2018 West Texas Women of Distinction Honorees

Emily Baker

Emily serves as the children’s choir director for Voices of the Permian Basin, while working as a teacher and manager of Maid in Midland. She has been active as a worship team member and children’s ministry volunteer at Sovereign Grace Church since 2006, and volunteers as the children’s musical director at the Permian Playhouse. Her passions for both music and teaching combined to inspire her Bachelor’s in Music Education from the University of Texas at Arlington. Emily’s Girl Scout experience instilled a deep work ethic from an early age, and taught her the value of working for things you want. Her favorite memories from Girl Scouts include the friendships she built and earning her horse-riding badge.


Mary Baker

Mary is a partner and attorney with Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP, one of Texas’ 15 largest firms, and was recognized as a 2018 Texas SuperLawyers Rising Star.  She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and English from St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, and went on to receive her Juris Doctorate cum laude from the Texas Tech School of Law. Mary serves as current president of the Board of Trustees, United Way of Midland, and has been on the board since 2014. She is also currently serving on the Museum of the Southwest’s Board of Trustees, St. Ann’s School Board, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Midland, previously on the Executive Board, and a member of the organization since 2009. Her memories of Girl Scouting include selling cookies and enormous pride in earning her pins and badges.


Mara Barham

Mara is the Executive Vice President, serves as Advisory Board Member, and is a shareholder of the Lone Star State Bank of West Texas, where she has worked since 2007. She graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Finance. Mara is immediate past president of the Pink the Basin, Inc., Board of Directors, and remains an executive board member. She is chair-elect and treasurer of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors., as well as president of the Odessa College Foundation Board of Directors, vice president of the Permian Basin Area Foundation Board of Directors, and a member of the Crystal Ball Foundation Board of Directors.


  Christi Ray Callicoatte

Christi is the Vice President of Account Service for CVA Advertising & Marketing in Odessa, and joined CVA in 2001. A graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.A. in Journalism and minor in Marketing, Christi’s professional experience and drive are equaled only by her intense focus on community service. She is past chair for Centers for Children Families, past president of the United Way of Odessa, and has served on the boards of Pink the Basin, Junior Achievement, and the March of Dimes, among several others. She also received the Outstanding Generations Graduate award from the Non-Profit Management Center, as well as the Beacon Award, and was named United Way Volunteer of the Year in 2008. Girl Scouts taught Christi at a young age the values of setting goals and working hard to achieve them, and the importance of working with others as a team to find and implement solutions.


Debbie Donaldson

Debbie is the Nonprofit Management Center program coordinator, after retiring from Ector County ISD in 2013. She has served two years as the fundraising chair for the Pilot Club of Odessa. She also chaired the Feast of Hearts Charity Board for two years, benefiting Parks Methodist Retirement Village, and served on the First Baptist Church Cup of Christmas Tea for 11 years, benefiting the Children Camp Scholarship. She’s been a member of the church for 40 years, and active in the organization, teaching Sunday school for six years, working with the bereaved, and serving on a number of committees. She has been a member of Ector County Republic Women for 25 years, is past president, and received the Ector County Republican Party Lincoln Legacy Award in 2014.


Anita Gamertsfelder

Anita holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University and an Associate in Culinary Science from Scottsdale Culinary Institute. She is the Education and Program Coordinator for Midland County Library, and is Vice President of the Midland Independent School District Education Foundation, having been a member of the board since 2016. Past president of the Junior League of Midland, Anita’s community service orients on education, serving as the MISD Values Project Coach and Culture Club chairman since 2017. She has also presided over the San Jacinto Junior High PTA since 2016. She has been honored as PTA volunteer of the year for Washington    MSI, Carver Center and San Jacinto Junior High.  Her favorite memory from her Girl Scout experience is the cloth bean bag nativity set that she made as a Girl Scout and still uses every year at Christmas.


Gene Johnson

Gene returned to full-time work last year, teaching fourth grade at Gonzales Elementary, in Ector County ISD, with more than 40 years of experience, and an education associates degree from ASU. Her volunteerism includes 10 years with the Red Cross, 16 years with the Boy Scouts, and more than 20 years with the First United Methodist Church. She has been a member of the United Methodist Women since 1980, and enters her sixth year as president in 2018.  Gene spent 12 years as an active Girl Scout. Her fond memories include her mother taking her to pick out her Brownie uniform, and her pride in wearing it to her first meeting, all the way to the tears at her troop’s final high school meeting after years of planning and leading activities together.


Lori Nelson

Lori is the area lab manager for Texas oncology, where she’s been employed since 1985, and served as staff member and supervisor of the Odessa lab until 1999. In 1999, she was promoted to supervisor over Midland and Odessa, and then to area manager in 2014, with 26 labs under her direction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Medical Technology, and is certified through the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. She was a founding member of West Texas Gifts of Hope, where she served as treasurer and then president from 2009 to 2015, and a founding member of the first Ronald McDonald House board of directors, serving as president of the board from 1985-1988. Lori was a Girl Scout for 10 years, and then mother of a lifetime Girl Scout. Her most precious memories are with her daughter during her years of scouting with Troop 200 in Odessa, especially the fantastic “Mom and Me” trips.


Susan Palmer

Susan is a realtor with Legacy Real Estate, specializing in selling and leasing residential properties.  She won the Bronze Producer Award in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Gold Producer Award in 2015 and 2016. She is an Emerson Elementary Lifetime PTA member, where she won the Volunteer of the Year award in 2012 and has served in various positions for the organization. There, she created and implemented “Reading Rodeo,” a reading incentive program for elementary students. Susan’s three years of Girl Scouting brings back memories of making friends, learning new skills, making crafts, and especially Girl Scout Day Camp. Girl Scouting helped her gain confidence and instilled a desire and motivation to serve.


Laura Sales

Laura is broker/owner of The Sales Team Realtors, launched in 2014, and has assisted more than 1,000 individuals and families with real estate transactions in her career. She has been one of the top 10 individual producing real estate agents in Midland for the past 15 years, and her professional awards include the Permian Basin Board of Realtors’ Rookie of the Year in 2003, Golden Eagle Award in 2010 and Ambassador of the Year in 2017. Laura holds both a Bachelors and Masters of Science from the University of North Texas, Denton. In her community, she has served on the advisory board of The Salvation Army of Midland since 2010, and as board chair since 2015. She served on the boards of Hospice Midland and Glass Johnson, and is a small group ministry leader at Stonegate Fellowship. While she never had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout, she said, “I have had the opportunity to eat the cookies, and they’re delicious!”