Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Houston?
I’m from the small town of West, Texas. It’s right outside of Waco and began as a Czech immigrant community. I’m 100 percent Czech and all four lineages of my family moved to this small farming community when they immigrated to the United States. It’s a community of only 3,000 people! Growing up there was such a blessing. We all knew one another and were always surrounded by family and friends, each willing to help one another at any moment when it was needed. I moved to Houston in the late 90s to begin a new chapter in my career and have been a proud resident of our great city for almost 25 years!
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
My son, Wynn Lawrence is 11 and my daughter Eleanor Kathryn is 8, but we call her Ella. Both of their names are family names!
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
Some might be surprised to find out that I am actually an emergency and trauma nurse by education. I attended Baylor University, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and moved to Houston to practice nursing at then Hermann Hospital.
Favorite local activities to do in Houston?
We love the culinary scene in Houston! We visit new restaurants and love to frequent our favorite spots too. Nothing beats dinner with friends and a great bottle of red wine! We also love the arts and sports scene. We have owned boats since before we were married and enjoy boating almost year-round. I find my solace and peace anywhere on the water.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
Since I moved to Houston, I have been involved with many wonderful organizations. I am currently wrapping up my year (2020-2021) as the President of the Junior League of Houston. This has been one of the most challenging years any of us have had to navigate through and I am honored to have been able to serve in this role to help steward the League through this unprecedented time. We were literally building the plane as we flew it, trying to figure out how to continue to be the volunteer leaders our community needed and looked to during this difficult time. Founded almost a century ago, The Junior League of Houston is an organization of 5,000 dedicated members that actively support 34 nonprofits agencies across the city of Houston with ongoing volunteer and financial support. Additionally, The League serves agencies where we do not have active volunteer service through programs such as Community Assistance Grants, Outside Board Representative/Collaborations Program, Emergency and Resource Contingency Grants and IMPACT volunteers.
In a year such as this, with the vast amount of need in our community given the ongoing pandemic, we could not let these agencies or the children and families they serve down, and I am so proud to say we did not! The League reimagined the entire way in which we served our community this year, creating the innovative IMPACT placement that provided more than 75 nonprofit agencies with immediate and trained volunteer support, pioneered the Junior League Community “SUPER” Markets, that provided basic needs support such as food, water, clothing, and healthcare to thousands of families, and developed the Thought Leader Event Series, a program that educated the Houston community on issues facing our city during this year of continued crisis. All of this exemplifies the innovation made possible through the focused efforts of Junior League volunteers.
I also currently serve on the Boards of the March of Dimes, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Baylor College of Medicine Partnership Board and been so fortunate to have chaired many events in support of the amazing work done across the city of Houston. I have also been active in the Houston Ballet Guild, Chairing the beloved Nutcracker Market, VICTORY in support of the American Cancer Society, The Houston 20 and Dress for Success just to name a few. I have been humbled and blessed to have been honored with community awards such as the Junior League of Houston’s Sarah Houstoun Lindsey Award, Crohn’s and Colitis / KTRK-TV ABC 13’s Women of Distinction, Woman of Substance Honoree and was an Easter Seals of Greater Houston “Hats off to Mother’s” Honoree.
How has the Houston community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Moving from a small town to Houston was quite different indeed! Since family and connection were at the core of who I was, I knew when I made my home here that I had to find my community. The first organizations I joined upon moving to Houston were the Houston Ballet Guild and The Junior League of Houston. I didn’t know anyone at first, but the inspiring women I was involved with became my community and still are many of my dearest and closest friends today. I made Houston my home by becoming involved in different organizations and quickly learned that this amazing community is very giving. The philanthropic community often feels very small, yet people give back in big ways! The beauty of Houston comes from its diversity and the fact that everyone is so welcoming. The small-town feel within a big city opened the doors for me to become a part of it, and to jump in and get involved. I truly find joy and happiness because of everything Houston has to offer, and love being surrounded by such a talented and giving community. This community now embodies who I am, and who my children are becoming. It has supported me, loved me, and lifted me to enable me to be who I am today.
What is the best advice for juggling mommyhood and running a business (or volunteering, working, etc)?
My advice is to know how you work best! I work best when I’m busy and have a lot on my plate because I feel productive. Knowing when to give and when to take is also an important takeaway. I am very blessed to have a strong support system. My husband, Tom, is my biggest supporter and because of him, I am able to do the things that I love and give back to my community while still raising a beautiful family. I often say, “I am so busy, and so very blessed!”
What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?
Tom and I were married almost 10 years before we had our son, Wynn. We traveled often and took the time to explore and learn about the world and different cultures. Looking back if I could give myself advice I would tell my young self to not wish for the next chapter or the next thing too soon. To embrace the moment you are in and cherish the present. This past year we have all so vividly learned how things can change quickly, and just how much is out of our control in this life. I wish someone would’ve told me to appreciate the blessings of the moment, and tell those around you how thankful you are for them, and what they bring to your life. I would tell myself to live each day with an open heart — grateful and thankful.
Funniest shortcut/routine for helping you through parenthood?
After the kids go to bed my husband and I sit together to connect at the end of a long day. We share stories of the day over a glass of wine and gear up for the next day ahead!