HERdacity is a nonprofit women’s leadership organization which connects, promotes, and empowers women to seize opportunities for fulfillment and impact.
We bring women together from all walks of life, regardless of political affiliation, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Members are encouraged to communicate their unique experiences and authentically share in a supportive environment.
What We Do
HERdacity hosts conferences, workshops, online discussions, and webinars, and also maintains a repository of women-centric articles. Our goal is to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experiences held by women, so we showcase powerful female leadership and foster discussion on issues relevant to all women, including:
- Economic Empowerment
- Purpose & Fulfillment
- Work/Life Balance
See a recent event we held for women from all walks of life to discuss Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace.
Based in Austin, TX, HERdacity was founded in 2015 by Susan Combs, a former Texas Comptroller. Combs broke down barriers as the first woman elected to the position of Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture in 1998. In founding HERdacity, her vision was “to dare women to be the women they want to be and achieve the dreams of their own lives.”
Mary Flanagan, HERdacity’s current President, and her core team specialize in women’s leadership, economic empowerment, and work/life balance for women. They bring skills from the tech, retail, finance, health, marketing and nonprofit industries.
Board / Advisors
Board of Directors
Mary is a passionate advocate for women’s leadership with a strong track record in both business and nonprofit leadership. She is a former Strategy and Marketing executive with experience in Fortune 500 companies and consulting. Prior to joining HERdacity, Mary was the Director of Business Planning & Analytics in Dell’s multi-billion-dollar Retail segment. As a key member of Dell’s Retail team over her five years at Dell, Mary led strategy and marketing initiatives to grow Dell sales to big box and technology chain retailers selling PC and peripherals.
Mary also has a longstanding interest in the nonprofit world. While at Dell, she was an active leader in Dell’s Legacy of Good initiative where she drove Powering the Possible volunteer engagement for Dell’s 1000+ member Consumer and Small Business group. In this capacity, Mary led volunteer initiatives and fundraising for US and Global non-profits to identify and staff volunteer events in the community, including: March of Dimes, the African Library Project, Girlstart, Gen Austin and Connecther-a global fundraising platform for women. In 2015, Mary was selected to lead Dell’s PRIDE community global pillar to drive LGBT diversity and inclusion. Dell earned the Human Rights Campaign Foundation “Best Place to Work” for LGBT 2016, 2017.
Prior to Dell, Mary led the strategic planning process as Manager, Corporate Strategy at Staples, Inc. and performed strategy projects to drive profitability and streamline costs in sales, merchandising and logistics/operations. Mary has several years of consulting in Deloitte’s International Lending Agencies group where she focused on World Bank and USAID funded projects in developing countries. Mary currently serves as Trustee for the University High School, a sober high school serving adolescents in recovery. She has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from Williams College.
Susan Combs has spent her adult life blazing trails previously little traveled by women. With a matter-of-fact nature shaped by time on her family’s Texas ranch, Susan tackled her time at the all-female Vassar College in a decidedly straightforward fashion. Upon graduation, she worked in several high-pressure environments in New York, specifically in international advertising, on Wall Street, and for a large federal agency, creating a record of success. In each case, she outworked her co-workers. In time, she followed her heart back to Texas and law school then embarked on a career as a prosecutor focused on securing justice for child victims of abuse.
At a friend’s urging, she ran for and won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives where she continued her advocacy for Texas children and mastering the budgeting process. She was also running a cow calf operation on her family’s century old ranch in the Big Bend. Heeding the call to higher office, she was elected the first woman Agriculture Commissioner in Texas history and won praise for her efforts to improve nutrition for Texas schoolchildren. She was then elected State Comptroller, applying her laser focus to keep Texas finances in line, meticulously collecting taxes and paying bills. She advocated tirelessly for greater transparency to ensure the most honest government possible for her fellow Texans.
Since leaving elected office, Susan has been working on Herdacity, an online empowerment community for women, designed to help them stay connected as they blaze their own trails in business, at home and in the fields of their choosing.
Beth grew up in a small East Texas town of 2,500 and experienced what it means to be supported by a “village”. There was always someone to give her advice or encouragement. She had a wonderful education experience and grew up believing she could accomplish anything.
Still, despite having confidence and caring people to turn to, like most adolescents, there were things she tried to handle on her own. Having an unbiased, anonymous resource of trusted advice – like the advice given by OneSeventeen’s products – would have been very helpful.
In 1996, Beth helped found an Internet professional services firm – the fastest growing private company in Houston from 1996-1999. In 1999, the IPO they created with a $158M valuation and 1200 employees helped fund her first social enterprise.
From 2000-2008, they produced online interactive tools to help 200 schools and 500,000 kids develop their character skills. Her fourth venture with co-founder Amy Looper, OneSeventeen Media, helps kids self-discover to make sense of their world with mobile tools – ThinkingApp™ (PreK-2nd) and reThinkIt! ™(3rd – 12th).
As the first Texas Certified B Corp in 2009, Beth spends a lot of time mentoring companies interested in becoming certified. She has served as a B Corp Ambassador since 2016. In 2017, OneSeventeen converted to a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation.
Beth has an MBA – Abilene Christian University in Marketing and a BBA – Sam Houston State in Marketing. She enjoys her two amazing sons and two grandchildren and mentoring University of Texas McCombs students in social entrepreneurship in her spare time.
Beth Hallmark has over 20 years of experience in sharing information and inspiration that supports and champions the public good. She currently serves as the director of Career Development for the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to this position, she served as the director of Public Relations and Communications for a publicly traded healthcare company and deputy chief of Information Outreach, Data Services and Transparency at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
With additional experience in state, national and international marketing campaigns for Texas agriculture, as well as award-winning experience in print and broadcast journalism, Beth is a two-time past speaker at SXSW Interactive, facilitating discussions on motivating high-performing teams to succeed.
Beth holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Information Studies, both from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a passionate advocate for children’s literacy and also serves on the Board of Directors for BookSpring, a central Texas non-profit that provides reading experiences, tools, and books to children and their families.
The proud mother of two amazing women, Beth believes in the power of all women to change the world for the better through their words, deeds, and presence. She is blessed with a wonderful husband of more than 25 years as well as an incredible network of family, friends, and colleagues. Beth loves reading, hiking, and traveling, and created a walking group, Sole 2 Soul Mindful Walks, to encourage others to make time for nature, sacred space, mindfulness, and contemplation.
Joann Getchell is an accomplished Human Resources and Organizational Development professional with more than 25 years of experience in U.S. and international consulting and corporate environments.
As a senior consultant with Towers Watson, she designed total pay strategies and performance management processes for clients in a wide variety of industry sectors including not-for-profit, technology, energy, financial services, and insurance. She also developed an “HR Best Practice” line of business where she worked with clients to assess and refine their HR policies and programs to address strategies around employee engagement, organizational growth and development and challenges related to merger and acquisition activity. Her not-for-profit clients included Road Scholar, Oxfam America and various hospitals and universities. Joann has consulted to global clients such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Little Brown Publishing, Unum Corporation and Textron.
Joann’s corporate experience is with Ziff Davis and IBM Corporation in a variety of senior HR executive roles. At ZD, she guided the organization through many mergers, acquisitions and restructuring in its publishing and internet businesses to ensure employee and company interests were considered in the resulting new structure. In recognition of Ziff Davis’ innovative wellness initiatives, she was honored to accept an award from the State of Massachusetts recognizing corporate efforts in balancing workplace and family. At IBM, Joann held a variety of HR positions and led diversity efforts for their semiconductor sector. She was a frequent speaker at Society of Women Engineer forums and university career panels across the country.
More recently, Joann has been very active with consulting to Austin area clients including several educational and health related not-for-profits.She volunteers her time with organizations that promote the health and well being of women and children in our community. She’s proud to have worked with amazing local groups such as Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Capital Area Food Bank, and Legacy of Giving, and is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of wonderful organizations such as HERdacity and Candlelight Ranch. Joann received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Human Development and Sociology from Colby College and a Master of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
In all these roles, Joann has remained passionate about promoting opportunities for women, from acting as a career mentor in her professional life to lobbying for funding for women’s sports, including being the founding member of several women’s sports teams, during her academic years. She continues to be an advocate for promoting dialogue among women, having learned the importance of beginning the process of change and goal achievement with open discussions and support among peers.
Joann has been married to her college soulmate for more than 30 years and is the very proud mom of a daughter who is discovering her own passions and path in college. Together, they all love spending time traveling, supporting theater and dance, and of course , watching as much baseball and college football they can!
Debbie Cartwright has not shied away from complex or intricate issues during a more than 20 year career marked by achievement and recognized public service in the areas of property tax law, litigation and policy matters related to appraisal districts and school district property values in the State of Texas. Debbie has received a number of awards from the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts (TAAD), including their highest honor, the Earl Luna Award, in 2016. In addition, Debbie received the Wayne Peveto Award from the Texas Real Estate Center in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Texas property tax system in 2013.
Prior to completing a law degree at the University of Houston, Debbie earned her master’s of public affairs from the LBJ School at The University of Texas at Austin, a bachelor’s degree from Howard Payne University in secondary education in the areas of music and history, and a special education certification from The University of Texas at Austin. Debbie has navigated her way through contentious legal issues with skill, tact, and a whopping success rate.
A native of Elgin, Texas, Debbie is a member of the Elgin High School Alumni Association and the Elgin Historical Association. She is a member of First Baptist Church of Austin and serves as a trustee for her alma mater Howard Payne University. Debbie enjoys attending classical music concerts and traveling the world, and she is the proud aunt of three nieces and three nephews.
Breaking the mold in education through leadership, Yvonne Realivasquez is the Director of Administration for Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Yvonne’s relationship with the University spans over 20 years: a first generation college student, completing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and master of arts degree in Public Administration, to serving as a multi-disciplinary lecturer, and now to her current role working directly with the President to serve as a liaison for the university to the Texas State University System.
Yvonne also worked in the university’s Gear Up grant program, where she introduced underrepresented students from area schools to college preparation. She was nominated for Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2005 and received the Outstanding Staff Award from the Student Government Association in 2012.
In 2015, Yvonne was awarded the Texas State University System Foundation’s Grow Your Own Scholarship to work toward a doctoral degree in leadership at Hardin- Simmons University, Abilene. The Doctorate of Leadership (Ed.D.) program merges an academy of scholars with community practitioners to develop enlightened, ethical leaders.
Yvonne is married to Rafael, her best friend and fellow Sul Ross alumnus. The Realivasquez family is keeping the Sul Ross tradition alive – Yvonne’s nephew graduated in May 2016 from Sul Ross and her niece was recently accepted into Sul Ross for the fall semester.
Active in community affairs, Yvonne is a member of the Community Leaders Group of Alpine and has served as a 4-H Program volunteer, a member of the New Mexico Cowbelles Association, a judge for History Day at UTEP, and a volunteer for the Kiwanis International Club. In her spare time, Yvonne enjoys pleasure reading, traveling, and dreaming up DIY home decor projects.
A former small business owner, nationally recognized executive, and leader in franchisee management, Mary Kennedy Thompson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Dwyer Group, a company of 11 service-based franchise organizations focused on repairing, maintaining, and enhancing homes and business properties. Prior to her promotion to COO, Mary was president of the Dwyer Group’s largest company, Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
A belief in facing as many fears as possible to live a bigger life has motivated Mary since her youth. From accomplishing her 1982 graduation from the Army Airborne Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia to becoming one of the only 1.5% of female licensed plumbers in the United States, Mary has never backed down from a new challenge.
Mary is the past chairman of the International Franchise Association’s VetFran Committee and continues to be a sitting member. While committee chair she launched Operation Enduring Opportunity in partnership with the White House Hiring Our Heroes program which led to more than 150,000 veterans being hired into franchise jobs and 5000 going into small business ownership. Veteran employment is more than just a passion to Mary, as she served eight years as a U.S. Marine Corps logistics officer, achieving the rank of captain.
Mary’s commitment to leadership and service was recognized in 2013 with the International Franchise Association’s Bonny Levine Award, the organization’s highest award for women who mentor other women. A graduate of the University of Texas, Mary is married to a fellow Longhorn, has two grown children, and is a dedicated runner with an annual goal to run at least one marathon.
Andrea is an executive with 20 years experience building organizations, mentoring teams, and leading digital transformation and user experience projects across for-profit, government, association, and non-profit sectors.
She has a MILS from the University of Michigan iSchool, a post-grad certificate in Usability, Information Architecture, and Design from the University of Texas iSchool, a BA in International Studies and German from Austin College, and is a certified PMP.
Andrea believes in the power of community engagement and loves to foster connections between people. She chairs the Austin YMCA Town Lake Board, and is on the Advisory Board for Austin Women in Digital.
Andrea is a single Mom and spends her free time with her amazing daughter and son, volunteering for the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride, cycling, motorcycling, working out at the Y, hiking, and walking around Lady Bird Lake with friends.