THE WESTIE AWARD NOMINEES ARE
Citizen of the Year for 2014
This award is given to an individual or organization in the Greater Westlake Area who has contributed time, energy, and heart to the community, sometimes unnoticed. It is in recognition of their outstanding contributions through civic and community service activities that have made them an inspirational role model for the Westlake community.
Judy French started the Westlake community's annual 4th of July parade in 2005. In the beginning, it was a small neighborhood event with participants treated to cookies and lemonade at a driveway on French's street and attended by a only handful of residents. For eight years, Judy grew the parade into more and more of a neighborhood staple to the point where thousands participate annually. In 2013, with her youngest a senior at Westlake High School, she allowed the Westlake Chamber of Commerce to take over “her other baby” and sponsor the parade in coordination with the city of West Lake Hills. In her nine years of coordinating the parade, it grew to include decorated cars, floats and pets as wells as a costume contest, bouncy house, hula-hoop competitions and free food from Texas Honey Ham, P.Terry’s and Amy’s Ice Cream.
Dr. Karnik has practiced medicine for over 30 years. He is the Medical Director for Pediatric Neurology with Specialty for Children, The Children's Hospital of Austin and the University of Texas Autism Program. In the last of these, he heads a team of health professionals in their clinic which provides initial screening and evaluation of children who have not yet received a diagnosis for autism. He currently practices as a pediatric neurologist, a subspecialty he founded in the Austin area and in which he is board certified. He is the director and founder of the Karnik Institute located in Westlake, on Bee Cave Road. Dr. Karnik has spent 3 decades evaluating, researching and treating children with developmental delays, attention deficits and learning difficulties. He is passionate about empowering children with learning differences and disabilities. Dr. Karnik is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
He is described as 'compassionate, caring and brilliant' by a woman on Yelp whose son Dr. Karnik treats. Another parent of two of Dr. Karnik's patients notes how Dr. Karnik really focuses on the strengths and gifts of each child he sees and is always respectful and caring toward them. Oftentimes, Dr. Karnik's patients outgrow Dr. Karnik's practice -- they are no longer pediatric patients. However, they always have a home with Dr. Karnik. Many of his patients remain with him throughout their adulthood. He is an advocate for his patients to ensure that they get the care they need --both medically and in financial resources to empower them to live their lives as independently as possible and with dignity. As another of his patient's parents noted on Yelp about him, 'Austin is so fortunate to have such an amazing neurologist who truly cares about his patients and all of the families that he helps.'
Kelly White has been the CEO at the Austin Children’s Shelter since July 2010 and as of January 2013 she also holds the position of Co-CEO of LIFT, an innovative Alliance between victim/survivor centered organizations working to end child, sexual and domestic violence and abuse. She took over at ACS during a time of enormous agency expansion and change. The organization had recently made the move to its 7-acre purpose built campus and was in the process of adding new programs, more than doubling agency staff to the current 120, tripling service statistics, cutting cost per child per day by over 50 percent, increasing the annual budget by more than 50 percent, all while dealing with “Foster Care Redesign” in the State of Texas.
Managing change and growth have been the hallmark of Kelly’s more than 30 year career as a non-profit executive. She has experience leading both funding and service agencies and has received numerous local and national awards. Prior to joining ACS she worked in Chicago as executive director of Chicago Foundation for Women, a regional foundation providing support for issues related to women and children. She also spent more than a decade as the executive director of SafePlace, the domestic violence and sexual assault services program for Austin and Travis County.
Under Kelly’s leadership, SafePlace became known as a national leader in providing services to those who have been victims of violence. As the executive director of the Center for Battered Women (CBW), she helped to lead the merger of CBW and the Austin Rape Crisis Center that resulted in the creation of SafePlace. She has helped to lead three successful non-profit mergers during her career. She also stewarded the organization as it grew from a staff of 44 to over 150 and she led the effort to design, build and fully fund a new 105-bed shelter, on-site shelter school and child development center, a 40-unit supportive housing apartment community and a 24,000 square foot community resource center. She also worked to secure designation as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) in order to secure funding and build a 184-unit affordable housing apartment community. Several nationally recognized programs were also developed during her tenure at SafePlace; most notably, Supportive Housing, the initial school-based Expect Respect curriculum, and Disability Services Stop the Violence Break the Silence curriculum.
A 1996 graduate of Leadership Texas, Kelly was the inaugural recipient of the United Way/Capital Area Agency Executive of the Year Award. She has received the Austin Community Foundation Executive Director of the Year award, the SafePlace Guardian Award, Leadership Austin’s Essential Alumni Award and Boston’s ROSE Foundation award. She has been a frequent guest on local, regional and national media. The SafePlace shelter was named the Kelly White Family Shelter in her honor and her book, A Safe Place for Women, was released by Hunter House Publishers in February 2010.
ACS provides residential and non-residential services to children, youth and families. It is committed to ensuring the safety and well being of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
Beverly Reeves is a practicing civil trial attorney with the law firm of Reeves & Brightwell. Bev handles a wide range of complex commercial and product liability litigation. Bev gives freely of her time with several civic and community service positions, including currently as the District Ombudsman for AISD, Board of Directors for KLRU, and the Board of Directors for the Austin Children's Shelter
In 2013, Bev was the Executive Producer of a documentary film, 'An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story,' in conjunction with the Austin Film Society.
Previously, Bev has been awarded the Austin Business Journal's 'Profiles in Power' award, as well as the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association's Pathfinder Award in 2014. Her previous civic involvement included roles as: President of the Travis County Bar Association, Board of Directors for the State Bar of Texas, Austin Bar Foundation and the Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas
The Westlake Hero Award exemplifies the humanitarian values of an outstanding Community or Professional leader. He or She has also demonstrated one or more of the following:
· Has worked across organizational boundaries
· Is committed to the value of diversity
· Encourages initiative, innovation, collaboration, resourcefulness and resilience
· Offered his or her life to save another person.
· Shown extraordinary courage in a given situation.
· Is completely unselfish in their actions in working with others.
· Is an inspiration for others to follow as he or she has the ability to influence others to accomplish the objective by providing purpose, direction and motivation.
Officer Josh Odom
Officer Josh Odom was putting up a barricade in a low water crossing along Eanes Creek and Bee Cave Road on September 17, 2014, when a woman in a Volvo tried to swerve around him to make it across. She and her car got swept away, and the officer went in after her. The woman eventually made it to safety about 300 yards downstream, but Odom was trapped in a nearby tree — clinging for life for 20 minutes. Our first responders risk their lives in emergency circumstances, and Josh is lucky to be alive!
Chief Cliff Spratlan
Chief Cliff Spratlan of the West Lake Hills Police Department retired on Jan. 9 after 24 years with the department, first as sergeant investigator, then four years later as chief. Spratlan arrived when only about 7,000 cars drove through the city two times a day. Now, between 50,000 and 80,000 vehicles come through West Lake Hills twice a day and the crime rate has dropped from 5 percent when he arrived to 1 percent. In his first six months as an investigator, he arrested more people than all investigators in the city combined. Besides the crime rate, Spratlan said he’s also proud of implementing a pay scale for the officers and keeping the department equipment up-to-date. Chief Spratlan was better known to many of the locals as the official kick off for the annual West Lake Hills 4th of July parade as he led the route on his ATV.
Travis County Sherriff West Command Captain Frank Lofton
Captain Lofton joined the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in January 1991. He has served as a field training officer in the Patrol Division, a detective in Homicide, Persons Crimes, Juvenile, Auto Theft and Property Crimes. He has also served as a sergeant in the Patrol Division and in Criminal Investigations, as well as a lieutenant in the Patrol Division. Frank was promoted to captain of the Law Enforcement Bureau’s West Command in March of 2009. Frank holds a Master Peace Officer’s License and was awarded Officer of the Year Award from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3377. He is a graduate of the 2009 Texas FBI Command College and was the 2012 Recipient of the FBI LEEDA Trilogy Award.
ESD No. 9 Chief Mike Elliott
Chief Elliott has served as chief for three years and as a volunteer, firefighter and assistant chief for 21 years. The fire department recently unveiled the first Mike Elliott Leadership Award and presented it to Chief Elliott for exceptional leadership and management over his two decades of service. The award will be presented to future recipients who demonstrate exceptional leadership. Chief Elliott was also the first recipient of the Westlake Hero award for 2013.
Westlake Educator of the Year for 2014
This Award is given to a Westlake area teacher or administrator in recognition of his or her outstanding contributions to the educational community and to the enrichment in the lives of children through academic achievement. He or she inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, has the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues, and plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school.
Molly has been in charge of SPED at EISD for several years now, working to build services for a unique population that doesn't fit the Westlake profile, but that deserves the educational excellence EISD is proud of. Parents are fortunate to have a parent liaison in place to help facilitate communication between the district and parents of these kids, and the Adult Transition Program has been successful in almost doubling in its young adult population this year, all under the supervision of Molly May.
Coach David Kee
Coach Kee teaches Texas History at Hill Country Middle School. He began teaching in Eanes ISD in 1990 and has been at Hill Country since 1994 teaching all core subjects, except math, including Special Education. In his spare time he especially enjoys riding his bike, playing golf, reading and going to the movies at the Alamo Theatres.
Vickie Abney taught in the Eanes ISD for 21 years. For the last six years she led students in planning for their future. She founded the Mentorship program at Westlake High School, a course/program where students learn about occupations, develop ideas, and form opinions. Students shadowed professionals in occupations of interest two hours weekly. They engaged in meaningful workplace conversations, attended meetings, conducted research, interviewed professionals, performed work tasks, wrote papers, created a product, and delivered a final presentation in front of an invited audience.
Some students who job shadowed a NASA aerospace engineer now study at Texas A&M majoring in aerospace engineering and several have learned journalism and layout design from Texas Monthly. Another student is on full scholarship at the University of Kentucky and works at a horse farm in Lexington after shadowing a founder and owner of a horse farm. There are many fun stories of kids identifying interests and dreaming about their career possibilities. Vicky says, “My students are distinguishing themselves by stepping into the adult world at 16 to 18 years of age, initiating learning opportunities that one cannot get inside the classroom. It is the most real-world experience one could hope for! Even at the end of the semester, if the student decides the occupation is not right for them, we consider that a win.”
Vicky says that it has been a very gratifying career, influencing students to pursue interests and passions. “There have been such life-changing events that were forged from students engaging and learning from their mentors.”
Jane Wold is a kindergarten teacher at Eanes Elementary. After years working in commercial banking in Chicago, she went with her heart and her love of children and music to start her own business 'Scott's Mom - Folk Music for Young People' where she developed and performed musical programs for elementary schools, preschools, daycares, home schoolers and libraries. She switched to public school teaching because she missed being part of a team. She has been affiliated with Eanes Elementary since 1996 having served as a parent volunteer, PTO board member, and TA prior to receiving her EC-4 teaching certification in 2007. She has a guitar named Henry in her classroom and was selected to represent her school and peers to go to Alaska and see the Iditarod as they studied the event. She is a very special teacher to Eanes kindergartners and says she feels like the luckiest teacher on earth to be part of this campus and especially part of the kindergarten team of Carpenter, Champion, Pearse and Worley.
Small Business of the Year for 2014
This award is given to a business in the Greater Westlake area with fewer than 50 employees that has not only succeeded, but also thrived, while continuing to support and serve the Westlake community. They have also demonstrated one or more of the following:
· Creation of new jobs
· Revenue growth
· Innovative products or services
· Exemplary customer service
· Demonstrated economic support and service to the Westlake area business community
· Volunteers in the Westlake Community
Pinkberry recently opened a second location in Barton Creek Mall adding jobs, growing revenue and giving back to the greater Westlake community. The local franchises are owned by an entrepreneurial couple, Elisa and Kurt Pederson, who quickly plunged into Westlake life—cheering at Westlake High School Chaparrals games; serving yogurt during lunch at Westlake High School; and partnering with Eanes ISD schools, the Eanes Education Foundation and other local nonprofits in their fundraising efforts and special events.
Merry Maids of West Austin
Merry Maids of West Austin has served the Westlake community for 33 years & are founding members of the Westlake Chamber. They partner with the Smile Never Fades organization & the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin to provide free home cleaning for breast cancer patients. Merry Maids also hosts a clothing drive for Safe Place & donates clothing to women in need. The all female staff supports the idea of women helping women; owners Marilyn Gregory & Sarah Trivitt also strive to help their employees develop personally and professionally in their family business.
Texas Honey Ham
Texas Honey Ham epitomizes what a Westlake neighborhood spot is. They have the best customer service. When you walk in you are always greeted by at least two people and they just make you feel so welcomed. On top of that, their food is fabulous. But above and beyond all of that, they are always giving back to the community. They have always supported community events such as Wonderfest and the Fourth of July parade by donating food and even paying for the kiddie train. They are also big supporters for many events at Westlake High School. When they were shut down for over 6 months , due to a fire, they kept their employees paid with the condition that they volunteer around the Austin area doing things such as serving the homeless and even picking up trash until the store could reopen. They are great people and a great business that deserves recognition.
The Finish Line
The Finish Line is a prime example of an economical friendly business that always gives back to charitable organizations. Owners Keith and Sandi Cunningham are proud of The Finish Line’s charitable efforts and the fact that their business has donated in excess of $250,000 to area non-profit organizations. The Finish Line has been a heavy supporter of community organizations. Sandi Cunningham said, “Our corporate philosophy has always included community giving because we feel some people do need help making it over the finish line”. The Cunningham’s latest way to incorporate their customers into this charitable process has been the installation of a complimentary Charity Refreshment Center at The Finish Line. The Charity Refreshment Center includes a 13-foot bar that is fully stocked with gourmet coffees and hot chocolate, a soft drink machine with ice, popcorn and even soft-serve ice cream. The Finish Line does not charge its customers for this service but instead offers patrons an opportunity to make contributions to the Charity of the Month. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the “The Finish Line Charity Refreshment Center” is disbursed to local charities on a monthly basis.
Large Business of the Year for 2014
This award is given to a business in the Greater Westlake area with more than 50 employees that has not only succeeded, but also thrived, while continuing to support and serve the Westlake community. They have also demonstrated one or more of the following:
· Creation of new jobs
· Revenue growth
· Innovative products or services
· Exemplary customer service
· Demonstrated economic support and service to the Westlake area business community
· Volunteered in the Westlake Community
P. Terry’s has grown significantly since it opened its first burger stand in 2005 on South Lamar Boulevard. They now have ten locations in the Austin area, including one in the Village at Westlake. Throughout the year they donate gift cards to hundreds of schools and organizations. Four times a year they match the day's profits along with donations from vendors and staff and contribute all the proceeds to one charity. In the past they have made this quarterly donation to the Austin American Statesman's Season for Caring Program, Austin Children's Shelter, Boys and Girls Club, Dell Children's Hospital and many more. To date their contributions have totaled over $400,000.
Realty Austin is the fastest growing real estate company in Austin with over $1.6 billion in sales in 2014, 280 full-time agents, and a 30-member support team. Realty Austin supports local charities that support the affordable housing needs of low income families in the Austin area. They partnered with Austin Habitat for Humanity and as part of the company’s mission of giving back, Realty Austin and its team of agents, clients and industry partners donated over $78,000 to sponsor and build a home in 2014. This past holiday season they hosted a charitable food drive. Because of their hard work and dedication, the food pantry Feed the Community, located at Gateway Church, was over-flowing with supplies. Volunteer agents collected and delivered over 10,000 bags for the pantry to support local hunger. The Realty Austin team also launched the 1st Annual Heart & Sole Sock Drive to provide aid during the cooler months. The team donated over 600 pairs of socks to feet across Austin. All sock donations were distributed to local food pantries such as Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Capital Area Food Bank, and Feed the Community.
HEB Westbank Market
HEB’s commitment and involvement in the community has been an important part of the way they do business. Company-wide, they support initiatives like the H-E-B Food Bank Assistance Program, the annual Feast of Sharing holiday dinners, and the Spirit of H-E-B trailer that provides on-site relief in areas devastated by natural disasters. It is their way of saying thank you for allowing them to be our neighbor and in this spirit; they have contributed five percent of pre-tax earnings to public and charitable programs since the 1930s. They also celebrate public school professionals through their H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. Locally, the HEB Westbank Market has donated gift cards, food and supplies to a variety of local non-profits.
Alan and Inda Williams opened the Westlake Village Chick-fil-A in 2004 and have been strong supporters of the greater Westlake community ever since. They also own the Barton Creek Mall franchise and regularly contribute to local students and charities throughout the area. They have a program called “Spirit Night” which allows teachers, kids and families to invite their supporters to dine at the restaurant on their designated Spirit Night, and then their group enjoys a share of the profits from that evening’s sales. They also host a variety of themed Family Nights to bring families together in an atmosphere where they can create lasting, fun memories together such as Daddy Daughter date night, dress like a cow day, and much more.
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