From building robotics to advocating for victims of abuse, these women are dominating their industries and empowering Austin women. 

By Courtney Runn, Group shot by Mel Christina,Winner photos courtesy of the respective winners

Last night, more than 500 women joined us to celebrate the impact women leaders are having in Austin at Austin Woman’s fourth annual Woman’s Way Business Awards. While the term “empowering” is at risk of overuse, it truly is empowering and inspiring to witness a room full of women supporting each other and celebrating each other’s successes. As the only local business-awards event for woman-owned and -led businesses, we take pride in bringing the pages of the magazine to life each May and publicly recognizing the incredible women in our city. 

This year, more than 300 women applied, and our selection committee had the difficult task of narrowing the applicants to just 34 finalists. Of those 34, we are proud to introduce you to the 11 winners. These women exemplify what it means to be an Austin woman and are paving the way for more women to follow. 

Health & Wellness: Amy Sweet with Halycon Home

With Amy Sweet at the helm, Halycon Home serves thousands of patients each year and employs more than 450 people. She is passionate about helping people age well and with dignity. 

Runners-up: Leah Lopez with Better Bites Bakery and Carly Pollack with Nutritional Wisdom

Professional Services: Christa Kleinhans Tuttle with Launch Marketing

Under Christa Kleinhans Tuttle’s leadership, Launch Marketing has thrived, and the boutique marketing firm now includes more than 150 clients. 

Runners-up: Kimberly Watson-Hemphill with Firefly Consulting and Joyce Durst with Growth Acceleration Partners

Product Innovation: Jen Ford with Turnkey Vacation Rentals

Under Jen Ford’s leadership, Turnkey Vacation Rentals manages more than 4,000 homes in more than 80 destinations as a tech-enabled full-service vacation-rental property-management company. 

Runners-up: Allison Schickel with Brobe International Inc. and Naomi Bourgeois with Kikupal

STEM: Andrea Thomaz with Diligent Robotics

Andrea Thomaz is passionate about building socially intelligent robots to help humans with chores and has garnered national attention for her pioneering efforts in the STEM world. 

Runners-up: Amber Allen with Double A Labs, Sabina Bharwani with Hello World and Kathy Terry with InLieu 

Social Impact: Terry P. Mitchell with The Austin Socialite

Through The Austin Socialite, Terry P. Mitchell is an advocate for African Americans in Austin and fights to create opportunities for women to find community and resources.  

Runners-up: Susan Ramirez with Austin Angels, Reenie Collins with Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and Deb Treece with Seedling Mentor Program 

Maker: Darbie Angell with Cru Dinnerware/Darbie Angell

Through her dinnerware company, Darbie Angell is providing women in Bangladesh with jobs, food, medical care and child care. Her collection is in stores throughout the country, including Macy’s, Bloomindale’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dillard’s and Wayfair.

Runners-up: Linsey Lindberg with Austin Oddities & Entertainment and Mousumi Shaw with Sikara & Co.

Rising Star: Kaitlin Swarts with Upper Ninety

With a background in education and restorative justice and as a former collegiate athlete, Kaitlin Swarts created Upper Ninety to engage with low-income kids in Austin and provide soccer workshops as a healthy, free after-school activity. 

Runners-up: Shohreh Davoodi with Shohreh Davoodi Coaching and Lauren Schoenbaum and Eleanor Ruffner with Ruffner Schoenbaum PLLC

Business of the Year Under $3 Million: Kelly Wynne Ferguson with Kelly Wynne Handbags

Kelly Wynne Ferguson has been a staple in the Austin fashion scene since 2012, when she first created her designer handbags and continually encourages women to “dare to wynne.”  

Runners-up: Laura Aidan of Prohibition Creamery, and Amelia Raley and Valerie Ward of Sweet Ritual LLC

Business of the Year Over $3 Million: Alex Williamson with Bumble

As one of Bumble’s first hires, Alex Williamson has led the company’s marketing efforts and transformed Bumble from a national dating app to a global brand committed to ending misogyny online. 

Runners-up: Jennifer Beese with American Campus Communities and Carol Huntsberger with Quality Seafood Inc. 

I Am Austin Woman: Kelly White and Julia Spann with The SAFE Alliance 

As the co-CEOs of Stop Abuse for Everyone, Kelly White and Julia Spann are tireless in their efforts to protect and support women and children who have suffered abuse.

Runners-up: Maria Orozova with Modintelechy and Sheri Soltes with Service Dogs Inc. 


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