Olivia Rathle

Brynn Bagot Public Relations

(251) 421-4532 or olivia@brynnbagot.com

DALLAS – April 10, 2023 – Junior League of Dallas (JLD) and Presenting Sponsor, The Ryan Foundation, awarded $40,000 in collegiate scholarships to 10 college-bound women from Dallas ISD during the 10th annual Women LEAD Speech Competition and Awards Ceremony held at JLD Headquarters on Wednesday, March 29. The top 10 ranked finalists were selected from a highly competitive set of 20 applicants from Emmett J. Conrad High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, and South Oak Cliff High School. Founded in 2013 by JLD, the Women LEAD (Learn. Excel. Achieve. Dream.) scholarship program was created to assist female high school students in pursuing their dreams of higher education and to create opportunities for future women leaders. Since the program began, the League has awarded 72 scholarships totaling $345,000 to female seniors from these three area high schools.

“We know each of these finalists worked incredibly hard on their applications and speeches, and we are so happy to recognize their individual efforts and talents,” said JLD President Emily Somerville-Cabrera. “Throughout this process, we have been incredibly honored to work with these impressive young ladies and hope these scholarships will help them further their education and become future leaders in their careers and communities. We are excited to see their success in the coming years as they continue their journeys in college and beyond.”

In October, Women LEAD Chair Ashley Early and Signature Projects Vice President Megan LaDriere White and their committee held workshops at the three high schools to review the application and scholarship program. After the finalists were selected in early February, JLD members re-visited the schools to hold public speaking workshops. The committee scored applications based on the criteria of academic performance, resume, letters of recommendation, transcript, and an essay. The top 10 ranked applicants were invited to present their speeches Wednesday evening in front of this year’s judges including: JLD President
Emily Somerville-Cabrera; Amy Kendrick Lee of Ryan and The Ryan Foundation; and Dallas County Promise’s Karla Garcia. Former TV reporter and JLD Sustainer Calvert Collins emceed the event.

In the oratory competition, the students were given this prompt: Across the world and at home, women have been making great strides in their respective fields. Actress Marsai Martin, known for her role in “Black-ish” and being the youngest executive producer, and Karla Garcia, the youngest member and first Latina woman elected to the Dallas ISD School Board, are two examples of female leaders. These women possess unique skills and abilities that make them great leaders. Knowing that, in your opinion, what makes someone a strong leader? What leadership qualities would you like to demonstrate in your life?

In response, the audience and judges heard inspirational speeches from each of the top 10 finalists, including: Leila Aguilar, Zoe Esquivel, Mahtab Fedaye, Amanda Fumero, Cinderella Hall, Claudia Herrera, Sorel Mouity Ibiatsi, Olga Ramirez, Sofia Vazquez, and Yocelin Zapata. Additionally, the students spoke about their passions and how receiving a Women LEAD scholarship will help them achieve their goals, which included becoming a doctor, a pediatric physical therapist, a nurse, an immigration advocate, and more. These individual passions motivate these students to chase their dreams and turn them into a reality, and each of these young women hope to fulfill those dreams in a way that will make a positive impact on the world and inspire the people around them.

Following the oratory competition, the judging panel tallied the votes and determined the winners based on the merits of their scholarship application and speech presentation. The winner of the $15,000 Women LEAD Scholarship Program was Olga Ramirez. Second place winner Sofia Vazquez received a $10,000 scholarship; third place winner Leila Aguilar received a $5,000 scholarship; fourth place winner Zoe Esquivel received a $3,000 scholarship; and fifth place winner Claudia Herrera received a $2,000 scholarship. Honorable mention winners each received a $1,000 scholarship.

The Junior League of Dallas cultivates leaders who collectively address the critical needs of the community.
Founded in 1922, JLD is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world, as well as the largest and oldest
training organization for women in Dallas. Active members range in age from 22 to 49 with approximately
85% percent of women employed outside of the home. The JLD provides leadership opportunities to nearly
4,300 women each year through more than 17,000 cumulative hours of experiential and formal training.
Uniquely member-run, JLD provides over 100,000 hours in volunteer service and approximately $1 million
in funding to area nonprofits each year. For more information, please visit www.jldallas.org or Facebook,
Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Formed in 2011 with a charter to help organizations that address health, poverty and education, The Ryan
Foundation supports non-profit organizations across the United States. Founded by Ryan, the world’s largest
firm dedicated exclusively to business tax services and software solutions, The Ryan Foundation is based on
one of Ryan’s five values, “Generosity Matters – I share success with colleagues, clients and the

Ryan, an award-winning global tax services and software provider, is the largest Firm in the world dedicated
exclusively to business taxes. With global headquarters in Dallas, Texas, the Firm provides an integrated
suite of federal, state, local, and international tax services on a multijurisdictional basis, including tax
recovery, consulting, advocacy, compliance, and technology services. Ryan is a 10-time recipient of the
International Service Excellence Award from the Customer Service Institute of America (CSIA) for its
commitment to world-class client service. Empowered by the dynamic myRyan work environment, which is
widely recognized as the most innovative in the tax services industry, Ryan’s multidisciplinary team of more
than 4,100 professionals and associates serves over 21,000 clients in more than 60 countries, including many
of the world’s most prominent Global 5000 companies. More information about Ryan can be found
at ryan.com. “Ryan” and “Firm” refer to the global organizational network and may refer to one or more of
the member firms of Ryan International, each of which is a separate legal entity.