“All of these women are truly amazing,” Jackie DeNoyelles, event co-chair said at the luncheon at the Rose Garden Center. Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass read a proclamation naming the event as “Women in Tyler” day, which outlined the “unique contributions of women who change the world.”
The 2013 honorees are: Martha Berry, for her Cherokee bead work; Dr. Jeanette Calhoun, executive director of Tyler AIDS Services; Betty Edwards, who leads the 74-year-old North Tyler Day Nursery; Dawn Franks, president and chief executive officer of the Fourth Partner Foundation; Mary Ann Girard of Champions for Children; Christy Roach, principal of Douglas Elementary School; Ella Tucker, who has an extensive hat collection; and Dr. Syntha West, Ms. Texas Senior America in 2008.
Women in Tyler began in 1999 as a way to celebrate Women's History Month by honoring women who had contributed to the quality of life in the community, according to information received from the organization.
Over the years, the organization has honored women who have been pioneers in their fields, women's organizations, women who are building legacies, women who have inspired and women who give.
Although Women in Tyler Day is not meant to be a fundraiser, excess funds from sponsors of that event and luncheon go into The Women's Fund, established at the Fourth Partner Foundation. That fund, known as The Women's Fund, is a grant-making source to support programs or organizations that benefit Tyler-area women and children, according to information received from Women in Tyler.
Sharon Howell, chair of The Women's Fund, told attendees that since 2008, the fund has given more than $542,000 to 16 local non-profit agencies in Smith County. Some of those include the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County, which trains volunteer advocates to walk with children as they are “processed” through the court system, and the Christian Women's Job Corp.
Dr. Jeanette Deas Calhoun – A community volunteer and Executive Director for Tyler AIDS Services. She has a master's degree in counseling and a doctorate in administrative services which made her the ideal candidate for leading the AIDS Services in Tyler. Among her many accomplishments since moving to Tyler with her husband, Dr. Kirk Calhoun, is her role as the founding chair of Jack and Jill of East Texas.
Betty Edwards – She leads the North Tyler Day Nursery, which has been serving Tyler for 74 years to provide a safe, clean and educational day care for working parents and parents attending Texas College.
Dawn Franks – President and CEO of Fourth Partner Foundation where she works primarily with individuals, couples and families interested in philanthropic giving in Tyler. She also serves as the executive director of the Ben and Maytee Fisch Foundation. Ms. Franks was co-founder of the East Texas Crisis Center and served as its executive director for 15 years and also served five years as the president of the United Way of Tyler/Smith County.
Christy Roach – She grew up two blocks from Douglas Elementary School and dreamed of going to college and becoming a teacher at Douglas. She did earn a bachelor's degree and got the opportunity to teach third grade at Douglas. After completing her Masters of Education at UT Tyler, she was promoted to assistant principal. She has now been the principal for five years and is making a difference in the lives of her students.
Ella Tucker – She dazzles her fellow church members with her extensive hat collection. Ella's hat collecting began when she was 12 – wearing her first hat to Easter service. By the time she was 18, she was a serious collector. Now she owns more than 200 hats which fill up most of her closets and some of her rooms.
Dr. Syntha West – An alumna of Baylor University, was a head majorette for the band. Today, she hasn't let go of that ability and continues to perform at Baylor homecomings, even at age 73. Dr. West is also a counselor and helps children caught between divorcing parents. She taught for 36 years in the public schools before going into private practice. In 2008, Dr. West was crowned Ms. Texas Senior America as well as Ms. Congeniality. She continues to travel the state giving motivational speeches and entertaining groups with her music and twirling.