Gov. Greg Abbott and the Governor's Commission for Women announced Monday that they are inducting six "extraordinary" Texas women, including one Austin face, into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame for 2020-2021.
The women are chosen for their outstanding achievements in their fields; filling in the business category, jewelry designer and entrepreneur Kendra Scott will represent Austin this year in the hall. The induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 4 at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas.
"The Texas Women's Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates remarkable Texas women not only for their individual achievements but also for their contributions to an even stronger Texas of tomorrow, and I am honored to welcome these six accomplished women as inductees," Abbott said. "Each of the honorees is recognized as a trailblazer, an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps."
Kendra Scott, business
As founder of the jewelry empire of the same name, Scott is being recognized for her "extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit," strong leadership abilities and continuous philanthropy in support of women and children's causes.
Lauren Anderson, arts
A lifelong ballerina and one of the first Black dancers to become a principal dancer for a major dance company, the Houston Ballet, Anderson's artistic achievements, philanthropy "inspiring children to reach for the stars," and barrier-breaking accomplishments earned her a spot in the hall.
Charlye Ola Farris, legal profession
(Wichita County Historical Commission)
Born in 1929 in Wichita Falls, Texas, Farris would go on to become the first female lawyer in her hometown and the first Black woman to serve as the Special Wichita County Judge in 1954. Though she passed away in 2010, Farris is being inducted into the hall for her "pioneering role" in the legal sphere and "paving the way for others by overcoming adversity with dignity and perseverance."
Dawn Ferrell, military service
(National Guard Biography)
A retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, Ferrell was a principal advisor to the Adjutant General of Texas for all Air National Guard issues and is being recognized for her military service and contributions to higher education.
Elaine Stolte, community service
Known for her advocacy for decades of service connecting child sexual abuse survivors to help services, Stolte, strategic policy and partnership advisor for The Children's Assessment Center Foundation in Houston, was inducted for her work as a "tireless advocate" who gives a voice to children.
Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, civic leadership
(San Marcos Public Library)
A prominent figure in nearby Hays County, Vasquez-Philo founded the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos community center and was an active promoter of Hispanic heritage. She passed away in 2017 but will be remembered for her "legacy of community service and trailblazing leadership in support of civil rights and the preservation of Hispanic arts, culture and heritage."
All six women, joining former First Ladies, astronauts and other significant women, will be forever immortalized with a photo and biography in the Hall of Fame at Texas Woman's University. Women have been nominated for the list biennially since 1984.
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The Austin woman suspected of killing star cyclist visiting from out of town, Moriah "Mo" Wilson, has now been captured after evading arrest for more than a month.
Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, an Austin yoga instructor, is believed by officials to be the killer of Wilson, who was found with gunshot wounds in a friend's house on May 11. The murder is being investigated as a crime of passion after Wilson met up with Armstrong's ex-boyfriend.
According to the U.S. Marshals, Armstrong was located at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Officials said she may have been using her sister's name after fleeing Austin on May 14, the day after police questioned her. She was last identified at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18.
Federal authorities say they plan on returning Armstrong to the U.S., where she'll face charges of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Here's a timeline of events since the night of Wilson's murder.
- The night of her death, Wilson met with Armstrong’s ex-boyfriend Colin Strickland, a fellow pro cyclist. According to an affidavit, the pair went swimming, then to dinner, before he dropped Wilson off at her friend's home where she was staying in East Austin at around 8:30 p.m.
- While Wilson and Stickland had previously had a romantic relationship, Stickland said the two were friends. The affidavit says Strickland lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts that evening.
- Video footage shows Armstrong’s Jeep pulled up nearby the home within a minute of Wilson arriving home.
- At around 10 p.m., Wilson's friend called Austin police after finding her in a pool of blood. Wilson had been staying with the friend ahead of the upcoming bike race in nearby Hico, Texas.
- Armstrong was brought in for questioning the day after the murder and released after appearing “very still and guarded” when confronted with video evidence.
- The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force said her black Jeep Cherokee was sold to a South Austin CarMax dealership on May 13 for $12,200.
- She leaves from the Austin airport on May 14.
- Shell casings found on the scene matched a gun belonging to Armstrong.
- Austin police obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong on May 17.
- She took a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica on May 18 using a fraudulent passport, according to the Marshals.
- On May 25, another warrant was obtained for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
- On June 29, she was captured by the U.S. Marshals
On Thursday, the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in regulating greenhouse gases, a move that comes at a time when experts have warned about the need to take action on climate change.
The ruling was brought after a challenge to a lower court opinion brought by Texas and more than a dozen other states.
Vaibhav Bahadur, an associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin called the SCOTUS decision significant, noting that Texas is the biggest energy producer in the U.S., and produces more energy than the United Kingdom.
“Power generation accounts for a significant fraction of U.S. carbon emissions, and the EPA loses its ability to control what's happening in about half of that sector,” Bahadur said. “And it's not just the U.S., I think people and environmentalists on pretty much anywhere on the planet will be disappointed because this is going in the wrong direction. We know we want to be decarbonizing, and this is essentially putting a roadblock on progress toward decarbonization.”
So, we’re going to need some insurance, Bahadur says. He’s carrying out work that’ll act as such through his research on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the process of sucking carbon from the air and burying it.
For the past five years, he’s been working on a novel approach to storing carbon. It involves supercharging the formation of carbon dioxide-based crystal structures and storing billions of tons of carbon under the ocean floor.
“If all of this is successful, then we will have another option for safely and responsibly storing carbon at the bottom of the seabed for essentially eternity,” Bahadur said.
Still, Bahadur talked about a different approach to responsibly cutting down emissions in the next decade, and doing so in a meaningful and substantial way, then the environment will eventually heal itself and we might not need CCS.
But that’s not the path we’re headed down.
“We're already starting to see temperature records being shattered this year, and we're still to hit peak summer,” Bahadur said. “All of this just makes me think that we need CCS to a larger extent, and possibly sooner than what a lot of scientists anticipate, especially if we can't keep our emissions in check.”
Gary Rochelle, a professor in the department of chemical engineering at UT, thinks CCS was ready to be deployed in 2010 and those 12 years have made a difference.
“But now we've emitted all that CO2,” Rochelle said. “And unfortunately, unlike other pollutants, when you emit CO2, it's there. It's not going away.”
Gary Rochelle and Vaibhav Bahadur are both researching technology to address carbon emissions. (UT)
Still, the delay is good in that now researchers like him have had time to learn about and improve the technology, allowing for fewer problems once it's deployed.
In December, UT announced a licensing agreement with advanced technology company Honeywell. The technology from that is targeted at power, steel, cement and other industrial plants to lower emissions.
Rochelle has been working on the technology since 2000 as part of an international collaborative effort. When he talked to Austonia on Thursday, he had just had calls with collaborators in Germany and Norway. Currently, he’s working with some Ph.D. students on addressing a chemical reaction that can happen with the technology known as oxidation that could lead to ammonia emissions and cause problems for a large-scale commercial unit.
Rochelle says he’s driven to this work because he wants to make a contribution.
“We're trying to develop this technology so that we can make a difference,” Rochelle said. “It's a nice problem to work on. The students are motivated and those are the primary things which drive us.”
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated the high court’s decision which acted as a blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce emissions.
“Today’s landmark victory against an out-of-control administration is also a big win for Americans who worry about skyrocketing energy costs due to expensive federal regulations that threaten our energy industry,” Abbott said. “President Biden cannot keep attacking the energy industry and the hardworking men and women who power our nation.”
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