Austin Woman Magazine 2006-2007
The power of possibility and launching of the Pink Pages / By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne
The fifth year of Austin Woman saw the launch of the Pink Pages. Designed to support local women business owners and entrepreneurs, and to connect readers with those businesses, the Pink Pages was an immediate success. The go-to directory became the premier resource for women in business and is now in its seventh year of publication.
The year also brought changes in design with the addition of Art Director Hope Carberry and innovative editorial under the continuing vision of Editor Mary Anne Connolly. Of her experience, Connolly says, “By far, the most rewarding thing about the position was the incredible team and staff, who couldn’t have been more hardworking or supportive, from sales to editorial, as well as meeting all of the amazing women in Austin who were our readers, contributors and subjects. It is not often in journalism you get a chance to start from scratch each month and have a platform from which to inspire, inform and educate, as well as connect the dynamic, brilliant, active and amazing women of Austin!”
Dynamic, brilliant, active and amazing are definitely appropriate words to describe the women who graced the covers from September 2006 through August 2007. In a bold move, Molly Ivins, who was valiantly fighting inflammatory breast cancer, insisted that her cover photo show her as she was—without hair following aggressive chemo. Musicians Patricia Vonne, Eliza Gilkyson, Natalie Maines and Kelly Willis were among those featured, as were philanthropists and community leaders Ada Anderson and Robin Campbell. Readers were inspired by University of Texas track coach Bev Kearney, physician Marci Roy and businesswomen M.P. Mueller and Amy Baker.
No story was more inspiring than that of breast cancer survivor Andrea McWilliams, who chose Austin Woman as a platform to tell her story and bring hope to women battling this debilitating and often-fatal disease.
“I remember being so moved and honored that Andrea would choose to reveal her story to the world through AW, and even more humbled when, a few days after the issue with Andrea on the cover came out, I was in an elevator carrying a copy of the magazine when I was stopped by a woman on that same elevator holding that very same issue of Austin Woman,” Publisher Melinda Garvey recalls. “She was on her way to see her sister in the hospital, who had just been diagnosed with stage-three ovarian cancer. She said she read Andrea’s story and knew she had to bring it to her sister right away because she knew it would give her hope and inspire her to focus on beating the cancer. I was speechless. How lucky was I to be part of a magazine that had the ability to change people’s lives? It is truly a gift and one for which I will be forever grateful.”
Entrepreneur, devoted wife and mother, community volunteer and one of Texas’ top lobbyists, McWilliams was on top of the world, or so it seemed. In the January 2007 issue of Austin Woman, McWilliams courageously, with no holds barred, discussed her diagnosis and subsequent battle with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her third child, Marcus. In the article, McWilliams was described as a master strategist, articulate, informed and direct—all traits essential to winning her battle with the deadly disease and to becoming the voice of hope for all women fighting breast cancer.
Today, McWilliams is indeed on top of the world and has been cancer-free going on six years. McWilliams and Associates is the top lobbying firm in Texas, with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the political elite, to the Kickapoo Indian tribe. She and her husband, Dean, have a thriving partnership, personally and professionally, and are the proud parents of three active children ages 10, 6 and 5. In the past five years, McWilliams and Associates’ business has grown tenfold, and the girl who grew up on Congress Avenue in the second story above her father’s burger joint is about to build an 11-story building just west of the Capitol. Although McWilliams claims that, given the three-block radius between the two buildings, she hasn’t come very far, nothing could be further from the truth. Holding on to her principles of faith, family and being fierce has served her well. McWilliams views turning 40 later this year as a blessing.
“Every birthday is important when you have had cancer,” she says. “Turning 40, I am excited about. I feel better. I am in better shape than I have ever been. I am closer to my husband than I have ever been. All of my kids are healthy. My business has never been better.”
Encouraging cancer survivors remains a priority. In 2011, McWilliams chaired the Mamma Jamma Ride, worked on behalf of the Seton Breast Cancer Center and is actively working to bring to Austin a UK-based firm that has developed a revolutionary hair-sparing technology that allows 70-percent of men and women going through chemo to keep their hair.
“My intent with the original article was to encourage other women that they can go through cancer and come out better, stronger and maintain their life,” McWilliams says. “It doesn’t have to destroy you. When I was diagnosed with cancer and a week later found out that I was pregnant, it was too much, so I turned it all over to God. You can get through it and things can be better than before. Just because you have something bad happen to you doesn’t mean that you can’t put it in the rearview mirror. I want women to read this and know that if I can win my battle, they can do it too. You just have to believe in the power of possibility.”
The fifth year of Austin Woman and the story of Andrea McWilliams—sharing the power of possibility.