Dallas Chapter Estrellas
Each year a woman is selected from the chapter membership for her contributions to HWNT and the community. The award, known as The Estrella de Tejas, is granted to members during the Annual Conference. The following members were selected as Dallas Chapter Estrellas.
2012 - Mary Jo Hernandez-Gartner
Mary Jo has been a member of HWNT Dallas Chapter since 2008 where she has been a tremendous asset. Upon joining, she volunteered at one of our Education Seminars and immediately felt inspired by what HWNT does for High School girls. She shared new ideas and quickly became a valued contributor to the program. Consequently, she became part of the education committee, then became the Education Program Chair and went on to lead HWNT Dallas' marketing as the Vice Chair of Marketing and Development. Under her leadership, Mary Jo took our program to new heights by improving marketing material; building new alliances, increasing our outreach, and implementing a formal Mentoring Program which helped us improve how we positively impact our young girls. Mary Jo is also very active in volunteer activities outside of HWNT. She is driven by her interests in education, personal growth, women's rights and international matters.
On a professional level, Mary Jo is accomplished in multiple areas including business development, project management, financial management and professional development. She has been a leader at various levels in Dallas by helping to found the Diversity Council at Weblink and Adelante (Dell's Hispanic Diversity Group), serving as a corporate leader for the American Heart Walk and American Lung Association, creating and leading a division-wide volunteer mentoring program for professionals, serving as a founding member of the pre-nursing Academy Task Force at UTA and as a board member of the SMU Chapter of Mediators Beyond Borders, just to mention some.
2011 - Angie Perez
Angie Perez joined the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas-Dallas Chapter in 2007 and immediately became involved with the Education Seminar Series by serving as a volunteer chaperoning students on one of the buses. She went on to co-chair the program during the 2009-2010 academic school year and took great pride in helping to increase the number of students in attendance. In 2010-2011, she continued her involvement in the program by chairing the volunteer committee. Having become an HWNT member has been a blessing to Angie in that she has made many dear friends and grown both personally and professionally.
Angie is currently a human resources representative at Mission Foods/Gruma Corporation in Irving, Texas. She is a past board member of the North Texas Exes Collin County Chapter and has been a member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs for over eight years.
Angie began her higher education journey at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School; later earning a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing from the University of North Texas while married and raising a young daughter. In 2005 she fulfilled her goal of earning her Masters Degree of Business Administration (with a Human Resources concentration) from the University of Dallas – an achievement which made her family extremely proud, including her late father whom initially instilled in her the desire to pursue a higher education. Most recently Angie received her certification as a Professional in Human Resources.
2010 - Vielka-Lee Heitz
Vielka-Lee is the present Chair of the HWNT Dallas chapter. Under her leadership, the last four years, she has been able to inspire other women to join the chapter and continue to keep the chapter running. Prior to taking on the role of chair, Vielka was vice chair of Communications and Public Relations. It was the first time she had participated as a board member and she basically learned the ropes of the position. She is kind and always willing to lend a hand and help people. She has been supportive of chapter members and inspired them to start new programs for the chapter like Project Esperanza, where green components were introduced to our members and WIN (Women in Need), a partnership with Genesis Women’s Shelter to help women in distress. She has also encouraged members to pursue participation in programs like Power Pipeline and Leadership America. Vielka-Lee also serves as an active member of the Committee of the Board for Power Pipeline, a young emerging leaders program hosted by the Foundation of Women’s Resources. Participated in Power Pipeline 2009 and currently participates in Leadership Texas 2010 and Leadership America 2010. She is a member of MANA, NSHMBA and an active member of the Junior League of Dallas where she volunteers in various capacities in organizations like Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, Genesis Women’s Shelter and the North Texas Food Bank.
Vielka-Lee is a senior systems engineer at Sirius Computer Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. Her responsibilities include pre and post sales technical support by designing and implementing sound mainframe solutions for customers in Texas, Colorado and Louisiana. Previously, Vielka-Lee worked at IBM for twelve years where she held various Worldwide and local positions. She Co-Chaired ‘La Red’, a key IBM Diversity Initiative focused on developing Hispanic women and earned various performance awards. Vielka-Lee earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. International coursework included studying abroad at ESC Rouen School of Management in France, Belgium and Mexico.
2009 - Ivonne Acero
Ivonne Acero joined the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas-Dallas at end of 2007. In less than two years with the organization, she designed, developed and implemented Women in Need (WIN), a key initiative for the organization which helps battered women by providing training and development, such as goal-setting and self-esteem. Through this program, HWNT is presently helping the Genesis Shelter reduce the occurrence of violence against women and children in the greater Dallas area. Having been raised in a home of domestic violence, Ivonne took a most difficult experience in her life to make things better for others.
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Ivonne is an established regional and local artist and facilitator based in the Dallas area. She has extensive experience in the use of many art forms as a healing tool, and as expressive mediums. Currently she works on her art and facilitates creativity and self- growth workshops at a personal and corporate level. Ivonne obtained an associate's degree in Textile Design and later her bachelors degree, in Fashion Design & Merchandising from Florida International University. “For 15 years my line of work was Fashion Design and Forecasting, until I decided to make my creativity more valuable and meaningful; something more congruent with my on-going healing and personal growth quest. I started painting and haven’t stopped ever since,” she said.
Ivonne founded her own company, The Creative Power, which provides individual self-growth workshops to its students, with the goal to help them find their hidden creative and artistic talents within themselves to heal, grow and develop. Certified as an art therapist in 2006, Ivonne has facilitated workshops with the “Frame Project” (a Dallas-based nonprofit ), La Reunion TX – “Chicas Unidas” (a Dallas nonprofit), and “The Creative Power” (own Business). She is an Apprentice of Stuart Cobley’s -”The Painting Experience”. Ivonne graduated from INSIGHT seminars (4th level-Facilitator’s level), and has completed many workshops on creative & artistic subjects. Her latest project is with The Booker T. Washington school of the Arts conducting one-on-one mentoring.
2008 - Jacqueline Scimemi
Jacqueline Scimemi is a marketing director and registered representative at New England Financial. Jacqueline possesses a unique blend of sales, marketing and business strategy experience on a national level. She is devoted to her family, her career, and making a difference in the community.
Since her relocation to the Dallas area, Jacqueline has become an active member of HWNT and is currently the chair of the HWNT Education Seminar Series. As an advocate of higher education, Jacqueline is also passionate about including financial literacy in proper education, especially in the Hispanic community.
She believes that as we appreciate and celebrate cultural differences, we will enrich our community and broaden opportunities in business, government, and education.
2007 - Mary Ann Kellam
Mary Ann Kellam is a district manager for an insurance company, based in Irving, TX. and is active in leadership positions in the Dallas and Coppell, TX communities.
She has held numerous roles including past chair of the Hispanic Women's Network of Texas, (HWNT) and past chair of the HWNT Education Seminars Series. She is currently a member on the education series, as well as, serving as state board representative for HWNT, Dallas Chapter.
Kellam is past-chairperson of the board of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce; Coppell Independent School District committee member and City of Coppell Economic Development Board member. She has also been involved with Girls, Inc.; The Family Place; and is involved with many more organizations.
In 1999, Kellam created a Coppell, TX youth leadership program for high school students, the Coppell Youth Leadership (CYL) program. She is also a past recipient of the "Coppell Woman of the Year" award.
2006 - Carmen Garcia
Carmen Garcia is currently the Outreach Director of Economic Opportunity at DART. Prior to that position she was director of community affairs for the State Fair of Texas. In her role as community emissary, Garcia represented the State Fair at various public meetings and events.
The Houston native graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a degree in public administration. Garcia began her career in governmental affairs with ARCO and later directed programs and special projects in the offices of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Texas Secretary of State in Austin. She returned to Dallas to manage Ron Kirk's campaign office in his successful bid for mayor.
After the election, she opened her own business, ABRAC Consulting, specializing in marketing, public relations, and event management. Her relationship with the State Fair of Texas was established at this point, when she took on the annual event as a corporate client.
Garcia sits on the boards of the D/FW Network of Hispanic Communicators, Dallas Opera, Dallas Zoo, African American Museum, Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce and was just recently appointed by Dr. Moses, DISD Superintendent to Co-Chair the newly formed Community Advisory Committee. She is currently the Past Chair of the HWNT State organization and is active in numerous community organizations.
2005 - Queta Garrett
Queta was born in La Havana, Cuba. She emigrated to the United States at the age of 13 and has lived in Dallas since then. She graduated from W.H. Adamson and the University of Texas at Arlington. She has worked in the Oil and Gas Industry since graduating from UTA. She is currently employed by Heritage Standard Corporation as their tax manager.
She has been involved in several capacities with HWNT since 1995. She currently serves as Treasurer of Grupo Internacional Dallas, of which she has been a member since 1996. In recent years she has also served in other nonprofit boards and invested numerous volunteer hours in our community.
Her 24-year old son is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont and currently resides in Los Angeles. She enjoys photography, traveling, reading, dancing, needle crafts and stamp collecting.
2004 - Betty Swinners
Betty is the owner and chief executive officer of Diversity Speakers, a company established to promote minority public speakers and trainers to ensure diversity. She specializes in the development and evaluation of national and grassroots programs, diversity campaigns, coalition building, and diversity related trainings and ethnic specific issues.
Betty is a motivational speaker who has dedicated her life to sharing her story of success and survival to encourage others to believe in themselves. A survivor of abuse, she was raised as a homeless child, living in an abandoned house. Education was not a priority to her family, but adversity did not stop Betty from becoming a success.
She has been recognized as "One of Texas Most Influential Women" by Texas Hispanic Magazine, inducted into "The Hispanic Women's Hall of Fame" by Hispanic Women in Leadership and is the recipient of the First Anna Maria Arias Memorial Business Fund Award presented to outstanding Latina business owners at the Hispanic Businesswomen’s luncheon during the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Annual National Convention.
Betty is passionate and delivers powerful keynote addresses at conferences, luncheons and vigils for Colleges / Universities, Domestics Violence Agencies, Rape Crisis Centers and Women's Organizations. She is the co-author of "Tortilla Soup for the Spirit" and will soon release two new books "Daily Affirmations for Latinos" and "A Story of Hope and Fried Chicken."
2003 - Maricela Martinez
Maricela has been an advocate for positive change in the areas of education, law enforcement, and the arts. She is a community leader who takes the initiative in issues and causes which will positively impact the community.
Her civic involvement includes membership in many organizations and service on several boards, committees, and commissions. The numerous awards she has received have recognized her commitment and efforts. Maricela has been involved with HWNT since 1996 and has served in several positions at both the local and state level, including chapter chair, state representative, state membership chair, state conference co-chair, just to name a few.
Her commitment to assure her family's welfare and future prompted her to become active, and their support and encouragement have kept her involved. She has three children and four grandchildren.