Dawn Watford Youdan, TCWSE past president, inspirational mentor, and friend, passed away in 2006. She is remembered with deep affection by all who knew her.
That year schools in Texas were laboring to implement site-based decision making operations and coping with tough economic times. In that context, TCWSE renewed its commitment to mentoring and networking to promote professional growth. The year was highlighted by attendance at the AASA’s conference, “Working Together: Leadership for a Shared Tomorrow” that served to motivate and inspire Dawn and her officers.
Presidential Focus and Direction
Dawn organized the 1992 Summer Conference, with the theme, “Women in Leadership: Developing Yourself.” The sessions emphasized expanding women leaders’ traits of leadership and developing its personal side, mock interviews, resume reviews, and general topics such as school law and conflict negotiations. In fact, each participant received a notebook with all session handouts including keynotes by Kathryn Keough, Betty Hale, and Lynne Hale. Dawn initiated the notebook idea so that each participant would receive handouts from all sessions, since it was impossible to attend all of them.
Upon becoming president, Dawn reminded each TCWSE member of her commitment made to the community of women leaders. In fact, she reminded members to renew their commitment to: establishing a support system to assist women entering administrative positions, providing opportunities to develop skills for career advancement, encouraging competent women to accept responsible positions, and providing women in administration with opportunities to share experiences and develop a network for professional development. Dawn also issued a challenge to each TCWSE member upon taking the oath of presidency: share celebrations each month with at least one other woman leader and commit yourself to continual professional growth.
After attending the AASA conference, “Working Together: Leadership for a Shared Tomorrow,” Dawn commented that the conference was extraordinary. They were mentored by former state commissioners, superintendents, and national consultants, who were inspired to “pay it forward” by assisting other women. Dawn was advised, supported, assisted, and inspired by these leaders. In fact, she drew parallels to our involvement in TCWSE, asking us to reflect on the question: In what ways do we “walk the walk” of this organization (TCWSE)?
During her presidency, Dawn held a brainstorming session resulting in formulation of an exciting long-range plan (1993–1998) for the organization. Key participants included Susan Sclafani, Virginia Collier, Juneria Berges, Ann Halstead, and Barbara Sultis. The plan was later refined by TCWSE Board members and shared with all members.
As part of the focus on her presidency, Dawn stressed the importance of expanding TCWSE’s membership base. In fact, she made efforts to reach out to many Texas women administrators and encouraged each current member not only to renew her membership but also recruit five new members.
During her presidency, she continually focused on the challenge she had issued during the summer conference—interact on a regular basis with at least one woman leader met at the summer conference. In addition, she asked membership to renew their commitment to the four key goals of the organization. Excitement generated by Dawn after attending the AASA conference in Chicago resulted in an exciting five year strategic plan (1993-1998) for the organization. She facilitated the formulation of the plan and led the Board in refining it for presentation to the overall membership.
As a result of her renewed and “revved up” excitement for the organization, the 1993 Summer Conference, “Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” focused on the unique needs of Texas’ women school administrators. The successful conference focused on four strands: Leadership in the 21st Century: Capitalizing on Female Expertise and Experience, Gaining Access & Creating Opportunities, Setting the Standard, and Networking to Promote Excellence: Reach Out and Touch Someone. Dawn also continued the tradition of mock interviews and Tables on the Town.
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