The Young Women’s Alliance was established in 1993, when 20 young professional women gathered in the home of Carol Thompson, a leading Austin businesswoman, to network and trade business tactics and information.
The group called itself Win2 for “Win/Win” situation and began meeting regularly to discuss business, politics, city relations and future plans. By 1995, membership grew to 50 women, and the group wrote its first bylaws, incorporated with the state of Texas as a non-profit corporation, formed a board of directors, and gained support from a community advisory group. The group continued to grow and gain support, and by 1996 the members and the first board of directors decided to change the name from Win2 to the Young Women’s Alliance.
Founding Board of Directors
President – Patty Sanchez
President-Elect – Nina Seely
Secretary – Kristin Richard
Treasurer – Laura Avery
Community Services Chair – Penny Greene
Marketing Chair – Marny Lochhead Lifshen
Membership Chair – Merrell Anne Shearer
Meetings Chair – Karen Brown
Publications Chair – Kerri Wynn Qunell
First Appointed Advisory Board
Carol Thompson, The Thompson Group
Joan Gillett, Life Savings Bank
Sharon Lastrapes, Dell Computer
Jon Levy, Frost National Bank
Steve Moore, Small Craig & Werkenthin
Kerry Tate, Tate Austin
Bill McLellan, 3M Corporation
The YWA Advisory Council is a select group of Austin’s business and community leaders who serve as advisors and mentors for the YWA Board of Directors and guest speakers at meetings. Council members serve YWA for a term of three years and meet regularly with the YWA Board of Directors. Most recently, YWA Advisory Council members have given their time and expertise to such events such as the annual YWA Advisory Council Panel Meeting, service on the Austin Under 40 selection committee, and assistance with organizational improvements and strategic planning.
Advisory Council members are available to the YWA Board of Directors in a general mentor capacity as well as to answer more specific questions regarding their respective committee, organizations they serve or leadership roles they hold within the Austin community.
Current Advisory Council
Kerri Qunell, Director of Marketing, St. Edwards University
Bill Hopkins, Partner, Husch Blackwell
Deanna Rankin, Registered Senior Client Associate, The Heidmann/Jefferson Group Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.
Cookie Ruiz, Executive Director, Ballet Austin
Heather McKissick, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, UFCU
The founders of YWA envisioned an organization that would facilitate networking opportunities and support for Austin’s next generation of women leaders. Their vision has been realized, and we are proud to count many of Austin’s most prominent business and community leaders among our alumnae.
In particular, we would like to recognize our past presidents, each of whom has made a lasting impact on our organization and on the thousands of women who have benefited from the professional connections, confidence, skills and friendships they gained through YWA.
2017 – 2018 – Sarah Williamson, Senior Project Manager, Netsync
2016 – 2017 – Vanessa Fuentes, Regional Vice President, American Heart Association – SouthWest Affiliate
2015 – 2016 – Jessica Sager, Management & Leadership Consultant
2014 – 2015 – Alex Patterson, Owner, Wedding & Event Planner, Prosecco Weddings and Events
2013 – 2014 – Sandra Rivera, Counselor, LifeWorks
2012 – 2013 – Lynley Prather, Event Logistics Manager, George P. Johnson
2011 – 2012 – Kate Stoker – Global Campaign Manager, Dell
2010 – 2011 – Bronwyn Blake – Founder and Senior Attorney, Texas Advocacy Project
2009 – 2010 – Lori Hodge – Leadership Development, Texas Classroom Teachers Association
2008 – 2009 – Candace Ortega Bridges – Human Resources Manager, Four Hands
2007 – 2008 – Deanna Rankin – Senior Associate, Merrill Lynch
2006 – 2007 – Heather Summers Parsons, CFRE – Development Director, Texas CASA
2005 – 2006 – Susan Armstrong – Executive Director, Texas Land Trust Council
2004 – 2005 – Linda Ginac – Founder/CEO, The Ginac Group
2004 – 2004 – J. R. Ruiz – Manager, Deloitte Consulting
2003 – 2004 – Tiffany Schoening Stillwell – Business Development Director, Patten Law Firm
2002 – 2003 – Shannon Phillips Meroney – Director of State Government Relations, Aetna
2001 – 2002 – Kerri Wynn Qunell – Director of Marketing Services, St. Edward’s University
1999 – 2001 – Tanya Downing – Director of Corporate Initiatives, American Cancer Society
1997 – 1999 – Merrell Anne Shearer – Broker, Merrell Anne Shearer
1995 – 1997 – Nina Seely – Executive Director, Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
1993 – 1995 – Patty Sanchez – Independent Contract Paralegal Services