Women of Faith and the Workplace Table Mentors
Rev. Sarah Gaventa, is an Episcopal priest, currently serving as the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Vocation at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She was born into a family of educators. Her parents were teachers, and later administrators, for the Department of Defense Dependent School system. Sarah grew up around Army bases in Germany, but returned to the U.S. to attend The University of Richmond in Richmond, VA. She later attended Virginia Theological Seminary. She was a pastor for twelve years before returning to seminary in a professional capacity. She is married to Matthew, a Presbyterian pastor. Together, they are parents to Charlie, an elementary school student far more interested in animals than theology.
Dr. Teresa Granillo is the Executive Director of Con Mi MADRE, a non-profit in Austin that helps young Latinas to pursue higher education. Dr. Granillo was a first-generation college graduate of The University of Arizona earning a BA in Psychology and graduating Magna Cum Laude. She then went on to earn a Master’s of Social Work, a Master’s of Science in Psychology, and a Dual Ph.D. in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Prior to Con Mi MADRE, Dr. Granillo was a professor at UT Austin in the School of Social Work teaching clinical skills to social work students and researching issues related to Latina/o mental health with a particular emphasis on Latina youth.
Dr. Granillo serves as the Education Chair on the Board of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas and is part of the Education Committee of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is a board member of HERdacity and is the female Texas Affiliate representative for the National Council of La Raza. She has received several awards and recognitions including The Lora Lee Peterson Teaching Excellence Award, the Women of Distinction Award from the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, the Austin Under 40 Award in Non-profit/Community Service, the Confidence Award from the 1st Tee of Greater Austin, and she was recently nominated for the 2017 Best CEO Award from Austin Business Journal.
Judge Livingston is a 1982 graduate of the UCLA School of Law. She began her legal career as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow assigned to the Legal Aid Society of Central Texas in Austin, Texas. After completion of the two-year fellowship program, she continued to work in the area of poverty law until 1988 when she entered private practice with the law firm of Joel B. Bennett, P.C. In 1993, she and S. Gail Parr formed a partnership and opened the law firm of Livingston & Parr. She was engaged in a general civil litigation practice with an emphasis on family law. In January, 1995, she was sworn in as an Associate Judge for the District Courts of Travis County, Texas. After her successful election, Judge Livingston was sworn in as Judge of the 261st District Court in January, 1999. She is the first African-American woman to serve on a district court in Travis County, Texas. Since 2011, she has served as the Local Administrative Judge for the Travis County Courts.
Sonja Miller is the Outreach and Faith Coordinator for Texas Freedom Network. She coordinates TFN’s work with clergy and faith communities, with a special focus on reproductive rights/justice and LGBTQ equality. Sonja joined TFN in August of 2015 while attending Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Sonja’s lifetime commitment to social justice has led her to serving as a public school teacher and principal and working in abortion care prior to joining TFN.
Kimberly Pitts, CEO and founder of UImpact, is a branding and marketing strategist and developer dedicated to business owners expand their scope of influence and profitability. Motivated by a heart for empowering business owners to live the lives they were purposed for, Kim shows them how to successfully position themselves in the market, attract appropriate target audiences, and create influential brands. At UImpact, she help business owners though her Thrive Academy (a premier training-based entrepreneurial development program), Brand 360 Program, DIVERGE Annual Conference, and a myriad of ongoing training programs. Kimberly Pitts is anything but conventional. She is passionate about being creative and using innovative techniques that will challenge, encourage, inspire, and equip you to realize your business dreams. Her down to earth nature and business expertise coupled with a heart to serve and encourage others make her a force to be reckoned with.
Victoria Soto, JD Victoria is lead counsel of the Law Office of Victoria Soto and concentrates her practice in defending physicians before the Texas Medical Board. She graduated from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1995 and the Texas Bar in 2001.
Victoria speaks frequently to hospitals and medical groups within the State of Texas and throughout the nation regarding the Medical Board procedures, hospital policies and patient satisfaction. Her private practice focuses mostly on protecting healthcare professionals as they seek licensure in their respective chosen state and as they face disciplinary procedures before their licensing agencies and healthcare organizations. She is a regular speaker and presenter for the Texas Medical Association at their annual TexMed conferences and other continuing medical education seminars throughout the state. Victoria’s first book, “Worlds Best Doctors” was published and launched nationally in July of 2016. From this first publication, several courses for medical professionals were created and she toured in the spring of 2017, teaching and training medical professionals. Her second publication, a collaborative book project, “Walk by Faith Not by Sight-Vol 2.”, was released in March of 2017. She is currently working on several new publications and is a keynote speaker for professional businesses throughout the country.
Melissa Wiginton is Vice President of Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Ms. Wiginton holds the BA and JD degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and the Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Prior to joining Austin Seminary as Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls in January 2011, Ms. Wiginton served for 12 years at Fund for Theological Education, a national, ecumenical organization whose mission is to call exceptional, diverse young leaders for the church and the academy. She worked with diverse denominations, colleges and universities, seminaries and divinity schools during her tenure; she holds deep commitments to diversity, to the church, to theological education and to the flourishing of young adults. Ms. Wiginton has participated in several major research initiatives relative to the church and pastoral leadership, including Duke Divinity School’s Pulpit & Pew project and Pathways to Ministry, a project of the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education. She is the co-editor of Awakened to a Calling: Reflections on the Vocation of Ministry, a collection of sermons focused on young people and the vocation of ministry; author of “Truth,” in Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teenagers; a contributor to Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders Who Will Change the World; and former writer for Call & Response, a blog sponsored by Faith & Leadership. She is a practicing Christian and a member of the United Methodist Church.
Heather Zdancewicz- A native of Northern Virginia, Heather moved to Austin, Texas at the beginning of 2017 to take a position at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary as the Vice President of Finance and Administration. Previously she held the same position at Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. She has spent over 25 years working in accounting and business in theological schools. In addition to serving as the CFO, Heather taught an elective course entitled the Ministry of Money to seminarians. This quarter long course covered all aspects of church administration with an emphasis on financial matters. She served as a small group facilitator and worship leader. Outside of work, Heather serves on two faith based boards including Kanuga Conference Center (an Episcopal Retreat center in Western North Carolina) and the Episcopal Evangelical Society (a grant giving organization). She has spent time volunteering in the community at church, in the Boy Scouts, and the neighborhood civic association. She is married with two adult sons.