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Corpus Christi Y Women in Careers Awards announced

YWCA board President Teresa Costley (left) at a media conference announcing the 2018 Y Women in Career honorees Maria M. Vidaurri, Ed.D., Sherdeana Owens, D.D.S., Mary V. Gleason, Ed.D., Deborah Fullerton, Michelle Flower, Blanch Fernandez, Nina Drath, and Karen Olsen Bonner. Also shown is YWCA President/CEO Nancy Wesson-Dodd (right). Courtesy photo

Recognition is an important acknowledgement of professional success. That’s why the YWCA recognizes women who make significant impacts in their career fields through the Y Women in Careers Award. This year’s honorees will be recognized at the 38th Y Women in Careers Awards Banquet at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center.

Since its inception in 1979, the YWCA has honored 276 exceptional women in the Coastal Bend who stand out in their career fields through this award. They are chosen for their professional accomplishments, for the paths they paved for other women and young girls in the community and for leading the way forward while giving back.

The 2018 Y Women in Careers honorees are:

Karen Olsen Bonner, vice president of philanthropy, CHRISTUS Spohn Health System Foundation.

As vice president of philanthropy for CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, Bonner raised funds for lifesaving programs such as Cyber Knife and the DaVinci Robotic Surgical System.

Nina Drath, concert pianist/president, Fryderyk Chopin Society of Texas Inc.

In 1990, Drath founded the Fryderyk Chopin Society, which hosts the Sonatina & Sonata International Youth Competition and the International Chopin Piano Competition and other community events.

Blanch Fernandez, president/CEO, Angel Bright Home Health Inc.

In 2003, Fernandez created Angel Bright Home Health Care, which serves more than 1,400 patients with skilled home care. She has since developed and manages seven businesses.

Michelle Flower, senior manager, human resources, Valero Bill Greehey Refineries.

As senior manager of the refinery’s human resources department, Flower holds an executive management position for one of Corpus Christi’s largest employers. She manages human resource functions for more than 800 employees.

Deborah Fullerton, curator of exhibitions, Art Museum of South Texas.

Fullerton plans and implements art exhibitions, supervises registrarial and preparation departments and serves as staff liaison to the exhibitions and collections committees. An artist herself, Fullerton works to present female artists in the Art Museum of South Texas.

Mary V. Gleason, Ed.D., executive director, Corpus Christi Literacy Council.

Since taking the job in 2006, Gleason has developed a way to assess the impact that improved literacy has on the social and economic aspects of people’s lives in the Coastal Bend.

Sherdeana Owens, D.D.S., assistant professor and health science coordinator, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, TAMU-Corpus Christi.

In her dentistry practice, Owens worked with low-income families, AIDS patients, the elderly, those with disabilities and the homeless. She has now entered the academic world, where she is a role model and a mentor for young women.

Maria M. Vidaurri, Ed.D., superintendent, Robstown Independent School District.

In 2017, Vidaurri was named a regional Superintendent of the Year winner by the Texas Association of School Boards. She has led Robstown ISD to a ‘Met Standard’ status, earned an Early College High School designation for Robstown Early College High School and spearheaded the initiative to become a District of Innovation.

Recognizing these deserving women is a special privilege for the YWCA, fulfilling its mission of empowering women. These honorees play crucial roles in their professions.

Y Women in Careers is a vital way to show young girls what women can accomplish, helping them set goals for their own lives. As one of the YWCA’s major fundraisers, Y Women in Careers offers invaluable support for YWCA programs and communicates the essential role the YWCA plays in our community.

Tickets and sponsorships are available at Reserve your place today to honor these awesome women and start thinking which professional women you can nominate for 2019!

Beverly Randolph is executive assistant at the YWCA. A graduate of Carroll High School and Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi), she has been a resident of Corpus Christi for most of her life. Her professional credentials include English teacher, parish administrator and public relations.

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