Clinton among 10 trailblazers honored at IWF gala
Six blocks from Minute Maid Park, where 41,000 fans watched the Astros defeat the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series, Hillary Clinton stepped up to bat.
Though the crowd, some 1,000 International Women’s Forum & Leadership Foundation gala goers, was significantly smaller, it was just as invested.
This time last year, many of the conference’s business owners, tech innovators and civic leaders rooted for Clinton in the historic 2016 presidential election. Their team lost.
But on Friday night, inside of Hilton Americas Houston’s fourth-floor ballroom, Clinton was indisputably MVP-elect.
“She has broken many glass ceilings and has the scars to show for it,” said Donna Shalala, who co-inducted Clinton into IWF’s 2017 Hall of Fame with Ann Drake.
Drake met Clinton — “then, she was just Hillary Rodham” — in ballet class when they were 8 years old.
She shared stories of how their friendship blossomed throughout high school, college, and after “Hillary met a dashing young man from Arkansas at law school.”
Dozens of preteen and teenaged girls listened intently, with incredulous eyes and bobbing ponytails, as a video presentation illustrated Clinton’s ascent from first lady to senator, secretary of state and the first female candidate to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
The word “resilient” was thrown around.
“Defiant” is another fitting descriptor, as Clinton ignored her physician’s orders to hobble across the stage with her foot in a boot.
“I tripped on some stairs recently, and my doctor told me to RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate),” she explained. “In addition to RICE, I said I’m also going to IWF.”
Despite landing in Houston at 7 p.m., Clinton managed to squeeze in time with Mayor Sylvester Turner, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Sammy Saldivar, the Katy pastor who lost six family members in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters.
“Houston’s come back and your Astros have come back … makes me feel great because I won Houston and Harris County,” she quipped before turning attention to gender issues.
“When you stand up or speak out against injustice, it’s exhausting. But we cannot give up. And the only way we’re going to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics.”
By her estimation, more than 19,000 women have elected to run for public office in the past year. Government sector aside, Clinton encouraged championing work places that are more fair and equal across the board.
“We have to reinforce (female colleagues with) ideas,” she said. “It’s not enough for women like us to climb the career ladder, we have to lift other women up, too. Particularly young women.”
The International Hall of Fame gala, chaired by Susan Criner and Lauren Rottet, honored nine additional trailblazers who are leading the charge. Among them, Bayou City native Joanne King Herring and IWF Canada-Calgary’s Mary Rozsa de Coquet each received deafening applause.
The black-tie affair capped a week’s worth of panels, receptions and luncheons helmed by conference co-chairs Gracie Cavnar and former Mayor Annise Parker.
Organization insiders report that as one of IWF’s most active outposts, Houston volunteered to host the invitation-only annual gathering and remained committed post-Hurricane Harvey.
Clinton dropped the R-word (resilient) to commend citywide efforts, many of which were orchestrated by leaders at the event. “When women are willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work, we get the job done.”
A home run for girl power. And the crowd roared on.
Ann Drake, from left, Donna Shalala, Olga Sanchez Cordero, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donna De Varona take center stage at the International Women’s Conference gala Friday in downtown Houston.