KATY MAGAZINE I MAY 2019
By Natalie Cook Clark and Katy Magazine Editors
Katy, Texas is home to incredible, giving moms who dedicate countless hours helping others. We asked for nominations of selfless acts that have positively impacted their families and have made a difference in our community.
Here are 50 of the most outstanding philanthropic moms and volunteers who were nominated by their husbands, children, friends, neighbors, or coworkers! We profiled five moms of the 50 moms on the list, and below is the full list. Photography by Sara Isola
From left to right Leanne Wells, Kelly Litvak, Wendy Duncan, Angela Wells, and Jennifer Royo
1. Wendy Duncan
A Legacy of Giving
Wendy, 49, grew up in a family devoted to helping others. She quickly learned to serve, alongside her mother and grandparents, through her involvement with the church choir, visiting retirement homes and hospitals, and more. At 12 years old, Wendy played piano for her church, and today, she and her family combine their energies and serve others at Kingsland Baptist Church.
Wendy is the current Director for Willow Fork Drainage District. She has also created the Barker Flood Prevention, an advocacy group determined to realize flood management and infrastructure implementation. This experience and her passion for the Katy community is why Wendy is running for Fort Bend County Commissioner.
Wendy and her husband Rob teach Sunday School for their boys as well as lead the adult Sunday School. Wendy also volunteers as a greeter at the church’s Welcome Center and has attended mission trips to Cambodia and El Salvador.
“I think in the past I have had challenges saying ‘no’ to opportunities that may not be the best fit for me or my family in terms of schedule or the actual work,” says Wendy. “Once I learned to say, ‘yes,’ to only the things that complemented my existing life, I found that balance was a natural result.”
In 2017, Wendy aided in Katy’s response efforts to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation by reporting information during the storm and coordinating recovery efforts afterwards.
“During Hurricane Harvey, the world got to see through the lens of social media the kind of community we are-compassionate, generous, determined, strong, and resilient,” says Wendy. “We all came together to create a dynamic response to a catastrophic disaster.”
“This has allowed me to channel my energies into being the generation that finally finishes the objectives of the 1940’s flood management plan,” says Wendy.
Wendy and her husband Rob have three boys. Carter, a senior at Cinco Ranch High School, swims for the varsity team. Trey, a sophomore at Strake Jesuit High School, plays football and works at Chick-fil-A. Luke, a 7th grader at Grace School, plays football and soccer and runs track.
Wendy grew up seeing a plaque on her mother’s wall. “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. For me, to live is Christ.” Wendy finds drive and motivation in these words.
“At the end of my life, I want to look back on it and say it was a life well spent doing God’s work,” says Wendy.
2. JENNIFER ROYO
A Community Gathering Place
Jennifer and her husband, Brian own No Label Brewing along with his parents Gil and Melanie. The brewery provides a great place in Old Town Katy for families to come together and have fun.
“When we started No Label in 2010 we knew then we wanted to give back to Katy as we grew as a company,” says Jennifer. “We’ve been blessed to be able to do that.”
No Label plays host to many events that benefit local organizations, Katy-area subdivisions and special interest groups. The brewery has been the site for 5Ks, raffles, silent auctions and more.
“I’ve been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people that like volunteering and giving back as much as I do. Katy is an incredible community that doesn’t bat an eye at giving back,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer and Brian have two children, Travis and Joseph. Six-year-old Travis plays soccer, baseball, and flag football (his currently favorite). He attends Fielder Elementary where Jennifer is heavily involved with the PTA.
“Travis loves me helping out there,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer keeps busy volunteering with Travis’ school and sports activities, in addition to organizing No Label’s volunteer efforts to give back to the community.
The couple’s two-year-old son Joseph attends preschool at St. Bart’s Catholic School, and the Royos intend to become more active in the church community there. Joseph starts soccer this year, and Jennifer will be there to support him too.
Like all Katy moms, Jennifer regularly manages a busy work and family life.
“Finding balance is definitely a big challenge as a parent,” says Jennifer, “but I like to get my children involved with work events so I can merge the two.”
“My family drives me,” says Jennifer. “Being a mom has definitely changed me as a person. I want to set a good example for my kids.”
3. KELLY LITVAK
Proof that Love Can Change the World
Kelly Litvak and her family have been a true inspiration to the Katy community. Over the last 12 years, Kelly has served as the executive director of two non-profit organizations and worked in a juvenile prison ministry.
Kelly always felt called to support and help teens. In 2007, she published a Christian-based book, "Tools 4 Teens," that focused on teen issues and used scripture to help them navigate one of the most challenging seasons of life.
Human Trafficking Nightmare
But while she was focused on helping others, Kelly’s family went through a horrible experience that forced them to ask for help.
In 2016, Kelly’s daughter Courtney was pursued by sex traffickers at her Katy ISD school and around the community.
“We found ourselves grasping for resources that just weren’t there. Had we understood how to navigate the world of human trafficking, we would have significantly increased our chances of a better outcome,” says Kelly.
Instead of letting this unimaginable experience control them, the Litvaks decided to rally together to bring positive change and awareness to others so they could avoid similar fates.
“We committed to be a vehicle for change which provides the greatest healing for our family,” says Kelly. “I think when you experience great heartache, loss, or injustice, you can always find purpose in that reason which can make the world a better place and bring glory to God.”
In response to their family’s tragedy, Kelly used her professional experience and personal drive to found Childproof America. This important non-profit organization empowers families in the battle against sex trafficking by educating and helping parents. Kelly is blessed to have a passionate staff and family that supports her, and the vital mission of the organization.
“My work with Childproof America doesn’t always happen within the traditional 9-5 workday. When a parent in crisis calls, in need of urgent support, the time of day is irrelevant,” says Kelly. “If a call comes in late at night, I have to become immediately alert and ready to offer accurate direction. Not answering a call or offering mediocre advice could result in a serious consequence for someone.”
4. LEANNE WELLS
One Person Can Make a Difference
Single mom, Leanne Wells, works as a full-time recruiter, but still finds time to serve our community through multiple avenues. “If everyone had the attitude of ‘someone else will do it,’ nothing will ever get done,” says Wells. “I can’t imagine not helping in my community.”
Leanne and her children, Blake, 18, and Landry, 13, are active members of Second Baptist Church-West Campus. They volunteer for Angels of Light, a program in its 29th year that blesses families in Katy and surrounding communities during the holidays. The trio also volunteers with Hope in a Backpack.
For the past 12 years, through Rylander Elementary and Cinco Ranch High School (CRHS), Leanne has volunteered in each of her children’s schools. She’s been active with the CRHS PTA and Booster Clubs for the past five years where she has been in charge of designing and selling spirit wear. Her son Blake graduated from CRHS last May, but Leanne continues to volunteer in the same role (without a child attending the school).
Every summer, Leanne takes a week of unpaid vacation to accompany over a thousand junior high students for a beach retreat where the kids get baptized.
Leanne has truly influenced her children by her dedication and commitment to helping others. Through her example, Leanne’s children have become involved in activities and service. Blake finished his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma where he volunteers with the OU Athletic Recruiting Department.
Landry, a seventh grader at Cinco Ranch Junior High plays volleyball and basketball. She’s also a Girl Scout and the president of her National Charity League 2024 class. Leanne also volunteers with both of these organizations. For the past six years she has been a co-leader of Landry’s Girl Scout troop, participating in camp-outs, leading meetings, mentoring girls and helping the girls sell cookies.
Leanne’s dedication to others surpasses the Katy community. For more than a decade, she has served on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Carnival and Ticket Sales Committee. Over the past 11 years, Leanne has sold over $450K in carnival packets, that’s equivalent to providing 27 students with $18K scholarships each.
“I truly believe that one person can make a difference,” says Leanne.
5. ANGELA WELLS
Plenty of Love For Every Child
Angela has actively served the Katy community for over 20 years. In 1997, she started working as a Katy ISD bus driver. Seven years later, Angela took another position in the district when she was hired as a security guard for Katy High School.
“Angela loves the students deeply and takes it upon herself to ensure those whom are usually overlooked or given up on, know there is someone in their corner who believes in them,” said her son Jordan Wells. “Anyone who knows Angela knows she loved sacrificially and advocates for those who are voiceless."
Angela has four biological children: Joshua, 33, Paige, 27, Jacob, 25, and Jordan, 23. All have attended Katy High School. Over the years, Angela has served on the Little League board, ran the concession stand at the ball park, has served in Mid Week at Memorial Lutheran Church, been a team mom for various sports, and participated on several PTA boards.
While this all sounds like enough, Angela and her family went further in service. Back when Angela’s daughter Paige was in high school, she participated in the Peer Assistants and Leadership (PALS) program, taught by Mrs. Loftin. At the time, Paige was paired with a young girl, Alicia. Paige mentored Alicia for two years and the girls developed a special bond. Sadly, Alicia lost both of her parents. When Paige graduated she asked her mother Angela to look after the girl. “This program changed my family’s life,” says Angela.
Three years ago, Angela and her husband of 30 years, Joel, became Alicia’s legal guardians. Then in August of that same year, Alfredo Silva, Alicia’s brother, came to live with them.
“He is a blessing to all of us,” says Angela.
Alicia was elected to be a PAL next school year. She asked Angela, “Mom what if the same thing happens like it did with Paige?” Angela told her that it won’t, and they both got a good laugh.
Here are the rest of our 50 MOST GIVING KATY MOMS in no particular order.
6. Kristi Carroll
Mom of two, avid volunteer at Taylor High School, and National Charity League Chapter President (Azalea)
7. Michelle Owens
Police officer, self defense training, Officer at Memorial Villages Police Department, teaches DARE program, head teacher for RAD (Rape Aggression Defense), former Katy ISD officer
8. Toni Amequito
Single mother of three daugthers, registered nurse in maternity services and a community educator for all new parents at Memorial Hermann, with over 100+ volunteer hours this spring.
“My mom is the most amazing mom in the world to me and my two little sisters Izzy and Gabby! She is an amazing single mom and brings so much love and happiness to our family... I could not be more proud of my mom and all she does for our family and the community!" - Nikki Amequito, Toni's daughter
9. Miriam Daboub
Mom and volunteer of the Year at Jenks Elementary, who helps coordinate programs like Junior Achievement, Destination Imagination, CAT Team, classroom and more
10. Eve Schaefer
Mom of three, PTSA board member, CRHS dance team officer mom, National Charity League Board Member (Lady Bird Chapter)
11. Kathryn Herman
Avid volunteer raising three daughters while working toward her nursing degree.
12. Melissa Nixon
Mom of three boys in different schools, former PTA president, band mom, and active community volunteer.
“Our family, our community – she gives and gives and gives…we are all the better because of her.”
-John Nixon, Melissa's husband
13. Stephanie Sandoval
Mom raising three sons, oldest son has leukemia; known for always helping others in need.
14. Ruthie Courville
Mom who has served as president of Project Grad and served as PTA mega volunteer throughout her children's lives. Also raises money for kids in need at Taylor High School.
15. Claudia Tucci
Mom of three who serves on the PTA Board at Exley, teaches classes at church and is a KEYS mentor.
16. Mandy Miller
Busy band mom of two, Sunday school teacher, athletic booster volunteer, and special needs teacher.
17. Sylvia Pursely
Mom of twins, Katy ISD Challenge/Destination Imagination teacher, and dedicated volunteer.
18. Sharon Dworaczyk
Scout mom, literacy consultant for Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture, and passionate advocate to help obtain state funding for public schools.
19. Marisa Adams
Wife and mom, youth choir leader, and volunteer extraordinaire with her church and Katy High School.
“She is very dedicated to her work and her community, and always helps me to grow as a person in every way.”
-Emily Adams, Marisa's daughter
20. Heather Schomburg
Mom of four, volunteer, and philanthropist
21. Iris Guzman
Special needs teacher and advocate for parents, mother of two, one daughter is autistic
22. Gari Meacham
Mother, speaker, and founder of Truly Fed Ministries
23. Kenzie Stanfield
Wife, mother of 5, and volunteer helping others through grief
24. Sharon Hayes
Wife, mom, and coordinator of the Joy Prom for special needs kids
25. Karen Jaggers
Mother of autistic son, counselor, special needs champion
26. Sue Hetrick
Mom, grandma, and Executive Director of Compassion Katy
27. Christy Bohlen
Mom and realtor who is passionate about community giving back programs
28. Kristen Mann
Mom, photographer, realtor, school, church and community volunteer
29. Brittany Dyal
Mom and Voluteer of the Year at Shafer Elementary
30. Shantania Loving-Leggins
Mother of five, active volunteer and philanthropist
31. Regina Alexander
Community leader, organized Feed the Hunger-Katy Packathon, involved with Katy non-profits
"Regina is a Katy area “Super Mom” who is a pillar of the community. She selflessly serves multiple Katy and Greater Houston area nonprofit organizations where she shar