2017 Breakthrough Women

GHWCC Honors Breakthrough Women in Houston

Our 2017 Breakthrough Women are leaders in their industries, and demonstrate amazing courage and leadership in reaching their career goals.

President Houston Division Manager


Gayle Brand’s career in the title industry began when she accepted a job as a receptionist at a smaller title company while she was finishing her degree at the University of Houston. Gayle has been with Chicago Title since 1995 and was promoted to President in 2007. Under her direction Chicago Title Houston has expanded their geographic footprint in the Houston area, growing both strategically and organically to better serve the customers’ needs.

Gayle attributes Chicago Title’s success to the talent and dedication of the employees who approach every transaction as if it were their own . Gayle says, “At Chicago Title, we approach things a bit differently and try to see each closing through the eyes of our customers and take a collaborative approach to working with all of the other businesses and individuals necessary to get the deal closed . We are in the real estate peace of mind business and our goal is to seamlessly take care of all of the tedious details behind the scenes to reduce the stress level of our customers”.   Gayle knows that this business is much more than transactional, so she is focused on building a team that understands the importance of the overall customer experience, which enables us to build strong relationships throughout the Houston community and beyond.

Gayle is a native Houstonian. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology from the University of Houston, and is a proud lifetime Alumni Member. She is involved in many industry organizations, including Texas Land Title Association, Vistage International, a mentor at Houston Business Journal Mentoring Monday, and an active member and former Board member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network.  She is also currently serving on the Board of Directors for Title Data, Inc., and is an executive board member of the Brian Cushing Foundation.

Gayle, her husband Steve and son Cannon enjoy adventure travel, spending time with family and friends on Lake Conroe and in Colorado and seeing their favorite artists live in concert every chance they get.



Mary Anne Brelinsky is President of EDF Energy Services, the North American customer facing business within the EDF group.  EDF is the world’s largest producer of electricity.  Mary Anne joined EDF Trading North America as a Vice President responsible for the Texas power business.  In that role, she grew EDF’s customer base to include energy management and optimization services for load and generation customers ranging from natural gas, wind, battery storage, and solid fuel power stations.  Mary Anne now heads EDF Energy Services, which includes the Commercial and Industrial Retail, Generation Services, and Customer Hedging and Optimization businesses.

Mrs. Brelinsky started her career with the Exxon Chemical Company where she held several engineering and operations positions.  In 2000, Mary Anne accepted a position with Dynegy where she managed large cogeneration power plants in Texas and developed a strategy for the company’s assets under the Texas deregulated market. She also traded long-term positions for the Texas and California generation assets.

Prior to EDF, Mary Anne held a position with Reliant Energy where she managed the Structuring Team and developed power products for Reliant’s Large Commercial and Industrial clients.  At Reliant she built and managed the Customer Transaction Desk which was responsible for the execution of gas, power, heat rate, and ancillary service transactions for retail customers.

Mrs. Brelinsky serves on the Board of Directors for Anahau Energy, Atlas Scholars, DK Energy, the Gulf Coast Power Association, and the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce.  She also serves on the Advisory Council for the Women’s Energy Network, the University of Houston Energy Advisory Board, and the St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School Board.   Mrs. Brelinsky has an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from the University of Houston.  Mary Anne lives in Houston with her husband and their three sons.



In her role leading Administration, Jennifer oversees the Human Resources, Communications, Corporate Marketing, Security, and Facilities functions across NRG’s integrated power platform comprised of its complementary generation and retail businesses. Her organization is focused on enabling NRG to realize its vision and mission through its support of all business units across the enterprise.  She began her NRG career in 2010 by leading HR for the retail organization. In 2013, Jennifer was named Senior Vice President, Human Resources and her role grew to include responsibility for all HR functions across NRG, including compensation, benefits, organizational development, talent acquisition, labor and employee relations, payroll, HR information systems, and HR business partners. Her role has subsequently expanded to include responsibility for additional functional areas.

With extensive experience in the energy, telecommunications, healthcare, financial and consumer products sectors, Jennifer is a mergers and acquisitions veteran who has successfully integrated and created merged cultures and operations for a number of diverse organizations.

Jennifer is passionate about making a positive difference in her community. She is the immediate past chair of the Executive Women’s Partnership of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). She is actively involved in FIRST, a non-profit organization focused on inspiring young people to develop an interest in STEM careers and build their leadership skills through robotics competitions. She serves as the executive sponsor of NRG’s FIRST mentorship program and she is also a mentor herself of a high school robotics team in her community. In addition, Jennifer has previously served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston.

Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a BA degree in psychology. She also holds PhD and MS degrees in industrial/organizational psychology from the City University of New York.


Vice President Houston Hub


Stephanie Buchanan is Vice President Houston Hub for United, the world’s leading airline. In this role, she is responsible for airport operations and cargo at the Houston hub. Prior to this position, she was Staff Vice President Field Services Planning and Administration for Continental Airlines, a position she held since 2004. She was responsible for all of the groups at the Houston headquarters that supported airports and cargo including staffing, training, policies & procedures, technology development, emergency response, alliances, GSE and regulatory

Buchanan joined Continental in 1996 and spent eight years in the finance division with various roles and responsibilities including Managing Director of Financial Planning and Senior Controller for Marketing, Reservations, Technology and Staff Groups.

Buchanan received her bachelor of science degree in accounting from the University of Houston at Clear Lake and is a CPA. She is married with two children and three step-children.

Vice President and Retail Division Manager


Anness Jensen is a 1st Vice President and Retail Division Manager for IBC Bank, Houston Region. IBC Bank is the largest Minority owned Texas Bank with over (204) branches in 90 Communities throughout Texas and Oklahoma. IBC Bank is considered a High Performing Financial Institution and was ranked amongst the top 50 in Forbes magazine as America’s 100 most trustworthy companies in 2014.

Anness oversees the development and Growth of the Retail division in Houston and also oversees several departments. Anness started her Career in Banking in the early 1990’s and joined IBC in 1997. She was given several opportunities to grow with the company and credits IBC Bank for a long lasting career in the Banking Industry. Anness has grown through the ranks with IBC because of her dedication, values, hard work and her strong work ethic.

Anness was born and grew up on the Caribbean Island of Dominica where she spent her formative years. Although success is limited on the island, Anness knew that she wanted to do more and become more. Anness then traveled to Barbados and Antigua where she lived for a little while and then realized that going to the United States would open doors and create opportunities for her if she worked hard. In the late 1980’s, Anness relocated to the United States and currently she resides in Katy, Texas.

Anness believes in giving back to the community and has been an active member of the Houston Community College Finance & Banking Advisory Committee for several years. She is also a Board member for the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the fastest growing Women’s Chamber in the United States. Anness is very appreciative for all opportunities given to her and strongly feels that she has a responsibility to give back and help create opportunities for others. Anness is married with one daughter who currently resides in Los Angeles, California.


Chief Human Resources Officer


Christina Ptasinski has more than 30 years of progressive global human resources leadership experience. She is currently Chief Human Resources Officer for Crane Worldwide Logistics—a freight forwarding company launched in August of 2008 for which Christina established (and continues to lead) the global HR function.  During her tenure, the company has expanded to over 2,500 employees in 130 offices in 20 countries. She also oversees the Human Resource function for the other eight entities that are part of the Crane Companies.

Christina possesses a unique blend of start–up and large company experience with proven ability to align teams and maximize resources in unique and creative ways. Prior to joining Crane Worldwide, she was the Vice President of Global Human Resources for CEVA Logistics and Vice President of Human Resources for EGL Global Logistics and Vallen Corporation.

Christina is currently Vice Chair of Executive Women’s Partnership of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), an Advisory Board member of the Woodlands N. Houston Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and a former Board Member of Junior Achievement SE Texas.   Considered to be a leader in the field of Human Resource Management, she has participated in numerous conference discussion panels and has had interviews published in various Industry and Trade publications, most recently HR Magazine and Lloyds Loading List.

Christina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Psychology from Carthage College and graduated from LaRoche College Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources.  She currently teaches at the University of Houston Downtown as a Corporate Fellow in their MBA program.

Christina resides in Houston and is actively involved in supporting women in leadership, and evolving the global human resources profession. In her spare time, she enjoys running, participating in a wide variety of competitive athletic events, and spending quality time with her family and her rescue dog, Gus.


Office Managing Partner


Tandra Jackson is Managing Partner for KPMG’s Houston Major Market, which includes Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and KPMG offices in Louisiana.  She has 24 years of professional experience across multiple industries, including energy and chemicals, industrial manufacturing, and healthcare. Tandra’s experience includes business process improvement, systems selection and implementation, enterprise risk management, and IT governance, risk, and compliance. She is an MBA and Certified Information Systems Auditor.

As Managing Partner, Tandra is responsible for helping to lead the growth and success of the firm’s audit, tax, and advisory practices in the Houston Major Market, and ensuring KPMG clients receive exceptional service from the firm’s more than 1200 Houston partners and professionals.  Additionally, she is focused on ensuring partners and employees experience KPMG as a great place to work and build their careers. In her role, Tandra coordinates KPMG’s community involvement activities and encourages the firm’s Houston professionals to “pay it forward” in the community. She serves as a member of KPMG’s African American Network National Advisory Board, the KPMG Foundation Board, and is a member of the KPMG Nominating Committee for the Board.

Tandra is a member of Louisiana State University’s Dean Advisory Council, the Advisory Board of the National Association of Corporate Directors Houston Chapter, and a founding member of the Houston Chapter of CEOs Against Cancer.  She also serves on several non-profit boards including, Ronald McDonald House of Houston (Audit Committee and Technology Committee), Greater Houston Partnership (Audit Committee), Central Houston, Inc. (Audit Committee) and the Houston Zoo.  Tandra has spoken at forums such as:  KPMG’s Global Energy Conference, KPMG Insights, Pink Petro HERWorld, National Women’s Council Houston Conference, Rice University Women Leadership Conference, Texas Society of Women CPAs, and the Women in Leadership Symposium.


Vice President/CMO


Leisa Holland-Nelson is Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer of ASTOUNDZ, the company with which she recently merged her portfolio of business from ContentActive, where she was Co-founder, President and Chief Marketing Officer. ASTOUNDZ is your One Click, One Search, One Company resource for all things to grow your interactive presence, Websites, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Hosting and Business Solutions.

Leisa is also the author and voice of “Women Mean Business”, a weekly segment focusing on extraordinary women doing extraordinary things, on The Businessmakers Show seen on HiDrive TV and heard on 20 radio stations across the U.S.

Leisa’s passion has always been getting people what they want, in the Fashion business for 25 years and the Technology space for the last 13. The obstacles she has faced in her life and her ability to always find what is NEXT has defined her, ergo, her nickname: The Nexter! She has always found a way to blend her career, her passion for people and her experience to work for the benefit of her community, her company “does well by doing good”.

She is currently serving on the Board of March of Dimes as the Vice Chair of Marketing and Communications, the American Leadership Forum as Vice Chair of Development, the Board of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, where she was chair twice, the Advisory Boards of The Holocaust Museum Houston, and Hermann Park Conservatory. Additionally, she is the Board Chair and was appointed as a City Commissioner by two Mayors for the Houston Center for Literacy, the Mayor’s commission for Adult Education where she has co-chaired the Mayor’s Breakfast for Literacy for five consecutive years. She is also a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and had Chaired or Co-chaired untold number of events for the Houston Community including the GHWCC Hall of Fame Gala and Conference for Women.

Leisa is a fifth-generation Houstonian and attended the University of Texas, a proud mother and mother-in-law and grandmother to future Longhorn Selma Baines Rose!

She was honored to be named one of Houston’s Fifty Most Influential Women, a senior fellow of The American Leadership Forum, one of Mass Mutual’s Most Powerful Women, a Celebrated Entrepreneur by Houston Technology Center, and an ABC/Channel 13 Woman of Distinction. She has been honored and distinguished by many local organizations including The Assistance League, Virtuosi Orchestra, Interfaith Ministries Meals on Wheels, the ROADwomen and the American Heart Association.


Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary


Elizabeth Matthews is Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc. in Houston. She is responsible for directing the legal affairs of the company, including transactional, litigation, compliance, intellectual property and environmental matters.  She leads a team of twenty professionals, including attorneys, paralegals, compliance personnel and administrative staff.

Prior to joining Total in 2013, Ms. Matthews was a member of the legal team at Chevron for eleven years where she worked in a number of different business units, including Global Downstream, Corporation Law, Energy Technology and Global Drilling and Completions.

During the early part of her career, Matthews worked in Washington, D.C. for two major law firms – Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP and Dickstein Shapiro LLP.  She also served as a federal law clerk for the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Matthews graduated with honors from Yale University with a humanities and history major in 1992 and earned a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1995.

Matthews is an active member of the General Counsel Forum, Association of Corporate Counsel and Women’s Energy Network (Executive Level).  She is the past President of the Women’s Energy Network and the American Petroleum Labor Lawyer’s Association.


Senior Vice President
of Internal Assurance Services


Lyn Beaty is Senior Vice President of Finance at Halliburton involved in the operation of the Company’s Finance function. Previously, she served as Senior Vice President of Internal Assurance Services, which had responsibility for enterprise wide internal assurance functions.

Ms. Beaty’s career with Halliburton began in Finance and has spanned more than 33 years. In addition to internal assurance services, she has served in a variety of finance roles.

Lyn is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in accounting.  She is a certified public accountant in the state of Texas.  She currently serves on the McCombs School of Business Accounting Advisory Council, and on the Board of the Houston Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors.



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