Women Communicators of Austin (WCA) is pleased to announce the 2021 Banner Award winners. Recipients will be honored at WCA’s 48th Annual Banner Brunch to be held virtually on May 1, 2021. The event include keynote speaker Gay Gaddis and the presentation of the 2021 Jo Caldwell Meyer Scholarship recipients, awarded to outstanding college students pursuing communications degrees. 

Banner Program Highlights
Congratulations to Our 2021 Banner Award Winners:

“This year’s trailblazing award winners represent an outstanding group of professional women who persevered their projects, businesses, ideas, and talents during this unprecedented time in the world,” says WCA President Andrea Exter. 

Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator Award
Marika Flatt

Marika Flatt

Known for her expert travel guidance, Marika Flatt imparts her  travel tips on TV stations throughout Texas. She founded Texas Lifestyle Magazine in 2009, which she continues to write for as the magazine’s travel editor.

Marika is  also passionate about books. She founded PR By the Book, a publicity firm supporting authors, is a frequent speaker in the book industry and serves on the committee for the Women’s Storybook Project. In 2019 she relaunched Texas Writers Month, after it lay dormant for nearly 19 years. When the pandemic canceled book tours, festivals and launches, Marika took the event virtual, giving Texas writers a platform to speak about their work. 

We heartily congratulate Marika as our 2021 Outstanding Austin Communicator. 


Dr. Cindy Royal, Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor Award
Dr. Cindy Royal

Dr. Cindy Royal

Founding director of the Media Innovation Lab at Texas State University, Dr. Cindy Royal is an award-winning teacher, widely-published scholar and nurturing mentor. Throughout her career she has cultivated relationships and careers among dozens of professional communicators in media and technology companies from Gannett to Google.

Recognized for her impact on students and effectiveness in the classroom, Cindy has been honored with 15 teaching awards from Texas State, The University of Texas at Austin and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I don’t think Cindy will ever truly know how much she has transformed my career and changed me personally,” says Sara Peralta, communications consultant to the Office of Police Oversight at the City of Austin. “She is a catalyst for so many students like me, spurring and inspiring us to innovate and achieve.” 

Congratulations to Cindy Royal, our 2021 Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor Award recipient. 

Emily Ramshaw & Amanda Zamora, Anne Durrum Robinson Creative Initiative Award
Emily Ramshaw

Emily Ramshaw

Amanda Zamora

Amanda Zamora

Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora could not have predicted what 2020 would become when they envisioned The 19th—a reimagined newsroom. Launched in August 2020 in a virtual world, 100 years after the passage of The 19th amendment from which it takes its name, the nonprofit news organization is dedicated to covering news through the lens of those underrepresented in newsrooms. Notably, The 19th logo includes an asterisk to reflect that barriers to the ballot continue for many nonwhite women.

In creating The 19th, Emily and Amanda—previously the editor-in-chief and chief audience officer of The Texas Tribune—set out to cover news stories that were ignored.

WCA is thrilled to award Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora the 2021 Anne Durrum Robinson Creative Initiative Award, an award that honors communicators who have taken a project or idea to fruition in a new or successful way. 

Courtney Santana, Anne Durrum Robinson Creative Initiative Award
Courtney Santana

Courtney Santana

Courtney Santana is known for being a policy driver across the state—with a focus on legislation regarding domestic violence, sex trafficking, and child protection. She was recently appointed as Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Austin, helping to “give voice” to those under-represented in the Austin community. 

Courtney’s desire to support women and children in violent situations stems from her personal story—“stuck” in a violent relationship for many years, fleeing for her and her child’s lives to an area shelter.

It is what led her to found Survive2Thrive, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence, an organization she still oversees as CEO. She is also an author of OFF KILTER: Getting “Right” After Abuse, a nationally-recognized speaker, and a podcaster for a show called “Leveraging Life” that shares stories of overcoming  adversity.

Courtney continually finds creative solutions or outlets to support victims of domestic violence. When the  pandemic made it more challenging for women in abusive situations to find shelter, Courtney launched a web platform and mobile app called “SANCTUARY” to provide resources and access to safe housing options. A gifted vocalist, she also carries her message through song. From writing to advocacy to music, Courtney uses a wide breadth of communication outlets to connect with her audiences. 

WCA is proud to honor Courtney Santana with the 2021 Anne Durrum Robinson Creative Initiative Award.

Jenny Magic, Gladys Whitley Hearst Outstanding Member
Jenny Magic

Jenny Magic

Jenny Magic arrived on the scene in Austin as a WCA Board member. She applied to serve on the board while planning her move from San Diego! As a new Austinite, Jenny created community within WCA, asking questions and getting to know members while becoming intricately involved. 

As a strategy consultant and “marketing therapist,” Jenny helps clients like Citrix, AARP, and Purdue University find their voice, evolve gracefully with changing trends, and master their marketing. A passionate mentor and speaker, Jenny can be found at events like Citrix Summit, ContentTECH Summit, and Content Marketing World, serving on the board of WCA, and organizing the Austin Content Meetup. 

Her leadership as 2019-2020 WCA president, in particular, helped reinvigorate WCA. After a challenging few years, WCA membership, funds, and participation were experiencing  a downward cycle. Jenny made no fewer  than 100 personal phone calls to wrangle volunteers to assist her in the mission of revitalizing WCA. She didn’t take no for an answer—making sure her succession was met with willingness and enthusiasm to continue the effort to make WCA strong, both financially and organizationally. Jenny worked tirelessly to organize the finances and set up new and efficient ways of bookkeeping. The result was a functioning base of volunteers and board members during a fiscally conservative board year which led to increased participation, board-level activity, new programming and a growing membership.

WCA is overjoyed to honor Jenny with the 2021 Gladys Whitley Hearst Outstanding Member Award.

Anne Lasseigne Tiedt, APR, Leadership Award
Anne Lasseigne Tiedt

Anne Lasseigne Tiedt

The WCA Leadership Award recognizes a member who has made a lasting and fundamental impact over time at WCA. It’s not given every year—in fact, it has only been awarded five other times. There is no question that Anne Lasseigne Tiedt lives up to all the characteristics that embody the leadership award. 

Professionally, Anne is an award-winning public relations and strategic marketing communications executive. Her career includes leading PR and marketing campaigns while on staff at the Austin Symphony Orchestra and The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. She also led a team at a notable Texas PR Firm and owned her own PR consultancy before co-founding Momentum Public Relations in 2008.

Anne is also one of the longest, still-active members at WCA. She joined the organization soon after she graduated college. As the legend goes, WCA board members connected her to a job lead in Austin, even helping to provide childcare during her job interview! She has since “re-paid” the helping hands from WCA members with immeasurable volunteerism and leadership assistance including 11 years as a WCA board member.

She has certainly left her mark over the years not only for her outstanding leadership and a fantastically deep rolodex, but also as the co-founder for WCA’s well-known and now-beloved professional development conference Get Smart.   

WCA is honored and fortunate to have Anne Lasseigne Tiedt and proud to honor her with the 2021 Leadership Award.

Gina Helfrich, President’s Award
Gina Helfrich

Gina Helfrich

Every year, the WCA president recognizes an individual who has contributed to our organization in a special way. Our President’s Award honoree this year is Gina Helfrich. Gina joined WCA in 2015 serving this year as Secretary plus VP of Operations—a new role on the WCA Board, bringing her experience in program management and strategic communications to help our Board work more efficiently. With Gina’s technical expertise, we were able to coordinate and operate virtually with confidence. 

In addition to her operational genius, Gina works to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in business, social enterprise, higher education, and non-profit sectors. Gina’s skill-set and experience was essential in guiding a DE&I Task Force, a recommendation by the WCA board with the aim of broadening our composition and programming to better reflect the diverse world we live in. Gina created outreach, structure and momentum to guide DE&I goals: a set of collaborative recommendations to be incorporated into all WCA Board activities. 

Currently, Gina serves as program officer for Global Technology at Internews, an international nonprofit, where she works to improve digital safety for journalists and human-rights defenders. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Emory University with a specialization in ethics and gender studies. She was the former director of the Harvard College Women’s Center. Gina led communications and project management efforts for two startups, including recruitHER, a staffing firm she co-founded to connect diverse talent with tech opportunities. 

From enhanced technology to foundational DE&I enrichment, we recognize Gina Helfrich’s significant contributions to WCA with the 2021 President’s Award.

Celebrate Our 2021 Banner Award Winners on May 1

With adversity comes unexpected goodwill and growth—silver linings. Join us as we award this year’s Jo Caldwell Meyer scholarships, celebrate our 2021 Banner Award winners, and experience the generosity of spirit that comes from great challenge.

2021 WCA Banner Brunch: Silver Linings

Silver Linings Banner Brunch Logo 2021

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Pre-event Networking: 10 a.m.
Banner Brunch Program: 10:30 a.m. — 12 p.m.
After-party: 12 — 12:30 p.m.

Your registration includes access to virtual Banner Brunch program with keynote speaker, scholarship and awards presentation, social time, silent auction, and raffle giveaways.