PaperCity Magazine

May 2014 - Houston

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Page 55 of 71

MAY | PAGE 56 | 2014 P O R T R A I T S J A C K T H O M P S O N . WARDROBE CUES, JOB REVIEWS It all began in the summer of 1998, when Nancy Levicki, a former buyer for Sakowitz, set out to make a difference by distributing appropriate women's work attire out of the back of her Suburban to ladies who needed a wardrobe redo and someone to coach them into stepping into the career world. Within six months, Dress for Success' first Houston HQ materialized: a comparatively humble 1,500-square-foot space off I-10 and Little York. Flash forward 16 years. Now ensconced in her organization's third home, the connected and laser-focused Levicki, with her dynamic PR and fund-raising daughter Lauren Levicki (who founded DFSH's young professional group, Women of Wardrobe, as a volunteer before joining as VP), serve 4,000 women annually from gleaming new digs that are just as impressive as the mission this pair is on. Having raised $6.3 million in an astonishing 15 months, the tireless Levicki tapped Houston-based Ziegler Cooper Architects, led by interiors principal Jim Hanlin, to devise a 16,600-square-foot blueprint for the nonprofit's new Eastside home — one that is impressive, inspiring and green. Add to that handsome contemporary furnishings and fixtures to the tune of $650,000 — all donated architectural flourishes secured by Hanlin and his colleagues — and you have a warm, welcoming place emitting importance. There is also a serene green space, a memorial garden given in honor of Jim Levicki, Nancy's late husband and Lauren's dad, who was instrumental in the success of DFHS. A convenient drive-up door staffed by friendly volunteers makes this Upper Kirby office for Dress for Success Houston (the first free-standing home anywhere for the charity that boasts chapters in cities throughout America) ideally sited to receive donations from the tony closets of River Oaks, West University, Heights and Montrose-area mavens, including Mayor Parker who has been known to donate her business suits to the cause. The two-story, airy space with a loft-like feel and rooftop deck also features classrooms for career counseling, résumé writing, interviewing workshops and general mentoring meetings. Besides receiving two business ensembles a month, shopped from a beautifully merchandised store, each client is required to attend seminars providing real-world job advice. On the walls, the faces and professional CVs of DFSH's grads convey that this is a place where a good, secure job is possible for those that aspire to one. As co- founder Levicki says, "From the agency's inception, I have believed that when you help a woman achieve self-sufficiency, you not only impact her life, you impact the lives of her children, family and this great city. This building reflects their future success stories and the realization of their dreams, as they become professional women." What's also moving about the organization is that at its heart we find this unflappable mother and daughter, pragmatic yet graceful in their dedication to helping other women achieve bold career goals that, by erasing poverty, are truly life-changing. Megan Pruitt Winder GIVING THE TREE Dress for Success Houston's Nancy Levicki and Lauren Levicki Mercy Ships' Catherine Clarke Murphy RUBEN PLOMP FOR MERCY SHIPS ALL ABOARD H oustonian and University of Texas at Austin grad Catherine Clarke Murphy's life is looking quite different these days. She traded in an expansive downtown vista at international law firm Locke Lord's swanky JPMorgan Chase Tower offices in downtown Houston for, well, a porthole. Now Murphy's traveling the world over with Mercy Ships, a global charity operating a fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978, aboard the refurbished Danish Rail Ferry. Coined the "Africa Mercy," the ferry has been outfitted as a state-of-the-art surgical hospital, run by a crew of 400 from 35 nations, and docks in ports of call that have included Conakry, Guinea, and Pointe Noire in The Republic of the Congo. Murphy's involvement however, makes all the more apparent the bleak reality that healthcare is not universally provided for those whose need is most severe. Tasked with the unique job of telling the stories of the people it serves, Murphy finds personal fulfillment in being "a pen and paper for the patients I meet. I get to be the one who sits down and records their journeys." The liner is divided into quadrants containing supply/services, five operating rooms, recovery/intensive care and low-dependency wards with a total of 82 patient beds. The volunteer crew provides free medical services and surgical procedures onboard, including cataract removal/lens implants, tumor removal, cleft-lip and palate reconstruction, orthopedics and obstetric fistula repair. The hospital also contains imaging tools that allow for almost instant remote diagnosis. Whenever required, diagnoses are transmitted via an onboard satellite to doctors in developed countries. Mercy Ships has impacted the lives of more than 13.5 million people. Yet, we can't help but think that without a patient advocate like Murphy actively involved in the organization's work, the necessary narratives of those in need wouldn't be known. Megan Pruitt Winder IRACLES ON THE HIGH SEAS, EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH POWER DRESSING, OUTRAGEOUS CHOPPERS THAT KEEP KIDS IN SCHOOL AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING. CATHERINE D. ANSPON AND MEGAN PRUITT WINDER SHAKE THE GIVING TREE TO PICK A SIGNIFICANT SIX WHO ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF CHARITABLE LEADERSHIP.

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