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Austin Woman MAGAZINE |  FEBRUARY 2017

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” —Madeleine Albright


2017 Best Car Brand - Nov. 15, 2016. 2017 Best Vehicle Brand Awards. The awards recognize the brands whose vehicles perform the best on an overall basis within four major categories of the U.S. News vehicle rankings: Cars, SUVs, Trucks and Luxury.

Mazda Ranked Most Fuel-efficient Automaker by the EPA for the Fourth Year in a Row. MAZDA’S 2015 FLEET OFFERS THE HIGHEST ADJUSTED MPG. Based on the EPA’s Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 - 2015 report on MY 2015 vehicles.


†Return vehicle and receive full purchase price credit valid towards any in stock vehicle of equal or greater value - One exchange per customer - Maximum mileage limit of 200 miles or 72 hours, whichever comes first.


W h y R o g e r B e a s l e y M a z d a? What it’s really about is how we conduct business and take care of our customers. Since we’re not like the typical traditional dealership we can confidently say we do things better. Having opened in 1972, Roger Beasley Mazda has 4 locations operating in harmony with the same straight- forward transparent process, shared inventory for more selection and customer service always the priority. There’s a reason the Austin area is one of the largest Mazda markets in the country.

Customer benefits include: 3-Day new and used vehicle return policy † If you don’t love it, you can bring it back.

Price peace of mind Kelley Blue Book® and TrueCar® pricing provided so you’ll know you’re getting a great deal.

Free loaner car With scheduled service and warranty work.

Convenient delivery We’ll bring your new Mazda to you. CENTRAL • SOUTH • GEORGETOWN • KILLEEN


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On the cover

the human connection

Photo by Rudy Arocha.

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne



K is for kindness By emily c. laskowski


Photo by Annie Whitehead.


68 on the scene




Five Must-dos for February

savvy women 24 count us in Women in Numbers 26 B OTTOM LINE Certification Central 28 F rom The desk of Lauren Petrowski 30 GIVE BACK Melody DanceFit 32 P ROFILE Austin’s Three Female African-American Architects


State Rep. Celia Israel

MUST LIST 36 Discover New York State of Mind 40 LITTLE LUXURIES Pretty Paper 42 r  oundup Hollywood Heroines

style + HOME 44 SPLURGE OR STEAL Be My Galentine 46 ACCESSORIZE Stacked 48 MAKE ROOM Open Seating 12 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Rooting Around The Apartment

wellness 70 W  AITING ROOM Not Tonight, Dear 74 E AT THIS, NOT THAT The Udder Truth 76 H  ER ROUTINE Laurie Allen

POINT OF VIEW 78 mem  o from JB Hold the Phone 80 i am austin woman Chela White-Ramsey

on the cover Photo by Rudy Arocha, Styled by Ashley Hargrove, Hair and makeup by Lorena Guadarrama Molano, West Kei tank top, $24.97, available at Nordstrom Rack, 9607 Research Blvd., 512.651.6180, Iro burgundy leather jacket, $1,265, available at Nordstrom, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., 512.691.3500, Madelhari statement bib necklace, $68, available at


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WWW.TOCMEDICALSPA.COM (512) 533-7317 • 3705 Medical Parkway, Suite 130, Austin, Texas 78705

Volume 15, issue 6 Co-Founder and Publisher Melinda Maine Garvey vice president and Co-Publisher Christopher Garvey associate publisher Cynthia Guajardo Shafer


EDITORIAL Editor Emily C. Laskowski associate Editor April Cumming copy editor Chantal Rice contributing writers

Sarah E. Ashlock, Jill Case, JB Hager, Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, Natalie Paramore, Kat Sampson, Gretchen M. Sanders, Shelley Seale, Darcy Sprague, Lindsay Stafford Mader, Victoria Stowe, Chela White-Ramsey

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.



An online directory of Austin’s leading doctors and health-care centers

CREATIVE Director Niki Jones ART DIRECTOR Stef Atkinson ART assistant Megan Bedford CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS

Rudy Arocha, Electra Avellan, Elis Avellan, Nathan Beckner, Casey Dunn, Jess Engle, Kevin Garner, Sherry Hammond, Collin Hardeman, Ashley Hargrove, Korey Howell, Diana M. Lott, John Marcus, Judy Melchor, Dustin Meyer, Natalie Paramore, Mike Quinn, Annie Ray, Ivonne Rivas, Julie Wallin, Jessica Wetterer, Annie Whitehead, Molly Winters

Exclusive articles answering readers’ most asked health questions, written by the top health-care professionals in Austin and surrounding areas.


In-depth doctor profiles to help you find your next health-care professional


operations and marketing Director of marketing and engagement


Victoria Castle

Emeritae Co-Founder Samantha Stevens Editors

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



From the Editor

But the one photo that never fails to catch my attention is of my editor and me, taken at last year’s Woman’s Way Awards. In the photo, our editor, Emily, proudly holds a gold, plastic trophy as though it’s a Golden Globe. To her right, you’ll find me sporting a white feather boa scarf, my hand fashioned into a hook ’em horns sign—a tribute to the University of Texas, our alma mater. As fortune would have it, Emily and I both started working at Austin Woman the same day. (This is our 14th issue.) I still remember pulling up to the office at 8:15 a.m. and glancing over to see her sitting in the parked car next to me. We were the first ones to arrive, both eager with anticipation to get started. The first few months passed in a blur and I quickly became accustomed to calling Emily my “mama hen,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to her steadfast guidance of me, just five years her junior. The first task on our to-do list at AW was to brainstorm all editorial content for 2016, a challenge that showed me the resilient and whip-smart

Join the conversation @AustinWoman #ItsWhoYouKnow #TheConnectionIssue

16 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

character of the woman I was working with. To this day, watching her spout off potential cover-worthy women is akin to attending a crash course in the who’s who of Austin women. A lot of people have trouble grasping what exactly an editor does. I’m here to tell you it involves an at-times insane amount of multitasking, the list of which would exceed my word count here. Humorously, we never know what day it is because we’re always living three months at a time: There’s the issue we just put to bed, the issue we’re currently working on and the one we have to work on next. Without a doubt, some of the most fun we have as a team is when we’re out and about in the community, mingling at events in the hopes of connecting on a deeper level with you, our readers. Our favorite form of flattery is to hear your feedback; it’s gratifying to know the pages of this magazine have the power to make you feel inspired, empowered, informed and better connected. As is true for all of us, connections are often easier to make than to keep. Therein lies the challenge: to tap someone on the shoulder—be that one of our team members or one of the many incredible women featured in this issue—and say hello.


APRIL CUMMING Associate Editor

Photo courtesy of Oh Happy Day Booth.


here’s a photo clipped to the fridge in our office break room. It’s one of many photos, actually, a collage of images taken of our AW team members attending events throughout town in the past year. In one, our creative director dons a pair of oversized, yellow-rimmed glasses, and in another, our marketing director and art assistant pose side by side, brilliantly happy, their white teeth gleaming as though they’re auditioning to be the new faces of a dental ad.

I AM A TEXAS MBA “My Texas MBA allowed me to take my career in a new direction, stepping into to a multi-disciplinary role in a high-growth Austin technology company. I frequently draw on lessons learned from the McCombs curriculum and experiential projects. Texas MBA fulfilled my expectations for professional growth and enabled me to forge strong friendships and connections.”

GEMMA DEVENEY Senior Director, International Strategy & Operations, Indeed World traveler; originally from the UK Recreational vocalist & live music enthusiast MBA 2011


Photo by Korey Howell.

Evening & Executive Programs


a u st iN sym p h oN y o r c hest ra

This month, we asked our contributors: What is the quality you like most in a significant other?


COVER Photographer, “the human connection,” page 50

Photographer Rudy Arocha is a native Texan who moved to Austin to pursue his education in fine arts as a sculptor. He later rediscovered his passion for photography when his grandfather gave him a camera as a gift. Rudy graduated from the Art Institute of Austin and specializes in portrait photography. When not photographing, Rudy enjoys music, the outdoors and spending time with his wife, Maggie. “I guess I would have to say a sense of humor. That would be a deal-breaker.”

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne

cover writer, “the human connection,” page 50

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne has been in love with words her entire life. She has been a published writer and columnist for more than four decades. She was the founding editor of ATX Man magazine and the editor-in-chief of Austin Woman from 2011 through 2015. In 2016, she founded Grassroots Movements Marketing and, never forsaking her love of words, continues writing and speaking, as well as offering media consulting. She arrived in Austin 24 years ago and hopes never to leave.

your perfect

Date Night

“I have many significant others rather than just one: friends, family, colleagues and the city of my heart, so I would have to say the quality that connects them all is joy.”

starts here

Jill case

writer, “not tonight, dear,” Page 70

Jill Case writes about medical and health-care issues for magazines, physicians and agencies that specialize in medical marketing. She enjoys medical writing because there is always something new and interesting to learn. Jill hopes to help people by providing them with information they can use.

upcomiNg eveNts: February 17, 8:00 p.m. pixar In Concert pixar movie clips with live music by your aSo! Long Center’s dell Hall February 24 & 25, 8:00 p.m. “Vive l’espagne!” French composers and the sounds of Spain Long Center’s dell Hall


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“The quality I like most about my husband is his curiosity. He has a variety of interests and enjoys exploring new places and ideas as much as I do.”

All artists, programs, and dates subject to change.

DTK Austin Styling Owner Ashley Hargrove is a renowned wardrobe stylist and model who specializes in styling commercial and print advertising. She has recently worked with People, ESPN, Holiday Inn and many others. Follow her journey on Instagram @dtkaustin. “Someone who truly understands and loves me, even with all of my flaws.”

Connect with us! Can’t get enough of this issue? Check us out at

➥ More #goldenbenefits. Rachel Musquiz, owner of plant-based food truck Curcuma, sheds some light and much-needed insight on how she makes her best-selling, nut-milk-based concoction, Golden Mylk.

➥ More connection. The founders of the Bloguettes—an all-female-led,

Arizona-based company dedicated to helping women build their online brand—discuss the powers of technology ahead of their workshop Feb. 10 through 12 at The Paper + Craft Pantry.

➥ More hearts. For Holly Lawson Nasso and Craig Nasso of L’Estelle House, ➥ More rhythm. We picked up a few new dance moves from Brazilian dancer Dandara Odara ahead of her performance at Austin’s annual Carnaval, which celebrates its 40th anniversary Feb. 25 at Palmer Events Center.

Don’t miss

Win This!

Rock Your Red Feb. 9, 6 to 8 p.m. Design With Consignment, 3301 Steck Ave.

Adelante Gift-card Giveaway

Heart & Soul Luncheon Feb. 10, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. JW Marriott Austin, 110 E. Second St.

This February, Austin’s fun, fresh and feminine women’s-clothing boutique, Adelante, is celebrating Galentine’s Day! Grab your best gal pal and stop by the shop to check out a Daisy Natives pop-up, chocolate by Yes, Please Gourmet Chocolates and live card illustrations by Indigo Print. While you shop, enjoy complimentary sips from Austin Cocktails. Festivities kick off at 10 a.m. Feb. 11.

Feed the Peace Awards Feb. 12, 6 to 10 p.m. Four Seasons Hotel Austin, 98 San Jacinto Blvd. Polished Luncheon Feb. 15, noon to 1 p.m. Uncle Julio’s, 301 Brazos St. 2017 State of AYC Feb. 17, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Westin Austin Downtown, 310 E. Fifth St.

To keep the love going, @AdelanteAustin is also giving away a $50 gift card to one fortuitous AW reader. To enter, keep an eye on our Instagram account, @AustinWoman, for the giveaway announcement in February. Word to the wise: We like to be spontaneous. A winner will be chosen and notified at the end of the month.

Follow us


20 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

like us

Guitars Under the Stars Feb. 18, 6:30 p.m. The Mansion, 2312 San Gabriel St. Go Red for Women Summit Feb. 24, 9 a.m. JW Marriott Austin, 110 E. Second St.


@ austinwoman

Rachel Musquiz photo by Jess Engle. Bloguettes photo courtesy of @bloguettes. Dandara Odara photo by Mike Quinn. Adelante photo by Molly Winters.

a French-inspired restaurant on Rainey Street, balancing date nights with the day-in, day-out routine of restaurant ownership is a sage lesson in prioritizing the people you love.


Exhibition On View Through July 9, 2017


Credit: Slave Auction; ca. 1831; ink and watercolor; The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1941.3

CELEBRATING 5 YEARS OF AMPLIFY AUSTIN DAY 700 Nonprofits. 7 Counties. 24 hours to Give.

Do te


Explore slavery’s reach beyond Texas into the very fabric of America through original artifacts and first-person testimonies.

This exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

VISIT AMPLIFYATX.ORG TO GIVE Support for the Bullock Museum’s exhibitions and education programs provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.

Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865 is an exhibition by The Historic New Orleans Collection.

n the scene

save the date

save the date

The February agenda from our favorite local insiders. Barbara Jordan Forum “I’ve looked forward to this week of powerful programming ever since I had the honor of introducing Julian Bond as the keynote speaker a few years ago. The legacy of Barbara Jordan provides the perfect context to explore our current context of social justice, civil rights and cultural empowerment.” Feb. 20 to 24, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2315 Red River St. | Admission is free.

Virginia Cumberbatch


2017 Blanton Gala “I’m always inspired by art. The Blanton Gala is my February pick because I’m not sure there is a more inspiring collection of artwork anywhere in Texas.” Feb. 11, 6 p.m., Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. | Tables for 10 are available, and a limited number of individual tickets is also available, at $1,500 per seat.

Katie Kime


Second Annual Sausage Kings of Austin “It’s a friendly competition amongst the best sausage purveyors in the city, including Easy Tiger, Micklethwait, Banger’s and more. And it’s all paired with beers and live music!” Feb. 16, 6 to 10 p.m., St. Elmo Brewing Co., 440 E. St. Elmo Road | Tickets start at $26.

Kristy Owen


Free Community Workout at Dane’s Body Shop “For me, the vibe is everything, especially when you want to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. This community workout is free and an awesome way to take your workout to the next level in an environment that feels good.” Feb. 5 and 19, 9:30 a.m., Dane’s Body Shop, 4227 Guadalupe St. and 2701 Manor Road | Admission is free.

Adriene Mishler @yogawithadriene

Fifth Annual Austin Oyster Festival “I love oysters and the Austin Oyster Festival is serving them up on the half shell, grilled, roasted and fried, with live music!” Feb. 25, noon to 6 p.m., French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos St. | General admission is $45.

Jane Ko @atasteofkoko

22 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe. Blanton Gala photo courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art. Sausage Kings photo courtesy of Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt. Community workout photo by John Whiteley. Austin Oyster Festival photo by Diana M. Lott.



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avvy Women

count us in

women in numbers

Facts and figures on females from throughout the world. By darcy sprague, illustrations by jessica wetterer

11 Startups 2014 That’s the year in which Nicole Zivkovic and Miki Nakano founded the Girls of New York movement, a social-mediabased campaign. For more than two years, the Humans of New York-like initiative has shared the diverse faces, backgrounds and inspirational stories of girls from throughout New York. It’s all in an effort to spark conversation about equality issues and the stereotypes young girls and women are up against. One recent post, shared through the campaign’s @gonymovement Instagram account, told the story of a young Indian woman who has felt out of place her entire life because of her dark skin. Another featured a young woman who experienced sexism from her much older coworkers during the course of a summer internship.

1st Latina Cast Member Last October, Melissa Villaseñor became the first-ever Latina to be hired as a cast member and join the comedic crew at Saturday Night Live. Villaseñor first tasted fame when she made it to the semifinals of America’s Got Talent in 2011. Since then, she has voiced characters on TV shows Family Guy and Adventure Time. Known for her spoton impressions and killer impersonation of actor Owen Wilson, Villaseñor brings a refreshing dose of humor and a dash of diversity to the 42-seasons-strong late-night show.

Today, there are more than 1.5 million businesses run by AfricanAmerican women in the U.S., more than 100,000 of which are tech-based companies. That’s a whopping 322 percent increase in the number of businesses led by African-American females since 1997. However, there are only 11 startups founded by African-American women that have raised more than $1 million in venture-capital funding, according to a report by #ProjectDiane. Of all venturecapital deals from 2012 to 2014, only 24 of the 10,238 deals favored African-American female entrepreneurs. According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, low VC funding is an issue prominent in womenled startups as a whole. Of the more than 200 startups in the Bay Area of California that received series A funding in 2015—investments totaling between $3 million and $15 million—a mere 8 percent were led by women.

50,000 African-American Women Many people know heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women worldwide, but not everyone realizes the condition disproportionately affects African-American and Hispanic women. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 50,000 African-American women die from the disease annually, and it’s estimated that nearly 49 percent of AfricanAmerican women have some form of cardiovascular disease. On average, Hispanic women develop heart disease—symptoms of which include extreme fatigue, dizziness and an irregular heartbeat—10 years earlier than Caucasian women. The most common type of heart disease, coronary heart disease, kills nearly 380,000 people annually.

24 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

25 Years Old Jasmine Twitty, a 25-year-old African-American woman, is the youngest person to ever be sworn in as a judge in the United States. Twitty, who holds a degree in political science, had been working as a night clerk for four and a half years after college when she realized she had the skills and qualifications to make the leap to judgeship. Twitty told the online publication Mental Floss that she always knew she wanted to work in public service and says the day she was appointed and sworn in “felt surreal.” Now that she spends the majority of her days overseeing the initial proceedings in criminal cases in Easley, S.C., Twitty says the hardest part of her job is “the effort it takes not to bring it home.”

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avvy Women

bottom line

Certification Central

Here’s the lowdown on being designated a woman- or minority-owned business.

Three decades ago, the City of Austin wanted to do something about disparities in its contracting practices, which had been found to favor companies with male and white owners. So, in 1987, it implemented a Minorityand Women-owned Business Enterprise program to certify MBEs and WBEs and encourage the city and private sector to contract and subcontract with them. Among other general requirements, the business must be majority owned, managed and controlled by one or more economically disadvantaged woman and/or ethnic minorities, be a small business and meet the personal net worth limit of approximately $1.4 million. Veronica Briseño Austin now has about 843 MBEs and WBEs, most of which are in construction-related fields, and 2016 saw the most businesses in recent years graduate from the program. Austin Woman spoke with Veronica Briseño, the first female director of the Small and Minority Business Resources Department, and Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew, whose 3-year-old jewelry company became certified in 2015, about the burdens and benefits of the certification process.

Why Veronica Briseño: The city’s goal is to remedy discrimination in the marketplace so small businesses can have affirmative access to city procurement and show productive growth. Business owners can use certification as a marketing tool because they are listed in the online directory, and can also use it to enhance visibility. In several types of contracts, bidders or proposers that do not meet their MBE/WBE goals are required to ask for bids from certified firms, which have an opportunity to partner with or gain exposure to bigger firms or primes [the firms the city contracts with] while they get experience working on a public- or private-sector project. Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew: I know how important certifications are. I started off focused on the MBE and WBE, but then, with my research, I was told that I needed to have the Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification to sell Hawkins Bucklew Handcrafted Jewelry Designs at the airport, which is part of my business plan. In my real-estate career, I have many outside designations and certifications. The more you know, the better you can help your client. And it’s all about the credibility in the eyes of the consumer.

26 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

How VB: The most important steps of the application process are to complete an accurate business profile on the Vendor Connection database, be in business a minimum of 90 days, make an appointment with a department counselor to review your application and let the counselor know if you need a notary. My other tips are to attend Certification 101, which is coming up Feb. 28, download the application forms at [The WBE and MBE applications can also be used to apply for the state’s Historically Underutilized Business certification.] and submit your application and all of the requested documentation. SHB: The application is intensive. It took me six months. There are pounds of paperwork, so consider using a CPA who can sign an affidavit for the personalnet-worth document. And you have to make sure you have the right paperwork and know which Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew certification you want to achieve. The counselors are there to help you, so use them. Get all the necessary documents notarized. After submitting, they come to your property for a site visit, and there’s an annual checkup where I had to turn in more documentation.

Now VB: The program has had 15 graduates since 2011, and in fiscal year 2016, the city spent more than $222 million on WBEs and more than $356 million on MBEs. For 2017, we will explore the recently completed Disparity Study, which recommends updated goals and changes, such as a mentor-protégée program. Also, City Council will consider an updated MBE/WBE ordinance before it undergoes sunset review in late March. As for challenges, we will work diligently to ease the concerns surrounding the sensitive information that firms provide during the application process and will continue to ensure we, in fact, need it. SHB: Getting the certification, that’s just the beginning. Even after I found the right person at the airport, it took me a year to get the face-to-face [meeting]. I recently learned that my original contact person no longer works there, so I plan to continue trying. I wish the certification program had more involvement for companies that aren’t in construction, and also shared what percentage of business the city actually does with your industry. [Editor’s note: Briseño says the SMBRD can supply this information if asked.] I think the city could better identify the indirect benefits of certification, like listing non-city entities that value certification. And I would love a seal or a logo to use on my website and in emails for marketing. It’s important to know that certification is not a shortcut to immediate revenue. But here’s the thing: It gives you credibility even outside of the government sector. I would tell any minority business, if you qualify, definitely get the certification. For more information on the certifications, process and applications, visit

Veronica Briseño photo by Korey Howell. Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew photo courtesy of Collin Hardeman and Ivonne Rivas.

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avvy Women


Lauren Petrowski

The Fox 7 news anchor for Good Day Austin shares her finesse for making an unforgettable first impression. By april cumming, photo by kevin garner

Her Notes: First impressions In her nine-year tenure working as a news anchor at Fox 7, Lauren Petrowski has become somewhat of an expert in making introductions. Austin Woman asked her to share the protocol she follows when meeting a person for the first time. 1. Introduce yourself with a smile. “Being friendly from the get-go is key to making a good first impression.” 2. Show genuine interest. “Ask them questions about themselves and what they do.” 3. Listen and let them know you’re listening. “Make eye contact and verbal cues. Contribute to the conversation.” 4. Remember names. “Say the person’s full name out loud and repeat it in your head.” 5. Thank them for their time and let them know it was nice to meet them. “I always thank people for being a guest on Good Day Austin or, if it’s a viewer, I thank them for taking the time to watch. They’re the reason we’re able to do what we do, and I want them to know that’s appreciated.”

HER ADVICE: Think Before You Speak


Working in news, I meet new people every day. Whether it’s a guest on Good Day Austin or someone I’m interviewing out on assignment, it’s always important to me to make a good first impression.

“A manager in the news business once told me to think about and understand what you’re saying as you’re saying it. It’s something I remind myself of every day when I am on air. As reporters and anchors, we can often be too focused on not messing up or on memorizing a script. It can be easy to just spit out words without really thinking about what you’re saying. It’s so important to remember that we are giving out information or telling people a story that we want them to care about. If you take the time to really think about your words and what you’re saying, then I think you can better connect with viewers.”

On Her Desk r “Pictures of my 1-year-old son and husband” r “A good, old-fashioned hard-copy dictionary” r “A gold spray-painted longhorn because who doesn’t need a little Bevo bling?” r “Coffee because of my 2:30 a.m. wake-up time”

28 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017


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A Dancing Success

Melody Afkami is out to show there’s more to movement than high endorphins. by KAT SAMPSON

“For me, I think the reason I was so unfulfilled in my corporate job was that I didn’t really understand my why. I didn’t have a meaning to why I was doing what I was doing. It just involved my ego,” she says. The competitive nature of her job (working in business development for a software company) created a longing in Afkami to create more positive relationships, especially among other women. So, she took stock of her options and started taking dance classes. “I noticed this really beautiful energy that would flow in the class when women came together in a safe space and were kind to each other and supportive,” Afkami says. “I thought that energy was so powerful. I knew then that I wanted to create a dance-fitness brand that incorporated women empowering other women, and I wanted to do that by donating to a nonprofit that embodied just that.” With a little soul searching and encouragement from friends, Afkami took the leap in 2014 and started her own dance-fitness brand, Melody DanceFit. Fast-forward two years and what started out as a small class Afkami led once a week at Corazon Latino Dance Studio has grown into somewhat of a fitness movement. Three times a week, she can be found standing center stage at Corazon or The North Door, teaching new hip-hop dance routines set to remixes of Beyoncé, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez to a growing congregation of women. From the brand’s beginning, Afkami made a commitment to weave philanthropy into her purpose. Not only would an altruistic intention help elevate her students’ class experience, she reasoned, but it would also help return a sense of meaning to her work. Afkami decided to partner with the nonprofit Dress for Success and continues to give the organization 5 to 10 percent of all her class proceeds. The part-

Afkami decided to partner with the nonprofit Dress for Success and continues to give the organization 5 to 10 percent of all her class proceeds.

30 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

nership aligns with the mission of Melody DanceFit, she says, which is to create a safe space for her students, most of whom are women, to escape into the world of dance and know they are empowering other women at the same time. “I wanted people to come to my class, shed their ego and feel something,” Afkami says. “I think the way to do that is make [dance] about a cause and not about them or me.” Attend one of Afkami’s classes and you’ll get a crash course in Dress for Success. Every class starts with a verbal reminder that not only is everyone doing their bodies good through dancing, but they’re also contributing to a worthy cause. In her first year, Afkami was able to donate more than $1,000 to the nonprofit. Once a month, she also holds collection days during which students can bring in donations. With the donations, Dress for Success is able to help women achieve economic independence by equipping them with career guidance and professional work attire. “These women [who work for Dress for Success] help clients get back on their feet,” Afkami explains. “They lift them up and give them resources. They help them and support them. It’s an ongoing relationship. It’s just a true testament that we thrive by lifting others. The way we can help ourselves is by helping those around us, and that’s exactly what Dress for Success is all about.” Although she won’t be investing in a brick-and-mortar dance studio any time soon, Afkami says growth plans are in the works for Melody DanceFit. And as her fitness brand and following grow, she promises so will her contributions to Dress for Success. “I want the focus [of Melody DanceFit] to be on creating a sense of community among people in Austin,” she says. “Together, we can be a part of this community that gives back. I feel like you can do philanthropic work on your own—and that’s always great—but I think there’s something special about bringing a group of people together and knowing that we’re all giving back.”

Headshot photo by Electra Avellan. Dance photo by Elis Avellan.

It didn’t take long for Melody Afkami to realize life in the corporate world wasn’t all it was built up to be. After a few years working the 9-to-5 grind, Afkami, now 28, says she knew it was time for her to make a change.




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That’s the number of female African-American architects in Austin. By Shelley Seale, photos by dustin meyer

The year was 2007. The setting was New Orleans. Trinity White, three years out of college and beginning her work in architecture, was waiting in the lobby for a job interview when the cover of a magazine caught her eye. It was Architect Magazine and had a photograph of an AfricanAmerican woman on the cover. In large typeface was a startling figure: .2 percent. When White read the article inside, she was shocked to discover that the diminutive percentage referred to the number of African-American women licensed in architecture in the United States. “I had known through my own experience that we were few, but I had no idea it was that unbalanced,” White says. “That moment changed everything for me. I thought to myself, ‘So many people have fought and sacrificed just so I could have the opportunity to get this far.’ I felt like being licensed could be an opportunity to pave the way for young black women to come.” 32 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

The Architect Magazine article reported that although the number of African-American women licensed in architecture had quadrupled during the previous 15 years, “four times a fraction of a percent doesn’t amount to much.” The statistics still haven’t changed significantly. In 2013, Diverse Education reported fewer than two percent of licensed architects in the U.S. were African-American (male and female). In 2016, the number of licensed African-American females still fell below .3 percent. In Austin, the numbers paint an even bleaker picture: fewer than .1 percent of more than 1,100 licensed architects are African-American. White moved to Austin in 2008 and started her own practice in 2012. When she learned she was one of only three African-American women licensed as architects in the city, she was disappointed but unsurprised. “It’s an old boys’ club in a very real sense of the phrase. Architects don’t often own their own practice or become partners in firms until much later in life, due to the long licensing and education process,” she says. “So, there’s a delay between the demographic changes you see in our society and the faces of the people dominating the profession. This

can be discouraging because it’s difficult to find role models to look up to, and that probably stifles some of the interest in pursuing the profession.” White adds that the job is difficult and many architects are underpaid, compared with other fields requiring similar education. “Architecture is a labor of love, and finding the time, passion and financial resources to pursue your dream is elusive, at best,” she says. “I, like most people, had to find a way to balance that with a full-time career and growing family.” Donna Carter corroborates this dilemma. Carter entered the field in the 1970s after graduating from Yale University, and says she spent all her time simply keeping her practice going. “All of my financial, physical and emotional resources were spent on the firm entity,” Carter says. “I certainly didn’t have the time to think positively about being unique because of my race or gender. I didn’t put it in a historic perspective. It was one of paying the bills month to month.” Carter points out the generation gap between herself, White and Devanne Pena, who are the only three licensed female African-American architects in Austin. White and Pena entered the field three decades after Carter, who says, as a city, we should have been adding women of color to the field in far greater numbers since her time, especially considering the presence of a major university. “It is very sad that in the 21st century, in a city this vibrant, current, relevant and intelligent, we are still talking about such small numbers,” Carter says. “Many of the issues of gentrification, loss of historic properties, food-and-market deserts were anticipated by work that I did in the early 1980s. But it was not really noticed or taken seriously by either the community or the city.” These statistics and experiences beg the obvious question: Is anything being done to recruit more women of color into the architecture industry? Carter says the question is a complicated one, and wonders if it’s a problem Austin can solve. “One could argue that architecture is a rich man’s profession well-suited to those with other means of support,” Carter says. “This should allow some flexibility for women who traditionally have not been the main wage earner to get into the profession. But, as part of the construction industry, it is not a traditional path, and not an easy decision for a minority woman to make.” There’s a delay between the Carter also points to Austin’s recently declining Africandemographic changes you American population, which makes it harder to attract new see in our society and professionals to the city. the faces of the people “In a diverse community, there is respect for the distinct dominating the profession. influences and life experiences of many cultures and there is room —Trinity White at the table for all, each bringing something to be shared, not stolen, and certainly not checked at the door,” Carter says. Pena echoes Carter, and issues a challenge to the business community. “I would like to see designers, architects and project managers at the table who look like me. Austin needs to recruit, interview and hire people of color across all industries,” Pena says. “A lot of companies may aim to foster diversity, but they are shooting in the dark if there is no target.” In September 2016, the University of Texas School of Architecture announced the establishment of an initiative on Race, Gender and the Built Environment specifically to address what it calls “one of the most pressing issues affecting 21st century design and planning.” The effort aims to facilitate diversity among design and planning professionals and students, and foster innovation in teaching and research on race, gender and inequality in American cities. Organizations such as the National Organization of Minority Architects, where Pena has served as editor-in-chief of its in-house publication, NOMA Magazine, work to minimize the effect of racism in the profession. In addition to articles in the magazine that showcase the talent and capabilities of minorities in the industry, NOMA also conducts conferences and events specifically for African-American women in architecture. “As architects, we can offer solutions and options for many issues associated with building sustainable, resilient and healthy communities. Our involvement could begin in the education cycle from an early age, where we will get our future generation of architects of color,” Carter says. Though White, Carter and Pena comprise—as Pena says—“a small bunch,” the women represent something integral to their communities and their industry: a future with the potential for change. “Representation and inclusion are critical for the soul of a city,” Pena adds. Thanks to these three women, the soul-searching in Austin will continue.

Donna Carter

Trinity White

Devanne Pena |  33


avvy Women


Capitol Beat

State Representative Celia Israel updates us on the issues facing Austinites during Texas’ 85th Legislative session. Sarah E. Ashlock

State Representative Celia Israel represents House District 50, which contains the Northeast and Northern areas of Travis County, an area that continues to battle traffic and safety concerns. “What I’ve been given is a privilege. I have to do the best that I can with the time that I have, and find a way to follow my heart and my conscience,” Israel says. This session isn’t Israel’s first rodeo. She was elected for the 84th session in 2014. During her first term, the governor signed three of her bills, one of which was HB 1140, which aims to increase transparency and responsibility concerning pregnant-inmate care in county jails. Israel planted her roots in Austin when she moved from El Paso, Texas, to attend the University of Texas. After college, she worked for the state of Texas doing data entry. Every day after work, she would travel four blocks to former Governor Ann Richards’ campaign headquarters to volunteer. That dedication earned Israel a spot on Richards’ staff, and eventually, a spot in the Texas House of Representatives. One of Richards’ quotes stuck with Israel, who paraphrases it: “People may not always recognize the work that you do, but you do it because there’s going to be those points in your career when people are going to tell you, ‘Thank you. What you did made a difference in my life,’ ” Israel says. “That’s what I live for.” For many, Israel did make a difference when she made history after being elected as Texas’ first openly lesbian legislator. For many voters, a Latina lesbian lawmaker represented the kind of progress they so desperately wanted. “There are some misplaced priorities in the state of Texas. In those 140 days, we have an opportunity to do as much as we can,” Israel says. “We have very good relationships across the aisle, [but] when my colleagues and I have to divide ourselves over LGBT issues…it harms lots of other good legislation that’s waiting for us to take action on.” One way Israel crosses partisan lines to move legislation forward is through humor, a sort of nod to Richards’ reputation for making people laugh. “I have a very dry sense of humor, so I use it to my advantage to make sure that my republican colleagues know that I need them,” Israel says. “If they’re smart, they know they need me.” 34 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

The Issues Israel believes certain social issues dominate many of those 140 days, preventing practical legislation from getting discussed in time. “Unfortunately, this session is going to be very difficult because we’re going down the road of North Carolina,” Israel says, referring to SB 6, the Senate bill requiring school districts and other state agencies to segregate bathrooms, only allowing people to use the bathroom associated with the sex an individual was born with rather than the sex he or she identifies as. While opposition to SB 6 will occupy some of Israel’s time, she plans to use these 140 days to file approximately 40 bills and tackle her two top priorities: online voter registration and transportation. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia offer online voter registration, and six states have passed legislation to do so but have yet to implement it. While some are concerned with identity issues related to online registration, it has been determined that reducing print runs could save the state substantial cost, among other motivating factors. Mobility plays a major role in Israel’s motivations. “If I want Texas to move forward on relieving congestion and owning the fact that it is an urban state, I have to make the case to my republican colleagues that we’re all in this together, regardless of policy,” Israel says. Her first solution is to endorse telecommuting to the more than 70,000 state employees in Central Texas. “If they can stay at home in their fuzzy slippers and work safely and securely and probably be more productive at home because they’re not getting distracted…then they’re happier and also safer. They’re not on the most dangerous freeway in the country, which is I-35,” Israel says. The second proposed solution is to create a pilot program to allow buses to drive on the highway shoulders during rush hour. Other cities have done this. For instance, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., have had this service since 1991. Israel says when cities implement the concept, bus ridership also increases by as much as 40 percent.

What You Can Do to Help One does not need a history of politics to throw his or her hat in the ring. “My parents weren’t political. My parents weren’t even good voters. My parents weren’t the kind to be civically active,” Israel says. “But when I saw Ann [Richards’] speech at the convention, it inspired me.” Israel’s success as a volunteer and a state representative stems from her drive to be involved as long as there is a cause in which she believes. “As high-tech as we get, there will always be a need to put on tennis shoes, put a political sticker on your chest, grab some literature and go find voters,” Israel says. “If we’ve learned anything from this last presidential election, it’s to be informed and pay attention. Texas needs you, and I need you. If I can do what I do on the House floor as a liberal, Latina lesbian, then I hope readers will also recognize that there’s a role for [them].”

Photo courtesy of the Celia Israel Campaign.

On the second Tuesday of January, Texas began its 85th Legislative session. Every two years, 31 senators and 150 representatives spend 140 days proposing, discussing and voting on as many bills as time allows. The 2017 session is shaping up to be an arduous one, due to budget constraints and social issues. Thanks to the extended decline of oil prices, lawmakers will have an estimated $7 billion less this session. But one democratic lawmaker from Austin is more fired up than ever to enact real change that will improve the state and city.


ust List


New York State of Mind

In the spirit of celebrating soul mates and meet cutes, here’s how to  spend a day replicating the beloved romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail. by april cumming The film is timeless. It took a taboo topic—online dating—and made it cute and relatable. In the romantic-comedy flick, Shopgirl (the screen name of Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly) and NY152 (the screen name of Tom Hank’s character, Joe Fox) capture the mystique and curiosity found in not entirely knowing who you’re talking to. They exude the instant gratification found in gleaning incremental nuggets of new information about the other, and they practice the art of conversational inhibition, or as Shopgirl might say, voicing a “whole bunch of nothings that mean more than so many somethings.” Rewatch the film and then romanticize, with the following recreation, what it might be like to spend a day in New York City in Shopgirl’s shoes.

1. Starbucks 252 Broadway at 81st Street Start your morning off on the right foot by ordering a complex brew at the same Starbucks location Hanks and Ryan frequent in the film. As Hank’s character, Joe Fox, alias NY152, says about the corporate coffee chain, “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee: short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self: tall, decaf cappuccino.”

3. Loeb Boathouse Central Park East 72nd Street and Park Drive North The West 79th Street Boat Basin is the real location where Joe Fox hung his hat for the night after breaking up with his girlfriend, Patricia, but the Loeb Boathouse Central Park—just a few blocks east, as the crow flies—is too picturesque to pass up. A short stroll through Central Park leads you to the boathouse, where you can join in the lakeside property’s 150-year tradition and rent a rowboat. Or arrange for a personal gondola ride out on the lake to look for birds and butterflies. (To date, 26 species have been identified from the boathouse.)

Loeb Boathouse Central Park

36 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

2. Argosy Bookstore 116 E. 59th St. Literarians be warned. This six-floor building in Midtown Manhattan houses volumes upon volumes of rare, first-edition and out-of-print books. Founded in 1925, Argosy Bookstore is a bookworm’s dream come to life. It’s the polar opposite of what Fox Books might have been like, and setting foot in Argosy is refreshing proof that independent, family-owned bookstores can, in fact, stay in business. After you’ve successfully perused and flipped through the stacked shelves, ponder a walk two blocks east to Serendipity 3 for a taste of the shop’s famous frozen hot chocolate.

4. Books of Wonder 18 W. 18th St. Because the plot of You’ve Got Mail centered around two competing bookstores, it would be sacrilege not to spend your day in the comforting company of books. Unlike Argosy, Books of Wonder specializes in children’s books. In fact, this is the location Ryan’s bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, was modeled after in the film. Founded in 1980, it’s New York City’s largest and oldest children’s bookstore.

Photos courtesy of Travaasa Loeb Boathouse photo courtesy Hana of TheMaui. Central Park Boathouse.

It’s been 19 years since the movie You’ve Got Mail debuted in theaters. While technology has certainly made major strides since the days of AOL messaging, the majority of the Norah Ephrondirected film was ahead of its time in foreshadowing the online dating world to come. Replace “You’ve got mail” email announcements with Bumble, Tinder and OkCupid phone notifications, and you’ve fast-forwarded to present day.

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discover 5. Lunch at Atlantic Grill 49 W. 64th St. Sparks started to fly between the couple as they dined alfresco at Ocean Grill, which shuttered in late 2015. Instead, hail a cab and take a short 10-minute ride south to the seafood restaurant’s still-open sister restaurant, Atlantic Grill.

r Pro tip: Don’t leave without ordering sushi or a plate of fried calamari, as Hanks and Ryan did when they waxed hypothetical about what the number “152” could mean as part of NY152’s handle. Hanks: “N-Y-one-five-two. One hundred and fifty-two. He’s a 152 years old. He’s had 152 moles removed, so now he’s got 152 pockmarks on his face.” Ryan: “The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable.” Hanks: “One hundred and fifty-two people who think he looks like a Clark Bar.”

6. 79th street greenmarket 79th Street and Columbus Avenue Peruse the aisles of in-season produce at this farmers market, open every Sunday year-round. In the film, Joe and Kathleen share a bout of healthy banter as they take a spontaneous stroll through a farmers market before parting ways. In true Joe Fox fashion, pick up a fresh bouquet of daisies to bring back to your hotel.

In the Film…In Real Life 3T  he Shop Around the Corner is…a dry cleaner. 3 Fox and Sons Books is…a Century 21. 3 H&H Bagels is…a Verizon Wireless store.

7. 91st Street Garden 91st Street in Riverside Park In the spirit of searching for butterflies, retreat midafternoon to the 91st Street Garden. The garden—planted with a wide array of flower and plant varieties, from blossoming yellow roses, red tulips and pink lupin to ornately shaped boxwood topiaries—has been around since 1984 and is regularly maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers called The Garden People. For those unfamiliar with the name, this is the location of the last scene in the movie. It’s where Hanks and Ryan’s characters finally reveal their true identities. “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly,” Ryan says before Somewhere Over the Rainbow is cued and the two embrace in their first kiss.

8. Café Lalo

Photo courtesy of Argosy Bookstore. 91st Street Garden photo by Julie Wallin.

201 W. 83rd St. Known for its divine cakes, pies and tarts (Try a slice of one of the 29 cheesecake offerings!), Café Lalo is where Shopgirl and NY152 originally agreed to meet in person. It’s also where, upon realizing that he’s been e-chatting with Ryan all along, Hank’s character decides to sabotage his own date. With glistening string lights adorning the building’s brownstone exterior and dim, Europeancoffeehouse-like interior lighting, it was hard not to see the growing chemistry between the two.

9. NYLO New York City 2178 Broadway One can dream, but not everyone can return home to a stately three-story brownstone townhome on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But you can do one better at NYLO New York City. Short for “New York Loft,” the modern, industrial-chic hotel exudes the essence of cool and sophisticated eloquence. The hotel boasts a 1920s-inspired bar, library and piano lounge, in addition to rooms with balconies featuring both city skyline and Hudson River views.

Argosy Bookstore

LOVE THIS PICKUP LINE “How about some coffee or, you know, drinks or dinner or a movie... for as long as we both shall live?” – Joe Fox to Kathleen Kelly |  39


ust List


Pretty Paper

Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. “A handwritten note is an artifact of love when so much human communication now is ephemeral. In this high-tech century, receiving a handwritten note from a loved one gives us something tangible to treasure.”

Clockwise from top left: Austin flat print note cards, $16; Graphique turtle foil print note cards, $11; Crane and Co. 1801 engraved koi note cards, $90; Rose Gold foil print note cards; $14.95; Life writing paper, $16.

40 |  Austin 40 Woman |  Austin|  Woman February |  february 2017 2017

Photo by Niki Jones.

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Hollywood Heroines

Austin’s own Academy film scholar picks her all-time favorite films made possible by women. by Victoria Stowe Donna Kornhaber spent countless nights as a child devouring every film she could get hold of, captivated by the way the pictures told a story without words. It was this love affair with cinema that led Kornhaber to train as a filmmaker at New York University, where she transitioned to screenwriting and finally found her passion as a film scholar.

Kornhaber is now an assistant professor of English at the University of Texas and her efforts to illuminate the importance of film awarded her, among other honors, the coveted status as a 2016 Academy film scholar. In anticipation of cinema’s biggest night, the 89th Academy Awards, airing Feb. 26, Kornhaber told us about five films that showcase the creative contributions of women in film from the past century.

Dance, Girl, Dance, 1940

The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926 “More than a decade before Walt Disney, German animator Lotte Reiniger pioneered one of the world’s first featurelength animated films. Reiniger used a silhouette-cutout technique that she invented herself, creating what is, for me, one of the most delicate and beautiful animated films ever made.” Available for purchase on

“We tend not to think about women’s historical importance in filmmaking and their influence in defining certain genres, as far back as the silent era, but it’s something you need to do if you want to understand the vital place of women in film history.” —Donna Kornhaber

42 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

“This is probably the most important film by Dorothy Arzner, one of the only female directors of Hollywood’s classical period, in the 1930s and 1940s. The movie takes the dancing-girl pictures popular at the time and turns the genre on its head with a feminist take on the perils of show business. It’s rebellious just for existing.” Available for rent on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu and Google Play.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975 “Director Chantal Akerman shows us, in excruciating detail, three days in the life of a lonely Belgian widow. This is one for the true cinema buff. The film is famous for its monumentally slow pace, but it builds to a shocking and excruciating twist at the end. Its influence on later filmmakers cannot be overstated.” Available for streaming on Vimeo, for rent on Netflix and for purchase on

Orlando, 1992 “Director Sally Potter masterfully handles this adaptation of a Virginia Woolf novel about a character who lives for 300 years as both a man and a woman. This was Tilda Swinton’s first big, breakout role, and she’s absolutely mesmerizing.” Available for rent on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu and Google Play.

I Will Follow, 2010 “Four years before Selma, Ava DuVernay made her narrativefeature-film debut in this indy film that she wrote, directed and produced. This is simply one of the best and most humane stories about grief and grieving ever put on film.” Available for rent on iTunes, Amazon Video and Vudu.



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make room

Open Seating

There’s room for everyone. by Emily C. Laskowski career, Hartmann cleared open a capacious kitchen and dining expanse destined for countertop conversations and festive family gatherings. After we sought her scrupulous guidance, Hartmann gladly furnished Austin Woman with her shipshape advice for how to fashion a friendly feasting space of our own.

Paint Pick

get the look: A pop of color

In This Room rD  ining area: Restoration Hardware reclaimed Russian oak Parsons table, Bend Goods Lucy chairs, Studio Dunn Sorenthia light and KuhlLinscomb braza tray.

Pure White (SW 7005),

“The homeowners wanted to use color in a way that was sophisticated but also fun. With a palette of classic white shiplap, neutral stone counters and warm woods on the island and dining table, I thought the dining chairs were a great chance to introduce a pop of color.”

48 |  Austin Woman |  February 2017

r Kitchen area: Restoration Hardware Harmon pendant and Richardson Seating tufted-back barstools.

Photo by Casey Dunn.

When she began the meticulous task of crafting a classic yet modern farmhouse in Austin’s Bull Creek neighborhood, Jennifer Greer Hartmann of Greer Interior Design knew her clients craved a bevy of entertaining options. Utilizing the holistic approach she’s practiced throughout her 15-year


“Homeowners who love to entertain want a dining area that will bring everyone around one table. By maximizing space with a long table and adding seating at the island, you’ll always be ready to host guests for any occasion.” —­­Jennifer Greer Hartmann

Open the floor plan

“This casual dining area is reflective of how many people live today. It is part of a larger open floor plan, adjacent to the great room, kitchen and bar, and perfect for everyday life or for entertaining a large party.” Invest in good lighting

“Light fixtures can add lots of impact and personality. I wanted to install a light here that would make a statement while at the same time not blocking the gorgeous view out to the backyard. This fixture is not too visually heavy and is perfect for the space. It also is very different than but complementary to the pendants over the kitchen island.” Mix modern with traditional

“Keep your design interesting by mixing styles and layering pieces that don’t necessarily match. The kitchen, overall, feels more traditional, with its shaker cabinets and classic pendant lights, while the dining table, chairs and light fixture are much more modern.”

Photo by Nathan Beckner.

Layer materials

“We used painted wood on the bar and kitchen cabinetry, American oak on the floor and the barn door, dark stained walnut on the island and reclaimed oak for the dining table. We chose a classic Carrera marble countertop for the kitchen island and a basalt stone on the bar to help define the two spaces. Layering the different woods and materials helps create a more interesting, in-depth and finished look. The finishes don’t all have to match one another, but should complement each other.” |  49

Communication—the human connection— is the key to personal and career success. — Paul J. Meyer

50 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

The Human Connection BY Deborah Hamilton-Lynne PHOTOS BY rudy arocha

STYLED BY ASHLEY HARGROVE hair and makeup by Lorena Guadarrama Molano shot on location at south congress hotel

Elaine Garza, the cool and collected chief behind Giant Noise, the public-relations behemoth she founded more than 10 years ago, has mastered the art of engaging conversation and honest communication. The key, she tells us, is simply making a genuine connection.

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51 |  51

When you search on Amazon for books about connection, you

embarrassed to admit that her first day at HarperCollins left her a little star struck when she walked in to find actress Loni Anderson, star of the sitcom WKRP. Garza later went on to work with other famous personalities, ranging from Howard Stern to Joan Rivers to Alice Waters. “It was just awesome to be in a large PR department, and I know now that it would shape the kind of agency I would create,” Garza says. “I was working on such a wide variety of projects, from a book on the Virgin Mary to Howard Stern. I can’t imagine anything more exciting and I am so grateful that was my first job. I got to read manuscripts at lunch—all kinds of manuscripts—and I loved the team. I loved the variety. It was never boring. I started as an assistant and when I left, I was a senior publicist. David Rakoff became a friend that I admired. He knew everyone—the Sedarises and Andy Richter. They wouldn’t remember me, but for a 23-yearold, it was about as exciting as a job can get.” Mastering the art of connection and communication, Garza learned her celebrity clients were, first and foremost, just people, and that it was a mistake to get into PR thinking that clients would become best friends. She also learned the best publicists let their clients shine while they help manage the crazy world that is the celebrity circus imposed by 24/7 media exposure. Eventually, Garza left to work as a magazine publicist with publications such Consideration and taking as Outside, Spin and Vibe magazines. the time goes a long Foremost for Garza then and now is honest communication in all relationships, arza was raised in Corpus Christi, way. You can’t be a fake with clients and with the media. She not Texas, and made her way to Austin if you want to make a only has retained the lessons learned via the University of Texas. During during her tenure in New York, but she those years, she fell in love with both genuine connection. has also maintained her relationships with a city and a calling. In 1994, with her I always welcome firms, clients and colleagues she knew in degree in journalism in hand, Garza those formative years. One of Giant Noise’s honest communication. set out to join the ranks of Austin PR newest clients, the Texas Book Festival, professionals, only to be rejected by brings Garza full circle, allowing her to some of the city’s largest companies. utilize her contacts in the world of book publishing while expanding Wisely, she decided she should step away, regroup and seek another adventure, and made plans to join a friend who was teaching English her interest in authors and their readers. “Sometimes it is a fine line to walk because there are sensitive as a second language in Mexico. Upon hearing this plan, Garza’s things at times that we cannot release. Sometimes the client wants mother suggested an alternative: Why not check out the job market a guaranteed return, but I have learned that PR is nebulous in in New York City, where they had family and Garza had a friend outcome. You can get two major covers and it barely moves the working in publishing? Open to the possibilities and “more than a needle,” Garza says. “On the other hand, I can have a one-on-one little naive,” Garza packed her bags, bought an airline ticket and conversation with a writer and get four major stories out of it. To me, took a chance on fate. success is contributing in a positive way to advancing your clients’ “Who knows what would have happened if I had gotten the jobs I goals and building awareness of their accomplishments and product. applied for in Austin?” Garza reflects. “I probably wouldn’t have had I have been lucky to have clients that I believe in and am passionate my agency and I probably wouldn’t have met [my husband,] Rich.” about. The match starts with honest communication about goals Her risk paid off when Garza landed her first job out of college and expectations, and that has to happen from the beginning. If it is working for publishing giant HarperCollins. a match and we feel connected and clear, I can design a successful “I had a round-trip ticket and wasn’t thinking that I would plan for them. We have been lucky to have several long-term clients, ever move to New York, but once I got there, I had 10 interviews and so, we almost have a shorthand between us. … Now we just and surprisingly, several job offers. By chance, the woman who know what to do and we mesh.” interviewed me at HarperCollins was a Texan. Talk about luck,” Garza recalls. “I was so naive that I went in to the interview with my briefcase and my fake press releases that I had written at UT. I didn’t even know enough to be embarrassed, and unbelievably, she hired me. Of course, I hadn’t planned to move or start work right ast-forward to 2006. Garza is married to Austinite Rich Garza and away, so I canceled my return ticket. My mom shipped everything to is the mother of a daughter, Luci. The couple made the decision to me and I lived on my friend’s couch and with my grandmother for a return to Austin to put down roots and raise their family. Although while until I could get settled. I always thought I would be there for Garza was torn about leaving New York and the impact on her a year or two, and it turned into 11.” career, she took the leap and recruited Spin and Vibe to become her New York and the fast-paced world of publishing fit Garza to a T. first clients. With a 3-month-old baby, she began working from her Both her parents were New Yorkers and there was plenty of family garage with her first employee, William Mills, who had been her living in the area, including her beloved grandmother. Garza laughs, intern in New York. Admittedly, Garza says she didn’t have a real

get a staggering 55,571 results, which include 1,965 entries in the business-and-money category alone. Faced with that daunting selection, I turned to Paul J. Meyer, a fellow Central Texan who has been called the father of the personal-development movement. His Success Motivation Institute, founded in 1960, is dedicated to motivating people to reach their full potential. And he knows a thing or two about connection. Among his writings, I found one of the quotes I was looking for: “Enthusiasm glows, radiates, permeates and immediately captures everyone’s interest.” Honest enthusiasm is the key to Elaine Garza’s success and mastery of connection. Even on a winter’s day, Garza is full of warmth and cheer. It is impossible to respond to her greeting without a smile because everything about her says joy. As she discloses natural frustrations about balancing career and family obligations, her hair bounces and her eyes twinkle, and those around her feel at ease. Garza has built her company, Giant Noise, into a premier publicrelations firm and brings an element of the human touch to every relationship. She is the type of person that always picks up the conversation where it left off, with humor and enthusiasm. Garza is a natural communicator and the embodiment of a person who is living and loving her purpose.



52 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

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business plan and the agency grew organically as she began to make connections in Austin, sometimes through events that Spin or Vibe sponsored, and sometimes through family, friends and her Texas Exes community. As the agency took on a life of its own, it eventually outgrew the garage space, forcing Garza to learn many important lessons in business survival 101. “I really thought I would live here and do projects in New York. I was naive, but Austin was a great launching pad,” she says. “I had been gone for 11 years and, other than college friends who had managed to stay in touch, I didn’t have community. I had to reconnect in order to build, and a series of good things happened for me. I was lucky to have two initial clients, Spin and Vibe. Outside came in and hired me as their agency. The editor of Vibe went to Latina, so I got them as a client as well. I also started to reach out to magazines in Austin because that was my niche. I reached out to Austin Monthly and they were my first client in Austin. We also work with Texas Monthly. “Here’s what I learned starting and building the agency: Even if you start in a garage, always look and act like a first-class 54 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

professional—great logo, considerate and attentive staff. As the owner and founder, you can’t possibly know everything and be good at everything, so humbly hire people to do the things you don’t like and aren’t good at. That lets you focus on your strengths. “When I hired Julie Hart to be my CFO, it was a complete game changer for me. Do things you have never done before and you will be surprised how it turns out. I was scared when we moved into our first office space, but it was a turning point for the agency and allowed us to continue to grow. When I took on [hotelier] Liz Lambert and Bunkhouse as a client, I had no experience in hotels. The Hill Country Food and Wine Festival was my first festival. Look at all opportunities and don’t miss a chance to connect, even if it involves a risk. Our San Antonio office came to be because the chief marketing officer of the Pearl was a friend of my husband, Rich. Our client list grew from that association, and serendipitously, my former assistant, Natalia, had moved to San Antonio and was the perfect person to head up that team. … It really is six degrees of separation.” In 2016, Giant Noise celebrated its 10th anniversary, with offices in Austin, San Antonio and New York. With more than 30 employees,


Inspiration: People Who

inspire Elaine Garza Every Day

1. 2. employees, Garza, along with Guerilla Suit Owner James Moody, purchased the current Seventh Street space, a far cry from Garza’s garage. Staying true to her “industry of interesting,” Garza has also attracted a wide variety of clients, including hotels, restaurants, fashion brands, festivals and events. Giant Noise is the agency of record for high-profile clients including Hotel Emma in San Antonio, South Congress Hotel, Texas Book Festival, Circuit of the Americas, Launderette, The Salt Lick, Sway, the Paramount Theatre and the Moontower Comedy Festival, just to name a few. Garza makes an effort to stay current and has incorporated a social-media specialty team into her staff. It is clear that she lives what she loves and loves what she does. “Giant Noise is not just Elaine Garza. The company is made up of an unbelievable team,” Garza says. “My first employee, William Mills, is still with me. Courtney Knittel has been with me for six years and Rose Reyes joined me as COO, coming from the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am blessed with great teams here and in San Antonio. I am lucky that I get to represent clients I believe in. I don’t see how you can represent someone unless you believe in

“My parents, always and forever. I am very close to my parents and I love them deeply. They inspire me each and every day. To have two people believe in you so much before you even believe in yourself is the ultimate gift.” “My grandmother started as a secretary for a financial magazine on Wall Street and ended her career as the VP and head of circulation. She was the life-of-theparty, dance-on-the-table kind of lady. She certainly taught me that you can work really hard, but please do not take yourself too seriously, and if you cannot have fun, what is the point?”


“My co-workers inspire me and teach me every day.” |  55

Elaine Garza’s

Must List

Must-try restaurant:

Must watch:

“That is like picking between my children. I could never just pick one.”

“Grown-up movie Before Midnight, and Star Wars with kids. We just watched the entire series and it was so much fun.”

Must experience:

Must read:

“If you come to Austin and don’t take a dip in Barton Springs at least once, you are really missing out. It takes me about 20 minutes to slowly make my way all the way into the water, and my kids tease me endlessly but I always leave with my spirits lifted.”

“The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is at the very top of my list.”

them 100 percent. And I have great relationships and respect for the writers I work with. I love telling my client’s story and showing all of the components of what they do. I love the one-onone connection, going to lunch and getting to know people on a personal level. If you know someone’s work and show that you respect the work, you not only know what and how to pitch a story, but you also don’t have to feel like you are constantly selling. Be enthusiastic and take the time to have a conversation rather than relying on an electronic connection. “I try my best to be kind and grateful to everyone I work with. A journalist is your friend and someone you can hopefully work with for a long time, so trust is important in that relationship. The best possible thing you can do is actually read their stories and thank them. Consideration and taking the time goes a long way. You can’t be a fake if you want to make a genuine connection. I always welcome honest communication. Make sure from a connection standpoint that you don’t limit your connections. Connect with everyone, whether they are younger or older than you. Some of the most fascinating relationships that I have are in different age ranges, whether they are 25 years old or 70. It goes back to what is interesting. I am a very curious person and I am interested in a variety of things, not just pitching, pitching, pitching, but getting to really know people. Building a relationship is what real connection is all about. And that is how I measure the success of Giant Noise: in how we conduct business and how we personally conduct ourselves.” 56 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017


Must attend: “I love the Waller Creek Pop-Up Picnic so much. Being around friends in the park, eating delicious food and supporting a great cause is the perfect mix for me.”

uccess has come with a price, but Garza knows how to set her priorities and keep them straight, juggling media connections, clients, family and self-care. Today, her children (Luci, 11, and Sabina, 9), husband and extended family, including parents, siblings and cousins, help Garza balance an incredibly rich life that also includes community involvement in organizations such as the Texas Medal of the Arts, the Texas Exes, the Flatwater Foundation, the Waller Creek Pup-Up Picnic and Les Dames d’Escoffier. “As far as family goes, I try to be home by 6 so we can eat together as a family. On the weekends, I focus on the kids and Rich. I try not to look at emails on Sundays, and we are trying to untether from our phones,” Garza says. “We like simple things, like watching movies together and going to the kids’ games. I am very active with the girls in Girl Scouts. It has been a great way for me to connect with their friends and the moms. Once a week, Rich and I have date night. We also love to travel. I take a full month off in the summer and that is my time with my family. My parents travel with us as often as possible, and my brother is in the Foreign Service, so we get to go visit them in great places, like China. We have been to Thailand and Hong Kong and are planning a trip to Berlin this year, as well as Ireland, where some of my father’s relatives live. I love doing this with and for the kids. I see them learning and becoming better citizens. We have so many great memories of our trips.” As if on cue, Rich whisks Garza away from a probing journalist for date night. Ever the consummate professional, Garza finishes the interview with her trademark humor, honesty and enthusiasm. “Here’s what I know for sure: I am a better boss, a better co-worker and a better mom when I keep my priorities in place. I would be lying if I said I always have it all together or always get everything done, but I believe that your environment has a huge effect on your psyche, so I try to keep it as simple as I can,” Garza says. “I have to exercise for my sanity and the sanity of everyone around me, so that is how I start most of my days. If you don’t love consuming media, writing and getting out there, don’t go into public relations. The secret to good PR isn’t a pitch; it is making that genuine connection, which allows a relationship. It is a conversation, an intimate, ongoing conversation.” And with that, the Garzas are off for their evening, already engaged in each other, enthusiastic, glowing, radiant and capturing everyone’s interest as they walk away.

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For the past seven years, Kelly Krause’s job has been to get to know people, first as the publicity maven and now as the chief content creator for the South By Southwest Conference and Festivals. However, her more recent unofficial job has been to cultivate the life-changing lesson she taught herself nearly four years ago.

K is for...


BY Emily C. Laskowski PHOTOS by Annie Ray

Kelly Krause flew from Los Angeles to Austin on her 28th birthday in March 2010. As an independent film publicist at the time, she was sent to represent her clients at the South By Southwest Film Festival. The Nebraska native had stepped foot on Texas soil only once before, partaking in a very un-Nebraskan—but quite Texan—rite of adolescent passage by sinking her bare feet into the sometimes questionable and wet-Tshirt-laden beaches of South Padre Island for a college spring-break trip. Her second foray to the Lone Star State proved a different passage altogether. Considerably more inland, she encountered the charms of a budding metropolitan area still nesting comfortably below a population of 2 million, one that had yet to become the first North American destination for Formula 1 or the short-lived hometown of the X Games. It was before the twoweekend expansion of the Austin City Limits Music Festival and pre-Mopacolypse. It was also only a matter of time before this Midwestern daughter discovered that, if she simply reached out, she could grasp the rapidly evolving world of Austin, Texas, spinning before her fingertips.

58 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017


Krause was born in the

small, Eastern Nebraska town of Columbus that comprised fewer than 20,000 people when she was growing up. Raised by Mom and Dad, and best friends with her younger sister, she describes her family as the typical nucleus and herself as “a full-on Midwestern kid.” She played all the sports, participated in all the activities and graduated from high school. Then, she began expanding her world. First, she went south to Lincoln, the Nebraska state capital and home to Nebraska Wesleyan University, a private liberal-arts college where Krause earned her undergraduate degree, a bachelor of science in communication studies with a minor in Spanish and an emphasis on public relations. “The very first class that I took at the university was Women in Indie Film, and it very much had a feminist slant,” Krause remembers. “You dissected all of these movies and women’s roles in films. I had never approached anything with that kind of mindset. I loved that it opened my mind up to an entirely new way of thinking and going against the grain, and I feel like that was the catalyst to my curiosity with my career and everything.”

60 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Next, she traveled eastbound to Washington, D.C., for an internship at CNN. She arrived in the nation’s capital interested in television journalism and departed with a categorically different opinion. “I…realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I hate the sound of my voice. I don’t want to be on TV. I don’t want to do any of that,’ ” Krause recalls. She tracked back to Lincoln, Neb., this time to earn her graduate degree at the University of Nebraska, 10 minutes across town from her alma mater, in what area of study, she hadn’t quite decided. She treaded in one discipline only to change course at the semester’s end. By the end of her first year, she had rerouted her trajectory completely. “Halfway through that, I got pretty burnt out,” Krause says. “I was an editor at a wedding magazine, of all places, a PR intern at this global utility company. I was working full time at a makeup counter and going to graduate school full time. I was super burnt out, and through a bit of serendipity, [I overheard] somebody in the computer lab one evening [talk] about this internship they had in LA. I was like, ‘That’s it. I’m moving to LA. I’m going to intern in the entertainment industry.’ So random, it had never been on my radar before. I applied for an internship with the E! Entertainment and Style Network and

got it, and three months later, I was in LA.” Krause didn’t return to Lincoln to complete her graduate degree. Instead, in the beaming Los Angeles sunshine out West, Krause planted new roots. “I landed at an agency where a lot of people in the entertainment industry get their start—in publicity, anyway—and started working with tech clients. … It was technology that I didn’t really understand,” she says, laughing because she knows now how advantageous, despite her limited interest, that exposure to the technological world was for her. “I ended up volunteering for all of the film premieres and film screenings,” she adds. “The film department was like, ‘Hey, I think you’re a natural fit. Why don’t you come work in our department?’ So, I ended up working with independent film, which is a crazy parallel to my college years and that very first experience that I had.” For the next six years, Krause immersed herself in every aspect of the job. “We worked on Jimmy Kimmel Live and America’s Next Top Model, and loved it. I thought it was so much fun,” says Krause, whose days and nights started overflowing with the nonstop grind of representing independent films, building a client list, working premieres and attending

film festivals. “In LA, work was my life. My time on the weekends was spent working press junkets, which I loved, but after awhile, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing, and I valued my weekends and my time with friends and family so much more than the job. It just wasn’t paying off in a way that I wanted to continue with. … I feel like I paid my dues.” Then, she hopped on her first-ever flight to Austin.

Krause bounces into Josephine House on the first brisk morning of December sheathed in black workout gear from head to toe. The fanciful Clarksville eatery, known as much for its charming blue-cottage exterior as for its decadent lemon-ricotta pancakes, is undoubtedly her spot. Though the 9 a.m. breakfast crowd consists of a mere three patrons, Krause and this reporter included, it’s her presence that draws unseen staff members out from behind counters and corners, peeking their heads out to nod, wave, mouth hello to her as she cruises to the corner table by the window. It’s been more than six years since Krause moved to Central Texas from California, and this March will mark her seventh SXSW. Last year, Hugh Forrest (Chief Programming Officer and Krause’s boss) promoted her to SXSW Conference programming manager, essentially making her the curator and creator behind every keynote and every featured speaker, in addition to SXSW Style. Krause recounts coming to Austin for the first time in 2010. “The second I landed in Austin, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh. This city is so cool. There’s so much going on. … This feels so good. This feels like my kind of city.’ There weren’t a lot of chain restaurants; it was a lot of mom-and-pop shops. I picked up on the vibes immediately,” she says. “The Austin vibes are just cool, but progressive and forward-thinking, and really nice people. I basically

went back to LA and was like, ‘All right. I’m getting to Austin one way or another. I don’t know what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, but I’m getting out of here.’ ” After her initial Austin visit, Krause returned to LA and promptly reached out to a woman she had worked with once on a film who now worked for South By Southwest. “We spent 15 minutes together in LA working on this film, and I reached back out to her blindly over Facebook [and said], ‘You probably don’t remember me. We worked on this film together. Is South By hiring? I’d love to move to Austin, and I’m planning on moving soon.’ [The woman said,] ‘We’re actually not hiring in the film department, but our interactive publicist just left. Do you have any tech experience?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I totally do.’ … She’s like, ‘Great. Let me put you in touch with the old publicist, and she’ll set you up with an interview.’ ” Krause moved to Austin, landed the job and started handling publicity for the rising star, SXSW Interactive, which saw badge sales for 2011 surpass badge sales for the SXSW Music Festival portion for the first time. “This is why I always say never burn a bridge because you never know when you’re going to circle back with someone, and everything ends up coming full circle. It’s wild,” Krause expounds. “The same people that I worked with in LA are now clients at South By Southwest, so everything comes full circle. I fully believe that.” Krause credits those who came before her and the entire SXSW team for laying the groundwork upon which she started to find success. By 2012, nearly two years into her tenure at SXSW, she had mastered her publicity duties, but wanted to do more. She started developing content on her own and securing the partnerships and speakers that would deliver that content.

“Everything comes full circle. I

fully believe that.” |  61

“I started meeting with all these publications, and they wanted to get involved in the event, and not necessarily from the sales component. They wanted to help work on programming too. It was mutually beneficial for them,” Krause explains. “I was meeting with Time and Marie Claire and Vanity Fair and Vogue and all of these awesome companies, and I really started to pour my heart into that.” Eventually, Krause’s role transitioned from publicist to planner. In 2014, on top of her publicity duties (not to mention being named to Marie Claire magazine’s second annual list entitled The New Guard: The 50 Most Connected Women in America), she helped launch SXSW Style, which meant working around the clock to curate, give or take, 30 sessions, traveling throughout the country for meetings with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and companies like Refinery29, and working across multiple SXSW departments to coordinate corresponding dinners and parties and events. “It takes a lot of people to do all of this,” emphasizes Krause, who has been part of an extraordinary, almost unprecedented, team of organized yet visionary individuals responsible for recruiting such notable SXSW keynotes and featured speakers as Edward Snowden, Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk, author Malcolm Gladwell, celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and, in 2016, President Barack Obama. However, in the midst of all this remarkable work, which, Krause admits was fun, the best kind of work and fulfilling, she had forgotten about one thing: herself.

May 5, 2013, Krause posted the following caption to her Instagram account: “Progress in 35 days. Anything is possible.” The accompanying picture was an outdoor photo of a flight of stone steps that she overlaid with the text “Sunday Zen,” and “Week 4, -24 lbs.” Amid Krause’s ascension to connect with the world, give more than 110 percent, influence national conversations about technology and fashion, all in the name of her all-or-nothing passion for SXSW, she neglected connecting to herself, giving herself more than 110 percent and influencing her own conversations. “The defining moment for me was Easter Sunday 2013,” Krause says. “I was sitting down at this really indulgent spread with my sister, and I just felt naked. I felt heavy, gross. It was hard to breathe. Leading up to that, I could not climb a flight of stairs without being breathless. I couldn’t sit in an airline seat. … I was just tired of feeling that way. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.” Krause was overweight, and it was something she had always battled. She would exercise to no avail, diet to no avail. Nothing had worked. That Easter, she abandoned the indulgent spread, and that night, she made a resolution. “Everything that I was doing came down to a bottom line of I wasn’t being good to myself. I wasn’t being kind,” she says. “I need to live kindly. That’s where the mantra kind of developed. I went to bed that night and [thought], ‘You’re just going to be good to yourself.’ ” For Krause, that meant not looking back, not feeling ashamed. She just had to get started. The next morning, Krause found some stairs and walked up and down them three times. It was April 1, 2013, April Fools’ Day, and she kept it to herself. She didn’t want any jokes. “That was my first workout,” Krause says. “Three flights led to four flights, which led to five, and then I kept just building up, and then I started going to spin classes. One class a week led to two a week led to three a week. There was just this snowball effect for me. I started to feel better, and I started to eat better and I didn’t go on any crazy diets. I didn’t really eliminate anything, aside from things that I knew made my stomach upset.” The key to Krause not looking back is that she looked ahead, focused on her future instead of dwelling in her past. 62 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

“Anything that I did was progress from what I did before, so even if I only made it around Town Lake once and I was walking, that was more than I did before,” Krause says. “Everything was just moving forward. That was it. It seems so simple but yet, it was kind of hard because I wasn’t living a lively path.” After one year of livelier and kinder living, Krause had lost 135 pounds. “I just started to change my perspective and change the way I thought about myself and everything around me,” she says. “The weight loss was great, but it was becoming less about what I was losing and more about what I was gaining: confidence, a more mindful and kinder approach to people, myself. My relationships all changed. I was more open.” Krause shared her journey with others. Her initial Instagram post from May 5, 2013 (four weeks after her quiet April Fools’ Day workout) is now archived behind hundreds more that chronicle her steps (often literally) to live kindly. At Krause’s one-year mark, Camille Styles (who had pedaled alongside Krause during classes at Ride, a local indoor cycling studio) invited her to write about this living-kindly philosophy on Styles’ eponymous and influential lifestyle blog. Krause’s personal journey and renewed perspective elicited a stream of affirmations, positive responses and pledges of support from throughout the country. Styles made Krause a regular contributor, giving her a column that Krause rightly named Living Kindly. Krause still contributes her column on a monthly basis, covering topics from “Are You Choosing the Right Friends” to “What Happened When I Went Vegan for Three Days” to a host of other scenarios with which she has personally struggled or experienced. For the record, Krause isn’t in the clear yet, and she openly discusses her ups and downs. “I was featured in a bicycling magazine, and I hated the way I looked on the bike. In that moment of seeing myself…I so quickly went to, ‘OK, what can I do to lose more weight?’ versus, ‘This is really amazing. The editor of the bicycling magazine and writers thought that I was good enough to feature in their publication. They saw me as a leader in this industry, and so did the women in the community, and I’m not focusing on that. I’m focusing on something negative.’ I changed my perspective, and I talked about that and I was very honest about it,” Krause says. “I think a lot of people can relate to that in whatever capacity, that they see themselves differently and instead of focusing on the positive, they see the negative.” People—inspiration seekers or Krause’s own peers and followers—continue to crave her advice. She is now as well known for her galvanizing transformation as she is for her stature within the roaring machine that is SXSW. As for Krause, she continues to crave what’s ahead, whether that means more yoga (“The way my yoga friends talk is so much centered on the universe and mindfulness,” she says.) or more traveling (“Right now, my wanderlust is through the roof,” she adds.) or more challenges (“I’m always thinking about what my future looks like,” she says, “and what new skills I can go after.”) Luckily, the more Krause grows, the more we know, and the more she knows, the more we grow. Krause possesses that selfless gift of generosity. She imparts wisdom, though she wouldn’t call it that, to anyone who wants it. She faces the challenges that life throws at her, and reports back with unfiltered honesty. In short, Kelly Krause doesn’t just live kindly, she is kind. Krause points out that people used to ask her, and many still do, what the secret is to her success. Krause answers that question in earnest. “There is no diet. There is no magic formula for any of this. It is just taking care of yourself. I love it,” she says. “It’s not a shake. It is not a pill. It is not a regimented routine. This is what works for me. You do what works for you.”

“ ” I just started to change my perspective and change the way I thought about myself and everything around me. The weight loss was great, but it was becoming less about what I was losing and more about what I was gaining: confidence, a more mindful and kinder approach to people, myself. |  63

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GOURMET Rooting Around

Three underground vegetables take center stage. story and photos by natalie paramore Austin is lucky to have a growing season that stretches year-round. However, it’s not all peaches and strawberries. The cooler months bring leafy greens and hearty root vegetables, and the challenge is finding reliable recipes for the oft-overlooked bok choy, turnips and radishes you’ve ambitiously bagged from the local farmers market. Here, we’ve unearthed a soup, a salad and a savory side that will satisfy your seasonal produce supply. |  65



to market

Bok Choy Noodle Soup Serves two


Ingredients 1 head baby bok choy

1. After removing the head, slice the bok choy, separating the white parts from the softer green leaves.

4 scallions

2. C  hop the scallions, separating the white and green parts.

4 to 5 cloves garlic

3. M  ince the garlic and ginger and saute them over medium heat in a medium sauce pan with olive oil for about two minutes, or until fragrant.

2-inch piece fresh ginger 1 tablespoon olive oil 32 ounces chicken broth Noodles from one pack of Top Ramen (or substitute any Asian noodle) 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon sesame seeds 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

66 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

4. Add the white part of the scallion, the white part of the bok choy and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a low boil for five minutes. 5. Add the green parts of the bok choy and noodles to the pan and boil for an additional five minutes. 6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the soy sauce. Top with green scallions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and additional salt to taste.

Goat Cheese Dip with Turnips Serves four


Watermelon and Black Radish Salad With Avocado Serves four

1 head garlic


4 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot

12 ounces small turnips

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces goat cheese 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 watermelon radish

1 teaspoon fresh oregano

1 black radish

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

1 head romaine lettuce

1 tablespoon mint leaves

1 avocado

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon lime zest

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds


Directions 1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top off the garlic and drizzle it with one tablespoon of olive oil. Cover it with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Let the garlic cool. 2. M  eanwhile, wash and slice the turnips into 1/2-inch-thick chips. Use a mandoline if you have one. 3. T  oss the turnips with red wine vinegar and pepper and set them aside to marinate. 4. Once the garlic is cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves into a food processor and combine them with the goat cheese, one teaspoon salt and two tablespoons of olive oil, and pulse until smooth.

1. Mince the shallot and toss it with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes. 2. M  eanwhile, thinly slice the radishes and chop the lettuce. 3. D  ice the avocado and gently toss it with the dressing mixture. 4. Transfer the lettuce to a serving dish and top it with the dressing, radish slices and chopped cilantro leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a separate batch, pulse the oregano, cilantro, mint, thyme leaves and lime zest with the remaining olive oil and salt until a paste forms. 6. P  lace the goat cheese into a serving dish. Drizzle it with the herb paste and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve alongside the marinated turnips. Serve this as an appetizer or with salad or couscous. |  67



food news

Apartment Therapy

Check out the city’s new jewel of an entertaining venue. by April Cumming

Inside is an airy, clean-lined, naturally lit space that, if it were a person, would be the kind to care more about feeling casual and relaxed than acting fussy and pretentious. Previously serving as the MMH offices, the space opened Dec. 7 and is available for showings from Event Director Fallon Gaskamp. (Gaskamp, who’s been with the group for eight and a half years, is the woman to applaud for seamlessly putting together 360 events at Lamberts last year.) Undoubtedly, the focal point of the new venue is the salvaged-

wood pine table rimmed with Nakashima straight-backed chairs. Other interior details of note include a masked washroom, a vintage leather couch, a record player and a full bar lined with vintage glassware from Sophienwald. The space, which can seat as many as 20 people and offers standing room for 30, can be booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as for business meetings and cocktail hour get-togethers. Adding to the list of accolades, all meals are served family-style from the kitchen at Jeffrey’s.

We specialize in cutting-edge, low-dose 3D mammography. Our physicians conducted the initial research for its FDA approval. We believe all women should have access to the most advanced technology and the breast imaging specialists who are trained to read it. Because it matters who reads your mammogram.

Setting the standard.

Call or visit our website to schedule your appointment. 512.776.1000 • facebook • youtube • yelp • google

Photo by Annie Whitehead.

The team behind McGuire Moorman Hospitality (Lamberts Barbecue, Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar and June’s All Day) has welcomed a new member to the family with the addition of its private event space, The Apartment. A side stairwell tucked between Jeffrey’s Restaurant and Josephine House (also in the MMH family) leads to a pair of white French doors.

BRIe MINe Give the gift of cheese this Valentine’s Day. • (512) 296-2694

ton_Print_January.indd 3

12/19/16 12:23 PM

comfort food that selectively (and








Testosterone-hormone-replacement therapy may reignite your sexual desire. by Jill Case Three hormones are critical to a woman’s sexual health: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Yes, testosterone! Testosterone is not exclusively a male hormone; women also require the proper amount of testosterone to have a healthy sex life. “Testosterone is responsible not only for the desire to have sex, [but] for blood flow to the erogenous zones when you do have sex,” explains Dr. Saima Jehangir, a board-certified Austin OB-GYN who provides holistic women’s health and wellness care at Lotus Gynecology, Health & Wellness. Women’s testosterone levels begin to drop when we’re in our late 30s and continue to drop as women age. “As testosterone levels decrease, blood flow to the erogenous zones decreases,” adds Jehangir, who provides hormone-replacement therapy and other treatments that help women who suffer from sexual dysfunction. She is also one of the few OB-GYNs who provide and understand testosterone-hormone-replacement therapy. When blood flow to the erogenous zones decreases, sex becomes less pleasurable since there isn’t enough blood flow to stimulate the nerves. Testosterone-hormone-replacement therapy can help. “When you elevate testosterone levels, it increases blood flow to the erogenous zones so that the sex feels better,” Jehangir women also require says. “Some women will say they didn’t develop the libido or the the proper amount of desire … but that when they did have sex, it was much better.” testosterone to have Estrogen treatment can also help with this problem. Currently, OB-GYNs do not learn about the benefits of a healthy sex life. testosterone therapy as a treatment for sexual dysfunction. “Testosterone is very underutilized in females with sexual dysfunction,” Jehangir says. “We’re not taught about this in medical school, and it’s not considered traditional medicine. It’s considered an alternative therapy. Nine out of 10 OB-GYNs won’t know how to use testosterone, how to dose it or what it does. Finding a physician and deciding for yourself whether testosterone is a good treatment for you is important.” If you suspect you have sexual dysfunction, Jehangir offers a suggestion. “Find a doctor that you trust and that you are comfortable talking with. Find someone who is interested in having this conversation with you because not every doctor is. From there, hopefully, you can make a multi-disciplinary action plan,” Jehangir says, adding that this may involve multiple therapies. “Most sexual dysfunction is not due to one thing. Sometimes it is, but if it isn’t, addressing it with someone who can help facilitate all the different aspects of healing that you require is important.”

Sexual dysfunction refers to mental or physical problems that can affect a person’s sex life. A variety of factors cause these problems, including: • hormonal changes • getting older • anxiety or stress •n  egative sexual experiences or trauma in the past • physical illness •m  ental-illness issues, such as depression •c  ertain medications, such as antidepressants • problems in your relationship •p  elvic issues, including problems with the pelvic-floor muscles

Sexual Dysfunction: The Treatments The treatment needed is determined by the type of problem the patient is having. •M  edication: Your doctor may need to adjust your current medications if they are affecting your sexual desire. •H  ormone-replacement therapy: Hormones that can help with sexual dysfunction include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. They can be systemic, such as patches, hormone pellets, etc., or local, such as vaginal creams or tablets.

The Risks and Benefits of Hormone-replacement Therapy Hormone-replacement therapy, or HRT, using testosterone, estrogen or progesterone has certain risks and benefits, but the hormones Dr. Saima Jehangir uses are bioidentical hormones, not synthetic hormones. “A lot of the bad press about HRT involves synthetic hormones. Bioidentical hormones are exactly what your body has been producing,” she says. Benefits include osteoporosis prevention, fewer hot flashes, less vaginal dryness and an overall feeling of well-being. Risks include the potential for blood clots, undetected breast tumors may grow more quickly and slight potential for uterine cancer if using systemic estrogen alone.

•P  sychological counseling: Counseling can help patients overcome past trauma or negative experiences.

•P  elvic-muscle rehabilitation: This is a new and promising subspecialty of physical therapy. Your therapist will customize a treatment plan to teach you to relax, control and strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles. •A  ddyi (flibanserin), the “female Viagra”: This medication works on the brain to create sexual desire in women.

Photo by Sherry Hammond.

•C  ouples therapy: Your sexual dysfunction may be due to problems in your relationship that you need to address as a couple.

Dr. Saima Jehangir

70 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Sexual Dysfunction: The Causes





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.



Eat This, Not That

The Udder Truth

Lose the stomachache by swapping dairy for plant-based nut milk. by april cumming Eat this: plant-based nut milks Not that: dairy milk Says who: Rachel Musquiz, owner of plant-based food truck Curcuma Why: “Plant-based milk alternatives are easier to digest and offer a range of nutritional benefits. While there are nutrients found in dairy milk, it isn’t the only— or even best—source of those nutrients. Plant-based alternatives are not only delicious, but are undoubtedly better for your gut health and the environment.” Benefits of This: 3 Cashew milk

Still want That? “ If you’re going to drink dairy, opt for organic, grass-

3 Hemp milk

fed whole milk. Conventional cows are fed genetically modified corn and soy, which they aren’t meant to eat in the first place, and are subjected to hormones and antibiotics. All of these unnatural additives are passed on through the milk, but are completely avoidable by purchasing organic. Plus, grass-fed cows have higher levels of omega-3s and CLA in their milk, which are good for improving bone mass, bloodsugar regulation and reducing the risk of heart attack.”

3 Coconut milk

What about soy milk?

“[It’s] creamy, delicious and a great source of fiber, antioxidants and magnesium. Like almond milk, it’s fairly low in protein (about 1 gram per serving), but it’s a fantastic alternative for creamer, cereals and homemade puddings.” “If protein is the name of your game, hemp milk packs in the most among plantbased alternatives, with 2 to 3 grams per serving. Hemp is also rich in hearthealthy omega-3 fatty acids and naturally carries 10 essential amino acids. It’s also fortified with nutrients like vitamin B-12.” “Made from fresh-grated coconut meat, this alternative feels downright decadent at times because of its natural sweetness and creamy thickness. Touted as the good fat, coconut milk holds medium-chain triglycerides (aka MCTs) that are easily digested and also help to burn fat. It’s easy to gulp this down, but sip in moderation since it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”

3 Almond milk

“Almond milk really started the revolution for plant-based alternatives. It’s full of nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fiber and more. When fortified with calcium, it’s an even better source of the bone-building nutrient than cow’s milk.”

“Some would say the jury is still out on soy milk. There just aren’t enough nutritional benefits to combat the fact that 94 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered and sprayed with a heavy amount of pesticides. If you’re going to drink soy, opt for organic, non-GMO brands to avoid unnecessary pesticide consumption.”

Check the label: carrageenan “Watch out for additives like carrageenan, a preservative linked to inflammation, among other gastrointestinal problems. Some companies have started using more natural preservatives. For example, Blue Diamond ditched the carrageenan and now uses gellan gum. Sunflower lecithin is another safe alternative. Always eye the label on sweetened and flavored varieties of nut milk too, which are often packed with unnecessary sugars.”

Musquiz’s personal motto is: Why buy when you can DIY? If you’re ready to take your relationship with milk to the next level, find Musquiz’s recipe for making homemade nut milk online at According to her, “Just one sip, and you’ll taste the difference.”

74 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Headshot photo by Jess Engle.

Do it yourself


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Discounts to Cancer Survivors




On the Road Again

How veteran athlete Laurie Allen keeps on keepin’ on two years after a paralyzing injury. BY Gretchen M. Sanders

Last November, Laurie Allen lined up behind the starting line at the Run With the Heroes 5K on three wheels. Less than two years after a fall left her paralyzed from the shoulders down, the 46-year-old veteran triathlete competed in her first race since the accident, on a handcycle. Allen, who has bicep function but no tricep function and no trunk control, spent months preparing for the event. Pedaling with her arms, she wheeled around the hilly Camp Mabry course and rolled to a solid finish, embarking on a new kind of racing career. Allen still swims, bikes and runs for fitness, but this athlete, who has completed nine Ironman Triathlons, nine Half Ironman Triathlons and countless shorter triathlons, ultra-distance runs and adventure races, is learning how to tackle triathlons with a very different body and a revamped training plan.

“Now, I ride a handcycle for the bike portion of a triathlon, and I use a racing chair for the run,” she explains. The swim, her strongest discipline before the accident, has proved the hardest to master in the aftermath. Still, Allen, who works for a small software company in Round Rock, Texas, presses on, practicing a modified backstroke in a YMCA pool with help from two spotters who never let her go. “They are more afraid of me drowning than I am,” she laughs. If a tremendous outpouring of support from friends and other athletes has helped Allen get back in a race bib, then her relentless determination and work ethic have led her to go after more challenging competitions, such as Jack’s Generic Triathlon in August 2018. “It’s an aggressive goal,” she says. But she doesn’t look scared.

The A.M.

The Gear

“In the morning, I need coffee stat! After that, I try to stretch in bed on my own for a few minutes. Sitting up for the first time is difficult because I get stiff and I have poor circulation, so stretching helps. Later, a nurse comes to help me get up and shower. My mornings are so dependent on other people.”

“I ride a Top End Handcycle that I got through money collected in a fundraiser held by Jack & Adam’s Bicycles. These days, when I workout, I prefer to wear comfortable pants and my Brooks Adrenaline running shoes. I had to change out all of my clothes after the accident. Actually, I spent the first year in yoga pants. I can’t transfer out of my wheelchair in shorts, so I have to wear practical bottoms that work well for sitting. I’m just now learning how to button, and my goal is to wear jeans again. For swimming, I wear running shorts and a sports bra because getting into a swimsuit just doesn’t happen easily.”

The Workout

“I lift weights on my own twice a week, and I have a weekly physical-therapy session at home. PT is a workout! We practice transferring from my wheelchair to my bed or van, and we do strength exercises together. I also regularly wheel myself up and down my steep driveway for hill repeats. Those are exhausting, but they’re great for my arms.”

The Motivation

8 8

North n Town Lake n

The Diet

“In general, I try to eat a clean diet with lots of veggies. I was a nutrition extremist before the accident. Now I struggle to keep weight on. I don’t have much of an appetite and chewing is tiring, so eating requires effort. Oddly, I can have things I would have considered too fattening before. I eat more cashews, avocados and eggs than I ever did. I also lose muscle much faster now, so I struggle to get enough protein. Chocolate chip cookies still rule when it comes to dessert!”

barbecue n

8 8

Barton Springs n hours n food truck n

8 coffee 8 n Whole Foods 8 n rescue 8 n mountain bike 8 n cabernet 8 n

Austin City Limits n

Torchy’s Tacos n

8 8

Alamo Drafthouse n

76 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

MoPac n

n South n neighborhood trail n Tex-Mex 8 n Deep Eddy

The Mindset

n miles

“Relentless forward progress: That’s my motto. You can’t stop moving forward. I tell myself this every day. It does get easier, but it’s a very slow progression. It takes relentless forward progress.”


n brick-and-mortar location n South By Southwest n juice n Central Market n purebred

The P.M.

n road bike

“The last thing I do each day is kiss my husband good night. I’m so reliant on other people, and I count on him to get me into my pjs and ready for bed. I feel grateful for him. Living with and taking care of a quad is not easy.”

n chardonnay n Tacodeli 8 n Congress Avenue bats n I-35

Photos LeBlanc. Photo by Chris Judy Melchor.

Her local loves

“I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I’m not going to let this wheelchair keep me from doing what I want to do. I’m training for races because I need the challenge of working towards a goal. I don’t know yet if I can reach the goal, and I like that. I haven’t done it yet, so I’m going to try for it. Plus, I want to get as much of my old life back as I can.”

Empowered women

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2017 Keynote Speaker |  77


oint of view

memo from JB

Hold the Phone

Bypassing social media could be the catalyst we all need to reconnect. By JB Hager never going to be able to replace it, ever. I try not to trivialize her I’ve decided the year 2017 is the year of talking to loss, but when she told me Vine had gone away, I had to refrain from humans. If you know me well, you know this is one of shouting out loud, “Thank God!” my least favorite things to do. I will always opt to text This tragic event made me think about my own habits. How often rather than talk. I specifically order food is my face buried in my phone, looking at Facebook from places with a menu that you fill or Twitter. You know, where the old farts hang out. out online. Since becoming an Amazon My wife literally goes days without looking at social My wife and Prime member, I’d rather have toilet paper media, and she feels better for it. I think we all feel, to daughter are delivered to my house than interact with some degree, like we got a chunk of our lives back. the cashier at Walgreens. The residual effect: We feel like a family again! pretty cool to talk

This was not a New Year’s resolution, rather an aha moment that came about with the demise of social-media network Vine. The six-secondvideo-sharing app officially shut down in mid-January. Coincidentally, midJanuary is when I got my 15-year-old daughter back! My daughter was addicted to Vine. She would start and finish every single day scrolling through videos of people being wacky in less than six seconds. To its credit, some people were highly creative, given only that small amount of time to convey a message, tell a joke or physically fall down in an unexpected manner. Larry, Curly and Moe, also known as the Three Stooges, would have dominated on this platform had it existed in the 1930s and ’40s. Vine gave rise to its own stars, 20-somethings making a decent living sitting in their LA apartments, avoiding personal hygiene and focusing on short-form buffoonery. My daughter couldn’t get enough of it, but now it’s gone. She was genuinely upset for some time. For some of us, it would probably be similar to coming home and realizing your TV is gone and you are

We’re talking. We’re actually talking to each other. We’re having dynamic conversations at the dinner table and getting to know each other all over again. Who knew my daughter had such a lovely smile? I didn’t know because her face has been buried in her phone for years. News bulletin: My wife and daughter are pretty cool to talk to! Who knew? I really, really like them. I hope they feel the same way about me. I sincerely hope they stick around because now we know whatever it is that is so important on our phones may not be. What social network will go down in flames next? I can’t wait! This is such a victory for humanity and for long-form entertainment like books, movies or even this column. I did take the moment when my daughter felt such a loss to take a look at myself, so, it has become a bit of a resolution for me to talk to humans more often. Maybe you could try this whole talking thing too. It might just catch on. Rather than firing off a text to a friend, I’m going to make the effort to dial ’em up and actually talk. With the money I’ll now be saving on my daughter’s data plan, I can spend that on grabbing a coffee or a beer and reconnecting with friends—as long as they put their phones down.

78 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Photo courtesy of JB Hager.

to! Who knew?

The Rise School of Austin’s

10th Annual

Friday, February 10, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

J.W. Marriott Austin

Join us as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Heart & Soul, a premiere fashion luncheon with a one-of-a-kind silent auction featuring an array of vintage and designer handbags and high-end jewelry and a very special fashion show starring current and alumni Rise students. Proceeds from this event benefit The Rise School of Austin. For more details and to register for the event visit:



YOUR WELL-BEING Dr. Mary Beth Harrison brings a higher level of care to each woman she sees, specializing in reproductive age and adolescent gynecology, minimally invasive gynecologic surgery and obstetrical care. Dr. Harrison speaks Spanish and is currently accepting new patients.

The world at your fingertips. Join us for Guitars Under the Stars, along with electrifying flamenco wizard

Grisha Goryachev,

as we celebrate our achievements in guitar education at this gala event on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at The Mansion, 2312 San Gabriel St. 78705. (512) 300-2247

511 Oakwood Blvd., Suite 301, Round Rock, Texas 78681 • 512.244.3698


oint of view

I Am Austin Woman

Filling the Void

For me, this path to black womanhood has always been confounded by a feeling of resolved anchorlessness. I felt distinct marginalization during conversations about ancestry because, for me and others like me, there’s a high probability that our ancestors were slaves. The revulsions of slavery are many, but stripping people of their language and ethnic traditions and violently suppressing any chance of literacy generated a palpable emptiness that many black Americans feel today. We wander through life without the grounding sense of belonging, as we’re not sure where we came from, and we feel a void. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the point than to share a story about my husband’s days in elementary school. His teacher instructed the class to do a project about where their ancestors came from and trace a family tree. Some of the kids were black-American students. When they told her they didn’t know which country their ancestors came from, the perplexed teacher publicly singled out the black kids in class. “Just pick any country in Africa,” she said, ignorant about how her assignment adversely impacted and furnished them with the non-conscious idea that all black Americans are from Africa. There was no special lesson on heritage for the black kids. There were no family trees. Having faced similar microaggressions, I understand the resolve to leave well enough alone when it relates to the daunting task of learning our ethnicity. There was irony associated with those commercials: “I wish I could get into a time machine and go back 100 or 200 years and just meet these people,” quips the black guy. Apart from the fact that going back 200 years meant certain danger or death for black people, there’s something else that accompanied the absurdity, a tacit acceptance about our condition. Those things weren’t for us. It certainly wasn’t for a black girl without an etched legacy living in Louisiana. As I matured, tracing my lineage seemed intangible. I’d accepted that my ancestors were slaves, chattel, sub-human, and the likelihood of surviving records was slim. Nonetheless, there was a marrow-deep desire to fill the emptiness, a flame that eventually engulfed me. I needed to know where I came from. I toyed with a family tree and reached out to my grandmother. She shared what she knew, and I followed up with research. It didn’t take long to learn my second great-grandfather, Samuel,

was born in 1860 and had 10 children with his wife, Ellen. He was classified as “Mulatto or Mexican” in the federal Census, and was literate. I traced my maternal lineage back five generations. The plantation my ancestors worked was 15 miles from my hometown of Morgan City, La. It was likely owned by Nathan or David Berwick, whose family founded the nearby town of Berwick, La. I experienced a twinge of disappointment and shame surrounding my findings. The inference was that my ancestors didn’t venture far upon emancipation. At the risk of sounding corny, I imagined that I’d be the descendent of a Nat Turner or a Frederick Douglass. I wanted to find a hero among my ancestors because I wanted to believe that, like them, I’d rebel against a system that deemed me inhuman. To learn that they remained in bondage was disillusioning, but that feeling was quickly replaced by pride and gratitude. My ancestors “yes sir’d” and “yes ma’am’d” their way through dignitystripping atrocities. They kept silent despite relentless provocation. They danced, sang and entertained to survive. They determined to be human in a country that viewed them as 3/5 of a person. They stayed alive and gave birth to us. They were heroes. I decided to dig deeper and research our ethnic background. The goal was to learn what country they were from and examine traditional customs, but complexity ensued. Having my DNA tested was simple, but the results forced me to face reality. I learned that while the majority of my DNA consisted of Nigerian ancestry, I was also part European. And that was conflicting. I don’t have European family members, so I was left to assume that something happened during my ancestors’ enslavement. It’s a nasty part of history to confront, and the implications are troubling. There was no such thing as consensual sex between slave owners and slaves who had no ownership of their bodies. Based on research about this era, I’m left to consider that someone may have been sexually assaulted. It’s undoubtedly distressing, but ultimately, pride and gratitude proved irrepressible. Taking on this challenge was the best gift I’ve given myself. Before this, I’d never thought about what it meant to honor my ancestors, but now, I can’t stop thinking of ways to celebrate that history. It’s a good journey and I’ve learned that I do have a legacy. We all do. For many, it’s rooted in unknown traditions and cultures. It’s tinged by the horrors of slavery and its aftermath, but it’s redeemed. It’s redeemed in pride and strength and the ability to overcome.

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

80 |  Austin Woman |  february 2017

Photo by John Marcus.

February is Black History Month, and for Chela White-Ramsey, discovering her heritage meant unearthing the unknown.

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Customer benefits include: 3-Day new and used vehicle return policy † If you don’t love it, you can bring it back.

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Locally owned & operated since 1972 | Mon - Sat 8:30AM - 8:00PM 16-SDM-1345 Austin Woman Magazine_V3.indd 1

9/15/16 1:44 PM

Austin Woman MAGAZINE |  FEBRUARY 2017

The new Volvo S90 redefines luxury with elegant Scandinavian design and semi-autonomous technology as standard. Motortrend calls it “…a uniquely appealing luxury sedan, and not just because it’s different, but because it’s good at being different.” The sophisticated curves, natural wood detailing, and intuitive technology all add up to an inspired driving experience. Visit either Austin-area Volvo dealership today to test drive and experience this amazing sedan.

VOLVO CARS OF AUSTIN | 6375 HWY 290 EAST • 512-452-0266 • 1-800-278-6586 • VOLVOAUSTIN.COM VOLVO CARS OF GEORGETOWN | 7501 S IH-35 (EXIT 257) • 512-930-2111 • VOLVOGEORGETOWN.COM ©2017 Volvo Cars of North America, LLC. The Iron Mark is a registered trademark of Volvo.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” —Madeleine Albright


February 2017  
February 2017  

Austin Woman February 2017