By Catie Corcoran

BBrunch2014_1 The 41st annual Banner Brunch, held on April 12 at the Radisson Hotel & Suites, invited all of us to embrace the theme of Growing Stronger Together. It was a morning of elegance, mimosas and old and new connections. Even more than that, the rooms were filled with a strong sense of caring, friendship and camaraderie between the women present: a true embodiment of the event’s theme. Formal proceedings were led by our lively emcee and popular KVUE News anchor, Quita Culpepper, as guests enjoyed a gourmet brunch.

Addresses were given by Past President, Dara Quackenbush, and President, Susan Jahns, and our award recipients responded with wise words, laughter and even some tears.

The Banner Brunch keynote speaker, Taryn Davis, founder and executive director of the American Widow Project, spoke to a spellbound audience as she described the life changing experience of losing her husband, Michael, a soldier stationed in Iraq, when she was just 21 years old. Taryn told the story of her journey of healing and the motivation that has helped her create a community of strength for military widows.

The annual Banner Brunch is a fundraiser for WCA’s scholarships and since 1989 our organization has presented $50,000 in scholarships to outstanding students in the communications field. Congratulations to Cassandra Jaramillo and Katy Schafer, our 2014 Jo Caldwell Meyer Scholarship recipients!

WCA members enthusiastically and generously participated in a raffle as well as a silent auction, which featured some fantastic prizes including Austin Film Festival passes, and a two-night stay at San Luis Resort on beautiful Galveston Island, and raised almost $6,500 for the 2015 Jo Caldwell Meyer Scholarship Fund.

Eight of WCA’s top communications professionals were honored at this year’s 2014 Banner Brunch Awards and scholarships:

  • Gladys Whitley Hearst Outstanding Member Award: Rosemary Hook
  • Anne Durrum Robinson Creative Initiative Award: Samantha Furry
  • Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor Award: Jane Baxter Lynn and Jenny Magic
  • Outstanding Austin Communicator: Deborah Hamilton-Lynne and Joy Schoffler
  • President’s Award: Cristen James English
  • Liz Carpenter Lifetime Achievement Award: Judy Maggio

BBrunch2014_2We would especially like to thank our Anniversary sponsors, Julie Tereshchuk, writer and editor, and Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, a non-profit that saves the lives of preterm and other fragile infants by providing donor human milk to babies whose mothers cannot provide milk. Babies as small as your hand are alive today due to the kindness of milk donors who donate their surplus breast milk as well as our generous financial donors. Learn more about its mission, charitable care and research at

We also thank our Media Sponsor, AW Media Inc., as well as Momentum Public Relations, Frost, Ann Friou Communications, Monarch Media & Consulting, Modern Jewish Wedding, Urban Space Interiors, West End Marketing + Communications, Ann Daly, PhD Coaching Women to Success, Texas State School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Pearl Production and Cynthia Burrow.

A special mention goes to the 2014 Banner Brunch Co-Chairs, Courtney Graham and Morgane Le Marchand, for their amazing work putting together this year’s wonderful event.

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2014 Banner Brunch and here’s to a great year ahead. Check out the photos from Korey Howell’s photobooth.