Texas Council on Family Violence to Honor Verizon Communications, Helen Knaggs, Ellen Cohen & Mary Kay Ash’s Great Granddaughter- Jessica Bair

Academy Award Winning Actress Marlee Matlin & Texas House Speaker Joe Straus Will Be Featured Speakers at Honoring Women Event


Austin, Texas – The Honoring Women in Our Lives luncheon recognizes the outstanding contributions of domestic violence advocates and raises public awareness and funding in support of the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV).

The honorees this year are Verizon and the Verizon Foundation, one of the leading corporations in the United States dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, Helen Knaggs, a 44 year Verizon employee, the first Hispanic lobbyist in Texas and longtime advocate for domestic violence victims, Jessica Bair, Mary Kay Ash’s great granddaughter and Houston City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who served as the head of the largest domestic violence shelter in Texas, the Houston Area Women’s Center, for nearly two decades.

For more than a decade, Verizon has been a national leader in the education and prevention of domestic violence. Verizon and the Verizon Foundation have a long history of corporate philanthropy and partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Jessica Bair is following in her great grandmother’s footsteps in service to others. Mary Kay Ash established The Mary Kay Foundation in 1996 to fund research for cancers affecting women and expanded its mission in 2001 to provide funding to domestic violence prevention and awareness programs. The Foundation has given $28 million to domestic violence programs. Jessica volunteers at The Foundation assisting with grants that are given annually to domestic violence shelters and programs across the United States.

“Jessica represents the next generation of visionary leadership for young women who are committed to helping victims of domestic violence. She is carrying on the tradition of philanthropy, started by her great grandmother Mary Kay a half century ago and continuing the strong legacy of service to others, said Gloria A. Terry, TCFV President. “We are also pleased to honor Verizon with the Corporate Visionary Award and to give special recognition to Helen Knaggs, who worked at Verizon for 44 years. Helen has been a trailblazer for Hispanic women in Texas and all women and has been a tireless advocate for the Texas Council on Family Violence,” said Terry.

Ellen Cohen has achieved many accolades in her life. She currently serves as the first Jewish woman elected to the Houston City Council and served a decade as Executive Director of one of the nation’s premiere human relations organizations, the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

After a decade with AJC, she served as President and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) for 18 years. Dedicated to eliminating domestic and sexual violence and to providing services for survivors, the Center again allowed for the blending of her executive leadership abilities with her compassion. Ellen continued her leadership in the Texas legislature and is recognized nationally as an expert on domestic and sexual violence issues.

“Ellen is a committed and dedicated leader in helping victims of domestic violence. She has used her influence throughout her career, leading the largest shelter in the state of Texas and as a legislator passing laws to help victims and hold offenders accountable,” said Gloria A. Terry, TCFV President. “This event is part of TCFV’s efforts to increase awareness in the community about domestic violence and provide a positive message about women who touch our lives and affect our character forever,” said Terry.

Academy Award Winning actress Marlee Matlin will be the keynote speaker for the event. Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her motion picture debut in Children of a Lesser God, earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. At age 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar, making her one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut. Matlin serves on the Celebrity Board for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will also be a featured Speaker. The Speaker has authored legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and has been a leader as Speaker protecting victims of crime. KVUE anchor Terri Gruca will emcee the luncheon.

TCFV Honoring Women in Our Lives Luncheon” will be hosted at the Four Seasons. The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2012 to benefit the Texas Council on Family Violence. Honorary Chairs for the event are Texas House Speaker Joe Straus & Julie Straus and Event Chairman and Sponsors Craig Hester of Hester Capital Management, LLC and Paul Holubec of Plains Capital Bank. Tables and individual tickets are still available for the event. For more information call Kristin Delong at 512-794-1133 or rsvp@tcfv.org or go directly to the website to purchase tables for the event or tickets.



The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), formed in 1978, is one of the largest domestic violence coalitions in the nation. TCFV promotes safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts, and creating opportunities for freedom from domestic violence.