October 2022

Page 74

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to Shuronda Robinso for being named of Austin Woman Magazine
6 | AUSTIN WOMAN | OCTOBER 2022 October CONTENTS 16 STAFF PICKS What’s your favorite Halloween memory? 18 COUNT US IN On Surviving Grief 20 GIVE BACK Phyllis Snodgrass 24 ON THE MONEY Surviving a Career Pivot 26 GIVE BACK Lourdes Zuniga 64 HEALING Alison Canavan 66 WAITING ROOM Erica Swegler, M.D., 68 ARTS IN REVIEW Blue Lapis Light Presents Belonging 70 THE FEED Poke-Poke 72 I AM AUSTIN WOMAN Shirley Robinson 28 CATE PRESCOTT 29 CÉLINE SWICEGOOD ATX WOMAN to WATCH ATX WOMAN to WATCH 16 16 16 20 70 Guide to GOOD HEALTH ASK EXPERT the 47 72
Cy White, Shuronda Robinson, Terry Mitchell, Meme Styles, Pamela Benson Ones Neha Sampat, Gretel Perera, Terry Mitchell, Shuronda Robinson, Melinda Garvey, Ana Ruelas, Lana Macrum, Lynelle McKay Michelle Rex, Kristie Gonzlez, Amber


Director of Business Operations


Creative Director


Managing Editor


Copy Editor


Community and Events Manager

ANNE COX Production Manager


Sales Account Executive


Editorial: Elle Bent, Jenny Hoff, Chandler Maloney, Jen Ramos Perkins, Katherine Powell, Shirley Robinson, Laurel Sanchez, Dr. Erica Swegler, Jessica Wetterer, Cy White


Austin Habitat for Humanity, Blue Lapis Lights, Financial Health Pathways, Earl McGehee, Romina Olson, Shirley Robinson, SAFE Alliance, Dylan Townsend, Victoria Villarreal, Village Medical, Jessica Wetterer


Elle Bent, Claire Heleniak, Chandler Maloney, Katherine Powell, Laurel Sanchez, Devon Sayre


This month, we asked our contributors: What is your guilty pleasure survival tactic?


Writer, “The Stories We Wear,” Page 32

• She’s visited 54 countries.

• She covered the war in Afghanistan as a journalist.

• She interviewed Tony Robbins for a podcast. “Absolute favorite guilty pleasure is shirking all responsibilities for a day, curling up with a good book and reading it cover to cover.”


Writer, “Pathways to Financial Freedom” Page 26

• She’s training for a marathon.

• She eats oatmeal for breakfast every day.

• She has a healthy obsession with Coldplay. “My guilty pleasure is buying overpriced nut butters including peanut, almond and cashew flavors.”

MELINDA GARVEY Co-founder/Co-owner



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Photographer, “The Stories We Wear,” Page 32

• She is a fourth-generation Austinite

• She shares the same Birthday as Leonardo Di Caprio, on 11/11.

• She loves cloud watching with her sons. “These days, falling down the celebrity rabbit hole on IG while breastfeeding.”


Writer & Illustrator, “On Surviving Grief,” Page 16

• She just finished illustrating a children’s book.

• She is a Survivor binge watcher.

• She’s an October Scorpio.

“When I need a dose of survival revival, my guilty pleasure is taking a soak in the tub (bath bomb included) while reading a book about a badass heroine.”


ell, wasn’t September an exciting month? After the year we’ve all had, it was liberating to have something to celebrate, right? Personally, October gives me even more reason to celebrate and be hopeful. Not only is it my birthday month, it’s a month of spiritual grounding, becoming more aware of the energies that govern the universe. And also… Halloween!

However, October also marks a time of reflection at Austin Woman. Our “Survivor” issue is always a little heavier because the act of “survival” is usually triggered by trauma—no matter how big or small. When one is in survival mode, it’s because something has triggered their primal need for self-preservation: physically, mentally, etc. Survival manifests in various ways for everybody. The women and organizations in this issue transformed their pain into purpose. For our cover woman, Amber Glassman, she took inspiration from the passing of her older brother when he was a child to create jewelry and poetry that give light and hope to each of the people who wear them. The loss of a dear friend and associate to domestic violence at Austin-based Voltage Control prompted the company to collaborate with SAFE Alliance to create the SAFE Pledge, a call for companies to commit to training to recognize coworkers experiencing domestic abuse and protocols to give them the help they deserve and need. A sweeping move to ban books that explore history and showcase the reality of the world has crippled the ability of educators and librarians to give children the full education they deserve. Shirley Robinson, executive director of Texas Library Association, is fighting for the right of children to have access to literature that represents them, that represents the world. Phyllis Snodgrass, former CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity, has built her entire career around helping families survive amid loss, aggressive expansion and lack of resources.

October is a time for finding a path to healing. The stories in this issue show that surviving is just the first step to living in fulfillment, living within your purpose. It’s more than “surviving.” That’s essentially what we’ve been doing for the past two and a half years. Something our illustrator, Jessica Wetterer, said in the issue resonantes: “On the other side of grief is survival.” And on the other side of survival is life. As cliche as it is to say, I cannot emphasize it enough. Live your life to the absolute fullest, my dear readers. Whether that means starting your own jewelry line, taking steps to be able to help those around you who might be struggling or dressing up as a Minion for Halloween, live your life loudly, honestly and as your authentic and unapologetic self.

Publication of Austin Woman would not be possible without the support of our monthly advertisers and sponsors, who believe in the impact we are making in the Austin community. The following businesses have stepped up their support of our efforts beyond traditional advertising and we are proud to recognize them as our partners. The team at Austin Woman is grateful for these businesses that have shown their commitment to the advancement of women in Austin and hopes you, as readers, recognize their efforts and support these businesses and all our regular advertisers.

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Swan Songs Returns With Its Annual Serenade

After a short hiatus, Swan Songs Serenade returns with new leadership and a compelling featured performance.

Haylie Duff Takes a Screen Staycation

Haylie Duff discusses her support for the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition’s recent campaign and her directorial debut.

Maya Koshaba: Finding Your Place on the Stage

Texas-born actress Maya Koshaba discusses diversity in the entertainment industry and her performance at the Act One: One Act Festival.

“Haylie Duff Takes a Screen Staycation” photo courtesy of Haylie Duff. “Swan Songs Returns With its Annual Serenade” photo courtesy of Swan Songs. “Maya Koshaba: Finding Your Place on the Stage” photo by Sergio Garcia.

14 | AUSTIN WOMAN | OCTOBER 2022 Can’t get enough of this issue? Check us out at atxwoman.com. FOLLOW US @austinwoman FOLLOW US @ austinwoman LIKE US austinwoman C onnect WITH US Don’t forget to visit and subscribe to the Austin Woman YouTube channel!

Celebrating 20 Years!

Austin Woman’s 20th anniversary party was full of love and surprises.

Photos by Wright Captures, Joi Conti and Cy White.
15 C onnect WITH US

What’s your favorite Halloween memory?

Who doesn’t love Halloween? We at Austin Woman certainly do!

Spooky season. The second-best season of all (Christmas being the first, obviously). If you are like me, there are many favorite memories. Bits and pieces of moments in time, of the Halloween season. Recently one of my favorite memories was of this past year. My son, newly 6, decided that he wanted to be Buzz Lightyear. This was the first year he truly understood trick-ortreating and haunted houses. We spent the whole night going up and down the streets to every house. Even when he was so tired he was struggling to walk, he didn’t want to stop. The best part of all is the day before, my boyfriend and I decided to go to a Halloween rave in matching Buzz Lightyear outfits, so Halloween night all three of us matched.



Halloween is my absolute FAVORITE holiday, so as you can imagine I had a lot of fun memories to choose from. I decided to go with a more recent memory from my girlfriend and my second Halloween together (2021). We did a total of three costumes over the course of that weekend: 1) a classic spooky witch and skeleton; 2) a Y2K take on Blue and Magenta (from Blue’s Clues); and 3) each other! I went as Carrie, from the 1976 movie, and she went as Anne Boleyn. The last one was one of my favorite costumes to date. Have you ever done a full face of makeup, put on a tiara and then covered the whole thing with fake blood? It’s weirdly cathartic, highly recommend!



Halloween is the season for sweet treats including apple crisp, candy corn and pecan pie. Although my house was constantly filled with desserts no matter the time of year, my home smelled like a bake shop during the month of October. My favorite memory was coming home from a gruesome school day to the delightful aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon and chai. As I turned the corner to the kitchen, to my delight, a freshly baked pumpkin bread sat on top of the stove. Although I dreamt of tearing apart the soft loaf, I wouldn’t dare try it without my mother’s permission. Halloween wouldn’t be the same without my mom’s delicious pumpkin bread, made with love and sprinkled with a generous amount of brown sugar!

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On Surviving Grief

In this iteration of our classic “Women in Numbers,” Jessica Wetterer gives her personal “numbers” and thoughts on grief.

Age 10

“He’s dead. He’s dead.” My mom’s voice sobs into the middle of the night, into the family room containing my two sisters and me. We are 10, 12 and 14 years old. She has just come back from the hospital, where my dad had been taken after collapsing during a basketball game. He never got up; we never got to say goodbye. My mother is now a single mom, raising my sisters and teaching us how to take care of ourselves.

Age 30

“Just stay on the phone with me.” I am visiting my family in Kentucky when my boyfriend of five years calls me and tells me he tried to hang himself. The line goes dead. I call 911 in a panic and wait. My mom wakes up to my sobs and holds me. He is okay, but I am not. This is not the first, nor second time. I cannot live in this darkness anymore. I tell his family what has happened and ask his friends to check on him. I move out.


Age 34

“Dave’s dead.” My sister gently tells me over the phone line. It is 1 a.m. in California, and I am with my husband, visiting friends. I cry into the night—my stepdad, my bonus dad, is gone. He wasn’t sick for very long before he died in a blur of difficult breathing. An hour before, I asked my mom to tell him that I love him. I fly back to Kentucky the next day to be with her and my sisters.


The darkest hours pass the slowest. It never feels like the light will come. But with the persistence of family and friends and time, so much time, comes daylight. Slowly, life’s devastations numb to make its gifts brighter. The sun rising, the stars at night, hugs with loved ones become that much more precious. On the other side of grief is survival.


Housing for All

Phyllis Snodgrass is dedicated to upholding Austin’s uniqueness by providing housing for all in need.

Phyllis Snodgrass has an extensive background in business and the public domain through her role as the chief operating officer for the Austin Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO of Chambers of Commerce in San Marcos, Victoria and Athens, TX, and her leadership position in the Texas Association of Businesses. Her compassion and commitment to the Austin community is evident. Her vibrancy for Austin’s unique mixture of people is why, in her opinion, accessible and affordable housing is of paramount importance to the community as a whole. Austin is comprised of a population dedicated to ingenuity, art and individuality; housing should never stand in their way.

You have been CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity for many years. In your opinion, what is the greatest barrier to affordable housing in the community?

I was just testifying in front of a Senate committee this week on this very thing. There are a lot of different pieces to the puzzle, and there

is always a need for housing. When Habitat for Humanity started 37 years ago here in Austin, for a lot of folks in the community, affordable housing became attainable for them. More recently, not just here but across the country, the split between incomes rising and cost of living has grown so exponentially. It’s just diverged so much and the gap has grown wider and wider. More people now fall into a space where they actually qualify for [our] housing; folks who would never previously qualify for Habitat for Humanity housing back when the program was founded are. It’s the reality of the world we are in today. It costs a lot to reduce housing, for rental or ownership, and we are a home ownership organization. Income levels are just rising across the board, as fast as the cost of home ownership. We are serving people we have never served before, and we are using all available tools through partnerships, collaborations and trying to affect policy. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to produce and more needed than ever. Recently, we just advertised

Photos courtesy of Austin Habitat for Humanity.

available housing on a track of land that used to be owned by the Austin Independent School District this spring. We put out that we were building these homes, and within two days, we had over 1,000 applications for 30 homes. That was with one press release, no advertising at all. The need is just extraordinary.

How has the pandemic increased the need for housing?

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way things were. There are more people who are now able to work from home. Remote work has become more of a “thing” [since] before the pandemic, and if people don’t have a space to do it, it’s not feasible. People are also trying to work in more crowded conditions. Mom is sleeping on a couch, with several kids in one bedroom; you’re trying to work from home and homeschool. It was a struggle for a lot of families. For those of us that had a space to spread out, it’s a luxury. [The pandemic] drove up demand, and at the same

We are serving people we have never served before, and we are using all available tools through partnerships, collaborations and trying to affect policy. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to produce and more needed than ever.
—Phyllis Snodgrass
You can make a difference no matter where you are in life. You don’t have to be in nonprofits to make that difference.
—Phyllis Snodgrass
Phyllis Snodgrass receives the key to the City of Austin on Sept. 21, 2022.

time supply went down. We were building less during the pandemic, and expenses started going up, so there was not enough production with additional supply-chain issues. It was just a perfect storm. There was less being produced, costs and demand went up and more people were moving here. We saw a flood of business coming to Austin right on top of the pandemic. The demand is higher than ever, and I don’t see the prices dropping for any reason. There is a big gap between what the median income in Austin for a family of four—between $110,000 to $300,000—can afford versus what is being produced in the market. We are really the only builder in that range, that $175,000 to $275,000 range of affordability. This is not a place we ever anticipated being.

What can Austinites do to help remove barriers to affordable housing?

We need more housing at all levels. We need more housing, period, but when it comes to affordable housing, all we need to be successful is simply land and money. I’ve always said that jokingly, but it’s true. We also need that heart issue to be addressed. We need people to understand who it is that needs housing and welcome them into our neighborhoods. The people on building sites or residents need to be okay with it if we’re building affordable housing behind [them]. That’s so critical. The next portion of that is we’ve become a very gated community across the country. We have a lot of people who live behind gates and laws, people who have become secluded. As we self-exclude ourselves from the community, people tend to become afraid of what they don’t know.

The truth of the matter is people who are renting or buying affordable housing are dental hygienists, people who work at the City of Austin, at the University of Texas, at our hospitals and our schools. All those [businesses] are employers of the people we serve. We also have musical artists and graphic design artists. A band who travels around the world just bought one of our homes. They’re wonderful. These people are the fabric of our community; we have to make room. They are what make Austin special.

Do you have any advice for women in the nonprofit sector?

I’d tell them two things. One, you can make a difference no matter where you are in life. You don’t have to be in nonprofits to make that difference. For example, you can run businesses well that take care of the community. I do encourage people to lean into whatever space they currently are. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I’m also a part of a CEO advising faith-based group, C12. It’s been great to have a community that will hold me accountable. That has been tremendously helpful for me. You cannot run a business well if you don’t take good care of yourself as a leader to set a good example for your people. This has been a journey and a joy for me.


Surviving a Career Pivot

Three steps to getting the job you really want.

Losing a job and moving are two of the top five most stressful life events. While a career pivot might be a choice you’re voluntarily making (if it’s not due to job loss), it’s still a major life event that can cause high anxiety. If you’re looking to make a career pivot, here are some ways to make it an easier and less stressful process.

1. Conduct informational interviews and build your network. Whether you want to stay in the same industry and start your own business or change fields altogether, nothing will be more helpful than talking to people in that industry or who have been through the same process you’re about to start. Take them to coffee or schedule a Zoom call and ask them lots of questions you’ve prepared ahead of time so you can make sure you’re getting the information you need. You’ll be surprised how many people will be willing to share their experiences—the good, the bad and the ugly.

This has an added bonus: You’ll have a relationship with someone who could possibly help you land that new job. Start with people you know and branch out to contacts you might have on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy to ask for 20 minutes of someone’s time. Just be clear this is strictly informational and you’re not asking for anything else. At the end of each

conversation, ask if there are two or three people they could connect you with who may also be willing to share their experience. This alone could land you a job. Remember the old adage: “Ask for a job and people give you advice. Ask for advice and people will give you a job.”

2. Revise your resume to reflect your dream career. If you’re looking for a total career pivot, then you’ll likely need to seriously revise your resume to put the skills necessary for this new career up top. First, make a list of all the activities, volunteer work, hobbies and jobs you’ve had and the skills you’ve gained through those experiences. Once you have a list of all your skills, both work and non-work related, search job descriptions in the career you’re interested in and see what their top requirements are. When you create your resume, make sure you include those requirements toward the top under summary and experience. If you’re looking to move to a new industry, it’s likely you have some experience that has helped prepare you for that career, so highlight it.

3. Consider creating content to show off your knowledge. Almost everyone today is a content creator to some degree. If you have a social media account you keep up with semi-regularly, then you have the skills needed to start creating content to show off the relevant skills you have for the career switch. You can start with blog-style musings that you share on LinkedIn. If writing isn’t your forte, consider a podcast or an Instagram account that highlights your skills. Keep it professional, but authentic.

Imagining an entire career change can feel monumental, stressful and high-risk. But by doing research, getting to know your own skills better by writing them down and sharing your knowledge in a deliberate way, you will find it much more manageable and even fun.

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Pathways to Financial Freedom

Lourdes Zuniga paves a path toward financial literacy.

Financial literacy advocate Lourdes Zuniga was raised in a family of writers who instilled philanthropic values. Her parents taught her at a young age that not everyone has the same access to resources. “Naturally, I broke into nonprofits because that is something my family has always been passionate about,” Zuniga says. “I was brought up to look at people and consider how I could open doors for them.” After graduating from university with a communications degree, Zuniga left her home country of Peru for the unfamiliar city of Austin. She worked in restaurants and hospitals before partnering with Financial Health Pathways (FHP). Her organization helps vulnerable communities navigate societal hurdles.

Honored for her leadership, Zuniga has dedicated her life to serving low-income communities. She helps people overcome obstacles she learned from personal experience when she first arrived in the United States 20 years ago. Although originally employed in the hospitality industry, she transitioned her energy toward nonprofits half a decade ago. As the executive director of Financial Health Pathways, she has helped more than 15,000 people build financial literacy and confidence through various outreach programs.

FHP is a nonprofit organization that teaches money management to underserved and neglected communities. Originally an organization focused on content delivery, Zuniga “recently rebranded the organization to add an arm of advocacy and awareness of critical issues in the financial space.” As the visionary behind the operation, she creates service opportunities, initiates fundraising events and develops relationships with policymakers. She invests her energy toward “helping communities have better services that are fair and not based on assumptions.” Zuniga fights for systemic changes that will aid future generations in achieving financial security.

She recently collaborated with Sen. Carol Alvarado to create a bill that established a financial education class for Texas public high school students. “For me, personally, as a Latina immigrant, being able to move legislation is something that I am very proud

Photos courtesy of Financial Health Pathways.
I was brought up to look at people and consider how I could open doors for them.
—Lourdes Zuniga

of,” Zuniga says. “It was an honor that the senator learned about my work and wanted to write a bill with me.” Although Senate Bill 1063 was approved, her work is far from over. Zuniga now advocates to various state school boards to implement the course into their core curriculum.

Not only does she encourage children to prepare for their financial future, but she also assists adults through the awardwinning Financial Justice Program, a project that she refers to as her “pride and joy.” This court-mandated program educates individuals about the importance of having insurance and a driver’s license. After two years, the program has led to the dismissal of over 2,000 cases and over half a million dollars in fines. “The true issue is that we need to change policies and we need to change systems,” Zuniga says.

She has been awarded numerous accolades for her involvement with the local community and efforts to improve the livelihoods of others. Last year, she won the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power award, an honor that recognizes women based on their leadership and community engagement. She was also part of the exclusive group to be inducted into the Presidential Leadership Scholar program. “If somebody told me 20 years ago that I would be sitting with President Bill Clinton and President George Bush, I would not have believed them,” Zuniga admits.

While she is proud of her leadership and what she has accomplished, her goal is “to open doors for others and young people that need to see role models that look like them,” Zuniga says. “If you look at the demographics, Hispanics are not enrolling in college because they don’t see successful Hispanics in the media.” Her mission is to act as a catalyst for others like herself to build their own wealth and happiness by providing them with the necessary tools. “Hopefully, they can go higher than I have,” Zuniga says. “If I can do that, my purpose in life has been fulfilled.”

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Photo by Joi Conti
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Photo by Jeanette Warner.

The Stories We Wear

Bryan Anthonys changes the jewelry industry with poetry.

TRIGGER WARNING: This story makes mention of sexual assault and bullying. Reader discretion advised.

From its earliest days, jewelry has been more than just a status symbol or form of adornment. It’s been a protector and healer. A way to cherish a memory. A token of good luck. A story passed down through generations.

“I lost my grandma when I was 6 years old,” says Amber Glassman, founder and CEO of Bryan Anthonys Jewelry. “She was my person. She had given me this pearl necklace, and it meant so much to me. Later, I thought, ‘It’s amazing how jewelry holds stories for us.’”

At 6 years old, Glassman knew nothing about jewelry other than she treasured the piece from her grandmother. But she was already very familiar with loss and how it can affect people in so many ways. As long as Glassman can remember, she’s been grieving the death of her older brother. He died of bacterial meningitis when he was only 1 ½ years old, before Glassman was even born. Unlike her older sister, she never got a chance to hug him, touch him or see him.

“His shadow is all around me, but I can’t catch it; I can’t hold it because I never got to meet him,” she says.

All Glassman can hold on to is his name. She and her husband, Edward— whom she met at an eighth-grade party—have opened and closed 15 different businesses with names like Fish Finders, Book the Beat and Punching Bag Warehouse—names generated from frequently searched Google terms. But it was their jewelry business that finally succeeded.

Sometimes she wonders if her brother, Bryan Anthony, had something to do with it.

“I always wanted to name a business after him because he never got to create a legacy himself,” she explains. She sits at the sleek conference table at the front of the warehouse for Bryan Anthonys Jewelry, which occupies an expansive space in a long strip mall near The Domain. Surrounding her are words written on placards and posters, words Glassman has written for the moments in life that can leave you speechless, words that have connected millions of customers with her jewelry line.


“The day we first started getting real orders for Bryan Anthonys was Sept. 7, 2015,” she recalls. Then, a revelation that induces goosebumps, “Sept. 7 was also the date of my brother’s passing.”

That day was the beginning of a success story that Amber and Edward still have a hard time believing. It was only seven years ago, when they moved to Austin with big plans and a small savings account they intended to drain to start their new business. Renting a tiny apartment at The Domain, they got to work designing jewelry in notepads and finding a manufacturer. Despite their business savvy, gained from many failed attempts to hit the entrepreneur jackpot, they quickly realized they had overestimated how far their savings would stretch and underestimated how competitive the jewelry market was. With virtually no sales and burning cash faster than they could make it, Amber sat down with Edward and determined it was time to pivot.

“I said, ‘What if I write poetry that comes with the jewelry? What If I make a friendship necklace?’”

Edward was doubtful. A friendship necklace seemed like jewelry small kids would want, not their target market of women looking for adventure. But Amber was insistent. Her idea was a nontraditional friendship necklace with two pieces of an arrow—symbolism only the wearers would understand, because it would relate to the words that came with it. It would set Bryan Anthonys apart, make their product more than just another piece of jewelry.

Edward finally agreed, and Soul Sisters was born.

“Once in a while someone comes into your life and changes everything,” wrote Glassman in the Soul Sisters description. “They will cheer you up when you are down, laugh with you until your stomach hurts and make you feel at home when you are far away. No matter the distance, she will follow your arrow— wherever it may go.”

Once they had their design and the meaning of the piece typed on a notecard (that would arrive with the jewelry), they put out an ad on social media and waited for a sale.

On Sept. 7, for the first time since moving to Austin and founding Bryan Anthonys, the couple heard their phones dinging with orders. Within 24 hours, they had sold 20 pieces, which at that point in their business felt like a viral hit.

“I was completely shocked,” recalls Edward. “I never in a million years would have thought it resonated with people the way it did.”

“We called our manufacturer immediately and told him we were on to something,” Amber says with a smile. “He said it would take a few weeks, so we created a preorder function, promising to deliver by a certain date even though we had no idea how to make that happen yet.”

Seven years and 2 million pieces of jewelry sold later, Amber and Edward can hardly believe where they’ve taken the company. From shipping their first pieces out of their apartment to moving into their 25,000-square-foot facility with a 50-person staff, the Bryan Anthonys co-founders are anomaly Austin entrepreneurs. They’ve never taken an investment, and they still own 100% of their company, which hit $22 million in sales last year.

“We had a sticker on our desk that said by 2020, Bryan Anthonys will reach a million in revenue,” says Edward. “It’s crazy to see how big it’s grown, something that we created.”

It’s been more than just a business success story. Amber’s writings for each line of jewelry have touched on issues from grief to grit to surviving experiences that are often kept silent. This very public journal has allowed her to rise from her own darkness and give light to others who are still unseen.

LOCATION: ARCHER HOTEL Texas Chic. Luxe Boutique.

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“Standing in my truth, I take back the sky that’s mine, for beautiful creatures can never be confined. No longer hiding the scars beneath my skin, I reclaim the power of my wings. Soaring into the night, so that others may find my light—reminding the world that fallen feathers still fly. You cannot keep something down that was meant to rise.” (Excerpt from “Rise,” Bryan Anthonys)

For many teenagers, a journal or diary is the one place they can express all the confusing thoughts and emotions those tumultuous years bring. For Amber, journaling was a lifeline through a very dark period of sadness, shame and fear. It was where she could write the words she couldn’t yet speak to her friends and family.

“When I was 16, I was drugged and raped at a party,” Amber reveals. “That’s how I lost my virginity. I was raised Catholic, and that was supposed to be what I did with my husband, and this person I didn’t know took it from me.”

Amber didn’t tell anyone about the assault for 10 years. Not when she was late for her period a month later (but luckily wasn’t pregnant). Not when she couldn’t find the perpetrator, didn’t know his name or where he went to school. Not when two weeks after the rape, in an unrelated incident, she became the victim of bullying.

“There was a girl who looked like me, and this topless photo of her had come out. A girl at another school said it was me. So I started getting these Myspace messages of ‘whore,’ ‘slut’ and all of these other derogatory names. It was so hard for me because it was after my sexual assault, when I was at my most vulnerable.”

Feeling alone and isolated, Amber wrote relentlessly, hoping the words spilling on the page could wash away the sadness inside her. It worked enough to get her through the hardest years. When she founded Bryan Anthonys, she knew other women needed to know they weren’t alone. Someone else could put into words the feelings that were trapped inside of them.


One doesn’t constantly offer words of encouragement without getting them in return. That’s where the Bryan Anthonys “kind words” Slack channel comes into play. Director of Customer Experience Stacey McKee’s favorite part of her job is getting emails and messages from grateful customers. Words every staff member needs to read to remember they work for something much bigger than a jewelry business.

“I made my first purchase from your company of an Always in My Heart necklace for my daughter after her husband passed away. He was only 28, and she was only 26

years old. Before he passed, they thought they had their whole lives ahead of them. The words that were on the card that came with the necklace seem to say everything that I was at a total loss to say. Thank you.” – Kimberly C.

“I just wanted to thank Amber for the words she wrote for the Pause necklace. My son died from an accidental Fentanyl exposure along with his girlfriend and his roommate. Needless to say, this has been a very hard four months. I received the necklace as a gift from one of his best friends on his birthday last week. The gesture was so nice, but those words sum up exactly what my nights (and days) are like. I haven’t taken it off since I got it and find myself touching it frequently throughout the day. I just wanted you to know I appreciate someone knowing what this awful experience feels like.” – Lisa K.

Coming from a corporate background, where words of affirmation were rare and customer appreciation nonexistent, McKee says she was shocked when she started working for Bryan Anthonys in 2017 and discovered the impact the then-small jewelry company was having.

“I came on board thinking it was a startup, a young company, and I can fill in when needed,” she recalls. “I was looking to fill in the time when my daughter was at school. Within two months, I realized this wasn’t just two young people starting a jewelry company. They had a passion and purpose. When you’re asked to get on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You get on. I haven’t looked back.”

McKee believes part of the company’s success is due to the culture its founders have created. Familyfriendly and insistent on a work-life balance, Amber and Edward, who have their own little girl at home, knew they could only succeed by creating a workplace people didn’t want to leave. All female, except for Edward, the warehouse floor is teaming with moms scanning and packaging pieces to send out to customers, seasoned designers working on new looks to accompany Amber’s words and creatives finding the right images to capture the essence of the story.

“You need to find people who believe in your brand and your vision as much as you do,” says Amber, as she gives a tour of the building, greeting each staff member with a smile. “People are what make a brand. You can’t do it alone.”

Far from the days of fulfilling orders in an airless garage or getting chastised by the postmaster for filling the city’s mail drop-off bins with orders (she quickly learned how to dropship), Amber is now surrounded by a team of enthusiastic women ready to take Bryan Anthonys to the next level—home decor, books, seminars and more. But there is one thing she must still do alone: connect with her heart to come up with the right words for profound moments and life


experiences. Each theme takes months to compose, with rewrites and revisions, staff feedback and researching what her customers need to hear. Like all writers, sometimes Amber will get writer’s block, unable to put pen to paper.

That’s when McKee sends her the kind words.

“She’s a writer and a person,” says McKee. “Whenever I know she is struggling to find the words, I’ll send her something a customer has written to remind her to keep going. People need it.”

This is for the mom who buried her child with the other half of the You Are My Sunshine necklace, the daughter who said Amber’s words in “Beautifully Broken” saved her life when she was going through a deep depression. It’s for the women overcoming breast cancer, celebrating their tribe with the words and symbols Bryan Anthonys created for just that need.


“And in the midst of heartache, she decides that she can either dwell in her disasters or she can learn to weather them—she can let the storm break her or she can let it build her…And despite the aches of her journey, she is led to a place only she can find—a place of courage, a place of beauty, a place of becoming. This is what it means to overcome. This is what it means to survive. (Excerpt from “Overcome,” Bryan Anthonys Jewelry)

The impact of losing a child is earth-shattering. The weight of the pain can make movement impossible. To use that devastation as a catalyst for good takes immeasurable strength. That’s why Amber’s mom became her greatest inspiration. Unable to bring her son back and devastated by the loss, she turned her pain and darkness into a light for others. The only thing in her control was her response, and she responded with love, working in health care and taking care of other children who were severely ill, giving solace and comfort to those with none left.

From an early age, Amber learned two important lessons: life is short, and loss or failure is an obstacle, but not the end of the road.

It’s why she didn’t give up after 15 side gigs that didn’t pan out, or when nobody was buying her initial jewelry pieces or while she was up all night fulfilling orders out of her apartment, unable to afford help.

“Sometimes we get so caught up with not starting because we are afraid to fail, but I feel sometimes that failure is our best teacher,” she says.

As she creates a legacy in honor of her brother, Amber is determined to make Bryan Anthonys more than just a product company, but a place where people can find hope and healing. She’s learned the secret to a successful business is connecting with the customer on a raw, personal level. It’s sharing your own secrets so they feel free to share theirs, building a team with purpose, having the courage to believe change can start with you.

“Find your inner strength and let it light the fire in you. Remember that you do not need a giant flame to set a fire—all you need is a tiny spark.” (Excerpt from “Strength,” Bryan Anthonys)

Find your inner strength and let it light the fire in you. Remember that you do not need a giant flame to set a fire—all you need is a tiny spark.
—(Excerpt from “Strength,” Bryan Anthonys)

Keeping Austin companies SAFE

When a local business was rocked by tragedy, SAFE Alliance helped them create a pledge to keep the workplace safe.

TRIGGER WARNING: This article shares details of domestic violence, the shooting death of a woman and suicide. Reader discretion advised.

Austin-based company Voltage Control suffered an unimaginable tragedy last year when they discovered the loss of their employee and friend Jennifer “Jenni” Robertson to family violence. Thirty-six-year-old Robertson and her 6-year-old son were found fatally shot in their home last October. According to the Austin Police Department, after shooting Robertson and their son, her husband took his own life. Robertson, who was the company’s head of operations, was not just an employee but a friend.

“It was deeply tragic for the entire company. She and Douglas [Ferguson], our founder, were very, very close friends in addition to being coworkers,” says Rowan Halliday, operations manager at Voltage Control. “She had an incredible impact on the company. She had been designing all the processes and systems, and so when that happened it understandably shook the entire company both on a professional and an emotional level. She’d been a friend to everybody here.”

With their grief, Voltage Control made the decision to proactively avoid letting a tragedy like this occur again. After a grief counselor provided service and helped build the healing process amongst Robertson’s coworkers and friends, the company decided to partner with The SAFE Alliance, an Austin-based organization whose mission is their name: to “stop abuse for everyone.” SAFE offers prevention, advocacy and services for those who have been affected by abuse.

“One of the most powerful things you can do with grief is turn it into action,” says Halliday. So that’s what Voltage Control did.

Eloise House Sexual Assult Forensic Exam Center

Beginning with a belief that it is everyone’s responsibility to support those living with abuse, Voltage Control developed the SAFE Pledge as a result of their partnership with SAFE.

In honor of Robertson’s memory, SAFE Pledge promises to provide resources and training to companies who take the pledge, in order to learn how to prevent these tragedies in the future.

“The goal of [SAFE Pledge] is to help organizations and individuals be able to recognize abuse,” says Julia Spann, SAFE’s chief executive officer. “To create safer workplaces and whenever possible, to have more people understand it, recognize it and work to intervene or prevent it.”

Halliday joined the Voltage Control team in January and quickly jumped on to the project of working on the pledge. She has been instrumental in the project since she joined.

“Immediately Douglas asked me, ‘Do you want to be a part of this?’” says Halliday. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I am very passionate about this issue, and I began helping pull some of the ideas into concrete structures. We collaborated with SAFE on the language of everything. We had a lot of great meetings with the folks over at SAFE to get the intent turned into reality.”

When organizations take the pledge via the SAFE Pledge website, they are able to publish their own internal policies to implement. Organizations are encouraged to share these policies in order to promote the Pledge and keep the conversation surrounding abuse and abuse prevention going.

Voltage Control has worked on policies that are informed by their own experience and by their collaboration with SAFE. These policies include a no-questions-asked employee emergency fund, revisions to their confidentiality policy and a requirement of multiple emergency contacts.

“When Douglas was trying to figure out what was happening on the day that Jenni died, the only emergency contact we had for her was her husband. So, we’re actually initiating a policy of asking our employees for two emergency contacts,” says Halliday. “Like most of the policies that are coming out that we’re building in response to the SAFE Pledge, they have broader applications than just family violence. For example, if an employee is traveling with a partner and something happens, if that partner is the emergency contact, we wouldn’t know who else to call.”

Companies who take the pledge will nominate at minimum two employees to become SAFE ambassadors, who will receive comprehensive resources and training from SAFE to implement into their company. Companies with fewer than eight employees may nominate, at minimum, one person.

“The second part [of the pledge] is to make a commitment to send employees through what we call base training,” says Spann. “That’s really about achieving a safe environment.”

The nominated employees will go through base training with SAFE and review their organization’s policies to ensure they are trauma-informed and effective. The training is a total of three hours long and costs $500 a seat.

Organizations interested in taking the SAFE Pledge can visit safepledge.org for more information. For 24/7 support, SAFE provides advocates on call via their SAFEline at 512.267.7233 (SAFE).

The goal of [SAFE Pledge] is to help organizations and individuals be able to recognize abuse. To create safer workplaces and whenever possible, to have more people understand it, recognize it and work to intervene or prevent it.

“For all of us, as humans, we are going to at some point in our lives run into somebody who has been hurt by abuse; maybe it’s sexual abuse; maybe it’s domestic violence,” says Spann. “Being able to know what to say to this person and how to respond is always very helpful.”

The training SAFE provides teaches participants how to recognize the warning signs of domestic abuse and then how to have conversations surrounding the abuse, especially with potential victims. The training provides the space for people to practice open conversations, which are often avoided due to feelings of discomfort.

“We can introduce how to have conversations with people that don’t scare them off or make them feel ashamed or that it’s their fault,” says Spann. “We can help people really understand wording that can be used, that is supportive and engaging and never, ever shaming.”

The fight to end abuse doesn’t stop at training. The pledge encourages companies to stay continuously involved with SAFE, or any similar organization dedicated to fighting family violence local to them, if not in Austin.

“Sometimes you have an employee who is experiencing family violence; they don’t know what’s going to happen if they talk to their manager about it,” says Halliday. “They don’t know what’s going to happen if they ask for a few extra days off to move out of

a dangerous situation; they don’t know to expect any empathy. If an organization has specifically taken the time to take this pledge, designate representation, make training and resources available, then somebody who’s experiencing family violence can have that expectation that there’s a safe place to talk about it.”

In Texas alone, the Texas Council on Family Violence reported that 183 women were killed by male intimate partners in 2020. (This is in addition to the 40 men killed by female intimate partners or the five people killed by a partner of the same sex.) In 2019, the Austin Police Department and Travis County Sheriff’s Office reported a combined total of over 9,600 family violence cases. In 2017, the Texas Department of Safety recorded over 195,000 reported cases of family violence alone. According to SAFE, 1 in 3 Texans may face family violence in their life.

“Although domestic violence is extraordinarily common and prevalent, the business sector frequently doesn’t know about it and would not know what to do,” says Spann. “[The pledge] will make for a stronger, safer, more united workplace that helps people feel respected and cared for.”

Unfortunately, Voltage Control was not unique when it came to a lack of resources and training surrounding family violence. That’s where the idea of the SAFE Pledge began—a need to provide resources that weren’t there before. Participating companies have

Claire Redfield, Expect Respect Theatre Manager, guiding the Changing Lives Youth Theatre

access to tools and structures that support employees who may be experiencing or exposed to abuse at home. Taking the pledge helps companies avoid the potential grief that domestic abuse can bring. The pledge also raises awareness of the prevalence and pervasiveness of family violence, allowing victims to be heard and cared for. When signed, company leaders affirm their support to their employees.

“Using a workplace focus is the first time this has been done,” says Spann. “Truthfully, the impetus of it was brilliantly completed by Voltage Control after their workplace was shattered.”

In addition to the pledge, Voltage Control and SAFE launched a $5,000 scholarship for survivors of domestic abuse as a way to provide tools for financial freedom. The scholarship covers the cost of Voltage Control’s facilitator certification training program.

“For someone who has experienced family violence, it can be a great opportunity to build job skills they might not otherwise

have, as well as to build personal and professional skills,” says Halliday. “When someone has been in a situation where they’re experiencing family violence, often financial abuse is an aspect of it; sometimes people who have been in situations like that don’t have the ability to find jobs that allow them to support themselves.

“If we don’t talk about family violence, if we don’t talk about how we can support one another, more tragedies like Jenni will happen,” Halliday continues. “The only way to prevent situations like that and to prevent other organizations from experiencing that level of grief and loss is to bring forward discussion and policy, and the best way to do that is to speak openly about the importance of supporting survivors and the importance of reaching out and being aware. We will not end family violence, we will not end abusive situations unless people are willing to be open and talk about them. We all have the capacity to end family violence. We all have to work together and speak out.”





Dr. Erin Winston is an expert in all matters of breast health. She provides full-spectrum breast care from technologybased breast cancer imaging and its life-endorsing abilities to the emotional aspects of breast pain and its physical release. A native Texan, Winston completed a breast imaging fellowship at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and then joined Rose Imaging Specialists, the nation’s largest group of dedicated breast imaging specialists. In 2014, she co-founded Austin Breast Imaging where she uses mammography, ultrasound and contrast-enhanced mammography to promote breast health.

Why get a mammogram?

A woman chooses to get a mammogram not because her doctor tells her to, but because she has an innate drive to stay alive and healthy—for herself and her loved ones.

How can women overcome the fear of a mammogram?

Breasts are the physical embodiment of our nurturing forces. A mammogram is a tool of empowerment for women. Mammographic screening employs physics and technology to look inside the body for information and early signs of distress. This knowledge is power.

Why should someone come to Austin Breast Imaging?

It makes a difference who reads your mammogram. As breast imaging specialists, we harness the best of physics, medicine, education and compassion to support the nurturing spirit of women for self-healing and longevity.

Austin Breast Imaging has the most advanced women’s imaging centers in Texas. We are pioneers in mammographic techniques that most other imaging centers do not offer. When you have your mammogram with us, you will experience a peaceful, spa-like atmosphere with a staff dedicated solely to breast health. Austin Breast Imaging is now open on Saturdays!

A woman chooses to have a mammogram because she is strong; she chooses to come to Austin Breast Imaging because she is wise.

512.776.1000 | AUSTIN3DMAMMO.COM

My Dell Children’s doctor is the best!”

The most pediatric specialists and specialties

Every day, Dell Children’s doctors deliver some of the world’s best pediatric heart care, most advanced brain and spine care and life-changing pediatric medical breakthroughs. We are leading pediatric cancer care with clinical trials for better outcomes. And moms and dads count on us for the most comprehensive fetal care for their new babies.

When your child needs care, you shouldn’t have to travel far or wait long to visit with pediatric specialists. That’s why at Dell Children’s at Ascension Seton, we’re always expanding to bring more care to Central Texas children and families. Start a conversation with a pediatrician or a pediatric specialist today and get the most advanced, most compassionate, and most personalized care for your child and your family.

Only in Austin.

Only at Dell Children’s.


Coming in 2023 New state-of-the-art, full-service hospital on our North campus

Coming this fall Expanded specialty care with a new multi-specialty clinic in North Austin and a new hospital bed tower

New and now open Dell Children’s Specialty Pavilion, Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, Specialized Delivery Unit and High-Risk Obstetrics Clinic

© Ascension 2022. All rights reserved.


Nicole Petro is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in medical and surgical dermatology as well as performs cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, filler injections, microneedling, IPL and PRP injections for hair rejuvenation. She received her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine, and her Master of Science in physician assistant studies from Western University of Health Sciences. Petro is a member of prestigious organizations including the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants and Texas Academy of Physician Assistants.

Common Skin Conditions for People of Color

People of color tend to have more melanin, and the more melanin the body produces, the darker the eyes, hair and skin will be. It is a common misconception that if you have darker skin, you don’t need to wear sunscreen. Though skin with more melanin is less prone to sunburns in comparison to that with less, there are other skin changes that can occur within this skin type when it is not protected.

What is Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra?

Without the use of sunscreen, Asian, Hispanic and Black skin can develop tiny brown or black raised spots on sun-exposed areas called dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN). These tiny spots are harmless, however, over time can increase and are often a cosmetic concern, especially when they are on the face. DPNs also have a genetic component with close family members having very similar spots. DPNs can be prevented through sun avoidance and sunscreen.

What are Solar Lentigines?

Another common concern is sunspots, also known as solar lentigines (SL). These brown spots tend to also be on sunexposed areas including the face, torso, arms and legs. In comparison to DPNs, these brown spots are flat and not raised. Solar lentigines usually are small, however, can grow to be quite large and can become a cosmetic concern when they occur on the face. Solar lentigines tend to get darker in the summer due to prolonged sun exposure and lack of sun protection.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is much larger flat brown patches that commonly occur on the cheeks, forehead and sometimes the upper lip. This type of brown discoloration is often associated with pregnancy and is referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Both women with darker and lighter skin types can also develop melasma if they use estrogen-containing contraception such

as oral contraceptives, IUDs, NuvaRing or Depo-Provera. The use of sunscreen is important to prevent melasma as this condition is very difficult to treat. If these brown patches are noticed, it is recommended to seek timely treatment, which could give the best chance of improvement.

How can I prevent an uneven skin tone? DPNs, SLs and melasma can all be prevented by sun avoidance as well as sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVA “aging rays” can cause photoaging (aka wrinkles), and UVB “burning rays” can cause sunburns that can lead to skin cancers. The AAD also recommends that sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher, the amount of sunscreen applied to the skin should fill a shot glass (1 ounce) and the application should occur 15 minutes before sun exposure, then reapplied every one to two hours.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

I advise all my patients to use sunscreen containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as this type of sunscreen sits on the surface of the skin and blocks the sun. A common complaint with physical sunscreen, especially for people of color, is that it leaves a “white residue” on their skin. There are cosmetically elegant physical sunscreens, like those from EltaMD, which do not leave a noticeable white residue and in fact blend in seamlessly with darker skin. The simple use of sunscreen not only protects your skin from developing skin cancers but also can prevent these cosmetically concerning pigmentation disorders. If you have any concerns with new moles or growths, interests in learning more about the best sunscreens and/or need help with any of the medical conditions listed above, please contact Tru-Skin Dermatology for an appointment.

512.643.4384 | TRU-SKIN.COM

Put Yourself First.

ATXWOMAN.COM | SPECIAL PROMOTION | 51 In early stages, breast cancer shows no symptoms. Schedule your mammogram today. It may save your life. STDAVIDS.COM/BCA


How has surgical eye care changed in the last decade?

It has changed tremendously. For example, cataract surgery used to be a long, complex procedure, requiring stitches, an eye patch, long recovery times and thick cataract glasses following the surgery. Now we utilize laser-assisted cataract removal as well as premium lens implants. This allows surgeons to make cataract surgery safer, even more precise and better than ever before. With premium lens implants, patients having cataract removal surgery at Westlake Eye may be able to reduce or eliminate their need for glasses altogether. In fact, patients in most cases can see near, intermediate and in the distance without the need for glasses. Some patients might require reading glasses for the very small print, such as a medicine bottle or in dark settings.

Zarmeena Vendal, M.D. is a Harvard-trained and board-certified ophthalmologist and surgeon who is a diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology and the medical director and owner of Westlake Eye Specialists. She has practiced in Central Texas for over 15 years, has been voted Austin’s Top Doctor by her peers for multiple years in a row and she has been recognized as a “Woman to Watch” by Austin Woman magazine. Dr. Vendal has been a leader in LASIK laser vision correction, laser assisted-cataract removal, glaucoma treatment and the treatment of dry eye disease.

How are the results of LASIK now vs. the past?

In the past, LASIK was based solely on a patient’s prescription, but now we can measure for cornea curvature (topography) and higher order aberration, which is the unique way light is reflected in each individual’s eyes. At our office we use iDesign technology to measure the eye to perform a truly customized LASIK procedure. Combined with the safety and precision of the iFS advanced femtosecond laser, most patients see 20/20 or better after their all-laser LASIK procedure. LASIK today is so safe and so precise; it’s been approved by NASA and the U.S. Military for its astronauts and pilots. The first step for anyone who’s tired of wearing glasses and contacts and is thinking about LASIK is to schedule a free consultation in our office. During this consultation, we take several measurements of the eye to determine if someone is a good candidate for LASIK and go over the best options for their unique eyes and lifestyle.

512.472.4011 | WESTLAKEEYES.COM


Whether you’re in need of an errand to be run, an in-home caregiver, or medical home health or hospice care for a loved one, Halcyon Home’s seamless care delivery and attention to detail is unique and exceptional in every way. Halcyon Home can provide both medical and non-medical services in your place of residence. Using creative home solutions and highly trained personnel, Halcyon Home strives to create a tranquil, happy, peaceful life for you and your family.

Hospice Care | Palliative Care | Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care Home Health | Skilled Nursing | Therapy PT/OT/ST | Social Work Private Duty Caregivers | Transportation | Assistance with Medication Reminders Ph 512.815.9009 | Fax 512.233.5161 www.myhalcyonhome.com


At Ollie, we see every dog as an individual, and we’re committed to helping them thrive and live as long as canine-ly possible. It makes us a better business, a better company and, above all, better humans. Our pups are more than pets. They’re our best friends, our protectors, furry members of our family. They’ve got quirks and character that are unmatched, and they’ve got needs that are unique to them. We believe a dog’s health, happiness and longevity begins with their food—and superior ingredients with cooking techniques lead to the best nutrition.

Six Ingredients to Start Feeding Your Dog Right Now

Real Meat

When hunting for the right meals for your dog, choosing one where real meat like chicken or beef is listed as the first ingredient will ensure you’re getting the most bang for your pup, instead of filling their bowl with meat meals, byproducts and other highly processed ingredients.


Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots are rich in vitamins and minerals supporting a wide range of functions in dogs, including eye, skin and heart health. These veggies, as well as others like pumpkin and squash, are also chock-full of fiber, which aids in gut health, promoting healthy digestion in dogs.

Leafy Greens

A healthy dose of greens like kale and spinach can add some color and nutrients to their daily diet. Dark leafy greens are teeming with vitamins A through K, as well as beta carotene, which can help pups keep their skin healthy and their coats soft and shiny.


More than just a sweet snack, berries like blueberries, cranberries and strawberries can offer the daily dose of the antioxidants pups of all ages need to maintain strong immune systems and fight cancer-causing free radicals. Berries are also jam-packed with vitamin C, another key player in building immunity in pups (and people).

Whole Grains

Whole grains are rich in carbohydrates, which provide dogs with an immediate source of energy. Rice, quinoa and oats are particularly healthful and gentle on sensitive pup stomachs. But be on the lookout for filler grains like corn, wheat and soy, which add heft to your pup’s meals without bringing much to the table nutritionally.

Fish Oil

Ensuring your pup’s diet contains a good amount of healthy, unsaturated fats will benefit them pretty much snoot to tail. Fish oils and some seed oils like chia and hemp are high in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid beneficial to brain development and function, immunity, skin and coat, heart and kidney health and joint care in dogs of all ages.

Ollie’s One-Stop-Shop

Now, before you load up your grocery cart, you might be jazzed to know that Ollie packs all of these ingredients into easy-to-serve meals, delivered right to your door. With two tasty textures to choose from, fresh or baked, giving your pup what they need and what they want in one meal has never been simpler. Each recipe is made from 100% humangrade all-natural ingredients—no artificial flavors, fillers or preservatives to be found.

844.88.OLLIE (65543) | MYOLLIE.COM

Breast care experts that specialize in one thing:

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Stress, Addiction and Women’s Health

Women have always provided care for others, and women have always been powerful forces for change. But the weight of fulfilling multiple roles is causing women to fall into unhealthy habits and addiction more than ever before. We have seen the toll that being a caregiver has taken on women for years. The stress from these challenges can drive many women into unhealthy behaviors. However, this is starting to change, and women are taking control of their health like never before.

Let’s explore four dimensions of women’s health: physical, emotional/mental, spiritual, and relational. We will look further into how a thoughtful approach to wellbeing can help you take charge of your health.

Common Types of Addiction

It’s no secret that women face unique challenges when it comes to addiction. When dealing with societal pressure about image or the overwhelming stress of juggling work and family responsibilities, women can be susceptible to developing addictions that have adv erse health effects.

Physical Health

The physical effects of addiction are usually the most immediately apparent, and they can range from mild to life-threatening. For example, drinking too much alcohol can lead to liver damage, high blood pressure, weight gain and heart disease. Alcohol can also cause problems with fertility and pregnancy. Drug use can damage organs and the immune system. Exercise addiction and eating disorders can lead to injuries, mood swings, and obsessive thoughts about food and weight.

Emotional/Mental Health

Emotional and mental health can also be adversely affected by addiction in many ways. For instance, women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may suffer from anxiety, depression, and insomnia. This can also cause difficulty with concentration and decision-making. Plus, addiction can lead to financial problems and social isolation.


Spiritual Health

Addiction can have a profound effect on women’s spiritual health. If a woman is addicted to drugs, alcohol, food, or exercise, the addiction can take over her life and cause her to lose sight of her spiritual self. This can lead to feelings of emptiness, isolation, and despair. However, women can take steps to overcome addiction and reclaim their spiritual health by attending support groups, participating in therapy, spending time in nature, meditation, or yoga.

Relational Health

Relational health can be negatively affected by addiction in many ways. First, addiction can lead to financial problems, which can strain relationships and increase stress levels. Second, addiction can lead to dishonesty and secrecy, which can damage trust and communication. Third, addiction can lead to absenteeism, which can reduce the quality of time spent with loved ones. Finally, addiction can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, which can make it difficult to nurture relationships.

Addiction can take many different shapes, but the effects on women’s health are often uniformly negative. Keep in mind that millions of women struggle with addiction.

It is important for wo men to seek help if they might be struggling with addiction. Resources and organizations are available that provide drug and alcohol interventions, treatment planning and placement, addiction recovery coaching, sober companions, and sober transportation.

In addition, there are many avenues for recovery including therapy, support groups, and 12-step programs. With the right help, women can overcome addiction and improve their overall wellbeing. Always remember that you are not alone and there are people who care about your lif e and want to see you thrive.

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Living From Gratitude

Health and transformation coach Alison Canavan lives everyday in reverence.

Alison Canavan, named one of the top eight transformation coaches in the United States, has seemed to cram a lifetime of knowledge and experience into her career as a coach. But her journey into wellness and coaching started when she was living in New York as one of Ireland’s first supermodels.

“It was kind of a progressive journey,” Canavan recalls. “I started meditating in my late teens. There was something about meditation that, even though I found it challenging and difficult, it felt like home. Throughout my time in New York, I went through many years of living a double life. I was partying really hard, traveling around the world and then going on these weekend retreats where I was silent in rooms meditating for hours on end.

“I thought that going on retreats would fix me and help me live a more sustainable life, but it doesn’t work out that way,” Canavan confesses. “My interest in connecting the dots with health and well-being came from observing the relationship that girls, in particular, had to themselves and their bodies in the modeling industry. It was very rare that I came across a girl who was super happy and super healthy and really confident in her skin. I get that. Every day when you wake up and you’re doing castings, people are looking at just your size and measuring you, so it’s difficult not to operate from that space. I started studying nutrition toward the end of my career because the relationship I had with food, and most girls’ relationship with food, was not good.”

While the modeling industry spurred her interest in nutrition, it wasn’t until she returned home to Ireland at 32 years old to have her son that she kick-started her journey into well-being. She suffered from severe postpartum depression; however, her doctors had only one solution. “When I went to the doctor, they were like, ‘Oh, here’s more medication,’” Canavan recalls. “At this point, it wasn’t about me; it was about my son. I remember turning around to the doctor and saying, ‘I’m breastfeeding. Is this medication going to affect my child?’” Her doctor replied, “Go Google them, and the one that you feel is less harmful, I will prescribe.” “This is the answer I’ve gotten for decades, but there’s got to be another way. So I started to research. Gratitude was probably my biggest savior.”

She began working with a woman who ran a postnatal depression clinic in Ireland and encouraged Canavan to start writing a gratitude list every morning. “Being a new mom, being super vulnerable and not feeling good enough, it’s like the magnifying glass came out and all the insecurities I felt throughout my life suddenly became huge,” she recalls. “One of the things I was always told I was good at is that I was amazing with kids, and here I am struggling with my baby. It wasn’t until I started speaking about it that I got thousands of emails from women who were all like, ‘Thank you so much for talking about this. I feel the same way.’”

The support she felt from these women inspired her to write every morning. “Things like ‘I’m so happy I had a shower’; ‘I’m so happy and grateful I took the baby for a walk.’ It was the little, tiny things,” Canavan says. “My son [is] 12 in September, and every day for 12 years, I have kept gratitude. It is the most important part of starting my day. That was one of my biggest catalysts for truly transforming my energy and how I see the world.”

While Canavan progressed in her personal development work, she also trained as a master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and a health coach. “I teach people the art and science of transformation; I teach people the power lies within them. Each and every one of us has the power to create a life we love being in. Think of it like this: Most people design a life that they have to go on vacation for a year to escape from. Why not design a life you love being in?

“We’re creating our life moment by moment, choice by choice,” Canavan continues. “To me, that’s super liberating. Forget about the past—your next choice matters. You can change everything with one decision. Everything.”

Over the last decade of her career, Canavan has been compiling this knowledge of gratitude to fit into a single five-minute journal. “I am a great believer in small, consistent changes transforming your life,” she says. “It’s not about doing something for two hours on a Saturday. It’s how you’re showing up every day. My intention is always to help my clients include things in the day that are going to have the maximum benefit. I’m creating a different state of being to move into an energy of gratitude because then that’s the energy we put out. Win the morning, win the day. Let things go. Have a reflective practice in the evening, because we have to help ourselves come home to ourselves. We’re not learning anything. We’re remembering who we are on this journey.”

Photo by Dylan Townsend.
64 | AUSTIN WOMAN | OCTOBER 2022 Healing
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Four Reasons to Make Your Next Primary Care Appointment Today

Erica Swegler, M.D., implores women to take their primary care seriously.

Do you remember the last time you paid a visit to your primary care physician or advanced practice provider? If you skip this appointment, you may be missing important screenings that keep you out of the hospital and feeling your best day to day. As the pandemic kept many patients away from annual visits, it is important to get back on track with your health care. Regular visits with patients allow physicians to provide integrated care, watch out for chronic conditions and perform preventive screenings. According to CDC data, women aged 55 or older are more likely than men to have chronic conditions. Over 80% of women in this age range have a chronic condition, and 21% have three or more chronic conditions. Preventive care, especially if started when you are young, can make all the difference.

In my 35 years of serving as a primary care physician, I have seen the impact that primary care can have on a woman’s overall health. Here are four reasons you should make a primary care appointment today:

1. An annual primary care appointment provides a set time to receive screenings for chronic conditions. Patients should expect to have tests for prediabetes, hypertension and pulmonary issues, as well as important screenings and vaccinations. Primary care can also provide many of the services women would expect to receive at a gynecologist, like pap smears, contraception counseling and hormone replacement. Many health issues can be managed, or thwarted altogether, with the consistent support of a team focused on preventive care. Monitoring chronic conditions is increasingly important for both personal well-being and overall medical costs. Our country spends $4.1 trillion per year on health care, with 90% tied to patients with chronic and mental health conditions.

2. Developing a relationship with a primary care physician or advanced practice provider when you are healthy can set a baseline of understanding when you run into challenges. The tests you take annually at a primary care visit are a valuable tool to gauge changes in your health moving forward. If you only make appointments on an irregular basis when you face serious issues, you will miss the benefits of having a consistent record of your health over the years. In my practice, I emphasize the importance of building a relationship with a primary care clinician that is focused on all and only the right care for you. For my younger patients, I have found that it is especially important for them to pair this relationship with care that is easily accessible and convenient.

3. Primary care goes beyond just taking care of your physical health. A physician who gets to know you over time can be an important sounding board if you have questions about your mental health, family relationships or life stressors, like career or money challenges. My goal when working with patients is not just to meet quality metrics; it is to take care of the whole person. At Village Medical, we believe that taking care of the whole patient is key to their physical health outcomes, so we provide support for patients ranging from telehealth appointments with nutritionists to referrals for social workers.

4. An established relationship with a primary care physician or advanced practice provider can set you up for success when seeking referrals to specialists. I like to refer to primary care as a “preventive specialty.” But just because you are visiting a primary care physician does not mean you should be canceling your other medical appointments. Primary care should be the center of any patient’s health care journey, but it’s not the only element. Specialty providers have advanced training within their area of expertise and serve a key role alongside primary care. Visits to a specialist can allow for additional diagnostic tests and treatments to support chronic condition management. Primary care can also provide added support. For example, if one of my patients visits a dermatologist for a skin condition, I can help monitor it during the recovery stages.

Health care is a team effort, made up of primary care physicians and advanced practice providers, pharmacists, specialists and caregivers. But they can only play a role if you empower them. I encourage all women to take control of their health and prioritize primary care in their lives.

Dr. Erica Swegler is a family physician at Village Medical, a fullservice primary care provider with nine locations in Austin. Village Medical offers the flexibility of same-day appointments at a practice or through its app, while focusing on the relationship between patient and provider.

Photo courtesy of Village Medical.
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Blue Lapis Light— Belonging, Part One

If the greatest act of rebellion is love, Sally Jacques is the perfect visionary to inspire us to love our planet, and each other, more fiercely.

Transcendent. Transformative. Breathtaking. Ethereal. Pain. Sorrow. Grief. Longing. Wonder. Joy. Hope. Love.

Blue Lapis Light is a dance company that challenges physical limitations by using aerial techniques informed by classical, modern and interpretive dance styles. Their stated mission is to create transcendent works of beauty that are offered, without religious denomination, as prayers for the planet. Sally Jacques has more than accomplished this with the latest installment of Belonging at Seaholm Power Plant.

Debuting in the Austin arts scene in 2017, Belonging employs beautiful lighting, ethereal soundscapes, poignant image projection and dazzling ground and aerial dance to explore our interdependence and relationship with our planet and each other. It highlights what happens to citizens of the Earth when their lives are upended by disasters caused by our own greed, self-interest and disregard for each other and Mother Earth. Jacques, founder and artistic director of Blue Lapis Light, dedicated this year’s performance to environmental and human rights organizations and activists who have lost their lives, to the hundreds of poached animals killed every year in Africa, to all the communities and wildlife devastated by climate change caused “natural” disasters and to those starving from famine around the globe, and to the thousands of individuals who have lost their loved ones to gun violence in the first half of 2022.

These soul-wrenching prayers are interpreted with stunning grace and beauty by the skilled dancers of Blue Lapis Light against the backdrop of the Seaholm Power Plan. The plant became obsolete in the 20th century with the introduction of new forms of gas, solar and nuclear energy. It was repurposed by Seaholm Power, LLC, in 2016 as a mixed-use residential and commercial complex. With its history as a symbol of consumption and decline and its current state of rebirth and grandeur, it seems the perfect backdrop for Belonging’s message. Alex Soto of Ilios creates true magic with his lighting design. Throughout the performance, he lights the plant’s smoke stacks and garage in blues and purples reminiscent of our earth’s oceans and the heavens.

The performance opens with Chris Rusch’s “Beautiful Earth” projected onto the Seaholm parking garage. Images of Mother Earth’s grandeur in fertile fields, green forests, vast oceans and the majestic animals that inhabit them roll by, with accompaniment from the soul-stirring soundtrack of

resident sound designer William Meadows. The images shift to those of the earth devastated by fire and flood and children picking through the rubble of cities ravaged by war. Enter Jun “Sunny” Shen and his ensemble at the foot of the stacks, moving with sorrow, grief and longing in the opening dance, “Separation.” You feel the pain of loss as the dancers move away from, then stretch their arms out for one another, the audience and the sky. As the lights dim on the ensemble, dancers appear in the windows of the parking garage and gracefully flow down the sides of the building like swans, defying gravity, in the “Tribute” sequence. Back to the floor ensemble in “Escaping,” you feel the confusion of refugees on an unknown journey, the pain of loneliness in the solo piece “Remaining” and the fear refugees face in “Facing the Unknown.” The window dancers take us to “A New Place,” then prepare us for the beautiful and surreal “Grace in the Shadows” as two dancers soar like angels from the smokestacks. Here, the costume design of Lindsey Gerson is particularly striking: the stack dancers’ dresses flow like wings, the windows dancers’ silver costumes almost melt into the concrete of the parking garage, the focus on the movement of their limbs, emphasized by their shadows, and the ensemble’s neutral grays absorb the slightest hint of color from the lighting. Shen and Anika Jones-Schoenbaum flow together in “Love Heals Us,” a duet that embodies what it feels like to belong, to be loved, to be seen. The vast universe opens up with the window dancer’s “Unraveling/Revealing” leading to reverence in “A Prayer.” The stack dancer quartet has all eyes on the heavens with “Universal Awakening/ Understanding Our Relationship to Nature.” One begins to feel the awesomeness of their own tiny piece of belonging and importance in the design of this life. The performance concludes in a blossom of hope and renewal with the floor ensemble’s “Honoring the Earth.”

Blue Lapis Light says it is committed to challenging physical limitations and inspiring audiences with a sense of wonder. The reactions from the audience throughout the show prove that the company is doing just that.


Salvador Dali's Naked Feast

The VORTEX Theater

We’re kicking off The VORTEX’s 35th Coral Anniversary season with Austin’s biggest party of the year! Bring on your surreal as we enter Dali’s universe with a performanceinstallation-cocktail party embodying his aesthetic. The event includes live music, tango, human canvas, photo ops, Dali’s original Casanova Cocktail and delicious food art. The audience will have opportunities to observe or participate in an outrageous blend of spectacle, food, art and dream. Contests and prizes! Costumes encouraged!


NOV. 1 and 2 Waterloo Greenway

Waterloo Greenway presents Día de los Muertos at Waterloo Park on Nov. 1 and 2. Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, long observed in Mexico, is a holiday now embraced globally. Each culture infuses their own unique influences into two days of vibrant festivities that honor the dead. Gather with us as at this free two-day celebration with community altars, cultural activations, live music and dance. Learn more at waterloogreenway.org.

10th Annual ConnectHER Film Festival

NOV. 5

You won’t want to miss this year’s 10th Anniversary ConnectHER Film Festival held at St. Andrew’s Dell Fine Arts Theater in Austin. We’ll give out more than $30,000 in awards, screen films and hear words from inspiring leaders at our awards ceremony. This powerful event celebrates global leaders and young filmmakers who are making a difference for women and girls around the world. Prior to the red carpet event and awards, we are offering another afternoon of exciting panels with industry insiders and young filmmakers.

OCT. 22
connectherfilmfest.org It’s time to get out and enjoy everything that Austin has to offer, including an amazing arts scene. Austin Woman wants to help you showcase the great shows and performances that you’ve been planning. Fill the house! Please reach out to us at sales@awmediainc.com or fill out the form from the QR code!

Poke-Poke: Tradition with a Twist

For Austin native Trisha Trevlyn Fortuna, life has been a never-ending series of fortuitous events. A chance visit to Oahu, HI, sparked the inspiration of what would become one of the most unique food experiences on the mainland. Armed with a background in business management and married to a man passionate about discovering and creating unique food experiences, Fortuna embarked on a food journey she never in a million years expected to be on. “What a crazy, scary and rewarding adventure,” she says. “We started in a food window in Venice Beach on Nov. 10, 2010, and now operate three locations in Austin and one in Fort Worth.”

Almost instantly, the Poke-Poke food window garnered immense praise. From Hawaiian Airlines and Entrepreneur Magazine to the Food Network and Hollywood Reporter, Fortuna and husband Jason McVearry found themselves swept up in a whirlwind of amazing press. Things certainly came to a head when the late American food critic Jonathan Gold sang PokePoke’s praises. Since 2014, this husband and wife entrepreneurial duo have certainly given Austin a food experience unlike any other.

When Trisha Fortuna and her husband, Jason McVearry, first opened their Poke-Poke window, they had no idea the impact it would have.
Photo by Victoria Villarreal.

Tell us the Poke-Poke origin story.

Poke-Poke started on a Hawaiian Airlines flight back from Hawaii. My husband had lived in Hawaii for many years, and he wanted to introduce me to his nearest and dearest friends in Oahu. He took me to his favorite poke spot, Tamura’s, a grocery chain in Hawaii. I put that first bite of shoyu poke in my mouth and I was in love. I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day we were in Hawaii. If I saw poke, I bought poke, whether it was in a gas station, on the side of the road or at grocery stores.

On the flight back from Hawaii to Venice Beach, I was sad. My husband asked me what was wrong and I said, “This sucks, no more poke.” He said, “Oh! I can make poke for you.” Then and there, the lightbulb lit up and I said, “I’m going to open up a poke shack when we get back,” and he said, “Holy shit! That is a great idea.”

We looked into farmer’s markets, but no one really wanted us, and finding a communal kitchen was proving difficult. The recession was in full swing, and I got let go from my job. That’s when we decided to throw caution to the wind and just open up a poke place. In the beginning we were both 100% in, full-force, “Let’s be entrepreneurs. We can do this.” I spotted this window on Craigslist in Venice Beach on 19th Avenue and thought it was kind of perfect. My husband was ready to sign the lease right then and there. He’s fearless like that. He lives in the moment. I’m the cautious one. I am already thinking about the P&L (profit and loss), and we haven’t even finished our business plan and all the other operational details that need to get completed before…before what? He was right. We called the landlord that night and signed the lease the next morning without even having a fish supplier in place.

I must’ve had three breakdowns in the first four months we were open. We had to create a sign with the definition and pronunciation of poke. We were so slow that I resorted to handing out samples on roller skates in a bathing suit. Don’t get me wrong, of course, there were a few people here and there that celebrated our opening, but it was small. Sean Astin, from Lord of the Rings, came to our window. I was so excited that he was about to order poke from me, but he just wanted change for a hundred dollar bill.

What about your spin on poke is unique yet still honors its origins?

We originally made poke the way it was made in Hawaii—make big batches, throw it in a bin and sell poke by the pound. Because no one knew what we were selling we found ourselves throwing away fish at night. It was heart-wrenching—food waste always is—and our business was not going to survive with food waste. Hence made-to-order poke was born.

We needed to use fish as it was ordered to save our business and developed flash marinating. We were still making poke from scratch and treating the protein with enough salt, acid and fat to uphold the rich flavor profile of traditional marinated poke. We are still committed to making poke the way it is intended to be made. Certain steps must be followed to make delicious poke, and we will honor those steps as long as we are open. You can’t just throw some raw fish in a bowl with some edamame and canned corn and hand your customer a sauce. It takes a little love and finesse and the flick of a wrist to make mouth-watering poke. Typical poke in Hawaii will have a pretty specific flavor profile with limited featured ingredients like limu, chili pepper or shoyu. Since we were now making poke to order, we could do add-ins, creating more complex and customizable flavor profiles.

What has been the reaction to Poke-Poke?

Overall the reaction has been super positive. People love having a delicious, healthy, protein-forward meal. It’s funny to think that 12 years ago I was crying to my husband saying, “What were we thinking? No one is going to eat raw fish on the Venice Boardwalk!” When we moved back to Texas, we were cautiously optimistic with the momentum poke had gained, coupled with the energy behind the food scene in Austin. We opened up Poke-Poke on South Congress in 2016, and it was a crazy opening. We had intended to open up quietly and not do a big grand opening. It was quiet for about two hours, and then it was a madhouse. When you think of fast-casual [dining], well-crafted, super flavorful, healthy food doesn’t usually come to mind. But I think it is what people wanted and needed.

What is your ultimate goal with Poke-Poke?

You know, if I am really being honest, setting goals for your business is different now after COVID. We are a little more grounded. I think it’s hard to forget the weight that all smallbusiness owners carried during that time. The obligation to our staff was immense, and I am proud to say that we battled through it with them; they are a huge part of our business’ success then and now.

Overall the reaction has been super positive. People love having a delicious, healthy, protein-forward meal.

Enough is Enough! Texas Library Association Executive Director Shirley Robinson will not take the ban on books lying down.

For more than a year now, freedom of education and access to knowledge has been under attack in Texas by politicians and citizen groups that want to see books banned from libraries based on their own subjective opinions. It started with Texas Representative Matt Krause issuing a list of more than 850 books to target for removal and has continued to grow, with other politicians and citizens chiming in.

Many of the books targeted for removal from Texas’ libraries revolve around race, gender and LGBTQ+ themes. Proponents of book banning have continuously weaponized the lived experiences of many groups of marginalized people and have villainized librarians and educators for trying to ensure everyone has a right to diversity in their reading materials.

As leaders in our community, librarians and educators strive to apply empathy and understanding for all viewpoints. There is a lot of confusion, frustration and disenfranchisement in the world right now. One of the strengths of librarians is that they are peacemakers, solution finders and defenders of individual and personal identity. If anyone can figure this out with empathy and compassion, it’s librarians.

I joined the Texas Library Association in January of 2020. It seemed like a great time to start a new chapter in my life—and it was! I had spent the previous nine years with an incredible organization but was ready for a change and had always had a passion for literacy, the pursuit of knowledge and, of course, spent many, many hours in libraries uncovering the mysteries of my own self.

The next two and a half years were a blur of navigating challenge after challenge through the pandemic and momentous change in our organization. Through it all, our board leadership, loyal members and incredible staff helped to keep us going. So when the Krause letter was issued to Texas school districts, I knew we would somehow be okay through this storm.

Librarians are an incredibly resilient and steadfast kind. Even amidst threats to their jobs, personal safety and community reputation (none of which should be tolerated by any of us), they are immovable. They will work with their leadership, stand up to infringements on our constitutional rights and defend the foundation of their core beliefs of what it means to be a librarian.

The right to an education is a cornerstone of our country and our democracy. Education helps children read and write, add and subtract and learn about the world around them. It also helps

children become well-rounded, productive adults who contribute to society. Books are critical vehicles for helping us to develop empathy for others and learn to think for ourselves and explore the world around us.

This book banning effort has caused division, hatred and harassment of qualified professionals and further threatens our rights to intellectual freedom. It also negatively impacts our children’s education. Underrepresented and marginalized students are being taught that their experiences are not acceptable, while others are being taught that they need to be shielded from their peers and from experiences that differ from their own.

As a mother, I am concerned for the future of my own children’s freedom of education—and that of every other child in Texas. As executive director of the Texas Library Association, I am taking a stand and saying enough is enough.

We will not be silent in the fight for literary freedom. We cannot sit back and watch as our fellow professional educators and librarians continue to be targeted for doing the work they are passionate about.

As the first step in this fight, the Texas Library Association launched Texans for the Right to Read in March 2021 to combat this movement to ban books. Through this advocacy coalition made up of Texas citizens, we aim to educate the general public about the push to ban books and give them tools and resources to take a stand.

What is happening across our public libraries and school systems— things like the removal of books with any kissing, removal of books that contain even the suggestion of education on slavery and racism, removal of books that tell the stories of children and families that look more like 2022 rather than 1952—will have a long-term, lasting impact, not only on our educational system now, but on our children’s ability to understand their own lives and those of many people around them.

We need the public to understand that through all the noise of so much erosion to our personal freedoms, this erosion of our First Amendment rights must not be ignored. It is central to our ability to learn, to teach our families and to speak out for our beliefs.

Photo courtesy of Shirley Robinson.

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