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Friday, October 28, 2022

at The Omni Dallas

Doors open at 11 a.m.
Program runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join us for this year’s Women of Distinction, presented by AT&T, as we come together in-person on October 28 to celebrate outstanding women, men and young women leaders of all ages, from high schoolers to grown adults, for their service in the community. Their leadership, accomplishments and community contributions inspire young women to make the world – from the classroom to the boardroom – a better place.

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Event Co-Chairs

Nickoria Johnson

Partner and Chief Diversity Officer

Teresa Lin

Grant Thornton


Event Honorees 

Women of Distinction:

Rebecca Acuña
Director of Government Affairs, PepsiCo

Rebecca Acuña is a Director of Government Affairs for PepsiCo where she represents the global portfolio before public policy makers and opinion leaders in seven states and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. During the 2020 election season, she took a sabbatical to lead the Biden for President campaign in Texas. Prior to joining PepsiCo, she was the Executive Director of the Latino Center for Leadership Development, an organization that develops a diverse pipeline of policymakers and thought leaders. A veteran of the Texas State capitol, Rebecca served as a Chief of Staff and Communications Director for three members of the Texas House of Representatives and one Member of Congress.

Rebecca was awarded a 2020-22 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, an international leadership development program for American and European professionals engaged in transatlantic cooperation. D Magazine featured Rebecca as “one of 78 women who make Dallas great” in its September 2021 edition. D CEO Magazine highlighted her in its 2021 edition of the Dallas 500, profiling the most influential leaders in North Texas. In 2020, Rebecca was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of its “40 under 40.” Rebecca serves on the Board of Directors for the Childcare Group of Dallas and the Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.


Vidya Krishnan
Chief Learning Officer, Ericsson

Vidya Krishnan is the Chief Learning Officer at Ericsson, leading Ericsson’s Global Learning and Development team as part of the company’s Global People organization, and amplified by an incredible extended community of learning leaders across the company. Vidya and her team are responsible for transforming capability creation for every one of Ericsson’s 100,000+ people in over 180 countries around the world. Vidya is a technology and entrepreneurial leader with 20+ years of experience in Networks, Digital Services, Learning, Engineering, Consulting, and Business Transformation Operations. 

She fervently believes that learning is the intersection of execution, strategy, engagement, and care. She began her career in engineering operations with AT&T, then worked at Nortel, building and launching wireless networks before joining Ericsson in 2009, where she has held a variety of leadership positions in Networks, Digital Services, and now People.

Vidya is particularly proud and privileged to sponsor the Ericsson-Girl Scouts Alliance, a unique and growing partnership dedicated to building tomorrow’s STEM Leadership Pipeline today. She also serves as a co-coach with her best friend for her children’s team in Destination Imagination, a global, non-profit, creative problem-solving organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Princeton University and a Master of Science degree from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering, with a specialization in how technology can uplift impoverished areas.   

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Dr. Jennifer Stimpson
Chief Programs Officer, T.D. Jakes Foundation 

Dr. Jennifer Stimpson, a STEM educator, scientist and community leader, continues to nurture her interest in science, which stems from her experience working in her family’s pharmacy during childhood. Now, using her knowledge and love of science, Jennifer brings to life the phenomenon of discovery, while challenging her students to reach well beyond their potential.

Jennifer, a life-long learner, is an award-winning globally-teaching educator, and has received recognition for her leadership in education. She is the founder of the National Association of Black Science Teachers (NABST) and is a member of the Association for Women in Science, Dallas Summit, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Incorporated, the National Science Teacher Association, and Leadership America. Jennifer is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IF/THEN Ambassador, which aims to empower women in STEM to inspire the next generation of learners.  Jennifer has a life-sized statue in her likeness that has traveled from Dallas to the Smithsoian on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Dr. Stimpson received her Bachelor of Science from Dillard University, and she made history as the first African American woman to graduate with an advanced STEM degree from the University of Northern Iowa, where she earned her Master of Arts. Jennifer also received her Doctor of Education from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2020, Jennifer was named an Einstein Fellow by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout:
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Hiawatha Williams
Founder/CEO, Williams Chicken

Hiawatha Williams is the Founder and CEO of Williams Chicken, a Dallas-based fast casual chain with over 40 stores including 20 franchises and is responsible for more than 500 employees. Williams Chicken is known as the most beloved ‘chicken spot’ in North Texas and recently announced it was expanding its operations to Chicago, Illinois. For almost three decades, Hiawatha has worked tirelessly to cook up a stellar reputation. With humble beginnings from a small Texas town, Hiawatha earned an opportunity to work for a nationwide fast-food corporation while attending Paul Quinn College, only to later spread his wings into the world of entrepreneurship. His popular mantra, dedicated to serve, grow, and give back to the community, resonates with the company's work ethic and unmatched “give back spirit” supporting major community outreach in the areas of education, youth programs, and corporate philanthropy. Hiawatha has graced the cover story of many magazines and various publications for entrepreneurship. He and the company have been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, Our Texas Magazine, Dallas Business Journal, Franchise Today, and so many others. Hiawatha has also appeared on numerous television shows and is frequently invited to inspire entrepreneurs, business executives, faith communities and students.

Mary Anne Cree Young Women of Distinction:

Jordan Flint

Jordan Flint is a senior at Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, TX. At the age of three, Jordan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. During her battle with cancer, Make-A-Wish North Texas granted her wish to go to Disney World. Now a cancer survivor and a Make-A-Wish Ambassador, Jordan knew she wanted to use her Gold Award project, titled “Treasure the Moments with Make-A-Wish,” to create hope for Make-A-Wish children whose travel wishes were on hold due to COVID-19. After using her network to fundraise for supplies, Jordan created 402 boxes to be sent to Wish kids. The boxes held games, toys and notes of encouragement that aimed to bring joy to children’s lives while they waited for their individual wishes.

Jordan is a straight-A student and is a member of Flower Mound High School’s National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Key Club, and is the secretary for her International Thespian Society troupe. Recently, Jordan received the 212 Student of the Year and ‘Prent Technician of the Year Awards for the 2021-22 school year. Jordan is deeply passionate about technical theatre and plans to become a stage manager in the future. She currently works at a local community theatre as a stage manager for their musicals.

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Sofiaenid Rodney-Hernández

Sofiaenid Rodney-Hernández is a senior in Hillcrest High School’s Collegiate Academy in Dallas, TX. Titled “International Literacy Awareness Book Walk,” Sofi’s project aimed to encourage and motivate literacy awareness in young adults at her school. After conducting thorough research on current literature and interviewing peers, teachers, and administration, she led a group of volunteers in painting replicas of the spines of books onto lockers in the school. Each locker included a QR code that could be scanned for access to the corresponding online eBook or information on where to find the hard copy. The lockers painted with the book spines also reflected curriculum being taught in that hallway.

In addition to Girl Scouts, Sofi is a member of her school’s orchestra, Anime Club, UIL Team and National Honor Society. She is a member of the tennis, soccer and track/field teams, even earning the MVP designation after breaking four of her personal records in track this year. Sofi is an active community volunteer, participating in several service projects, such as working with the homeless and at animal clinics. She is also fluent in English and Spanish.


Gracie Wakefield

Gracie Wakefield is a senior at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. As a passionate ally for the LGBTQIA+ youth community, Gracie wanted to educate and elevate the struggles of queer people to show them that they are not alone. After interning with the Grant Halliburton Foundation the past two summers, Gracie was motivated to partner with them to reach struggling teens and kids in the queer community. For her project, “Elevate LGBTQIA+ Mental Health,” Gracie created a website that aims to educate others about issues faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community, while featuring personal stories, pride information, mental health resources and more. With more than 1,600 site visits to-date as of June 2022, the website is reaching teens locally and nationally.

Gracie is a part of her high school’s Student Council, Beta Club, the International Thespian Society and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This year, Gracie received the Congressional Bronze Medal. Her hobbies include singing, songwriting, theatre and acting, and she was a finalist at the Wildflower Budding Talent Competition in May 2022. She also received a scholarship to attend the Norwalk College Musical Theatre and Acting Summer Pre-College Intensive.

All honoree photos courtesy of Gittings Photography.


Event Host Committee


Event Sponsors


* We are looking forward to hosting an in-person Women of Distinction event this year. We continue to monitor CDC and State of Texas guidelines and should anything change regarding your benefits, we will reach out directly

2021 Virtual Event Recap

Previous Honorees

Lifetime Achievement 
- Cynthia "Cynt" Marshall
- Mary Anne Cree
- Marianne Staubach
2015 - Jan Rees-Jones
2014 - Gene Jones
2013 - Lindalyn Adams
2011 - Caroline Rose Hunt
2010 - Ebby Halliday
2009 - Bette Perot

Women of Distinction 
- Kit Addleman, Hattie Hill, & Cris Zertuche Wong
- Anne H. Chow & Alice Rodriguez
- Sabrina Martinez Harrison & Roslyn Dawson Thompson
2018 -
Arcilia C. Acosta & Linda Perryman Evans
2017 - Sara Martineau & Nina Vaca
2016 - Sarah Losinger & Trea Yip
2015 - Michele Bobadilla & Tincy Miller
2014 - Nancy Ann Hunt
2013 - Nicole Small
2012 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk, Sally Hoglund & Peggy Sewell
2011 - Regina Montoya & Lynn McBee
2010 - Harriet Miers & Becky Sykes
2009 - Lucy Billingsley & Barbara Ward
2008 - Anne Motsenbocker & Clarice Tinsley
2007 - Laura Estrada & Valerie Freeman
2006 - Elvira Wallace-Martinez & Mavis Knight
2005 - Florence Shapiro & Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones

Mary Anne Cree Young Women of Distinction
2020 - Katie Chang, Margot Meyer & Alexandra Vincent
- Elina Dickens & Abigail Simon
2019 - Mary Katherine Futrell & Gauri Nukala
- Divya Lal & Timarie Luker
2017 - Shelly Goel & Emma Rose Shore
2016 - Anisha Wadawadigi & Hailey Falies
2015 - Devin Bray & Sruthi Tummala
2014 - Meredith Burke & Cameron Wicks
2013 - Grace Cooper & Alexandra Villareal
2012 - Barrett Cole, Sarah Felan & Gabby Gafford
2011 - Andrea Noelle Emery & Marisa Salatino
2010 - Haley Ann Avery & Ashton Gepfert
2009 - Catherine Cannariato & Julie Negussie
2008 - Chanelle Angeny & Whitney Walker
2007 - Bryna Garrison & Amber Meeks
2006 - Erin Cafferty, Sarah Heady & Jennifer Goebel
2005 - Lilianna Delgado & Katie Murray

Man Enough to Be A Girl Scout
2020 - Erle Nye
2019 - Jorge Baldor
2018 - Avi Kahn
2017 - Todd Williams
2016 - Kent Eastman

Previous Co-Chairs

2021 - Mary Martha Pickens & Shannon Thompson
 - Tracy LaRosiliere & Michelle Thomas
2019 - Candace Winslow & Venise Stuart
2018 - Dee Brown & Sharon Morrison
2017 - Laura Downing & Susan Glassmoyer
2016 - Heather Randall & Maggie Kipp
2015 - Katherine Coker
2014 - Elizabeth Gambrell
2013 - Angie, Ann & Kimber Kadesky
2012 - Lynn McBee
2011 - Gina Betts
2010 - Gina Betts
2009 - Clarice Tinsley & Stephen Giles
2008 - Valerie Freeman & Sharon King