SheCan Women’s Conference

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The Odessa Chamber of Commerce is proud to host the second annual SheCan International Women's Day Conference. The conference will be hosted at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center Wednesday, March 8th, 2023. 

SheCan Women's Conference Will Return in...



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Lynn Van Amburgh

Longtime Chamber Employee and Community Volunteer

Lynn was born in San Antonio and grew up in Lubbock, graduating from Monterey High School in 1977.  She was raised by a single mother, who always taught her to be honest and treat others like you want to be treated.

During her junior year in high school, Lynn began working at Taco Villa in Lubbock when it first opened.  That experience taught her the importance of teamwork and not to be afraid of long hours and hard work, skills you learn when working in the restaurant business.

She credits her customer service work ethic to her mother and to Bobby Cox!

After graduating high school, Lynn went to work full time for Taco Villa, traveling to new location openings to train employees and help get the stores up and running. It was at one of the grand openings in Alamogordo, New Mexico where she met Craig Van Amburgh, a young marketing professional who was working for Freeland and Associates, coordinating an appearance with a Dallas Cowboy player, Golden Richards.

In 1978, Lynn moved to Odessa and married Craig. She continued to work for Taco Villa until their first born, Gabriel, was born in 1980.  Five years later, their second son, Grant, was born.  Once the children were in school, Lynn started working at ECISD for a couple of years, followed by Proteus Hair Salon.  In 1998, Lynn began working at the Odessa Chamber of Commerce as the receptionist.  She worked her way up in the organization, working in the Economic Development Department for six years.  In 2006, Lynn moved to the Operations Department, serving as Director of Operations until her retirement in September of 2022.

Lynn has volunteered for many organizations, including Pilot Club, United Way, Pink the Basin and First United Methodist Church.  Lynn and Craig love to travel and see the world, as well as spend time with their two granddaughters, Fionna and Georgie.


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Cara Brookins

Author, Rise: How a House Built a Family: Resiliency Expert

Tatum Hubbard is Chief of Staff and Vice President of Communications and Marketing at The University of Texas Permian Basin.  A lifelong west Texan she anchored the 6 and 10 o’clock news for CBS 7 for 18 years before beginning her career in higher education. She graduated from Permian High School and from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Political Science and Communications.

Tatum has won numerous Associated Press awards for reporting and was named as Best Anchor by the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. Tatum was named as a Community Statesman for Media by the Heritage of Odessa Foundation and she received the Texas Media award from the American Cancer Society for the work she did following her mother’s courageous battle with breast cancer.

Tatum was selected as Miss Texas in 1998 and competed in the Miss America Pageant.  Through her years in the program, she won more than $40,000.00 in scholarship money.

Tatum and her husband Brad are parents to two beautiful daughters.

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Kaylie Banda

Chairwoman, Young Professionals of Odessa

Dr. Woodley began her tenure as the President of The University of Texas Permian Basin on July 1, 2017. A role model for non-traditional students, she completed her education while also working full-time and raising her children.  It would take her 10 years to become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

She brings decades of higher education experience in executive positions in five states.  She served as vice president for strategy and finance in Alabama, Kentucky, and Arizona and as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives for The University of Texas System in charge of strategic planning and policy research.

Prior to becoming president, Dr. Woodley served as the chief executive officer for the University of Louisiana System where she led one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, which serves 90,000 students at nine universities. She worked with the state’s governor and legislature, the system’s Board of Regents, as well as campus presidents and members of the public on matters of higher education policy.

A graduate of Auburn University, Dr. Woodley earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration, where she majored in finance and economics. She also holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree in management from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Woodley is a native of Weaver, Alabama, and is married to Stan Woodley. Her family includes three grown children, three grandchildren, and two German Shepherds.


Courtney Wardlaw


Cristal Villegas-Levario is the Business Banking Officer at Frost Bank. She is knowledgeable in lending solutions, bank products, policies, sales, and servicing customer relationships. She is responsible for delivering products to designated segments of Small Business Markets, managing loan portfolios, and processing banking referrals that lead to the conversion to Frost Bank.

Cristal is a native Odessan. She attended Odessa College and received her Associates in Arts Business Administration. She also attended the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration Management and master’s in business administration. Cristal’s volunteerism is a selfless act; she loves to give back. Family, work-family, board-family, community, and faith drive her. She recognizes that not all days are easy, but she can always turn to others for support and inspiration. Cristal is married to her college sweetheart, Gary and hopes to start a family soon.

Cristal currently serves as the President for the Junior League of Odessa and received the Janet Lawrence Membership Award.  Cristal also serves on the Board for Meals on Wheels and the Odessa Under 40 committee for Young Professionals of Odessa, who named her Volunteer and Board Member of the Year.  She also volunteers for the Workforce Commission Financial Literacy program.

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Dr. Elisa Brown-Pruett

Associate Professor Obstetrics & Gynecology Regional Director of TTUHSC's Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health - Permian Basin

Cheryl Torres is a U.S Army Veteran of the Gulf War.  She has her Master of Science in Nursing Administration, a Certificate in Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Completion of the Shell LiveWire Permian Basin Small Business & Entrepreneurship Program and an Entrepreneur.   Cheryl is owner Odessa’s 9Round Fitness Franchise, a multi-unit, three-time winner of CEO award.  Cheryl has always been a believer of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ Jesus which strengthens me”.  From a young age Cheryl was active in sports and the love of helping others.  Whether it be adopting a son from an abusive, drug addicted environment, combat, medical, health and wellness, or fitness, she will find a way to help YOU.  Her vision is to empower individuals daily to focus on their WHY and to teach you how to engage that inner strength, physically and mentally, through a trainer-led workout, 30 minutes at a time.

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Laurie Johnson

Executive Director, Nonprofit Management Center

Liliana Pérez Márquez born in Chihuahua, Mexico.  She was raised in Andrews, graduating from Andrews High School.   Ever since she can remember, her love for art has been part of her life throughout the many years.   She has a God-given talent and she is blessed to share with her friends and followers.

Liliana is Founder and Vice-President of the Odessa Hispanic Art Association.  She was awarded the Mark Tenniswood Volunteer of The Year in 2018 for her work with Keep Odessa Beautiful.  She has served as President of Hispanic Heritage for the last six years.  She directs and hosts “Katrina” Día de los Muertos Fashion Program every November.  Liliana participates in many art Exhibits and has painted several murals around the community such as the one at Osaka’s Japanese Steak House.  Liliana’s mission is to motivate the younger generation to feel the culture and fine arts as a passion and recruit new volunteers each year that eventually become leaders of our beautiful community of Odessa.

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Mary Blain

Past President, Pilot Club

Dr. Sara Safarzadeh Amiri is a dual board-certified Internal Medicine and Pediatric physician who serves as the Chief Medical Officer at Odessa Regional Medical Center and Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring. As a passionate leader within a complex healthcare environment, she is driven by her steadfast commitment to patient care and community advocacy. Leveraging her vast array of clinical and leadership experiences over the past fifteen years, she is mission-driven to achieve ongoing positive social impact.

She began her career serving the marginalized refugee community in Buffalo, NY. During her time there, she also served as the Director for Community Engagement, finding ways to address the social determinants of health, and advocating for the wider underserved population. In 2019, after transitioning to Odessa as the Medical Director of ORMC’s Community Health Center, she continued her primary care practice while also finding ways to add value to the community. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Permian Basin POWER initiative, which makes sure all newborns in Odessa and Midland receive a bag of books.  Then in 2022, she took on a broader role as the regional Chief Medical Officer at Steward Health, overseeing clinical care delivery at two hospitals.

Dr. Amiri is married to Dr. Rohith Saravanan, a physician investor/entrepreneur with the heart of a humanitarian. They have two brilliant children, Arman and Sahana. As a family, they love to find ways to serve communities around the world, including medical relief trips to Africa. When time allows, Dr. Amiri loves to spend time outdoors, hiking, biking, or just sitting by the pool, reading a good book.

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Darlene Mays

Retired, City of Odessa

Cara Brookins built software systems for 20 years as a senior analyst, but when her life crumbled around her, she rebuilt in an unconventional way.  Cara built her 3,500 square foot house from the ground up by watching YouTube tutorials. Her story went viral in more than 75 countries and has been viewed more than two billion times. She is the author of eight books, including Rise: How a House Built a Family, where she deftly narrates the extreme learning curve she experienced all while putting her family back together again.

Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos and her eager construction crew consisting of her four young children, Cara built a house from the foundation up. Convinced that by building a house, they could rebuild their broken family, she and her kids poured the concrete, framed the walls, and laid the bricks. In the end, they had built a two-story, five-bedroom home. Cara’s story is an inspiring blueprint that traces her family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves—all thanks to one impossible, extraordinary do-it-yourself project.

Cara uses real-life examples from her unconventional construction site and shares lessons of teamwork, perseverance, and overcoming incredible odds. Her tactics of self-empowerment show how to blend an imperfect mix of personalities, talents, and temperaments into a cohesive, unstoppable team. Her podcast, The Cara Brookins Show, guides listeners on how to push past their fears, get un-stuck, and take the first steps toward building the life they want.

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Tatum Hubbard

Chief of Staff, UT Permian Basin 

Kaylie Banda is a Vice President Commercial Lender at Southwest Bank.  In her role she is responsible for helping customers meet their financial goals through commercial loans and other banking services. Kaylie has been in banking for 7 years.

Kaylie was born in Lubbock and moved to Odessa with her family at a young age. She attended Texas Tech University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in both accounting and finance in 2015. She also earned her Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Energy Business from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 2019.

Kaylie is passionate about giving back to her community. She is the current Chairwoman of the Young Professionals of Odessa, Immediate Past President of the Ellen Noel Art Museum and a Board Member of the Permian Basin Rehab Center. Kaylie also serves on the Odessa Development Corporation compliance committee and has recently been appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the City of Odessa. She is a 2017 graduate of the Nonprofit Management Center’s Generations program, a 2019 Odessa Under 40 Honoree and a 2020 graduate of Leadership Odessa.

Kaylie’s family, fiancée and faith inspire her every day to fulfill her purpose in life, which she believes is to be a light to those around her.

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Dr. Sandra K. Woodley

President, The University of Texas Permian Basin

Courtney Wardlaw serves as the Community Investment Advisor for Exxon Mobil in Midland, Texas.  She has over 25 years of experience in public relations, community relations, employee engagement, grant writing, and fundraising.

Courtney has served in numerous fundraising and public relations roles, including Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Saulsbury Industries, Executive Director for Medical Center Health System Foundation, Senior Community Relations Specialist at Devon Energy, and Executive Director of Resource Development at Odessa College.

Courtney believes community responsibility and public service are musts for a member of any community.  She has been a long-time, active member of the Odessa-Midland community. Courtney served as President of the Junior League of Odessa and West Texas Food Bank and board member of Odessa Chamber of Commerce, Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, and Texas Association of Community Colleges Business Advisory Council.  Additionally, she serves as a committee member for Young Women’s Leadership Academy advisory council and Permian Strategic Partnership Education and Workforce committees. Her volunteer work includes Cups for a Cause, Feast of Sharing, Food2Kids, High Sky Children’s Ranch, Junior Achievement of the Permian Basin, Keep Odessa Beautiful, Meals on Wheels, and SafePlace.  Courtney has been honored by the Girls Scouts of the Permian Basin as a Woman of Distinction.  She is married to Jon Wardlaw and has one son, Jacob, 24.

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Cristal Villegas-Levario

President, Odessa Junior League of Odessa

Elisa L. Brown-Pruett, MD Serves as Associate Professor of obstetrics and gynecology and has been Faculty at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Permian Basin for 18 years. Dr. Brown-Pruett attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston TX and loves to sing. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in Modern Languages. Dr. Brown-Pruett received her MD degree at Eastern Virginia Medical School and trained as a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kentucky. Her academic interests include curriculum development, population health, community health education, benign gynecology, infertility, reproductive endocrinology and adolescent health. Dr. Brown-Pruett Instituted the Department of Community Health Education at TTUHSC Permian Basin which provides health education services to all ages including school district wide evidence-informed sex education. Dr. Brown-Pruett serves as Regional Director for Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health-Permian Basin Campus and is a member of the board of directors of Healthy Futures of Texas.

Cheryl Torres

Cheryl Torres

Franchise Owner, 9Round Fitness

Laurie L. Johnson, APR, joined the Nonprofit Management Center of the Permian Basin in 2006 following a 27-year career in public relations and marketing. In her capacity as Executive Director, she serves as a resource to nonprofit organizations throughout West Texas. Laurie has extensive expertise in nonprofit governance, leadership, finance, marketing, strategic thinking, and advocacy.

Prior to joining the Center, Laurie was an account planner with Admarc Southwest, a regional advertising and public relations firm based in Midland. She also served as the Director of Public Relations at Midland Memorial Hospital.

A native of Temple, Texas, Laurie moved to Odessa after earning a bachelor’s degree in Radio/TV/Film from Baylor University. She has done graduate study at UTPB and is accredited in Public Relations (APR).  In addition, she received a Not-for-Profit Certificate from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).  A strong believer is continuous learning, she has participated in numerous education studies including Advanced Board Consulting (BoardSource), Assessment of Governing Boards and Chief Executives (BoardSource), and Personal and Executive Coach Training (College of Executive Coaching).

Laurie is active in numerous civic and charitable organizations including the Association of Junior Leagues International, Junior League of Odessa, Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest, Compass Academy Charter School, Basin PBS, and American Advertising Foundation.  She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her volunteer and professional work.


Liliana Marquez

President, Hispanic Heritage of Odessa

Originally from Venezuela, South America, Mary Blain came to the USA more than 25 years ago. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration/Accounting from University of Phoenix. Mary works for the Permian Basin Rehabilitation Center as Finance Director and also teaches yoga.

Mary is a volunteer for many organizations, including Pilot Club, where she has served as President of the Board, as well as Chairwoman of the Community Christmas Tree for the past five years. Mary is active with the Odessa Chamber, serving on the Board of Directors, past chair of the Ambassadors and recipient of the Glen M. Atkins Ambassador Award.  She also volunteers for West Texas Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Project Lifesaver, Fall Fest, Hard Hats for Little Heads and various Chamber events.

Dr. Sara Amiri

Dr. Sara Amiri

Chief Medical Officer, ORMC

A vibrant, seasoned and phenomenal woman who loves the Lord. The mother of two amazing daughters, precious grandchildren and a joyful great grandchild. An active and faithful member of the Greater Ideal Baptist Church – Midland, TX.

Ms. Mays is a graduate of Odessa College (Associated Degree), including a former Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society Alumni Member She has a Certification in Supervisory Level Management. In addition, she is a graduated of the National Baptist Convention with a degree in Christian Education.

A tenacious former 42-year retired veteran team member of the City of Odessa where she served as the Code Enforcement Education Administrator. She equipped, educated and promoted educational trainings for Code Enforcement Officers throughout the State of Texas. Ms. Mays is the Former City of Odessa spokesperson in media outlets, including podcasts, television, radio, newspaper and social media outlets.  She helped develop outstanding programs and events to promote public education about Code Ordinances of Enforcement, including the highly successful “Take Pride in Your Neighbor Block Parties and Free Community Bulk Item Drop-Off events.

Ms. Mays was recently honored in her hometown community (Jasper, Texas) where she was awarded the 2023 Pillar Community Award. Presently she serves as a Community Leader and Volunteer for The Woodson Boys and Girls Club, promoting Children Reading, Storytelling, Free Children Book Giveaways and Educational & Literacy Enhancement Programs.  She was instrumental in developing and chairing the 2023 - 1st Annual Woodson Boys and Girls Club Community Children Educational and Literacy Festival that brought in 800+ individuals offering free children book, school supplies, backpacks and so much more.  She is an active Grant’s Advisory Committee Member of the Permian Basin Area Foundation. Ms.  Mays is an active volunteer for West Texas Gifts of Hope.  In 2021, she was awarded the Heritage of Odessa Community Stateman Award in Government.  Ms. Mays served as a COVID-19 Community Liasson assisting wherever needed at the many testing sites including providing educational information to citizens of the community.  She is a past recipient of City of Odessa Employee of the Year Award, Code Enforcement Association of Texas Code Enforcement Officer of The Year, Former Board Member of the Texas Department of Health Code Enforcement Officer Advisory Committee (Austin Texas).


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A HUGE thank you to our 2022-2023 Platinum Sponsors! This select group of pro-Odessa businesses sponsor every program and event all year long, gaining high awareness through signage and verbal name recognition from the podium. They also save by being a Platinum Sponsor instead of buying a table and tickets to each individual event. We couldn’t do it without their generous support!

Interested in becoming a Platinum Sponsor? Learn more here!

2022-2023 Platinum Sponsors Horizontal as of 3.1.23