Governor Abbott Appoints 15, including Gay Gaddis, To Governor’s Commission For Women

From the Office of the Texas Governor | Greg Abbott

Governors Comission for Women

[Article] Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Gay Gaddis, Kimberly Ratcliff, and Janine Turner and reappointed Gina Bellinger, Gita Bolt, Ashley Cash, Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Cynthia Conroy, Sasha Crane, Maru De La Paz, Angelique De Luca, Amy Henderson, Jinous Rouhani, Nathali Parker Weisman, and Pasty Wesson to the Governor’s Commission for Women for terms set to expire December 31, 2025. Governor Abbott has charged the Commission with developing a strategy and implementation plan to help make Texas the number one state for women-owned businesses and address human trafficking. Housed within the Office of the Governor, the Governor’s Commission for Women specializes in outreach, education, research, and referral services. Together with First Lady Cecilia Abbott, the Commission also proudly supports the foster and adoption outreach programs of the Heart Gallery. 

Gay Gaddis of Austin is an author, artist, and CEO of Gay Gaddis, LLC. She is also an active speaker on women’s leadership, company culture, and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of T3, an innovative digital agency that grew into the largest woman-owned independent advertising agency in the nation. Gaddis empowers the next generation of business leaders through leadership training, her book, Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business & Life, and work as president and chair of the board of directors of Texas Exes, board of directors of the Texas Cultural Trust, and member of McCombs School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council and advisor for the College of Fine Arts and the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas. Gaddis is also the former first female chair of the Texas Business Leadership Council, was formerly appointed to the board of directors of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and former chair of the committee of 200 (C200). She is a contributor to Forbes and recently founded “Women Who Mean Business,” a women’s development program that she teaches at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas. She has been awarded with the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Texas, 2020 McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame Award, the “Liz Carpenter Lifetime Achievement Award,” Fast Company’s “Top 25 Women Business Builders,” Inc. Magazine’s “Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Year,” C200’s Luminary Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and was recognized by Texas Monthly as one of “10 Artists to Collect Now.” Gaddis received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Texas at Austin.

Kimberly Ratcliff of Oakwood is owner of Ratcliff Premium Meats. She is a member of the Independent Cattlemen Association, Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership Committee, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Private Lands Committee, and the Livestock and Ranching Committee at Texas A&M University. Additionally, she is a delegate for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching at Prairie View A&M University. She has received numerous awards for her accomplishments by organizations including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Landowners Association, and Minority Landowners magazine. Ratcliff received a Bachelor of Science from Long Island University Brooklyn and a certificate in ranch management from Texas Christian University.

Janine Turner of Valley View is a three-time Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress. She is best known for portraying Maggie O’Connell in the hit CBS television series, Northern Exposure, starring in the blockbuster movie, Cliffhanger, with Sylvester Stallone and Universal’s Leave it to Beaver, and her series work on Lifetime’s Strong Medicine and NBC’s Friday Night Lights (filmed in Texas), among others. She has co-starred in movies with Richard Gere, Tom Wilkinson, and Anthony Hopkins, and recently starred in Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime) and Taking the Reins (Hallmark). Turner grew up in Euless and Fort Worth, starting her career at the age of three as a model with The Kim Dawson Agency, apprentice to the Fort Worth Ballet, and actress at Fort Worth’s classic theater, Casa Manana. She was recruited to model with Wilhelmina Modeling Agency in New York City at the age of fifteen and worked in Dallas and Los Angeles on the series Dallas at the age of seventeen. Turner wrote the best-selling book Holding Her Head High in 2007 about prestigious women spanning seventeen centuries succeeding against all odds. She created and hosted a talk radio show, The Janine Turner Show, in Dallas and Houston for over two years and served on President Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. In 2010, she founded and co-chaired Constituting America, an organization with the mission to spread awareness about the relevance and importance of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution. Turner has given over 600 speeches as a visiting scholar nationwide both to students and adults, spanning a broad range of topics including women’s issues, motivation, civic duty, and faith. Turner is currently launching a musical about Belva Lockwood, the first woman to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court in the nineteenth century and run for president of the United States in 1884. Turner has five published books: The Pivot Principle, Finding Joy in Despair (CES), Holding Her Head High (Thomas Nelson), A Little Bit Vulnerable (Putnam Books), Wisdom for Each Day, and Artificial Intelligentsia vs Primal Sense (RSP). In addition, Turner has written several dozen published editorials and regularly appears on national television news shows as an opinion contributor.

Gina Bellinger of San Antonio was the founder and president of Food Safety Net Services, a nationwide laboratory company specializing in food safety and consumer products testing. Under her leadership, the company expanded to encompass 20 locations across North America, solidifying its position as an industry leader. With a career spanning 28 years, Bellinger has emerged as a key authority in the food industry. Her significant contributions include co-authorship of several distinguished publications addressing the control of pathogens in food processing operations. A proud alumna of Texas A&M University, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, and her commitment to her alma mater is reflected in her role as a scientific advisor for the Food Science Department. In addition to her work in the food safety sector, Bellinger is the owner of Just Pots, a San Antonio-based company specializing in indoor and outdoor pottery. Beyond her professional endeavors, Bellinger is a dedicated supporter of numerous charitable causes.

Gita Bolt of Houston is the vice president and chief legal counsel for the University of St. Thomas. A Houston native, Bolt recently served as the vice president and general counsel for the Houston Housing Authority. She attended Howard University and graduated cum laude. At Howard, Bolt competed on the track team and was an Academic All-American. She earned her Juris Doctor from Tulane University School of Law, along with a sports law certification. While attending Tulane Law, Bolt was honored as the Best Orator of The Southern Region in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. In 2011, Bolt was selected as one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women of Louisiana by the National Diversity Council. In 2018, she was named as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Women of Houston. Previously, Bolt was general counsel for Loyola University New Orleans and Texas Southern University (TSU). She also held the positions of associate general counsel, assistant general counsel, and director of NCAA compliance in the athletics department while at TSU. Previously, Bolt was assistant attorney general in the child support litigation division.

Ashley Cash of Lubbock is president and manager of CCC Capital Solutions, Inc., a real estate and investment company. She is also a manager of CX5 Partners, LLC; CX5 Holdings, LLC; and CCC Oil & Gas, LLC. Cash. Additionally, cash and her husband co-manage family ranches and other investments through their cash family office. Cash serves on the board of Quest Trust Company headquartered in Houston and the advisory board at the Gordon W. Davis College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University. She is Vice president and director for the Cash Family Foundation. For the past three years, Cash has served on the finance advisory committee for Congressman Jodey Arrington. Cash previously served on the Boards of The National Ranching Heritage Association, Southcrest Christian School, and the March of Dimes, Midland Chapter. She has also served other organizations including the Junior League, Special Olympics, United Way, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, and Lubbock Impact. Cash received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Southern Methodist University.

Denise Castillo-Rhodes of Houston is the chief financial officer of Texas Medical Center, where she oversees accounting, finance, revenue cycle, risk management, tax compliance, debt management, and the investment fund. Castillo-Rhodes has served Texas Medical Center in this capacity since 2004. Outside of her work, she serves in leadership roles including as the chairman of the board of directors of the University of St Thomas Vice and as chair of the audit and finance committee. Additionally, Castillo-Rhodes is a Houston City Council-appointed trustee of the Houston Municipal Employee Pension system.  She is also a member of the Oil States International Board of Directors. Castillo-Rhodes holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso and Master of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas. She is a certified public accountant and member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and American Institute of Public Accountants.

Cynthia “Cindy” Conroy of El Paso is the director of community outreach and the aide to the chairman of WestStar, the Borderplex region’s leading commercial bank. Conroy serves as the chair of the El Paso Community College Foundation, the Heart Gallery of El Paso, and is the immediate-past chair of the United Way of El Paso County. She is a member of the board of El Paso Matters, the Pioneer Association of El Paso County, the Community Advisory Partnership of El Paso Electric, and the advertising review committee of the State Bar of Texas. Conroy previously served on the advisory board of the Texas Governor’s University Research Initiative, as past chair of Girls Scouts of the Desert Southwest, past president of El Paso Executive Forum, and on the boards of Leadership Women, formerly the Foundation for Women’s Resources. Conroy is a 2023 Hunt-Aspen Institute Fellow and the recipient of El Paso Inc.’s “2022 Woman of Impact.” Conroy received a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso and is a member of Leadership Texas Class of 2007.

Sasha Crane is known for her unwavering commitment to fostering educational excellence and community development. Born and raised in McAllen, she has dedicated her life to serving her community and ensuring the well-being of future generations. Crane’s journey in education leadership began in 2019 when she was appointed to the South Texas ISD School Board. Since then, she has played a pivotal role in shaping the educational policies and initiatives serving as the board’s Legislative Chairwoman and as Co-Chair of Community & Governmental Relations. In this capacity, Crane actively engages with local, state, and federal policymakers to advocate for policies that positively impact education in the region. Her dedication to legislative advocacy has helped shape educational reforms that benefit students and educators alike. She formerly was appointed to the STISD’s Public Facilities Corporations Board. As a board member, Crane has consistently advocated for student success, equitable access to quality education, and the empowerment of educators. Her commitment to community service extends beyond education. Since 1996, she has been an active member of the Junior League of McAllen, a renowned organization dedicated to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities. Currently serving as a Sustaining Member, Crane’s involvement in the Junior League showcases her passion for community building and her desire to create positive change. Her own educational journey began with a Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Houston, where she was part of a research team in microbiology chaired by Dr. Ron Mills. This was followed by training at the University of North Dakota Indians in Medicine Program, showcasing her commitment to learning and personal growth. A founding board member of the McAllen Marathon Scott Crane Run Series, a marathon named after her late husband, Commissioner Scott Crane, she continues to contribute her time, skills, and resources to various community projects and initiatives.

Maru De La Paz of Harlingen is a Business Development Manager with Valley Baptist Health System, where she also serves as the Emergency Medical Services Liaison for the hospital system in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). An appointed commissioner to the Cameron County Housing Authority, De La Paz also serves as president (2023-24) of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Educational Foundation. A proud sustainer of the Junior League of Harlingen, where she actively served for 10 years as vice president of Fund Development, Kid Fit Chair, provisional chair, and South Texas Sizzler co-chair. De La Paz is a board member for TRIUMPH Public Schools in the RGV. She also serves as a board member of the United Way of Northern Cameron County, the RGV Partnership Board of Directors, the Harlingen Rotary Club, and is a graduate of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class (2021–22). De La Paz is a longtime supporter and volunteer of the Blue Sunday organization. The co-founder of the “Women in Leadership” committee for the Greater Harlingen Chamber, De La Paz was named Inspirational Woman of the Year in 2020 at the Dia De La Mujer conference (International Woman’s Day) in Brownsville. She was presented with the “Chairperson Choice Award” at the Annual Greater Harlingen Chamber of Commerce Gala in 2021 in recognition of her outstanding work within the community. Most recently she was honored at the Harlingen Literacy Center Annual Roast for her many years of community leadership and inspiring others through the art of volunteerism.

Angelique De Luca of Fort Worth is the founder and CEO of Four Falling Stars Productions. She is Vice Chair of the Lone Star Film Festival, member of the Screen Actors Guild of America, Women Steering Business, and former member of the Texas Christian University (TCU) Chancellor’s Advisory Council. She is a volunteer for the TCU film school and volunteers for the Fort Worth Country Day School and Colonial Kids for a Cause. Additionally, she is a former committee member of KinderFrog’s for TCU and Baby2Baby. She was a producer on the motion picture 12 Mighty Orphans. De Luca attended Schreiner University.

Amy Henderson of Amarillo is a business loan officer with Amarillo National Bank. Henderson is also a board member for the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Business Council. She has served as a board member for Window on a Wider World and Texas Panhandle Regional Development Center and is past advisory board member of WT Enterprise Center and America’s Small Business Development Center at West Texas A&M University. Henderson served honorably in the United States Air Force as an information management specialist during 1989–1993 and supported Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She was a recipient of a Top Twenty Under 40 awards from the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce and was selected as the 2010 Businesswoman of the Year by the Amarillo Chamber Women’s Council. Henderson earned an associate degree in accounting from Amarillo College, a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from West Texas A&M University, and Master of Business Administration in General Business from West Texas A&M University.

Jinous Rouhani of Austin is the CEO of Austin Area Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Fertility. Previously, she served as CEO of Medexecs and as chief administrative officer for Texas Cardiovascular Consultants. Rouhani also served as the secretary, vice president, and president of the Central Texas Chapter of the Medical Group Management Association, where she has been a national member for over 25 years. She also serves as a host and mentor to the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Foundation healthcare scholars. Additionally, Rouhani serves as a mentor for the Young Women’s Alliance. Rouhani previously served as an advisor to the Austin Children’s Shelter and the organization Aware, Awake, Alive. She has also served with the Children of Haiti support team and as facilitator and interpreter for Refugees in Austin. Rouhani received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics and Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University.

Nathali Parker Weisman of New Braunfels is co-owner and CEO of KLP Construction Supply, a heavy civil regular dealer and distributor of construction materials with five stocking locations around Texas. Parker and her sister, Karen Parker Rogers, started KLP in 2012 with a focus on the heavy highway and infrastructure industry. Today, she serves as the associate co-vice chair for the Austin Chapter of the Association of General Contractors (AGC) – Heavy Civil and Utilities Division, a Future Young Leaders Committee member for the Austin and DFW AGC Chapters, and an AGC Workforce Development Task Force member. Parker Weisman also serves on the education and new technologies committee of the Texas Asphalt Pavement Association (TXAPA) and is the chair to Launch the Women of Asphalt Branch of Texas. She previously served on the board of the TXAPA and as chair for the associate division. As a proud letterman Bobcat, Parker Weisman graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science and as an all-conference Javelin thrower and member of the Track and Field Team competing in the heptathlon and open javelin. She is also a proud citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

Patsy Wesson of Fort Worth is president and owner of Carriage Square Jewelers, LLC, where she has designed custom jewelry for over 35 years. In 2020, Wesson co-founded a new digital custom jewelry manufacturing company called Ellansa. She is a member of the Jewelers Board of Trade and holds multiple certifications from the Gemological Institute of America. Wesson is also the founder and director of numerous private businesses. Additionally, she is a former elementary school educator. Wesson received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and is a graduate gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America.