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Houston Area Women’s Center:

40th Anniversary Gala: Party like It’s 1977


Photography by Houston Area Women's Center

On April 07, 2017 the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) turned the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Houston into a disco dream for its 40th anniversary gala, “Party like It’s 1977.” Party-goers were greeted by colorful flowers and tables adorned with disco-themed centerpieces and custom-made psychedelic tablecloths. Getting into the spirit of the occasion, many of the 500 guests boogied to the beat wearing over-sized wigs, bell bottoms, sequined mini-dresses, leisure suits, and chunky shoes. The theme marked the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the center opening its doors in support of those who survive domestic violence and sexual assault.

The occasion also paid tribute to Founder Nikki Van Hightower, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, and CEO Rebecca White for their invaluable contributions to HAWC. The highlight of the evening, a touching video featuring interviews with staff, volunteers, former board members, and all three CEOs illustrated the accomplishments and importance of HAWC. The most poignant moment came when a former client was reunited with her shelter counselor, Mamta Chhabra.

Mayor Sylvester Turner received the Community Honor Award for being a vocal advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. AIG was saluted as the corporate honoree, and Senior Vice President Michelle Miller was in attendance to accept the award on the company’s behalf.

The fun really got started when emcee, Len Cannon, anchor at KHOU, introduced the paddles up challenge to raise funds for the center. HAWC’s chief marketing officer, Chau Nguyen, joined Cannon in encouraging attendees to give generously to raise funds for the centre. Their efforts, combined with the generous spirit of the guests, raised a record-breaking $160,000. Combined with the totals from the silent auction and the big board auction, the evening raised over $650,000.

Guests: Sheila Jackson Lee, State Senator Sylvia Garcia, County Attorney Vince Ryan, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, City Council Member Jerry Davis, Ajay and Sippi Khurana, Staci and Quang Henderson, Carrie Potter, Janis Schmees Burke, Jenni and Scott Tran-Weaver, Mike Mahlstedt and Kyle Dutton, Cynthia and Wiley George, Diana Hudson and Lee Kaplan, Laura Thompson and Chris Smith, Anika Jackson, Frances Castaneda Dyess, and Scott Brann.

About Houston Area Women’s Center

For over 35 years, the Houston Area Women’s Center has worked relentlessly to help survivors affected by domestic and sexual violence build lives free from the effects of violence. The center started humbly in 1977 with nine active volunteers answering donated phones. Now it proudly boasts 115 paid staff, a counseling and administrative building, a residential shelter for 120 women and children, a state-of-the-art hotline call center, and over 1,000 active volunteers.


“The Houston Area Women's Center helps individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence in their efforts to move their lives forward. We provide shelter, counseling and advocacy to support them in building lives free from the effects of violence. We seek social change to end domestic and sexual violence through community awareness and education. Our services are confidential and available to everyone.”

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