What is the FHPW Woman of Excellence?

For over 35 years, the Federation of Houston Professional Women (FHPW) has recognized hundreds of extraordinary professional women in the Greater Houston area for their accomplishments, altruistic efforts, dedication and diverse backgrounds.

Each year, one woman from each organization is recognized as the Woman of Excellence for the contributions brought to her organization throughout the year. The Women of Excellence inspire other women by making a difference in peoples lives and helping them to succeed. These leaders possess the ability to inspire other women for the good of their organizations and businesses transforming them by impacting the Greater Houston Area. These amazing women go above and beyond donating their time, effort, talent and financial support to FHPW stakeholders, constituencies and communities.

*content to this point adapted from 2017 Awards Program open letter from Jackeline Gascon-Webb, 2017 FHPW Gala President

This once in a lifetime recognition brings together a circle of women who seek to empower themselves, their organizations and other members of their community.

CFWN has an impressive list of honorees starting with Valerie Cavanaugh in 1993.

In honor of Valerie’s decades of service to CFWN, the 2018 board officially established their annual Christmas partnership with Candlelighters Houston as the Cavanaugh Candlelighters Christmas Celebration.

2018 Woman of Excellence
Jill B. Denson

2017 Donna McCarty
2016 Vicki Joern
2015 Bernie Horan
2014 Melissa Watts
2013 Karen Monroe
2013 Lisa Kolaja
2012 Nicole Vicha
2011 Jan Stephenson
2010 Nancy Ingram
2009 Cindy Schoeller
2008 Beth Ann Chaney
2007 Cathy Salyers
2006 Angela Jackson
2005 Donna Barrett
2004 Patti Ardoin
2003 Carolyn Rankin
2002 Helen Grant Harris
2001 Kay Hughes
2000 Betty Jo Mason
1999 Pat Durham
1998 Linda McAdams
1997 Helen Fox
1996 Mona Elias
1995 Cherie Shireman
1994 Marilyn Farrell
1993 Valerie Meston Cavanaugh


Dr. Betty Ann Snead of University of Houston’s College of Business Administration began teaching Women in Administration courses starting in 1975 and quickly realized that women were being denied access to both necessary business information and valuable contacts.

Rosie Walker, Owner and Publisher of the Houston Working Woman’s Journal was a class speaker for Dr. Snead, a member of the American Business Women’s Network (AWBA) and a role model for female Entrepreneurs.

In the early 1980’s, business and professional networking organizations were emerging throughout the country. Similar efforts began to evolve within the American Business Women’s Association, Academic and Women’s Scientific and Medical Groups.

Dr. Snead, Rosie Walker and a third woman, Kay Allen, a field representative for the National Headquarters for the AWBA, came together to determine that an umbrella group representing Women’s Professional Organizations could be beneficial. The trio decided to meet quarterly with the aspiration to assemble a group large enough to attract speakers of National and International stature. They wanted to provide businesswomen the influence and presence so deeply needed; hence, a model constitution and bylaws for the organization was presented on March 31, 1981.

By September 1981, the Federation of Houston Professional Women (FHPW) was officially founded with officers elected to serve through the 1982 calendar year.

With 14 member organizations, the FHPW was chartered by the State of Texas in May 1982 as a non-profit, non-partisan business league. The mission of FHPW to unite member organizations to promote a place of influence and power. Decades later, the FHPW is the only one of its kind.

An endowed scholarship at University of Houston was established with $10,000 in 1988. In 2001, in honor of their 20th year anniversary, FHPW made an additional $10,000 gift. While the organization continues to put monies in as needed, the meeting in April 2016 raised $25,000 in 20 minutes.

The establishment of a non-profit Educational Foundation also began in 1990. Since 1997, FHPW has given over $410,000 to Texas woman of all degrees and ages.

Money is raised from the Annual Women of Excellence gala by donations provided by individuals, member organizations and companies owned by FHPW members.

Three Past Cy-fair Women’s Network members have served as Presidents of FHPW- Judy Carlini, 2007; Linda McAdams, 2003; and, Pat Durham, 2002.

Grace, Respectful, Appreciative, Caring, Encouraging

For more information about FHPW, please visit the Federation of Houston Professional Women.

CFWN would like to thank Pat Durham for the content and history provided in this section.