Governor’s Commission touts female-owned businesses, tackles human trafficking
By: Briar Bundy
Catherine Susser, now a Preston Hollow resident, was living in Corpus Christi when first appointed to the Governor’s Commission for Women in 2016.
She already had a variety of obligations, including serving as a Corpus Christi ISD trustee and with Go Red for Women in Corpus Christi. Still, she was “intrigued by the opportunity to become more involved on a state level.”
Susser, who has Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Public Accounting degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, also served on the Commission for Assessments and Accountability and is a member of the UT Southwestern President’s Advisory Board.
Her work with the Governor’s Commission for Women has continued since she moved a few years ago to North Texas, where her husband, Sam, is chairman and CEO of Susser Bank.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced her reappointment early this year.
The purpose of the commission, established more than 50 years ago, is to “provide tools and resources to advance the lives of girls and women in our great state,” Susser said.
Its 14 members fulfill their mission through specializations in education and research, as well as their outreach and referral services.
Abbott’s goals for the commission include promoting women-owned businesses and addressing the rising challenge of human trafficking.
People Newspapers’ sister publication D CEO reports Texas is home to 3 million businesses — 1.25 million of which are women-owned.
Promoting women-owned businesses has involved partnering with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism and holding small business forums across the state.
“These forums featured panelists discussing topics ranging from finance, marketing, personnel, etc. to hundreds of women who were interested in starting their own business,” Susser said. “This year, we have even added a junior pitch competition and are partnering with Lemonade Day to hear from our young women entrepreneurs.”
The commission also partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation’s “On the Road to End Human Trafficking” campaign in 2019.
The work focuses on educating residents about the issue and how to tell if someone could be a victim.
Every other year, the commission hosts the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“This is a wonderful event recognizing and honoring Texas women who have had a significant impact on our state,” Susser said. “Recent inductees include Lauren Anderson of the Houston Ballet, Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell, and renowned businesswoman Kendra Scott to name just a few.”
She finds the gala rewarding because she enjoys “learning about the impact these amazing women have had on our state and lives” and getting to celebrate them. The next one is in 2023.
“Our commission is made up of very dynamic women who have either run businesses or served their communities with commitment and passion,” she said. “Having the opportunity to know these women and work alongside them on important work for our state has been a true highlight, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve.”