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With this issue of San Antonio Woman, we are celebrating 15 years of publication, bringing you stories about amazing women who shape the life of our community in business, government, the arts, health, community work and many other areas. To mark the occasion, we caught up with some of our “Cover Girls” to see how life has changed for them and what’s on their minds. Read on!
By Jasmina Wellinghoff
The founder of the Drake Commercial Group, Deborah Bauer is easily one of the most successful commercial real estate brokers in the city. She was instrumental in the development of several Stone Oak area communities. Her sights are now set on the far West Side, in the area of US 90 and SH 211, as well as the intersection of Potranco and 211, where several builders are already creating master planned communities on more than 4,000 acres of land. “These are very active areas, with a lot of job growth,” she notes. On another front, Bauer has teamed up with three other businesswomen to form Women Give Back, a charity that helps local nonprofits such as ChildSafe and the Battered Women’s Shelter. And she has two more grandchildren, twins born to her son, Travis and his wife. Deborah was recently awarded the National Entrepreneurial Spirit Award by CREW for her phenomenal career success and risk taking.
The untiring fighter for social justice, Janie Barrera, founded the micro-lending ACCION Texas back in 1994 to help startups and small businesses get off the ground and prosper. The organization has since changed its name to LiftFund and is now helping small business entrepreneurs in 13 states. These are folks who cannot get loans from banks, yet 96 percent of them repay their LiftFund loans. A former nun, Barrera is inspired by her faith. “Not only I, but this whole organization is guided by Providence and doing God’s work,” she says.
Elizabeth Chambers Hammer
The model and TV personality who opened the Bird Bakery on Broadway with her husband, actor Armie Hammer, in 2012, reports big changes in her life. “I have been blessed with two beautiful children — Harper, who is almost 3, and Ford, 8 ½ months,” she says. And Bird Bakery has not only opened a second location in Dallas, it has also expanded the San Antonio restaurant by adding extra dining space as well as a party room for events.
Following a great career as a WNBA basketball star and an Olympian, Hammon surprised many when, after her retirement, she became the assistant coach for the Spurs, only the second woman to hold such a job with an NBA team. She grew up in Rapid City, S.D., in a family that spent Sundays going to church and playing basketball and softball. As a child, she would sneak onto the basketball court and start shooting. “I was so good at it people thought I was a boy, even though I had long hair,” she told San Antonio Woman back in 2012. Good indeed! In October of this year, she was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame for 2018, with the ceremony planned for Jan. 27.
Mary Alice Cisneros
The former councilwoman and former first lady of San Antonio continues her work with American Sunrise, a nonprofit she and her husband started as an after-school program for elementary school kids in their West Side neighborhood. The emphasis is on teaching kids basic reading and math skills, as well as teaching parents how to help their children. She is also happy to report that her famous husband’s health is good following treatment for prostate cancer, and that their son, John Paul, who recently earned an MBA from Columbia, is now working for “our” company — Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co, LLC
Dr. Jui-Lien "Lillian" Chou
Dr. Chou, a breast care specialist and radiation oncologist, founded the Aurora Breast Center in 2009 to offer women state-of-the-art cancer care with the most sophisticated imaging technology and treatment. She is also a survivor of the disease herself. “Your article had a huge impact,” she tells us. “People found out that I was a breast cancer survivor in addition to being a breast cancer doctor, so they trust me to understand what they are going through.” Since then, her clinic has added 3-D mammography imaging (more accurate cancer detection), which most insurances cover. The doctor is a big supporter of organic gardening and urban agriculture and has a “demonstration garden” at her clinic. The idea is to inspire patients to grow and eat their own fresh food.
As the general manager of the San Antonio River Authority (SARA), Scott oversaw two of the most visible urban improvements in recent time — the Museum and Mission Reach extensions of the River Walk and the rehabilitation of the entire river ecosystem south of downtown. Now she is at it again with the restoration of San Pedro Creek, and her sights are already set on other local creeks that could all become part of a green network residents could use for recreation. She promises that the first segment of the San Pedro Creek project will be ready for the Tricentennial celebration. SARA recently received the 2017 Thiess International Riverprize from the International River Foundation, “the Nobel Prize for rivers,” says Scott.
The former sheriff is in excellent spirits these days. She says she’s proud of the efforts her office made in confronting domestic violence in the county and in identifying mental illness among the people arrested through the criminal justice system. She continues to serve the community by working on a number of boards, including those of the United Way, the Bexar County Family Justice Center Foundation and the San Antonio Master Leadership Program. And she remains open to new opportunities. “There’s a bigger plan,” she says, “God’s plan, and I am excited about what’s going to happen next.”
Kim Ford is now the head of her own firm, the KFORD Group, which offers the same full range of accounting services as it did under the name of Hill & Ford PC. The KFORD Group employs 17 people, seven of whom are CPAs. With a new tax code being proposed in D.C., we asked her opinion of it. She believes that changes are necessary as things have changed considerably in the country since the last reform in 1986. The proposed code simplifies filing for many people, she says, while a lower corporate tax, envisioned by the plan, may open new opportunities for businesses. She advises taxpayers to “pay attention, plan early and get advice from a tax adviser.” A longtime supporter of good causes in San Antonio, Ford is proud of her recent appointment to the board of the Texas Tech University Foundation, which gives her a opportunity to “give back” to her alma mater.
Yes, that Cheryl Ladd! The former Charlie’s Angels star still resides in Boerne, where she loves the small-town life, and is now a custom homebuilder in the area. Along with her husband, Brian Russell, Ladd has launched their homebuilding business — Cheryl Ladd Signature Homes. The first model house will be shown November 11 at the breath-taking Cordillera Ranch. Ladd is thrilled to be the Grand Marshal for the 2017 Holiday River Parade. “The parade sets the tone for the holidays, and is a wonderful event for families,” she said. When asked how she was able to keep such a youthful appearance, Ladd mentioned the importance of weight maintenance and good health.
Sondra created Shining Star ENERGY to negotiate and manage the mineral rights owners’ interests vis-a-vis oil and gas drillers on her properties in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. An astute businesswoman, she also tries to do as much good in the community as she can. Though considerably fewer rigs are running in the play these days — affecting the income of owners and operators alike — Grohman continues her charitable work that largely focuses on teaching girls the basics of finances and entrepreneurship through the Girl Scouts of SW Texas’ Council Path Program. In addition to mentoring, her company has established a $5,000 scholarship named I AM - I CAN - WATCH ME.
Shane and her husband, Wayne, started Massage Heights in 2004 in Alamo Heights as a membership facility akin to athletic clubs. Today, she is invited to speak to business students about entrepreneurship and franchising. The company now has 158 franchisees all over the U.S., with the goal of reaching 300. Her advice for those students or anyone who dreams of starting a business: “Do your homework, develop a business plan, and then find a mentor or two who will poke holes in the plan and ask hard questions.”
Susan is excited to announce that her family’s Franklin Companies have been chosen to operate the future senior living community at the Pro Football Hall of Fame complex in Canton, OH. The facility will be part of an $800 million expansion of the complex. The company already owns and runs seven upscale senior living communities in Texas under its Franklin Park brand name, including the latest addition – Franklin Park Alamo Heights. The latter will have a grand opening celebration on Nov. 16. An early board member of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, Franklin continues to support the “game changing” performing arts hall as a member of the newly formed Annual Giving Committee.
Every year brings new milestones and memories, and 2017 was no different for Isis Romero of KSAT 12. The anchorwoman launched the first season of her new prime time show, “Up Close with Isis Romero,” in which she serves as both host and producer. Most notably, Romero, who is married to fellow television anchor Phil Anaya of KENS 5, learned her family will grow yet again in 2017. The couple are expecting their third son during the week of Christmas.