Most Influential Female Philanthropists in Texas


Women’s role in philanthropy is also increasing in different ways. More self-employed women are rising with their resources to give, reflecting women’s growing economic fortunes, a trend that is expected to increase in future years. In the meantime, more women leaders are at the top of the world of foundations and now run some of the largest charity operations in the United States.

Considering everything that is happening we need to appreciate these women who are giving back to the community in Texas to help humanity cause. This points to a broader warning regarding this list of the Most Influential female philanthropists in/from Texas. This list is not seen as definitive, but as evolutionary, with prominent women steadily crossing our radar.

We aim to offer a glimpse of the many amazing women we are seeing in the high spheres of philanthropy while admitting that the views on these topics are subjective. Many readers will consider women who are supposed to be on this list or wonder why a certain woman is on the list. An important fact to bear in mind is that all women in philanthropy are all important and worthy a mention but we can’t acknowledge all of them in this post.

With that been said, let’s delve into the list:

Melinda Gates

Melinda Ann Gates DBE is a Texan – she is the former Microsoft General manager and philanthropist. She and her husband Bill Gates co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private charity in the world. She has expended so much in efforts to meet needs in Texas and places around the world. Melinda Gates has always been rated as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes.

Lyda Hill

Lyda Hill is the Founder of the Lydia Hill Foundation. She is a philanthropist and businesswoman from Texas, United States. In 1997, she founded the Lyda Hill Foundation, with a focus on supporting advancements in science and nature, strengthening non-profit organizations, and improving communities in Colorado Springs and North Texas. She has most recently devoted herself to breast cancer research, donating over $25 million to it since 2015.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter

Beyoncé, the great musician from Texas has given much to the world. Lemonade is a lifetime’s contribution. However, she has also been philanthropic in some other ways. Beyoncé co-founded Chime for Change in 2013 with Salma Hayek. This charity is all about fundraising and creating awareness for projects that promote health, education, and justice for girls and women. To date, they have supported over 409 projects in Texas, the USA at large and 86 countries respectively.

Lynn Wyatt

She is a member of the Houston high society, philanthropist and third-generation Texan. Her great-uncle and grandfather founded the Sakowitz department store chain. She is married to Oscar Wyatt, an energy executive, who is also the founder of Houston’s Coastal Corporation – which is currently owned by El Paso Corporation – and is now the Chief Executive Officer of NuCoastal LLC. Oscar and Lynn Wyatt have four children.

Judy Jolley Mohraz

She is a philanthropist and a historian of American women’s studies. She was president of Goucher College and was the first executive director and president of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. She is a crazy giver and has advocated a lot of cause in Texas and Phoenix. She is the second female president of Goucher and the ninth president of the college. She was also named by President Bill Clinton to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1996. She was a longtime professor and an associate provost at Southern Methodist University.

Debbie Montford

She is known as a philanthropist, an effective and energetic community volunteer, and an enthusiastic advocate of the arts. She is currently the President and Chairman of the Board of the Dolph and Janey Briscoe Western Art Museum, Texas Tech University System Chancellor’s Council’s member, and Advisory Director of the Plum Foundation, Sociedad de la Espuela, and the Matador Society.

Pearl C. Anderson

Pearl C. Anderson is a humanitarian and a philanthropist who succeeded long before any political right was stemmed to bring any black women on board. She has always been extraordinary. Pearl C. Anderson likes to swim upriver, pursue an education, a civic stature against all odds and have a high passion for giving. She has managed to turn courage and poise into dignity and grace. That’s the power of permanence, and it’s the most powerful of all.

Ida Green

She is an accomplished philanthropist, espouses small effort coupled with large, realizing that a weekly lecture schedule for Texas Christian University (TCU) journalism students can mean the same as Greek and Roman sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Ida Green’s approach to donating is quintessentially human, but all she asks in exchange is that we should always do some good. There is a moral authority to the way she works, and what that means is that when she speaks, people listen.


Your Fundraising Event Checklist

We all have things in our lives that are important to us. Some people are active in doing what they can to improve the state of the environment. Others are focused on helping abandoned pets find new homes. Still others want to give as much as they can to the arts and culture organizations in their communities. Whatever the case and whatever the reason for giving, many people involved with nonprofits and active groups find themselves in need of organizing or holding an event. And doing a fundraising event that’s successful can be key to giving groups the funds they need. So how do you do that?

For starters, you have to have a specific goal. It can’t be “I want to raise money.” It has to be something like, “I want to raise $5,000 to support an after-school program.” What else do you need to know? This graphic explains it.


8th Annual Austin Originals Benefit Concert & Live Stream Featuring Wild Child

The Austin Originals Benefit Concert (AOBC) is Austin Child Guidance Center’s annual fundraising gala at ACL Live at the Moody Theater to be held this year on August 24, 2019 featuring Wild Child.  Each year, the event brings together community supporters, local businesses, musicians, and mental health advocates to raise money for children’s mental health services and concludes with a concert.

2019 Austin Originals Benefit Concert

The event also features live and silent auctions; the Austin Originals Tasting Grove with food bites from local Austin favorites; an exclusive VIP reception; and the annual Phyllis Richards Austin Icon for Children Award presented to two individuals making exemplary strides in improving outcomes for children (list of this year’s finalists and nominees found here.)

With your help, each year the Austin Originals Benefit Concert raises thousands of dollars in support of children’s mental health.

For sponsorship and ticket inquiries please reach out to the Development Team.

Join Big Brothers Big Sisters for, Ice Ball 2019, Austin’s Brightest Gem


Saturday, August 24th

6 PM – Midnight

Fairmont Austin Hotel

Join Big Brothers Big Sisters for Austin’s brightest gem, the Ice Ball gala. Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, seated dinner, live and silent auctions, live music, dancing and more! Tickets to Ice Ball  include admission to The BIG After, Ice Ball’s official after-party. Visit for all the juicy details.  

Your Invite to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Ice Ball 2019

Saturday, August 24th
6 PM – Midnight
Fairmont Austin Hotel
Join Big Brothers Big Sisters for Austin’s brightest gem, the Ice Ball gala. Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, seated dinner, live and silent auctions, live music, dancing and more! Tickets to Ice Ball include admission to The BIG After, Ice Ball’s official after-party.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Invests Almost $1M in the Educational Futures of Area Students

Photography courtesy of Anthony Johnson Photography.

Little Brother Harold receives his scholarship certificate

Little Brother Harold receives his scholarship certificate

On Saturday, June 15th, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas held its 33rd annual ‘Promising Futures’ scholarship ceremony to recognize and celebrate the educational achievements of nearly 200 students in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program.

$403,000 in scholarship funds were made available to 124 of the agency’s graduating seniors, and $539,500 in scholarship funds were committed to 166 newly eligible Littles, to be made available when they graduate high school.

Alejandrina Guzman, 2017 – 2018 University of Texas Student Body President, was the keynote speaker for the event, which was held at the For the City Center in East Austin. Alejandrina was the first Latina Student Body President at UT Austin, and the first physically differently-abled Student Body President in the Big XII Conference.

“You are capable,” Alejandrina told BBBS’ students. “Your stories of immigrant parents who sacrificed everything for a better life, of the siblings you inspire, of all the beautiful moments you have shared with your Big Brothers and Big Sisters… these stories make up your strength. You have already overcome challenges in your lives, and we’re here to celebrate not only what you’ve accomplished so far, but what you’re capable of achieving.”

BBBS’ Promisees and graduates alike crossed the stage to receive their promise medals and scholarship certificates as their families, friends, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and BBBS staff cheered from the audience.

Jamie Avila, a member of BBBS’ Executive Board, Foundation Board and a former Big Brother, presented the awards to each student. Lauren Petrowski, former news anchor for Fox 7 Austin and a former Big Sister, was the emcee for the event. Speeches were given by Alejandrina Guzman, and BBBS of Central Texas CEO Brent Fields.

“This scholarship means a new future,” said Little Sister Carolina. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and living life.” Carolina is planning on studying web development and computer programming. Her Big Sister Anna attended the ceremony with her.

“The scholarship ceremony is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Brent Fields, “because it so clearly reflects our investment in the power of mentoring. It is such an honor to partner with these amazing families, volunteers and young people. We can’t wait to see where they go, and what they do next.”

“Thanks to our unique BBBS Scholarship Foundation – founded back in 1986, as a powerful incentive for students in our program to graduate high school and pursue higher education – we are able to help lots of young people think differently about their futures and offer some practical, direct financial assistance to help them.”

Since the Scholarship Program’s inception Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas has promised and awarded more than $5 million dollars in scholarship support to over 2,500 students. In addition, 10 schools in Texas now generously match the agency’s scholarship dollars for BBBS Littles.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central • 4800 Manor Road • Austin, Texas 78723 • 512.472.5437

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas serves nearly 1,000 children in Central Texas every day. For over 48 years, we’ve matched children, ages 6 – 16, with caring adult mentors who offer encouragement and support to each child. It is our vision that all youth achieve their biggest possible futures. To that end, BBBS’ mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

Join Us for the Wonders & Worries Unmasked Gala on Friday, February 22, 2019

Join your friends and colleagues on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 for the 5th Annual Wonders & Worries Unmasked Gala! Enjoy the mystery and celebration of a Venetian Carnival. Masks encouraged.

Proceeds provide professional mental health support for children and teenagers in central Texas who are coping with a parent’s serious illness.

Questions about tickets, tables or sponsorship?
Contact Rachelle Shuttlesworth at 512-329-5757, Ext. 107 or

You’re Invited to the 5th Annual Wonders & Worries Unmasked Gala!

Join your friends and colleagues on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 for the 5th Annual Wonders & Worries Unmasked Gala! Enjoy the mystery and celebration of a Venetian Carnival. Masks encouraged.

Proceeds provide professional mental health support for children and teenagers in central Texas who are coping with a parent’s serious illness.

Big Brothers Big Sisters to Host a 3-Generation Match Reunion


January is National Mentoring Month. On Monday, January 14th, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas is hosting a very special match reunion at the Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center on Manor Rd. that will bring 3 generations of Big and Little Sisters together.

We are hosting a reunion and presentation where Pat, Lisa and Maryah will be sharing their story and talking about the power of mentoring and the impacts their relationships have had on their lives. 

3-generation match reunion

Big Brothers Big Sisters Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center

4800 Manor Rd., Building K, Austin, TX  78723

Monday, January 14th,, 2019

3:30 p.m. – Facilitated interview and story share


Pat O’Neil became a Little Sister when she was 14 years old. After several years, her Big Sister, Lisa, moved to California for work.  Because of the impact their mentoring relationship had on her, Pat knew that she wanted to become a Big Sister herself. As an adult, she went into the military. Her career brought her to Bergstrom Airforce Base. When she settled in Austin, she became a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas and she was matched with her own Little Sister, Maryah, in the 1980s.  

Having recently retired, Pat has reconnected with her original Big Sister.  Her Big Sister Lisa has come to visit her for the first time in Austin, and Pat is excited to see her and to introduce her to her very own Little Sister.  This will be the first meeting Lisa and Pat have had in more than 40 years, and it will be the first time that Lisa and Maryah have met.

Pat has been matched with her Big Sister, Lisa, for 52 years, and with her Little Sister, Maryah, for 32 years.  The three are very excited to get to know each other and to spend time together. 


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas serves nearly 1,000 children in Central Texas every day. For over 47 years, we’ve matched children, ages 6–16, with caring adult mentors who offer encouragement and support to each child. BBBS depends on donations to recruit, screen and train volunteers, and to provide on-going support for children, families and volunteers as they build and sustain long-lasting relationships. Last year, more than 98 percent of the children served by BBBS remained in school and avoided early parenting.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central • 4800 Manor Road • Austin, Texas 78723 • 512.472.5437

5 Ways to Support Your Community this Festive Season

Each year, the true spirit of the festive season can seem to get buried further beneath mountains of wrapping paper and drowned out by commercialism.

However, when it comes to the festive season, gifts don’t have to come in glossy paper with crisp edges and hidden tape (though those are nice, too). For example, author Carol Lavin Bernick recommends focusing on gifts that make an impact, such as giving back within your community.

The former chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, Bernick published “Gather As You Go,”a book sharing insights she’s learned through her many roles: corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack.

Consider these tips from Bernick for making a difference without breaking the bank.

  1. It’s About More Than Just Dollars

    Instead of measuring your support by how much money you give, focus on the many ways you can support organizations near and dear to you by spreading the word online and in-person while recruiting new supporters. Alternatively, you can find an organization that puts your knowledge and skills to work. For example, if you’re an artist or IT specialist, find a charity that needs your skill set.

  1. Think Long-Term

    When you’re working with an organization, consider how you can help it find a long-term solution to problems. For example, if you’re interested in helping young girls excel in science and math, work with your local elementary or junior high school to establish or support an after-school STEM program.

  1. Start at Home

    Teach your children the importance of giving back by donating gifts to those in need through charitable programs, volunteering at a food pantry or fundraising through a bake sale.

  1. Shop with Purpose

    This year, you can make an impact with your holiday shopping by buying gifts that give back. For instance, all proceeds from “Gather As You Go”directly benefit Enchanted Backpack.

  1. Focus on Your Passions

    Define your focus and make a difference by dedicating yourself to one or two causes that excite you the most. Find your passion and pursue it.

Find more inspiration to give back at (Family Features)

Gather As You Go