wonder women

Highly anticipated Women of Distinction kickoff party draws record Houston crowd

Women of Distinction kickoff party draws record Houston crowd

Class of 2019 WOD
The 2019 Women of Distinction. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Cyndy Garza Roberts, Fady Armanious, Sippi Khurana, and Shawntell McWilliams. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Class of 2019 WOD
Farida Abjani and Latika Bathija. Photo by Traci Ling.
Class of 2019 WOD
Kelly Larkin and Fernando Parra. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Class of 2019 WOD
Dennis and Jerre Williams, and DW Williams. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
George and Marilyn DeMontrond. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Donna and Norman Lewis. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Claire Fontenot, Steve Coleman, and Gaynell Drexler. Photo by Traci Ling
Class of 2019 WOD
Donae Chramosta and Lenny Matuszewski. Photo by Traci Ling.
Class of 2019 WOD
Marc Nguyen, Duyen Nguyen, and Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Merele Yarbrough
Merele Yarborough. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Susan Sarofim and Andy Cordes. Photo by Traci Ling.
Class of 2019 WOD
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Class of 2019 WOD
Class of 2019 WOD
Class of 2019 WOD
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff
Class of 2019 WOD
Class of 2019 WOD
Merele Yarbrough
WOD/Tootsies/Kickoff

The ABC13 Women of Distinction kickoff party at Tootsies was such a hot ticket that staff were scrambling to pull out extra chairs for the glitzy, jam-packed event honoring 10 of Houston’s most influential and philanthropic women. The cocktail party set the stage for the Crystal Winter Ball benefiting The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

More than 250 and friends and fans of the 2019 Women of Distinction chatted over cocktails at Tootsies before the spirited presentation, emceed by ABC13 anchor Gina Gaston. 

The group of business-savvy, generous, community-oriented, and family-centered women includes Farida Abjani, Marilyn DeMontrond, Gaynell Drexler, Jo Lynn Falgout, Carolyn Faulk, Melissa Juneau, Dr. Kelly Larkin, Sneha Merchant, Claire Thielke, and Jerre Williams. All came with their own cheering sections in tow, adding an extra bit of fun to each inductee's announcement. Party guests also applauded the work of honorary chairmen Mary Ann and David McKeithan.   

Perhaps the most heart-warming moment of the evening was the announcement of Merele Yarborough as the 2019 Ambassador. As she walked onstage, the crowd, including the Women of Distinction honorees, gave her a standing ovation.

Former Women of Distinction Cyndy Garza Roberts, Dr. Sippi Khurana, and Shawntell McWilliams spoke to the importance of raising funds for Crohn’s and colitis research and auto immune diseases in general.

“The origin of auto immune disease is in the gut. Crohn’s and colitis affects the entire body and this money helps us research and find cures,” Dr. Khurana said.

The 2019 Crystal Winter Ball is January 19, 2019, at the Hilton Americas Houston.

Spotted in the crowd were Tootsies creative director Fady Armanious; new Tootsies owner Norman Lewis and his wife, DonnaGayla GardnerYvonne CormierAnn AyreDonae ChramostaMelissa DeMontrondMarian HarperSusan SarofimEd McMahonDavid PeckBill BaldwinCarol SawyerLeisa Holland NelsonChristine Falgout-Gutknecht and Bill Gutknecht; and Susan Osterberg.