1999-2000 – Judi Benestante

A Reflection on Y2K

Will the world as we know it end soon? Will all of our computer systems die, never to be revived again? What can we expect? How will we survive? As I began my year as President of TCWSE in the summer of 1999, I, like most, was mentally preparing for the predicted, unpredictable Y2K “disaster.”

While many were ready to party like it was 1999, because it really was, there truly was an underlying, ominous presence as I began my new role. Someone even told me to “Hope for the Best. Prepare for the Worse.” As I reflect back, I remember one thing very clearly. Our group of strong, some might even say, hardheaded members that made up the membership of the Texas Council of Women School Executives would be prepared. We were determined to make our Y2K the best. We were ready for whatever might come our way.

Service Leadership

I knew that the new year would bring new challenges for our group which it did, but I also remember being on a personal mission which I was prepared to share; one which I continue to hold close to my every day world even today. I believe that the mission of Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE) is based on the underlying principle of service leadership. Even today I find that whether I am overseeing one of my company’s Spanish speaking construction crews as we renovate a national franchise, or working to produce the best grapes in my boutique vineyard, or guiding my Confirmation class in its studies, service leadership is what guides me. I remember the lessons that I learned from and shared with my colleagues as we became aware of ourselves as service-oriented leaders, no matter in which school or personal role in which were found ourselves.

Presidential Challenge

In the fall newsletter, I shared my beliefs by challenging the membership to sincerely live our mission of promoting equity and quality in leadership through renewal, mentoring and career advancement support, through service – service to others that we influence. I asked “isn’t education a service industry? Isn’t TCWSE a service provider? Are we not in the business of serving our members? To all of these questions, I can proudly acclaim that our group stepped up to the plate.


In 1999-2000, our actions demonstrated our beliefs through our practices. In October, we voted to offer complimentary membership to all new women superintendents in our schools. By this action, we validated our desire to support all female school leaders through this most tenuous, transitional period. Mentoring and learning from others’ experiences was the norm. Likewise, in the spring, we became a State Board for Educator Certification service provider to expand our role of support of others on their quest for continual staff development. And finally, in the summer of 2000, we expanded our collaborative partnerships with The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Association of School Administrators by combining our summer conferences. This new endeavor, by all accounts, was an exciting and successful collaboration, which served to broaden the educational opportunity for all who participated.


As I look back on the “Big One,” I feel lucky to have served as the President who led the group into the new century. We, as a group, accomplished great things. Our membership during 1999-2000 increased. Our collaborations were successful. Our women superintendent numbers grew. And we demonstrated our role of service to others through our work. We were busy, but it was time well spent.

Finally, I cannot reflect on my experience without remembering and appreciating all those with whom I shared the experience and who have worked diligently over the years to make TCSWE a super organization. First, Ann Halstead, Assistant Executive Director, Communications and Information Systems, Texas Association of School Administrators, is the best, period. Nothing that TCWSE has ever done could have been accomplished without the professionalism and foresight of Ann. Johnny Veselka, Executive Director, Texas Association of School Administrators, is the consummate “guide on the side.” Johnny has supported TCWSE from its inception with undying loyalty. Thanks also are due to Anita Pancake, Shirley Coleman, Susan Scalfani, Virginia Collier, Beverly Irby, Genevieve Brown and Margaret Montgomery –Mentors of the highest quality, but loving friends first.

I am excited to share in TCWSE’s 30 year anniversary celebration. I am grateful for my experiences, and I wish for at least 30 more years for the Texas Council of Women School Executives. I truly believe that TCWSE is the premier women administrator organization, not only in Texas, but in the nation.


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