I wasn’t feeling really fulfilled,” she says. “I’m not feeling like I’m living my own story, I’m living my own purpose, so that was my catalyst to make that change.” Pierce Burnette talked about making the career change to education so much that a mentor of hers who worked in education finally encouraged her to make the transition by taking a teaching position to get experience in the classroom. Pierce Burnette took the plunge. She took a pay cut and left the corporate world to take a tenure-track position teaching information systems at Pierce College, a community college in Washington. After her second term of teaching, the vice president of the school asked her to fill the interim position of dean of information technology. Eventually, Pierce Burnette’s husband decided not to retire and accepted one last assignment in Ohio. By that time, Pierce Burnette had officially taken on her new position at Pierce College, and her two kids were in high school and middle school. To give the family a bit of stability, the three of them stayed in Washington while her husband returned to Ohio. It was there, while he was stationed at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, that he met somebody who worked

at Central State University, a historically black university in the state. After learning the university was looking for an IT director, her husband mentioned his wife worked in the same field. Pierce Burnette interviewed for the position and moved back to Ohio to work at Central State in 2001. She spent nearly 15 years there, first in the position of director of information technology and then working her way through a variety of other positions throughout the years. By 2012, she was the vice president of administration and the chief financial officer. Her time at Central State ended when she hit what she refers to as her glass ceiling. After the president of the university retired, he told Pierce Burnette that her becoming president of the school would be impossible since she didn’t have a doctorate degree. Because the university had recently gone through a rough patch and was under scrutiny— and although she had a long track record with the university—the board wanted the new president to have the appropriate credentials. The news left Pierce Burnette at a loss for what to do next. She laughingly recalls how she Googled, “Am I too old to get my doctorate?” and that half of the search results she saw said no and the other half said yes. It was her sister who finally pushed her to stop throwing a pity party and just go do it. Pierce Burnette was in the process of filling out her graduate-school applications when she reached out to the chancellor of the Pierce College system to ask for a reference. During that conversation, the chancellor mentioned Pierce was looking for a new president and that she’d like Pierce Burnette to apply for the position. The next day, the chancellor called her and asked if she would be the president of the college in the interim. Pierce Burnette said yes. The preference for college presidents with doctorates was less intense at community colleges, Pierce Burnette says. So, she put her graduate-school applications on hold and fulfilled her dream of becoming a college president. She spent a year serving as the interim president of Pierce College and might have stayed longer if not for one particular meeting she had with other community-college presidents in Washington. “We’re all going around the room introducing ourselves and everybody is Dr. Something. And then it gets to me,” Pierce Burnette recalls of the meeting. “Not only am I the only black woman and one of two black people at the table, [but] out of maybe 30 presidents, I introduce myself as Ms. Colette Pierce Burnette.” Pierce Burnette describes that moment as deflating. But it reaffirmed her desire to go back to school. After that year at Pierce, she went on to receive her doctorate of education degree in highereducation administration from the University of Pennsylvania. About the time she was finishing up her dissertation, a colleague told her Huston-Tillotson, a small historically black university in Austin, was looking for a new president. She hesitated because, admittedly, Huston-Tillotson wasn’t what she had in mind. She’d wanted to be the president of a historically black university, yes, but she’d been thinking of a bigger school. But after a friend recommended she apply just for the experience of going through an application process for a university-president position, she gave it a shot. The process was rigorous and intense. The position had drawn 70 applications from throughout the country, and the 18-member

“I didn’t get the gravity of what had happened before me, to pave this way or to open this trail…to give me an opportunity.”


q Pierce Burnette was happily surprised when two former students stopped by to say hello.


search committee, made up of the university’s board of trustees and a mix of faculty, alumni, students and community leaders, took it seriously. Pierce Burnette progressed through the interview process until she finally came to Austin in early 2015 as one of the nine semi-finalists to take part in two days of interviews. It was then, when she stepped on campus for the first time, that it hit her. All the time, she’d been telling herself she was just practicing for the knowledge that could be gained from the application process. But when she stepped on campus that day, something changed inside her. “When I got out of my car to come into this building—actually, to meet the members of 54 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

the search committee to start my day off—I got a feeling: ‘This is where you’re supposed to be. Stop practicing,’ ” Pierce Burnette says. She laughs at the memory, recalling that she’d thought she was cracking up. It was indeed a mentally demanding period for her. Not only was she handling the stress of an intensive interview process, but she was also completing her dissertation at the time. In fact, the week after that interview in Austin, she would have to defend her dissertation. The concern that she didn’t already have her doctorate degree was raised in an interview. “There was some discernment about the fact that I didn’t have the earned degree and my answer to that was, ‘I’m going to get this degree. I’m going to defend this dissertation. I’ve worked hard and I’m going to get this credential and somebody will have me and I hope it’s going to be Huston-Tillotson. Because of my research and my experience, even through the process, I really came to know the university and saw the opportunities here. So, I hope it would be the university, but if it’s not the university, I’ll just keep looking.’ ” But by that time, Pierce Burnette had begun to feel Huston-Tillotson was her place. And the university’s search committee would soon come to agree. Now, she fondly calls the university her destiny because, although it hadn’t been clear to her before, Pierce Burnette now believes the steps in her life were guiding her to this position.

“People will need safe spaces to grow and to be who they are and to be able to go out into the world and be comfortable in their own skin, and that’s what we need to do.”

The past two years as president have helped Pierce Burnette better flesh out the priorities she has for the university. Her three main goals for Huston-Tillotson are growing the endowment and alternative revenue streams to keep tuition affordable, increasing traditional enrollment and launching a capital campaign to fund building upgrades, new-building construction and scholarships. The manifestation of those priorities will become evident this fall semester, when the university welcomes its first class of students participating in the Career Pathways Initiative. On Pierce Burnette’s wrist is a black bracelet that reads, “HT is IDEAL,” referencing an acronym that stands for integrity, diversity, excellence, accountability

and leadership. Pierce Burnette hopes to create a campus culture that pushes Huston-Tillotson students to embody these ideals on campus and beyond. It’s part of the important work she feels historically black schools are responsible for in this country. Historically black colleges and universities were originally created because African-American people were prevented from attending other universities and, although they’re no longer serving a federally segregated nation, Pierce Burnette believes “now, more than ever in history, the mission of HBCUs is very much needed.” According to Pierce Burnette, HustonTillotson has about 1,000 students, with racial demographics breaking down this way: 70 to 75 percent of students are African-American, 15 to 20 percent are Hispanic and Latino, and 10 percent are white and international students. And while she enjoyed her experience at Ohio State, she knows experiences at predominately white institutions aren’t what’s best for everyone. In her opinion, the need for places for students to feel comfortable growing has only increased, and historically black schools are uniquely positioned to provide that kind of space. “People will need safe spaces to grow and to be who they are and to be able to go out into the world and be comfortable in their own skin, and that’s what we need to do,” Pierce Burnette explains. For many, it’s likely a refreshing change to hear a university administrator talk about safe spaces without a note of mockery and dismissal that schools such as the University of Chicago adopted when it sent out a letter informing students the school “does not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces.’ ” In responses like that, Pierce Burnette says, there’s a misunderstanding of what safe spaces mean and what their purpose is. To her, it’s not about creating a campus where students aren’t challenged and there’s no diversity of thought, but about creating a space where students aren’t looked down on and feel comfortable enough to have those hard conversations. “I work very hard as an administrator to create an environment where students have a voice, and we don’t always get it right,” Pierce Burnette says. “This is a safe space in that students have a voice to tell you when you’re not getting it right.” That methodology goes hand in hand with her other goal: to increase Huston-Tillotson’s presence in the Austin community. As Pierce Burnette learned more about Austin’s history of segregation and gentrification, she found it disappointing that the university didn’t have a stronger role in that conversation. After all, the school was established—even before the University of Texas, which was founded in 1881—because black students weren’t allowed to attend school anywhere else.

What better place than the historically black university in East Austin to serve as that place for understanding and communication as Austin grapples with racial inequality? It’s important to Pierce Burnette that her university takes on that role and makes its value known in the community. “[Huston-Tillotson belongs] to Austin. We have great value in Austin,” Pierce Burnette says. “We are a jewel in the violet crown of Austin.” There’s a lot of inspiration to be found in Pierce Burnette’s office, and not just in the woman sitting behind the desk. There’s a Martin Luther King Jr. poster on the wall, a table with a distinguished alumni award from Ohio State and an airplane model gifted to Pierce Burnette after her HustonTillotson inauguration speech, in which she analogized her work at the university to the process of “building this plane while we’re flying it.” Of all the Huston-Tillotson presidents who came before her, there are portraits of just two presidents in her office. One is of John Q. Taylor King, president of the school from 1965 to 1988. In her research about the university, she saw King brought stability to the college and was highly revered on campus. The other portrait is of Mary Branch, president of Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute from 1930 to 1944. In 1929, declining enrollment forced the school to become a junior women’s college and, in order to bring enrollment up and turn the school back into a four-year college, Branch made improvements such as upgrading the facilities with renovations and new construction, increasing the size of the faculty and allowing the creation of fraternities and social clubs. Pierce Burnette says Branch brought order and structure to the school. “I’ve met a couple of her students and they have tremendously fond memories of her and how she demanded a standard of excellence,” Pierce Burnette says. That’s what she’s patterning her administration after, that standard of excellence Branch set. And with Branch’s portrait hanging in her office, Pierce Burnette feels Branch’s eyes are always on her. It helps her remember her purpose, she says. “Wherever I am, in a meeting or if I’m just coming in the office or something, she’s looking right at me and I just feel like she’s saying, ‘You got to stay focused,’ ” Pierce Burnette says. “Her face just says, ‘You got to stay focused. You got to stay on task and keep your eyes on the mission’ because you’ll have a lot of detractors. You have things that feel like setbacks. You have moments that are all glory, but if you stay focused on the mission and you stay true to your purpose, things always come together. And they are slowly coming together.” ATXWOMAN.COM |  55



University of Texas chemistry professor Kate Biberdorf is exciting students with her explosive science presentations. By Rachel Rascoe | Photos by Dustin Meyer

56 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST JULY 20172017


In Kate Biberdorf’s office at the University of Texas, a shelf lined with rows of brightly colored, shiny stiletto heels sits prominently next to her desk. “That’s my little shoe shrine where I keep all my teaching heels,” Biberdorf says, motioning to the collection. Biberdorf, known as Dr. B to her undergraduate students, dons her trademark footwear during her introductory chemistry classes at UT, which often involve explosive demonstrations fueled, in part, by Biberdorf’s own insuppressible energy. Beyond her classroom, she sparks interest in the sciences for students throughout Austin with her UT outreach program, Fun With Chemistry, as well as through her frequent dynamic science segments on various news channels. As for the heels, Biberdorf says she wants to positively represent women in the sciences while promoting science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education throughout the city. “I want people to see that, hey, there’s a female scientist in front of you who’s nerdy, I’ll give you that, but I’m somewhat normal,” Biberdorf says. “That’s just something I always try to do when I’m on TV and in class to make sure I’m girly and seen as a female scientist. It’s OK to wear heels and a lab coat. Why not? That’s just my attitude: Throw a little a heel on it.” She cites shows like The Big Bang Theory, on which female scientists are portrayed as frumpy and antisocial, as fuel for her efforts. “It’s infuriating to me because my girlfriends in the world that are scientists are beautiful. They’re stunning. They’re fit. They’re wellrounded ladies,” Biberdorf says. “They’re not these clunky things in cardigans. I’ve never worn a cardigan in my life.” As for teaching, Biberdorf says she never planned to be a professor until she started interacting with students as a teaching assistant during her graduate program in inorganic chemistry at UT. “I really started to feel the benefit of getting someone excited about chemistry, but more importantly, just empowering the students,” Biberdorf says. “There’s just something so beautiful about a human who is convinced that they can’t do science or chemistry or a specific problem, and then they do it, and then they do a harder one. They’re like, ‘Wait, I can do this.’ I love being a part of that.” By fighting tooth and nail for a teaching position at UT after earning her Ph.D. in 2014, she took on her current role as an introductory chemistry lecturer to thousands of students each year who are just starting their college careers. Biberdorf acts as equal parts bandleader and professional motivator to her huge chemistry classes of as many as 500 students. Each of her lectures begins with music blasting while students enter the classroom. Biberdorf then shuts off the song, grabs their attention and tells some silly, embarrassing personal story, like the time she accidentally joined a triathlon while on a bike ride and tried to win. The conversation then makes a lightning-bolt leap into chemistry. “I try to start the class like, ‘OK, we’re just here. We’re chilling,’ ” Biberdorf explains. “I’m like, ‘How are you? How are you? How are you? OK, chemistry, let’s go. We’re diving into it.’ ” As a teacher, which enters into the territory of performer in Biberdorf’s giant classes and outreach presentations, she pulls from her past life as a fitness instructor. “I had to connect with someone and convince them to do a plank for a minute. That’s not going to happen if they don’t like you and they’re not interested,” Biberdorf says. “You have to find a way to get around that, and for me, it was always through joy and happiness and just distraction. I really think I bring that to the classroom, where I’m running around and



marching and I refuse to do anything boring.” She also dances, entices students with candy to answer questions and promotes healthy living for her many freshman students, who Biberdorf says are “learning chemistry and laundry at the same time.” She plans to do the worm in the classroom sometime this fall semester. “I’ve got a big system in place to try and make sure that students are engaged,” Biberdorf says of her unconventional antics. “I really give a s--t about my students. I absolutely care about them.”

Biberdorf’s love for explosive chemistry demonstrations led her to become the director of demonstrations and outreach for UT’s chemistry department soon after she began teaching at the university. “Within three months, I came in and said, ‘I’m bored. I’ve got all this extra time. I’ve got to have some other project,’ ” Biberdorf remembers of taking over the outreach program, a move that reflects her seemingly endless enthusiasm for science. She grew the program to include Fun With Chemistry presentations at local elementary, middle and high schools. Biberdorf says the outreach job, which involves blowing up

pumpkins and filling her mouth with cornstarch to blow fire, is a perfect fit. “I’ve always loved being messy and dirty. I’ve always been a little tomboy who loves playing in the dirt. My knees always have Band-Aids on them, including today,” Biberdorf says, motioning to her skinny-jean-covered legs. “It’s just part of who I am, so I think the explosiveness of chemistry really drew me to it. You just blow stuff up. How could you not love that?” With the help of her assistant, Eric Wigdahl, Biberdorf performs school-assembly-style science demonstrations at elementary and middle schools, as well as more in-depth


classroom demonstrations at high schools. Her repertoire of topics includes combustion, environmental science and ooey gooey. (Hint: There’s slime involved.) The shows often end with Biberdorf yelling, “Do you like science?!” to an auditorium full of kids, after which she dumps a vat of hot water into a bucket of liquid nitrogen, creating the epic “thunder cloud” that lingers in the room. “Laughter, smiles, big eyes, jaw dropping. … The ‘What?!’ is my favorite,” Biberdorf says, recalling students’ reactions. In her Fun With Chemistry demonstrations, she says her goal is to give kids a positive, memorable impression of science, hence the dramatic grand finales. “They always remember running through the cloud because it’s awesome,” Biberdorf says. “For stuff like that, no matter what, even if they have no idea what you did, they’ll know that one time, this weird, crazy lady did something fun with science and they’ll remember liking it. And that’s good.” In the past two years, the program has grown to reach more than 20,000 students each year, which means presenting multiple times a week for Biberdorf. Her wacky chemistry demonstrations have gotten so popular that the department now uses a random lottery system to choose which schools Biberdorf will visit. All Fun With Chemistry presentations are supported by funding from the UT chemistry department and are completely free to the schools. This allows Biberdorf to frequently visit Austin’s lower-income districts, where she says students respond most enthusiastically to her science demos. “Personally, working with underprivileged kids is just where my heart is at, specifically groups that are underrepresented in the collegiate area or in professional growth in STEM,” she says. “Most of these kids have literally never seen liquid nitrogen before, maybe even not seen dry ice. So, when I show up and I’m doing all these crazy things, their minds are blown.” Students’ emotional responses, rather than them remembering each chemistry fact, are key to Biberdorf’s theatrical approach to Fun With Chemistry. “If you have an emotional response to something, you’re more likely to remember it, so that’s my entire philosophy

with teaching,” Biberdorf says. “If you see that this is cool and you can react to that and be a little bit engaged, just a tiny bit, then you’re much more likely to actually remember it. My entire goal is to excite then teach.” Biberdorf’s eye-catching presentations have also landed her recurring monthly segments on morning news shows, including KEYE’s We Are Austin, KXAN’s Studio512 and Morning Dose on CW33. On air, Biberdorf performs live chemistry demonstrations with built-in mini science lessons for at-home audiences of all ages. Looking back on her career, she says her more conventionally feminine appearance, which has made her more likely to be on TV today, caused many of her peers in graduate school to assume she was stupid. For Biberdorf, this stigma simply reflects the frustrating hurdles women in the sciences have to deal with. “When I was actually in the academic world trying to prove myself, it was incredibly challenging,” she says. “Because I’ve made a name for myself now, it’s OK, and I’ve been able to reap the benefits of being feminine. But this is who I am. I didn’t ask to look this way; this is completely natural. I’m going to be myself, and I refuse to knock myself down a level because of the way you perceive me.” Her passion for empowering young girls through STEM education led her to work with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, which is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. “The organization’s mission is just to show that women have brains and we’re not just here wearing dresses,” Biberdorf says of the Austin-based organization. While running her Fun With Chemistry day camps, Biberdorf still encounters parents who won’t enroll their daughters because they “want their daughters to be in stereotypical feminine roles, which is frustrating,” Biberdorf says. By publicly promoting for women in the sciences, she hopes to fight that cultural stigma. Biberdorf also advocates for nuclear power and fighting global warming. She attended the March for Science in Washington, D.C., this year, representing Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and later spoke on the organization’s panel highlighting climate change.



FIVE UNCONVENTIONAL WAYS TO ENGAGE WITH CHEMISTRY IN AUSTIN Austin Woman asked Kate Biberdorf for her top picks for unexpected chemistry exploration in the city. Her adventurous ideas, just like her science demonstrations, provide fun options for scientists of all ages. 1. “Go to Spun Ice Cream to watch the production of liquid-nitrogen ice cream. I highly recommend the coconut caramel flavor!” 2. “Take a road trip to the Hill Country Science Mill to check out their new Fossil Dig exhibit. Then go inside to enjoy the A.C. in their Chemical Reactions section.” 3. “Visit Sephora for a beauty class or Make It Sweet for a cooking class. I love taking a local class and learning new things! Food chemistry is one of my current obsessions.” 4. “Take a science walk around Town Lake. If your child finds a plant or an animal to be interesting, Google it and see what you can learn about it. It is a perfect way to introduce the word ‘photosynthesis’ to young children.” 5. “Adventurous Austinites should visit iFly to learn more about gravity and wind. This one is still on my bucket list!”




“I want to talk about climate change because it is absolutely so offensive, in my opinion, that the [current presidential] administration is even trying to put doubt on that,” Biberdorf says. “They clearly have no background in science. If you look at the data and say that you don’t believe in it, what we as a scientific community know is that you can’t interpret data. It doesn’t mean that you’re right. That’s one thing that’s just a hot button for me because I cannot stand the way the administration is representing science.” Biberdorf says she finds a positive outlook for the future of science in her UT students. During their two semesters of introductory chemistry with Biberdorf, she teaches them to combat misinformation by properly understanding scientific sources. “I think that my goal in my classroom is to teach my students how to interpret data, how to read something and identify whether or not it’s a good source, and then they can go out into the world and spread that information,” she says. “That’s the only way you can beat it. I’m never going to talk to Trump. But maybe I could convince an 18-year-old that carbon dioxide is not the best for our environment.” When speaking about her chemistry students, Biberdorf radiates hope and enthusiasm for their futures. Every day in lecture, she reminds her class to drink water, a healthconscious catchphrase turned hashtag on Biberdorf’s Fun With Chemistry Instagram. On the final day of class, she gives each of her students a water bottle. Tied to the bottle

is a tag inscribed with Biberdorf’s personal motto, adapted from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, never ever give up.” “Every time,ww at the end of the semester, I beg my students to go out into the world, be more successful than me and then come back and rub it in my face,” Biberdorf says. “That’s my dream, that they go out and become president or win a Nobel Prize, that they’re just bigger and better than everything I’ve ever done, and that they have the skills to do good in the world.” Last year, Biberdorf performed three chemistry shows in Los Angeles with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls to raise money for muscular dystrophy. In the performances, she saw a glimpse of her biggest dream: to have a chemistry-themed show in Las Vegas. “The thought of that—with huge fire shooting up behind me—that would be so fun,” Biberdorf muses. Though she says there would have to be a pretty big cultural shift for people to be willing to pay for a Celine Dion-sized science show in Las Vegas, Biberdorf does hope to get a Fun With Chemistry program up and running in every major Texas university in the next five years. For now, Biberdorf says she’s grateful to get to interact with so many kids as an advocate for STEM. “I had someone describe me the other day as a cross between Wonder Woman and Bill Nye,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’ll accept that.’ ”


AUSTIN’S BEST RESTAURANTS FOR WINE LOVERS This year, the Wine Spect ator Restaurant Awards program has recognized more than 3,500 restauran ts from all throughout the world with wine lists that cater to all kinds of wine lovers, from the tradition al to the cutting-edge and everywhere in between. Al l these dining destinations share a dedication to wine that has earned them th e Award of Excellence or Best Award of Excellence in W ine Spectator’s 2017 ch oic es. These establishments sta nd at the forefront of wi neand-food culture, offering extraordinary experiences for enophiles across the globe . Congratulations to the Austin restaurants that have rec eived these prestigious aw ards. Fo r m ore in fo rm ati on or fo r a fu ll lis t of Au sti n re sta ur an ts th at re ce ive d th es e aw ards , pl ea se vis it or chec k out the new issue of W ine Spectator on newsstands now!

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Refresh your summer lunch or dinner menu with these mouthwatering, straight-from-the-farm recipes—all of which can be made in 15 minutes or less. STORY AND PHOTOS BY NATALIE PARAMORE Farmers-market stands are full of delicious produce nowadays, from just-plucked peas to bright-yellow zucchinis and sweet, juicy watermelons. Who doesn’t love all the colors and flavors of summer? Not only are these three nutritious recipes quick and easy to whip up, but they also don’t require much heat coming from the kitchen, a saving grace when the thermometer outside starts reaching higher than 100 degrees. So, keep cool and focus less on what you’re going to put on the table and more on relaxing and enjoying the tastes of summer.








1/2 pound tubular pasta, like rigatoni

1. B  oil the pasta until it’s al dente, then toss it with cool water and set it aside.

1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) peas 1/4 cup fresh mint, packed 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, packed 3 to 4 small cloves garlic 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated


2. In a food processor, pulse the peas, mint, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil on low speed until just combined. The consistency should be a little chunky. 3.Toss the pesto with the pasta and top with the Parmesan.




Serves two

1 ear sweet corn


1 zucchini

1/4 personal seedless watermelon

1 yellow squash

2 cups arugula

1/2 avocado

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 flour tortillas

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup crumbled feta

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice Cilantro and lime wedges, for garnish Directions 1 . Slice the zucchini and squash into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. 2.In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt, cayenne, olive oil and lime juice.

Directions 1. Slice the watermelon into 1 1/2-inch-thick wedges. 2. Toss the arugula with the olive oil, herbs, salt and lemon juice. 3. Place two watermelon wedges on each plate and divide the arugula evenly. Sprinkle with feta and serve.

3. T  oss the zucchini, squash and corn in the olive-oil mixture. 4. On a grill or panini press, grill the vegetables over medium heat for about two to three minutes per side, or until grill marks form and the vegetables are tender. The corn may take an additional five minutes. 5. O  nce the corn is cool enough to touch, slice the kernels off the ear. 6. P  ut the vegetables into the tortillas and add slices of avocado. Add cilantro and lime wedges.






Cannon + Belle’s new head chef aims to bring fresh flavors to the table. BY ABIGAIL ROSENTHAL As many Austinites know, in 1842, Angelina Belle Eberly fired a six-pound cannon into the wall of the General Land Office, alerting fellow Austinites that Sam Houston aimed to move the Republic of Texas archives to Washington-on-the-Brazos. In response to this perceived act of thievery, the locals retrieved the records and Eberly was considered a hero.

Brick-oven duck pizza with roasted quail egg


Cannon + Belle’s carrot cake

Photos courtesy of Hilton Austin.

Now, 175 years later, at the Hilton Austin, the restaurant Cannon + Belle is committed to making food as exciting and Texan as its namesake, with its Texas-inspired, farm-fresh—or “Tex-fresh”—menu. Since taking on the position of head chef in May, Yesica Arredondo has had the opportunity to create special dishes—like a Caesar saladinspired creme brulee for one of the restaurant’s wine dinners—and is currently crafting her own menu for the fall season. Originally from California, Arredondo has been working at the Hilton Austin for seven years, overseeing banquet responsibilities for the hotel. “This is definitely the first time I’ve written a full-blown menu that represents me and the restaurant as well,” Arredondo says. “Just getting the ideas from the cooks, the bussers, the servers…everybody here has an idea of a different concept and what they think food represents. It’s fun getting those ideas and trying to create something that represents all of us but represents Cannon + Belle as well.”


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Featuring ingredients from local farms, Cannon + Belle’s all-day menu offers multiple opportunities to partake in Tex-fresh fare. The restaurant doesn’t shy away from variety, offering everything from a seasonal cold-pressed juice bar and huevos rancheros breakfast pizza topped with chorizo, black beans and egg to the Belle Burger topped with pimento cheese and house-made pickles, to Gulf shrimp and grits featuring smoked Gouda cheese. Diners can also find Texas-themed cocktails at the bar, many of which incorporate locally made spirits. Highlights include the Hill Country Mojito, Angelina’s Punch and A Kick in the ATX. Cannon + Belle embodies Southern charm in a way that seamlessly complements the food. Leather accents, dark wood and the occasional deer-patterned booth keep the restaurant cozy and separate from the hustle and bustle of the hotel lobby. Looking ahead, Arredondo is excited to infuse some of her own tastes into the menu while staying true to the restaurant’s established flavors. “We want to stick with the whole Texasfresh flair, representing local farmers, products, ingredients [and] techniques,” she says. “I definitely want to represent that Southern flair as much as I can. I’m not really Southern, but I love food and I love the challenge and being able to work with that and bring my flavors to the table.”

Skillet huevos rancheros

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Here’s all you need to know about adult acne and how to treat it. BY JILL CASE You’re not a teenager anymore, so why is your skin acting like you are? Unfortunately, about 54 percent of adult women have the occasional acne breakout, and women are more likely to have adult acne than men. To learn more, Austin Woman talked with Dr. Ted Lain, the chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology. Here’s what we learned: Hormones may be the cause of adult acne. “When we see a woman with adult acne, hormones are often the cause, specifically sensitivity to testosterone and estrogen,” Lain says. Fortunately, these issues can often be treated with hormonal birth control. The estrogen and progesterone in hormonal birth control help lower the amount of androgens—a group of hormones that include testosterone—in the body. Androgens stimulate the skin to produce sebum, the oil that stimulates acne. The body also produces more androgens during times of stress, another cause of adult acne. Hair- and skin-care products can also be culprits. “Women with acne on the neck, hairline and shoulder area should look at their hair-care products,” Lain advises. Oil-based products may cause problems by clogging pores, so avoid products with ingredients like petrolatum (the active ingredient in petroleum jelly), silicones, shea butter and jojoba oil. Skin-care products should generally be oil-free, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. Consider the risk factors. Lain points out that several other factors can raise a woman’s risk for adult acne, including polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as family history of adult acne, poor diet and certain medications. If you’re suffering from adult acne, consider seeing a dermatologist for a faster diagnosis and more effective treatment.

DR. TED LAIN’S TIPS FOR PREVENTING ADULT ACNE 1. D  on’t pick your face. Doing so transfers bacteria that are on your fingers to your face, and increases inflammation. 2. C  lean your cellphone. Your cellphone harbors an incredible amount of bacteria that can be transferred to your face. Clean your phone each night with an alcohol pad. 3. L  ose the liquid foundation. Liquid foundation also harbors bacteria. Switch to mineral-powder foundation instead. 4. E  at a healthy diet. Focus on eating a healthier diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and lean protein. If it’s healthy for your body, it’s healthy for your skin.

TREATING ADULT ACNE There are several ways to treat adult acne. Just be sure to use a noncomedogenic moisturizer to fight dryness when you are using acne treatment since treatment can dry the skin. 1. O  ver-the-counter medications. Dr. Ted Lain recommends Differin, a medication that contains .1 percent Adapalene, the first new FDAapproved ingredient that’s been approved for sale over the counter in 30 years. Adapalene is also available in the ProactivMD skin-care line. 2. L  aser treatment. Lain was the first dermatologist in Austin to offer Isolaz, a new laser acne treatment. 3. C  hemical peel. There are several different types available. Lain starts with a series of lighter chemical peels to avoid the redness and sensitivity that are associated with chemical peels of the past. 4. O  ral medications. A variety of prescription medications can help with acne, including oral antibiotics, hormonal birth control, Aldactone (Spironolactone) and Accutane for severe cases of acne.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ISOTRETINOIN Accutane, or Isotretinoin, is a strong medication used to treat severe cases of acne. There are many myths in cyberspace about this medication, so AW asked Dr. Ted Lain to give us the honest facts about this drug. “There is a lot of false information about Isotretinoin, but there is one absolute truth: It’s very important not to get pregnant while taking this medication and for 30 days thereafter because it can cause serious birth defects,” he says. “I go over all risks thoroughly with patients who do decide to take this drug.” He also notes that many of his patients are concerned because they read that Isotretinoin causes depression. “The truth is that the relationship between Isotretinoin and depression is not understood,” he says. “I have had some patients become depressed while taking Isotretinoin, and others whose mood improved while on Isotretinoin.” 72 |  AUSTIN WOMAN |  AUGUST 2017

If you are under a physician’s care for depression, you should tell your doctor so he or she can consult with your dermatologist before prescribing Isotretinoin. Other myths include: 1. It stunts your growth. This is an extremely rare side effect, usually related to very high doses and prolonged courses. 2. It affects a woman’s fertility. With so much effort expended on preventing pregnancy while taking Isotretinoin, little research has been done regarding successful pregnancies after completing a course. Based on Lain’s own research and knowledge, female infertility has certainly not been reported as a side effect. If you and your doctor decide Isotretinoin will work for you, make sure to have a thorough discussion about the medication’s risks and benefits.




Endocrinology is the science of hormones, which affect every cell and every function in your body. The glands secreting these hormones form your endocrine system, a tightly interconnected system with thousands of feedback loops. It is far more complex than any supercomputer today. Hormones control everything in your body from birth to death. Without hormones, your body cannot function. Examples of hormones: estrogen, testosterone, insulin and hormones like thyroid, cortisol, adrenal and pituitary.


They are diseases caused by a malfunction of one or more endocrine glands in your body. Examples: thyroid, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome and obesity, hirsutism, menopause, low testosterone in males, andropause and impotence, polycystic ovaries, irregular or lack of menstrual periods, high and low calcium, and diabetes.


hypothyroidism. Thyroid ailments include Graves’ and Hashimoto disease, goiter, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Thyroid problems require lifelong attention. Each person has a different genetic set point for TSH, the thyroid stimulation hormone.


Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis affects one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 and is generally missed. Bone fracture is considered to be the heart attack of the bone and can have major consequences on your quality of life, from reduced mobility to potential loss of mobility altogether. A bone density test is the only way to test for osteoporosis. We perform such testing and provide consultation on bone metabolism and osteoporosis treatment.

HORMONE MYTHS DEBUNKED The facts about some hormone myths:

“Seek your optimal health, your ideal yet achievable health, and increase the quality of your life.”

Aging, other diseases, stress, environmental and genetic factors do influence your endocrine system. Aging changes how hormones are produced and absorbed by your body. Genetic factors and other diseases can do the same. Stress triggers a cascade of hormones that affect your heart, kidneys and other organs. Recent research identified endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment.


Hormone treatments must be followed by a hormone specialist (endocrinologist) the same way heart disease is followed by a heart specialist (cardiologist). An endocrinologist has years of special training in diagnosing and treating your hormone imbalances. Endocrine diseases are often missed, since symptoms are often subtle and easy to brush aside. An endocrinologist starts out with a thorough physical evaluation looking for these telltale sings, then follows up with a battery of blood and other lab tests. Often, additional highly specialized tests are involved to identify the root cause of your hormonal imbalance.


Since hormones rule your body, have your hormonal balance assessed by an endocrinologist to optimize your health. Dr. Simone Scumpia of Austin Thyroid & Endocrinology outlines everything you need to know about hormones and their effect on the body.

Thyroid disease affects 30 million Americans, yet half of them do not know they have it. It is called the “silent disease.” One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in their life; women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism or

3 Bioidentical hormones are not human identical and may cause complications.

3 Fountain of youth hormones (otherwise known as human growth hormones) can cause serious side effects when used for anti-aging.

3 hCG diets (HCG) by themselves do not cause weight loss, but can cause irregular periods for women and breast enlargement for men.

3 Hormone treatment of fatigue, depression or anti-aging should be avoided due to many side effects it can cause. 3 Adrenal fatigue is not a real disease, but adrenal failure is a life threatening disease.


Medicine addresses disease treatment and prevention. Optimal health and biological age deal with your health before disease prevention or treatment. We focus on optimal health, the ideal yet achievable health of your body as you reach middle age and beyond. Our specialized equipment allows us to measure and evaluate your biological age, a measure of how well or poorly your body is functioning relative to your actual calendar age. Biological age is a composite of several “ages” such as brain age, bone age, heart age and vessel age. Optimal health focuses on your wellness before disease can be identified; it is a step before disease prevention and does improve the quality of your life.



(behind North Austin Medical Center) MON-FRI, 7 AM TO 4 PM 512.467.2727 |

Dr. Simone Scumpia treats all thyroid and endocrine (hormonal) ailments with emphasis on optimal health and biological age.





Chew on these satiating snacks when you’re in a time crunch. BY KIM EAGLE AND SARAH HOLCOMB

Eat this: high-protein snack foods Not that: protein-powder drinks Says who: Kim Eagle, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Earn That Body, Why: A 2010 study by Consumer Reports discovered heavy metals hiding in many protein powders and drinks. For those using protein powder on a daily basis, those levels can become dangerous. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, Eagle swapped her protein-powder drinks for shakes made with real food. “Real food is always going to be the best thing for us,” Eagle explains. “You want to eat a food as close to the source as possible. If there are, like, 50 ingredients—which, for most protein powders, there are—that means you’re not very close to the source.” WHY PROTEIN MATTERS

SNACK SOLUTIONS: Greek yogurt • protein: 17 grams per 6-ounce serving “ Since Greek yogurt can be kind of sour, you can always add fruit to it. I always recommend adding real fruit versus getting flavored fruit yogurt at the store because that can be incredibly high in sugar.” canned tuna • protein: 20 grams per 3-ounce serving “ You can put tuna on a whole-grain piece of bread or even on celery sticks. Sometimes the kids like that. It’s a little more fun.” eggs • protein: 6 grams per egg

 has healthy fat in it, which is so important, “It and [it’s] also great protein. I make a yogurt bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of peanut butter into my Greek yogurt and add half a banana.” pumpkin seeds • protein: 5 grams per 1 ounce  “[This is] an easy grab item. I like to prep snack bags on Sundays and put an ounce of pumpkin seeds in each.” string cheese • protein: 8 grams per serving  try to pair string cheese with a fruit, usually “I an apple, but any fruit is great. It’s a great snack for kids because they enjoy the fun of pulling on the strings to eat it.”

“It’s essential for our growth and our development. Our body basically uses protein to build and repair tissue. It’s also used to make enzymes and hormones in the body. It’s essential for our bones, our muscles, our skin and our blood. It’s also a source of energy that our bodies can utilize.”

POWER THROUGH YOUR DAY “Often, we’re hungry and we grab a bag of chips or crackers. We’re eating and eating and we never feel full because it doesn’t have much protein in it. If you’re going to have a carbohydrate, add a protein. Have an apple with 10 to 15 almonds. That’s going to make you feel much more full.”

Head shot photo by Scott Flathouse.

 “On the weekends, I’ll hard-boil, like, eight eggs because it’s great for me to grab and easy for my son to grab. If you have trouble getting breakfast in, it’s already made!”

peanut butter • protein: 8 grams per 2 tablespoons


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STEM supporter and the former CEO of Marathon Kids, Christine Pollei counts on exercise to help clear her head. BY GRETCHEN M. SANDERS Christine Pollei grew up believing she could make things happen. She can.

The recently named president and executive director of the First in Texas Foundation graduated from Baylor University in 1991, and used her design degree to start two successful businesses: an eyewear company in Dallas and an entertainment, marketing and production company in Los Angeles. Later, a spiritual calling led her home to her native state of New York to work for the Dalai Lama. But back to Texas she came when the opportunity struck for her to become the CEO of Austin-based Marathon Kids. “I learned about grit, discipline and self-motivation there,” Pollei says of her five years working for the organization that helps keep kids healthy through walking and running. Now at First in Texas, a nonprofit that supports robotics teams and encourages young people to participate in science and technology, Pollei has her hands full. She will have to work closely with the statewide robotics community to get Texas’ 5.1 million school-aged children interested in science, technology, engineering and math. Pollei doesn’t just have to make sure kids want to build robots, but that they also have access to STEM-based programs and events throughout the state. Some of the money raised by the First in Texas Foundation supports robotics teams at schools, churches and clubs. “Anyone can start a team and apply for funding,” Pollei says, pointing out that children who participate in First programs are more likely to major in science and technology in college. “I believe that the kids who will be the most successful in the future will know how to grow, build and fix things, and First teaches that in spades.” Here’s how this head honcho keeps building her own bright future.


“I don’t really consider myself an athlete. I think of myself instead as a healthy, active person. I do at least 45 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of yoga five days a week. It’s what I do between the end of my workday and the beginning of my evening at home. I’m a very cerebral person, so exercise helps me get into my body and out of my head. I de-stress by walking or running in my beautiful Hill Country neighborhood or by doing a spin class at the YMCA in Dripping Springs. Town Lake is also one of my go-to places when I want to walk and convene business meetings. What I love most about running and yoga is that I can do them anywhere, so there’s no excuse to skip—even when I travel.”


“I’m an advocate of the slow morning. I slowly and generously engage the day. If I have to be somewhere at 7 a.m., then I’m up at 5:30 a.m. Taking my time in the morning sets my mind in the right place for the whole day.”

HER PLAYLIST September by Earth, Wind & Fire Lips Like Sugar by Echo & the Bunnymen Fame by David Bowie The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears How Soon is Now? by The Smiths Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay Erotic City by Prince


Photo courtesy of Christine Pollei.

Days Go By by Dirty Vegas



“I have a body that will gain weight easily if I eat certain things, so I tend to consume plenty of protein and very few carbs. I always regret it when I eat poorly because I feel bad. I also drink a lot of water! Friends who have known me for a long time joke that I constantly need to use the bathroom. It’s true, but at least I stay hydrated. Carbs or no carbs, I will eat any meal lovingly made by a friend or family member, regardless of the contents.”

“I have confidence that I will be able to achieve, conquer, build or shift whatever I attempt. I have confidence in myself. I had a lot of encouragement growing up to try things I wasn’t good at. I’m not afraid of failure. I was raised to believe that failure is integral to success. The process is more important than the end goal.”


“I came late to the yoga-pants movement. I can embrace them now because I found some good ones, but I arrived very late to the scene. I grew up in New York, where people tend to button up more so than in Austin. I will wear performance pants when I exercise, but I don’t go out in public in my spandex often. When it comes to brands, I stick with Nike, a major sponsor of Marathon Kids. I used to get all kinds of Nike running shoes and pants, which I still have and love. I also have three yoga mats at home, so I’m all set. I would like to challenge some woman out there to invent a great sports bra. Every sports bra I have is deficient in most areas. Why do sports bras produce that very strange, unattractive, inner-tube-around-the-chest quality? You’ve got to have a good sports bra, so would somebody please step up and help a sister out?”


“I have a hard time falling asleep. That’s why I think exercise provides the best transition between work and home. It makes me tired and ready to relax. At the end of the day, I like to gather up my furry children—Chick Pea, my French bulldog, and Walter, my Rottweiler— and snuggle. I go into my bedroom fairly early because I have the same slow roll into bed that I have in the morning getting up. I turn down the thermostat to make it nice and cool in my room, I cuddle up to my babies, and I read and I read and I read.”


“I want to show up for myself and for others. If I’m not healthy and feeling well in my skin, then I’m not there for anyone. Exercise makes me focus on my breath and not on the thoughts running through my head. I will quit everything I’m working toward if I stay in my head too long. Working out helps to keep me from derailing on my goals.”

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To find out more about any of the offered services above please visit our website or call our office at: (512) 301-6767 •





My emigration from Guyana, South America to the U.S. was the most traumatic experience of my life. Even though we were poor and lacked first-world amenities, I flourished socially and academically in Guyana. At the age of 10, I stepped off a plane and was greeted by the bitter, unwelcoming cold of New York City. And even though it was more than 30 years ago, I still get a chill thinking of the horrible experience that was my first day of school in the 5th grade. Education in America was very different than in Guyana, and because my appearance and accent set me apart from my new classmates, I found myself struggling academically in subjects in which I had always excelled. My confidence and self-esteem plummeted and I became introverted. Since my classmates made fun of my accent and dialect, I didn’t like to speak and my reading fluency and pronunciation suffered. My mother did her best to help and we spent many long nights at the kitchen table doing homework. I was fortunate to have two great teachers in middle school that I credit with my total academic turnaround: Mrs. Scott in 6th grade and Mrs. Barrington in 8th grade. I went on to graduate from a magnet high school and was the first in my family to graduate college, from an Ivy League university, no less. The example set by these two teachers became my inspiration and model for teaching and helped me develop my own educational philosophy. I believe every child can learn and experience success, and my role is to facilitate their success. Regardless of a student’s current academic performance, I challenge myself to elevate his or her skills. I believe education is a partnership between the teacher, administration, student, community and family, and works best when all parties actively participate. My classroom functions like a community; students high-five each other and celebrate successes with whole-brain mantras like “Oh, yes!” and “Practice makes permanent.” I teach my students to

be metacognitive learners and to practice these behaviors from the start of their educational careers. I teach students to value and celebrate cultural diversity. I remember the pressure I felt to lose my accent and “fit in,” so I make sure every student in my ESL classroom understands that his or her uniqueness is an asset. I commute more than 20 miles each way in Austin traffic so I can work with students from immigrant families and conduct home visits so they know I care about their lives and the issues that affect them. Students are encouraged to share their languages, food and holidays so we can all learn and grow together. I believe teaching is a science and an art. Therefore, as a scientist, I am methodical when planning lessons, conducting assessments and analyzing data to provide students with the most engaging learning experience. As an artist, I strive to reach each student so my lessons are dynamic, incorporating technology, music and movement. I believe in the power of education and that all students deserve access to the best possible educational opportunities. Prior to moving to Austin, I taught at Leonard Elementary in Leonard ISD, a Title I school. When I relocated to Austin in 2012, I sought out Head Start pre-K programs because I wanted to work with students who needed the extra resources these social programs provide. Even though I was a certified teacher, I accepted a teaching-assistant position in order to make my dream come true. During a professional-development day, my principal asked us to share why we teach. A few teachers shared their motivations, which were all very child-focused and what you would expect of loving pre-K teachers. But as I thought about it, I came to an eyeopening realization: I teach because it makes me happy. My mother is a great example of someone who found her calling as a nurse. I’ve always admired the way in which she cared for the sick with such ease. So, when asked why I teach, I know it’s because it’s my calling. It’s where I find fulfillment and leave my contribution. It makes me a better person. Teachers are often thought of as superheroes, but in my case, I’m the one being rescued.

Austin Woman features a reader-submitted essay every month in the I Am Austin Woman column. To be considered for October’s I Am Austin Woman, email a 500-word submission on a topic of your choice by Sept. 1 to with the subject line “I Am Austin Woman.”


Photo courtesy of Austin Independent School District.

Alys Porter, an ESL teacher at Dobie Pre-K Center and the 2017 Elementary School Teacher of the Year for Austin ISD, exudes an unmatched passion for being an educator.

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