Hall of Fame Logo 2021 Chamber Blue w date

Greater Houston Women’s Hall of Fame

The Gala recognizes outstanding women who have contributed significantly to the advancement of women and improved the quality of life for future generations of Houstonians.

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Winell Herron

Group Vice President of Public Affairs,
Diversity and Environmental Affairs, H-E-B 

Winell serves as Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs for H-E-B.  She is personally active in the community in many non-profit organizations; serving on the boards of the Ensemble Theatre, March of Dimes, Texas Cultural Trust, Houston Museum of African American Culture.  Additionally, she is a Texas Lyceum Alumnus.

Houston has recognized Winell’s professional and personal efforts by selecting her as a 2019 Woman of Power and Presence; presenting her with both the Houston Woman of Substance and Houston Woman on the Move awards; inducting her into the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame; naming her among the Top 25 Most Influential Women in Houston and Houston’s Women of Distinction; and awarding her the Alumnus of the Year from the University of Texas San Antonio.

Her personal passions include family, friends, community involvement, travel, technology, music and reading.  Winell and her husband William (Doug), reside in Houston.

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Ann Al-Bahish, Ph.D.

Partner, Haynes and Boone, LLP

Dr. Ann Al-Bahish is an environmental and litigation attorney and a partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP.  She is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and earned a Ph.D. in public health at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. Dr. Al-Bahish has directed her professional and community service to law and the improvement and synthesis of environmental and human health.

Dr. Al-Bahish has tried cases successfully across the country and has been recognized by her peers through inclusion in Chambers USA and the inaugural Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental and Energy Lawyers edition.  She also provides strategic counseling and designs processes and agreements allocating environmental risks and responsibilities.  Dr. Al-Bahish has advised clients on emerging legal issues related to environmental, medical technology and consumer products. Her clients have included railroads, energy companies, manufacturers, healthcare entities, retailers, technology companies, state governments, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. She has served on the Haynes Boone COVID-19 Task Force.

Dr. Al-Bahish contributes to the Texas Environmental Law treatise published by Thomson Reuters, and she speaks and writes on legal and environmental topics.  Her recent work on the legal, technological and health aspects of indoor air quality, with a special emphasis on those aging in place, has been published in a legal periodical and presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).  Together with Haynes Boone colleagues, Dr. Al-Bahish participated in an Aging and Innovation Summit that she planned with Health Tech Austin, bringing together venture capitalists, lawyers, medical experts, and caregiving organizations. Dr. Al-Bahish is a member of the Haynes Boone Pro Bono and Public Service Committee, assists with Haynes Boone wellness initiatives, and mentors formally and informally.

Dr. Al-Bahish has been recognized by the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas. Projects have included promoting environmental education, advice on early health technology applications serving the homeless population, and the representation of clients in immigration, appellate and family and criminal law matters.  She has assisted the national Environmental Law Institute with its pro bono clearinghouse program and is a member of both the Texas and Houston Bar Foundations. 

Dr. Al-Bahish is a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Business/Civic Leadership Forum and serves on the Board of Directors of The Rose, an organization dedicated to promoting equity and inclusion with respect to the detection of breast cancer, and the Houston Area Women’s Center.  She is a founding and current board member of Doctors for Change (supporting public service projects of medical students) and Bloomsday Literary, a regional independent press dedicated to presenting diverse perspectives. Dr. Al-Bahish is the Chair Emerita of Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston and a member of the Law, Environment, and Aging and Public Health sections of the APHA.  She also supports the Houston Audubon Society and the Big Bend Conservancy.  Given her life-long appreciation of music, art, and fiction, Dr. Al-Bahish also looks for ways to support creatives and the fresh approaches they bring to solving problems.

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Nelda Luce Blair

Attorney, Blair Law Firm 

For over 35 years, Nelda Luce Blair, founder and CEO of The Blair Law Firm, has enjoyed success as a triple board certified Texas real estate attorney. Far beyond the legal field, Nelda’s varied careers reflect her high energy level, and have included elected official, public speaker, prolific author, political fundraiser, blogger, philanthropist, education proponent, prosecutor, television lawyer and national news commentator. 

Nelda is a fifth generation Texan, and so possesses a particular passion to help shape the future of her state and its leadership. Nelda’s chairmanship positions have included three terms on The Woodlands Township Board leading its pivotal transition into a unique government; Founding Chair of The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau; The Woodlands Area Chamber; and State Bar of Texas Regional Grievance Committee. Nelda’s board service has included the Center for Houston’s Future, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Greater Houston Women’s Chamber, and Economic Development Partnership of The Woodlands. Governor Rick Perry appointed Nelda to the Texas Economic Development Corporation Board “Texas One”.  

An alumnus of Baylor University and of the University of Houston Law Center, Nelda was appointed to Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary Advisory Board, as well as the University of Houston System Board of Regents where she spent two terms as “Chair Blair”. Her passionate belief in the value of education led to her gubernatorial appointment to the Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents, and Nelda also served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for the Lone Star College System.

Nelda’s legal role took on new meaning when she was tapped for the FOX television show “Power of Attorney” in 2000.  For two seasons, Nelda starred in the daytime courtroom series, litigating actual cases in front of a real judge and a TV camera.  Now, Nelda periodically appears as a legal commentator on FOXNews, CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, Court TV, and on local FOX 26 Houston. 

Nelda has written over 100 articles published in various venues, and is a popular guest speaker for a variety of professional organizations. Her political expertise has put Nelda in demand as a successful proponent, and at the Texas Legislature to testify for various causes. Along with husband Jim Blair, she has hosted over 500 community, charitable and political events.

Nelda Blair has been named a “Hometown Hero” of The Woodlands, the Greater Houston Women’s Conference “Breakthrough Woman in Education”, North Houston Association “North Star Award”, Greater Houston Women’s Chamber “Citizen of the Year”, and “Legacy Award” from The Woodlands Area Chamber.  Nelda was also named one of Houston’s Most Influential Women by Houston Woman magazine.

In 2020, Nelda Blair accepted Governor Greg Abbott’s appointment to the Texas Public Safety Commission overseeing the Department of Public Safety. She also currently chairs both the Conroe ISD Education Foundation and the Humane Society of Montgomery County, and serves on the Spirit of Texas Bank Board.

Nelda’s most ardent loves are (1) God, (2) Jim Blair, (3) shopping, and (4) God’s animal creatures.

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Cindy Clifford

President, The Clifford Group

Cindy Clifford is an active force in Houston’s business, civic, and political arenas. Over the course of more than 30 years, she built a solid reputation as a valuable public relations, marketing and government affairs resource—frequently drawing top-shelf colleagues to her own team or participating as a key figure on the teams of others to get things done. Clients like Dell, Comcast, Republic Services, Kelsey-Seybold, Monty & Ramirez, Orrick and many others have called upon Cindy’s firm to further their goals.

In addition, Cindy has served on dozens of nonprofit boards, including the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the Houston Public Library, the Ensemble Theatre, the Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Ryan White Planning Council.  She has chaired many fundraisers and provided pro-bono advice to countless others.

Her love of politics made Cindy a steadfast volunteer and supporter of many local, state and federal officials. She has been an active supporter of Houston mayors, beginning with Mayor Kathryn Whitmire and including every Houston mayor since. Cindy is proud to have served as a top-level volunteer on the campaigns of Mayor Lee Brown, Mayor Annise Parker and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Cindy was very honored to serve as the Chair of Mayor Turner’s first Inaugural Committee. In less than three weeks, she led eight other top-level volunteers to raise the funds necessary to produce three major events. For Mayor Turner’s second term, Cindy, along with her co-chair and best friend, Elizabeth Brock, completed the same task in just two weeks.

She has worked tirelessly in getting more women in positions of power both in the business and political world. Mayor Brown appointed her as his $1.00 a year executive to advise him on women’s issues.  In his six year term, more women were appointed to boards and commissions than ever before, and she is particularly proud of this.

Cindy has been awarded recognition on several occasions for her work and tireless contributions. She was also named by Houston Women Magazine as one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women.

Cindy is an avid reader and theater goer. She enjoys traveling—though is always quick to claim Houston as her favorite city. She loves a good hand of blackjack and a great cup of coffee (maybe not at the same time), and still loves bringing people together—whether convening colleagues to tackle a big business project or gathering friends for social occasions.  She is married to photographer David Bray and shares their home with their two dogs Kealy and Sticky.

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Lesia Crumpton-Young, Ph.D.

President, Texas Southern University 

Dr. Lesia L. Crumpton-Young serves as the 13th President of Texas Southern University. During the span of her three-decade career in academia, President Dr. Young has been recognized for her transformational leadership skills and excellent record of working with teams to achieve unprecedented success at an accelerated pace. She is passionate about advancing research as well as economic and community development, and ensuring student academic, professional, and personal success.

Before rising to President of TSU, Dr. Young excelled in several leadership capacities, most recently as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for Morgan State University. Dr. Young’s tenure at Morgan State was highlighted by significant increases in research funding as well as the development of new, forward-thinking degree programs. Dr. Young also served as Vice President for Research and Institutional Advancement at Tennessee State University, where her service resulted in over $225M in research awards over a four-year period, as well as meaningful improvements in Tennessee State’s national research ranking. Additionally, Dr. Young orchestrated a $450M initiative at Tennessee State to create a 90-acre research and innovation mixed-use district. As Program Director at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Young managed an annual portfolio of $90M in research funding and diversified the portfolios of supported universities. Dr. Young also served as Associate Provost at Texas A&M University, Associate Dean of Engineering at Mississippi State University, and Professor and Chair of the Industrial Engineering and Management Systems Department at the University of Central Florida, prioritizing excellence in research at every step.President Dr. Young’s academic career began at Texas A&M University, where she earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial Engineering. President Dr. Young holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Engineering from Texas A&M and is and one of the first African- American women in the United States to reach the rank of Full Professor in Engineering. President Dr. Young also earned an M.B.A. from Tennessee State University.

A lifelong learner, President Dr. Young continues to study, research, and publish in her areas of expertise. President Dr. Young has published over 100 scholarly articles, exploring topics such as human-factors engineering, human systems modeling, and production engineering. President Dr. Young has served as Principal Investigator on numerous innovative research initiatives supported by agencies including the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, NASA, and Department of Education.

President Dr. Young’s achievements have been well-recognized by her peers, as evidenced by her myriad awards and honors. Dr. Young is the recipient of the US Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Obama, the Janice A. Lumpkin, Educator of the Year Golden Torch Award from the National Society of Black Engineers, the CAREER Development Award from the National Science Foundation, and the Black Engineer of the Year Education Award, to name a few. President Dr. Young also serves on several national advisory boards focused on increasing the number of underrepresented students successfully completing STEM degrees. President Dr. Young is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Alpha Kappa Mu, and Golden Key International honor societies.

President Dr. Young has enjoyed over 30 years of marriage to Mr. Reginald Young, and is the mother of two beautiful daughters, Mattlyn, age 23, a Biology/Pre-Med graduate from Hampton University currently pursuing a master’s degree in Integrated Science at Morgan State University, and Ashlee, age 21, a senior Psychology major at Prairie View A&M University.

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Linda DuCharme 

President, ExxonMobil
Upstream Business Development and Integrated
 

Ms. DuCharme joined Exxon Company U.S.A. in 1986 after graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. She spent her early career gaining experience in engineering and project management for production operations in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequently had assignments in the U.S. and Europe to gain experience in business development and marketing.

In 2011, Ms. DuCharme transferred to London, England as Director of ExxonMobil International Limited for Europe, Russia and Caspian. She then assumed the role of Vice President of Americas, Africa and Asia Pacific New Markets in 2015. In August 2016, Ms. DuCharme was appointed President of ExxonMobil Global Services Company. In April 2019, Ms. DuCharme was appointed President of ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Company and a Vice President of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

In July 2020, Ms. DuCharme was appointed President of ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development Company in addition to her role as President of ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Company and a Vice President of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Active in Houston area philanthropy, Linda serves on the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Board and the Executive Advisory Board for Houston Minority Supplier Development Council.

As part of her focus on inclusion and diversity, Linda also serves on the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Board. She is very involved in ExxonMobil’s Women’s Interest Network, and is the executive sponsor of ExxonMobil’s global People for Respect, Inclusion and Diversity of Employees (PRIDE) employee group.

Linda highlights the importance of mentoring, as well as formal and informal networks to support women in technical professions, which was the focus of her keynote speech at the Society of Women Engineers annual conference in November 2020.

In February 2020, Linda was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. Linda served on the Board of Directors for the 23rd World Petroleum Congress held in Houston in December 2021.

Ms. DuCharme is married and has two sons.

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Linda Head

Senior Associate Vice Chancellor, Office of External and Employer Relations, Lone Star College

Linda Leto Head, oversees the Office of External and Employer Relations at Lone Star College serving as Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor. This is her 30th year there with a primary focus on workforce development, economic development, veteran services, adult basic education and corporate training. On behalf of Lone Star College, which serves over 90,000 students in Harris, Montgomery, Walker, and Waller counties. She sits on various councils and boards to include:

GHWCC, American Association for Community Colleges, Texas Association for Business, and others. Awards include “Women Who Mean Business”, “Trailblazer”, and “Global Impact Award.” For her leadership in her field.

Linda’s real joy and purpose, come from her family. She and her husband, Steve, have four children and 4 grandchildren together. Her daughters are Natalie Crawford (who has two children who love to visit Namma) and daughter Dr. Jennifer Murdock, who is an ocular plastics surgeon in Houston.

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Patricia Mann Phillips

Executive Managing Director of Energy Services for Revenade LLC

Pat Mann Phillips is an independent energy advisory consultant, currently serving as the Executive Managing Director of Energy Services for Revenade LLC, a global strategic business consulting firm, owned and operated with her husband, Tim Phillips.  Pat’s energy industry experience spans over 30 years working as a Landman in the exploration and development of oil and gas interests, business development, labor relations/human resource management, and energy commodity marketing and trading. 

Pat started her career in Dallas, where she met the love of her life, Tim.  During the booms and busts in the energy industry, they have been blessed to share over 31 years of adventure and marriage together. 

Growing up in the family’s agricultural business, Pat recognized a growing need for advocacy and future leadership in a rapidly changing industry.  Upon relocation to Houston, Pat and Tim joined the volunteer ranks of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 

Pat rapidly advanced through the volunteer leadership ranks of the Show and currently serves on the board of directors.  She became the first female to be elected to serve on the Show’s Executive Committee.  Pat serves as Chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee to direct and facilitate effective and prudent policies for operations, aligned with the Show’s mission and values. 

Pat was honored to be among the successful ladies representing the 2021 Women of Distinction sponsored by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.  She has contributed and served in various volunteer roles in multiple philanthropic, entrepreneurial, and civic organizations, including Amigas Para Ninos, AMOS, the Texas 4-H Foundation, Texas Women’s Venture Fund – supporting women-led organizations, Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, and Texas Tech Alumni Association.  She has served as a director and member of the Ladies of Texas Tradition, the American Quarter Horse Association, and the Salt Grass Trail Ride Wagon 4.   

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Sandra Porter

Vice President, Senior Advisor
Marketing & Corporate Communications,Hines

Sandra Porter is a communications professional with extensive public and private sector experience in strategic branding, marketing, communications, and public relations. She has guided the brand enhancement efforts of noted corporations such as Crescent Real Estate Equities, founded by Richard Rainwater and John Goff, one of the largest publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the U.S.; and Transwestern, one of the country’s largest third-party real estate services companies. She currently serves as Vice President/Senior Advisor, Marketing & Communications for Hines, the highly respected global commercial real estate investment, development, and management firm, founded by Gerald Hines, with a presence in 27 countries and more than $83 billion in AUM. For over 14 years, Sandra led the team that spearheaded corporate marketing and new business development efforts for Hines’ Corporate Communications. She is a member of the dept’s Senior Leadership Council and was a founding member and on the steering committee of OneHines Women’s Network, which supports the advancement of women at Hines and in the workplace. She also served as Chair of the firm’s annual United Way Houston campaign in 2019 and 2020.

In her current role, Sandra works with department leadership in advancing the corporate brand and assisting with change management, serving as a resource for existing and new team members in the transfer of knowledge of the company, culture, department, central resources, and integral Hines contacts and relationships, as well as tackling special projects.

Sandra is passionate about giving back to causes that support women, the arts, and education. She has served on the Board of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and is the

inaugural Chair of its Women Driving Arts Education Committee and 100 Women Driving Arts Education Council; she was named GHWCC Board Chair of the Year in 2021. She has served as a mentor to girls of all ages

through the Chamber’s STEAM and Love What You Do programs; served as Co-Chair and walked the runway as a role model for the Women in the Fast Lane of STEAM Luncheon and Style Show in 2019; and she was recognized as a GHWCC Breakthrough Woman in business in 2016.

Sandra has served on numerous non-profit boards throughout the years, including, American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association Guild; National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE); Urban Land Institute Houston (ULI); Yellowstone Academy’s advisory board; Women Center of Tarrant County; Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) of Greater Fort Worth; Kupferle Health Board / Doris Kupferle Breast Center; among others.

In her personal time, Sandra enjoys the performing and visual arts, architecture, photography, and she is a voracious reader who loves digging in to research the why’s and how’s of topics that interest her. She loves traveling, especially to her beloved Italy, as well as soaking in the energy and Broadway shows in NYC. Her most favorite pastime is spending quality time with close friends and family, and she is happiest doing just about anything with her amazing and accomplished daughter, son-in-law and grandsons!

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Michelle Riley-Brown, FACHE

Executive Vice President, Texas Children’s Hospital

Michelle Riley-Brown is an Executive Vice President with Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit healthcare organization consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation. During her 22 years with the organization her oversight responsibilities for Texas Children’s Hospital Community locations has included human resources, finance, nursing, risk management, strategic planning, and daily hospital operations.

In addition to her system-wide leadership role for the organization, she serves as the President of both Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston, and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, the first hospital devoted to children’s care for communities north of Houston.  

These two campuses are representative of the most recent 15 years of her tenure expanding Texas Children’s quality care. She led the projects from green field development through programming, schematic design, development, and construction; as well as employee staffing, physician recruitment, and opening of the facilities. She has on-site executives at each of these campuses reporting to her.

Today, she is replicating these growth experiences with a strategy for expansion into Austin and is overseeing the planning and construction of another new hospital facility, expected to open in the first quarter of 2024.

Additionally, Michelle Riley-Brown oversees Texas Children’s Pediatrics, the largest pediatric primary care network in the country, and Texas Children’s Urgent Care that specializes in after-hours medical care tailored specifically to children. She also has responsibility over marketing, public relations, and philanthropy for the system.

She is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans with double majors in Communication and Sociology and she earned a Master of Health Administration degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

A Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), she served on the board of ACHE-Southeast Texas Chapter for ten years, including a term as president of the chapter.

She has served on the board of the Boy Scouts of America-San Jacinto Council and is currently on the board of the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion, a world-class performing arts venue in The Woodlands.

Michelle Riley-Brown is married, has one daughter, and is a proud New Orleans Saints fan.

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Leigh Smith

Philanthropist

Leigh Smith began her career as a practicing attorney but stepped away from that career to raise three amazing children and devote her energies towards non-profit work.

Leigh is Board President of Houston Ballet and immediate past Board Chair of Houston Arts Alliance. She chairs the National Council for Anderson Ranch Arts Center Board and serves on the Advisory Board for Asia Society Texas and numerous other boards including Star of Hope and Emergency Aid Coalition. Leigh is co-chair of the 2022 Asia Society’s Tiger Ball and the 2022 Glassell School Gala and co-chair for 2023 Hermann Park Hats in the Park Luncheon.

Leigh has been recognized as a Best Dressed honoree by Houston Chronicle/March of Dimes, a St. Jude Gold Woman of Philanthropy and an ABC13 Woman of Distinction (benefiting Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation).

Leigh is the proud mother of three amazing children and happily married to the love of her life, Reggie for 34 years.

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Debra Sukin, Ph.D.

Regional Senior Vice President, Houston Methodist
Chief Executive Officer,
Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

As Regional Senior Vice President of Houston Methodist, Dr. Debra F. Sukin has responsibility for four suburban hospitals in addition to having system responsibility for the Neuroscience service line and Methodist DeBakey Heart Center. Dr. Sukin also serves as the preceptor and executive leader for the Houston Methodist Administrative Fellowship Program.

With more than 25 years of health care experience, Dr. Sukin has designed, developed and opened 4 hospitals in her career. In 2017, she opened Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital where she serves as CEO and is currently in the planning and design phase for the recently announced Houston Methodist Cypress Hospital expected to open in 2024. All hospitals in the North Region which include Houston Methodist West, Houston Methodist Willowbrook, and Houston Methodist

The Woodlands Hospital have been recognized in the top 10 Vizient Hospital rankings and achieve a Leap Frog A rating.

Prior to joining Houston Methodist, Dr. Sukin served as Senior Vice President of CHI St. Luke’s Health System as well as Chief Executive Officer of CHI St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital, St Luke’s Lakeside Hospital, and St Luke’s Springwood Village.

A Houston native, Dr. Sukin is an active community advocate and public speaker. She is past Chair for both Interfaith of The Woodlands and The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors. Dr. Sukin also serves as a board member for Woodforest National Bank, Texas Hospital Association HOSPAC Board and the Angelman Syndrome Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board. She is a member of the Texas Hospital Association Council on Policy Development and The Greater Houston Chapter of the Young President’s Organization.

In 2007, Dr. Sukin was recognized as one of Modern Healthcare’s “Up & Comers” in healthcare leadership. The American College of Healthcare Executives honored her with the Regent’s Early Careerist Healthcare Executive Award in 2010. She was recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2013 as one of the top Women Hospital and Health System Leaders in the country, and by Montgomery County Women’s Council on Organization as a 2014 Woman of Distinction. In 2016, Dr. Sukin was named a Hometown Hero in The Woodlands. Most recently, Houston Business Journal recognized Dr. Sukin as an “Outstanding Business Leader in Healthcare” for Women Who Mean Business and “Business Woman of the Year” in 2017.

Dr. Sukin earned a PhD in Health Policy and Health Management from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She received her Master of Healthcare Administration degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Dr. Sukin resides in The Woodlands with her husband, Steven Sukin, MD, and their two boys, Jacob and Eli.

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Welela Tereffe, MD

Chief Medical Executive
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

Recognized as a patient-centered and institutionally minded leader, Welela Tereffe, M.D. is The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s chief medical executive (CME).  She educates health care providers about changes in the health care environment. As the first woman of color to serve as CME, Dr. Tereffee is a driving force in recruiting exceptional diverse faculty, promoting equity and inclusion excellence, and enhancing the wellness and professional development of providers.

Welela earned her BA in Education from Brown University and her M.D. from New York University. Since joining MD Anderson she has earned a Master of Public Health, and is currently working toward a Master of Health Care Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

She has led the institution through times of transformative change, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and collaborated with care providers to foster innovation and drive cultural excellence. Throughout everything, her communication efforts have helped unite, inform, and engage MD Anderson’s workforce.

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Vanessa Wyche

Director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Vanessa E. Wyche is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, home to America’s astronaut corps, Mission Control Center, International Space Station, Orion and Gateway programs and its more than 10,000 civil service and contractor employees.

She is responsible for overseeing a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including development and operation of human spacecraft, commercialization of low- Earth orbit and Johnson’s role in landing the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the Moon.

Wyche previously served as deputy director at Johnson, a position she held since 2018. Other key leadership positions include: assistant and acting deputy director of Johnson; director of the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate, flight manager of several missions of the retired Space Shuttle Program, executive officer in the Office of the NASA Administrator, and led additional center-level technical and program organizations. Before joining NASA in 1989, Wyche worked for the Food and Drug Administration in Washington D.C.

A native of South Carolina, Wyche earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Master of Science in Bioengineering from Clemson University. In recognition of her contributions to the engineering profession she was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists at Clemson University in 2019.

Wyche is a passionate promoter of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and serves as a member of Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences advisory board, the University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business advisory panel, the Houston Exponential board of directors, and is a past chair of the Space Center Houston board of directors. She is the recipient of two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, two NASA Achievement Medals and is a current fellow of the International Women’s Forum.

Wyche is married to George Wyche Jr. Esq, and has one son, George Wyche III.

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