HER 2023 Awards - The Bend Magazine

HER 2023: Honoring, Empowering & Raising Up Women in the Coastal Bend

The Bend Magazine humbly presents the HER 2023 Honorees

Brianna Davis of Esperanza de Tejas in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photography: Shoocha Photography | Styling: Alexa Gignac | Wardrobe: Julian Gold Corpus Christi |  Makeup: Evangelyn Reyes, Dust My Face  | Hair: Malaree Garcia & Lauren Medina, Riptide Salon

Written by Kylie Cooper and Alexa Rodriguez | Photography by Shoocha Photography 
Styling: Alexa Gignac | Wardrobe: Julian Gold Corpus Christi |  Makeup: Evangelyn Reyes, Dust My Face  | Hair: Malaree Garcia & Lauren Medina, Riptide Salon

The annual Women’s Issue honors seven community leaders trailblazing a path for others to follow. Regardless of their respective industries and fields of work, they each have dedicated time, energy and resources to enact waves of change in the Coastal Bend. We humbly present to you The Bend’s 2023 HER honorees. 

During the photoshoot for this feature, Brianna Davis, founder and CEO of Esperanza de Tejas, INC., was answering calls to arrange for a family to get a car seat from her house. It’s what she does — no questions asked, any time of day. Emphasis on no questions asked, as the judgment-free, low-barrier concept of the non-profit makes all the difference when it comes to providing locals with diapers, wipes, food, car seats, scholarships and literally anything else it can. Read More >>

As the president and CEO of Rally Credit Union, Dana Sisk — only the second woman to fill this role in the company’s 68-year history — is ultimately responsible for $4.3 billion in assets and 800 employees serving over 225,000 members across eight counties through 21 branches, a mortgage center and robust digital delivery channels. That’s a lot to manage.  At every turn in her road — from being an 18-year-old single mother who earned an undergraduate degree in three years to getting a good job to provide for her child to leading the largest financial institution headquartered in South Texas — you’ll find Sisk’s unwavering commitment, tenacious spirit and resilient attitude.  Read More >>

Esmeralda Herrera-Teran’s role as Director of the Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center is steeped in deeply personal aspirations. “I am the west side,” she said of her childhood just around the corner — no one loves the community around the Garcia Center like she does. It raised her, shaped her and launched her into decades of educational endeavors that have brought her back to where it all started. Now, in her third year as director, she’s casting a vision for the next generation, one program and relationship at a time.  Read More >>

Michelle Fraedrick Alafghani, the owner of Matcha Konomi and Bien Mérite, has entrepreneurship in her DNA. Her grandfather opened a small restaurant in Oregon in 1960, and by the time he sold the company in 2003, it had over 300 franchises across the country. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” she said. “I saw how hard they worked and what they accomplished, and it just never occurred to me that I couldn’t also start my own business one day.” Read More >>

Simone Sanders’ resume is quite impressive. And while her professional accomplishments are vast, the amount of time she’s spent giving back to this community her entire life truly stands out. She’s served in various board positions within the local and state chapters of Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education, she’s spearheaded efforts to continue and expand the only Juneteenth festival in the area and so much more — none of which she gets paid to do, and all of which she does in her “free time.” Read More >>

Esther Khatibi — MD, owner, operator and the sole physician at New Life Direct Primary Care — has dared to imagine a world in which access to your physician is as easy as sending a text message. In the current climate of transactional medical care that often limits patients’ access to their physician to a few minutes at a time, Khatibi took a leap of faith, left money on the table and opened the first direct primary care clinic of its kind in the Coastal Bend. Read More >>

A wall of framed photos greets visitors to the President’s office at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The two bottom rows of photographs depict the first 10 presidents of the university — all of whom were men. On the top row, the lone frame holds a headshot of Dr. Kelly Miller, the university’s first and only female president so far. When asked about this visual representation of a shattered glass ceiling, Miller recalls minimizing the milestone when stepping into the role. She felt focusing on that one fact took away from the decades of hard work it ultimately took her to get there. Read More >>