Igniting the Fire Within You!

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Igniting the Fire Within You!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 was a night to remember. It was I Know Somebody Houston’s 3rd anniversary celebration and official website launch.

The night was a magical array of women from the Houston community who shared mesmerizing, profound, funny and entertaining stories we dubbed “Firestarters: Women With Stories to Warm Your Heart”

The room was full to the brim with excitement and hope. The kind of hope that brings change, that reinforces something good, that seeks to create opportunity and speaks up to injustice and despair.

Three years ago, Founder, Elizabeth Pudwill, saw a need in the Houston community for an organization that answered those questions and solved problems for women. There was a time in her life when things weren’t so good. It was a time when she needed help to sort through personal and legal matters. She didn’t have the financial resources to hire an attorney to give her counsel. It was against this wall that she found her voice, spoke up to her social and community network of friends and those resources came to fruition. It was an amazing moment in her life, one she realized could not go unrecognized. It was then she conceived of the nonprofit organization we call today “I Know Somebody Houston”.

IKSH started out as a group of women “Firestarters”. Women who embraced change and supported Elizabeth’s vision. In three years, the organization has grown to 5,000 Facebook members and in addition to the website, has launched a professional group on LinkedIn. The basic membership to the website is free and includes a bulletin board forum to discuss and address community and personal challenges. From there, members can offer solutions.

The website blogs offer a deeper look into topics of interest that encompass work and life, as well as commentary by community thought leaders on those things that affect work and life.

Our inaugural Firestarters welcome you. There is no judgement here. No deterrent to keep you from asking for and finding the resources you need.

We are smart. We are strong. We are beautiful. We have purpose.

IKS Houston invites you to Connect, Inspire and Empower. Join us!

Thank You to our 2015 Firestarters:


Amber Neal 

Twitter: @msthematchmaker Website: ambernealpresents.com

Amber is Houston’s FAVORITE Millionaire Matchmaker and Innovator on the Houston Singles Scene. Her creative events have landed her GLOBAL press on 20/20 ABC World News with Barbara Walter in August 2013 and used in Jay Leno’s Monologue on THE TONIGHT SHOW (October 2013) plus all the local media coverage one can stand! The media comes to almost all of her events at this point because Amber is the 1st to bring these dating trends that are HOT in LA & NYC to Houston!


Samantha Pudwill

Samantha is a Nanny and a student. Her Firestarter story was about the “Brady Bunch Family”. She reminisced about her experiences with a non-traditional family unit and how that dynamic affected her life. Her extended family was her normal. As an adult, she could look back at it as a time she was part of something bigger than herself. It got her through something that most of us would consider traumatizing. Her infectious smile and the sparkle in her eyes tell the real story.

Sandy Brauer

Sandy Brauer  

Twitter: @SandyBrauer  Website: sandybrauergraphicdesign.com

Sandy had the audience in stitches as she told her Firestarter story in which she embellished some details about her family in order to fit into what others considered a universal norm for women. How do you tell someone you’re really not the person you portrayed yourself to be? You should hear how Sandy explains it!

In her worklife, Sandy specializes in designing web sites, publications, logos, and other collateral pieces for marketing, public relations and advertising departments in engineering and manufacturing industries.

Teresa Mason Maron

Teresa Mason Maron  

Twitter: @teresa_maron  Website: teresamaron.us

Teresa wanted to dance. She auditioned for everything she could find to get work as a dancer. She was living in on the west coast and heard of work in Dallas. She made the call. The phone was answered. She got the part. Excited, she enlisted the help of a friend with a vehicle to drive her to Dallas. She was dropped curbside, ventured into the building and announced her arrival to the receptionist who said – “you don’t have a job”. The rest of the story defined taking risks and standing your ground.

Fast forward to now, Teresa is a radio network host and serial podcaster. Teresa’s shows cover topics for conscious entrepreneurs on business and marketing.

Justina Page

Justina Page  

Twitter: @JustinaRPage 

In the early hours of March 7, 1999, Justina Page’s life changed forever when a four-alarm house fire ravaged and destroyed her family’s home. In the aftermath, in addition to the heartbreaking loss of one of her 22-month-old twin boys, Justina and her husband had to cope with the physical injuries left behind on both her and their surviving son.

Justina wrote The Circle of Fire which chronicles her journey through overcoming the devastating consequences of this catastrophic event. Justina is an example of discovering that personal tragedy is not a life sentence to despair, anger, and continue pain and suffering. Instead, it is a discovery of how something positive can be salvaged from every agonizing experience, even when your faith has truly been tried by fire.

Maggie Galehouse

Maggie Galehouse  

Twitter:  @MaggieGalehouse  

Maggie’s Firestarter story told us about what it took for her to learn to love people just as they are. How to live for the things that make us whole and filling in the empty crevices with other things that matter. When you stop expecting people to behave in a certain way, the doors for real love stay open.

Maggie Galehouse is the Houston Chronicle’s book editor. She grew up in New England and earned a Ph.D. in English at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn. An award-winning reporter, Galehouse has covered education, crime, business and features for a handful of newspapers. Occasionally, Maggie can be heard on NPR discussing books. Her book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Houston Chronicle.


Vannessa Wade  Twitter:  @PROCKSTAR Website: connectthedotspr.com

Vannessa put everything she had into her career. Opportunity knocked. She was ready. She answered. Then she got sick with a life threatening illness. She did all she could to become healthy again. When the time was right, she got back up, brushed herself off, and continued on the path she carved out for herself. Sympathy is not an ingredient to an overcomer like Vannessa. Want to walk to success? Walk in her shoes.

Vannessa works with national and local companies and organizations such as The White House, UNICEF, The American Cancer Society and more to create and exceed their communications and public relations goals. Along with her clients has been featured in O Magazine, Black Enterprise, Cosmopolitan, Vocus, Today.com, FOX, NBC and more. Currently, she hosts a successful Branding and Public Relations workshop that helps savvy business professionals craft and refine their brand messaging to increase brand awareness and impact their bottom line.


Lorna Davis  

Website: www.yourblvd.com/find-a-realtor/agents/10

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. You can impart an attitude like that when you drive a Hummer like Lorna. But her Hummer gave her more than a larger than life persona, it gave her super powers. One rainy day in Houston, the sky fell. The water became flood waters, stranding drivers. The call to act was overwhelming and she and her Hummer sought out stranded motorists – frightened, hungry, thirsty, and displaced. She went to a nearby donut shop and demanded they open their doors and supply her with donuts. We’re pretty sure if we were stranded and afraid, an elegant blonde in a Hummer bearing donuts and water and a ride to safety would be a welcomed sight. There wasn’t a cape or an “S” emblazoned on her chest, just a burning desire to help Houston.

Lorna Davis specializes in residential properties and has consistently been a multimillion-dollar producer since 1995, her first year in the real estate business.

Her profound respect for others and her commitment to exceed each client’s expectations are reflected in her enthusiasm, professionalism and attention to their unique and specific needs and requirements.


Samantha Maret

Facebook: www.facebook.com/samantha.maret

Samantha’s story may be your story. Her Mom started forgetting simple things. A fiercely independent woman, Mom became extremely frustrated and acted out. Eventually, she was unable to do even the simplest things to care for herself. What does a daughter do? Where does she go? Who can she turn to? After finding few resources to ease her burgeoning responsibilities, Samantha turned frustration into action. She created a non-profit organization to build resources for individuals suffering from dementia. Do you have a family member who needs help coping with Alzheimer’s? Samantha would love to talk to you. She’s looking for answers and you could just be part of the solution.

Sarah Gish

Sarah Gish  Twitter: @sarahgish Website: igniteyourownlife.com/

Sarah looks for ways to enrich personal, family, and businesses by creates connections, championing culture, and igniting lives. She gave everyone in the audience a wooden match and asked the question “How will you ignite YOUR life?” As the matches sparked around the room and the smell of sulphur permeated our nostrils, the enthusiasm was contagious. She promises nothing is too crazy to consider when igniting hope and promise in your life.

You’ll see Sarah around town promoting things in ways that provide entertainment value, invigorating the ordinary and catapulting it to extraordinary.

kim davis

Kim Davis  Twitter:  @kimydavis  Website: about.me/kimsport

Kim was the last Firestarter to speak. In classic fashion, she admitted that the preceding Firestarter talks covered some of the same ground she planned to address. No matter, she was ready to rethink things on the fly and reinvent herself in the present tense. It’s just what you do when you’re a high-energy veteran news and sports journalist with a no-nonsense work ethic. Kim excels at delivering the story behind the headlines and finding the ‘news’ in every story.

As a media journalist, Kim is a proven performer in the areas of community involvement, story-telling, live-shots, feature stories and conducting interviews. She is a respected business and communications consultant; media coach/strategist and project manager who focuses on health, fitness and community.

I Know Somebody Houston thanks our Firestarters. We can relate to your story. With your honesty and vulnerability, you’ve created a special place in our hearts.

We plan to make the Firestarters an annual tradition. Do you have a compelling story? Until next year, we invite you to join us at future networking events. There’s a place for you here. Let’s find each other and create a new story for the women of Houston.

By |July 4th, 2015|IKSH In the News, Personal Growth|Comments Off on Igniting the Fire Within You!

About the Author:

Suzette Cotto is CEO of Innovate Social Media. She's a disruptive B2B Houston girl who loves the power of savvy web design + SEO + Social Media + email marketing. Staying on the pulse of what's good in the world!

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