page7-550?v=1

Empowered Together

Meet 10 West Austin Women Who Have Been Inspired to Empower Others

Celebrating Entrepreneurs to Community Leaders

Join us in celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of 10 West Austin women leaders who have made significant contributions in their respective fields. These women demonstrate that when empowered, their impact extends far beyond their immediate circles, creating a more inclusive and equitable future for others to grow. When every woman has the opportunity to fulfill her potential, we all thrive.

We give special recognition to Loela Barry, Sonja Babic, Rebecca Boswell, Michelle Dolch, Tara Gray, Laura Jenkins, Dr. Jeannique Norbert (Dr. J), Jeannette Spinelli, Michele Turnquist, and Jeanne Wolf. These inspiring women have navigated challenges in leadership roles, emerging as symbols of strength and resilience. Their exceptional achievements span from the creative realm of art, real estate, and healthcare to community service, showcasing the immense diversity of talents and the boundless potential that these women possess. 

By sharing their stories and those who have shaped them, we aim to inspire others and future generations to embrace their unique capabilities and forge their own paths to personal and professional fulfillment.

Loela Barry 
Art Escape at The Oasis

Loela "Lula" Barry, President of The Joloé Way LLC, has made a profound impact from the local to global level by supporting artists and meaningful causes. Her company operates various art spaces, including Art Escape at The Oasis. Loela's journey of resilience began with a life-altering neck injury at the age of 9, which left her bedridden for years and deprived her of a normal teenage life.

Loela remembers her mother's teachings, saying, "Through her example, I learned the quality of true forgiving, the life perspective of going on despite what happens to us, and to never give up hope... She instilled in me also such faith and trust in God." Loela was inspired by her mother's empathy and kindness to uplift others. In Loela's words, "When I can serve others and reflect some sunshine to them, I am in my happy place. Thank you, Mamma, for being my sunshine!"

Sonja Babic, DDS, MS
Comfydent Smiles

Dr. Sonja Babic, DDS, MS, is the Founder and General Dentist of Comfydent Smiles, and her personal experiences have inspired her to create a dental practice where everyone can feel at ease. As a child, Dr. Babic was frightened of dental visits, and her sister struggled with severe dental anxiety. This led to Dr. Babic's lifelong dream of building a practice that even individuals like her sister could feel comfortable visiting.

A graduate of UT Austin, Dr. Babic pursued her dental training at the University of Southern California (USC). Following dental school, she served as a dentist in the Army for four years. After working in multiple associateships, Dr. Babic finally brought her vision to life by establishing Comfydent Smiles. Her dedication to creating an anxiety-free environment for patients showcases her empathetic and compassionate nature, making her an inspiration to both the West Austin community and the dental profession.

Rebecca Boswell
Coaching with Rebecca

Rebecca Boswell's growth mindset and mindfulness coaching embrace a holistic approach to achieving a fulfilling personal and professional lifestyle. Inspired by her first-grade teacher Miss Wallace, who treated students with respect and encouraged their creativity and voice, Rebecca is driven to help her clients unlock their potential and create lasting change. Miss Wallace's warm hugs had a profound impact on Rebecca, teaching her that "love comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and knows no bounds."

Years later, Rebecca fondly recalls encountering Miss Wallace at a grocery store, where her teacher's face lit up upon seeing her and greeted her with one of her famous hugs. Rebecca is committed to carrying on Miss Wallace's legacy by offering her clients the same respect, encouragement, and love that Miss Wallace provided to her students. Through her coaching, Rebecca now empowers locals to clarify their goals, unleash their potential, and create lasting change.

Michelle Dolch
Austin Luxury Group

Michelle Dolch is a seasoned real estate professional, co-owner of Dolch Properties Inc. and Austin Luxury Group, and a founding agent of COMPASS alongside her husband Gary. They have been directly involved with top-tier property sales totaling $1+ Billion. She has earned multiple professional designations throughout her career, but the most important three letters behind her name are "mom."

Michelle's mother was a single mom who worked two jobs to support their family, and later became a successful restaurant owner and real estate investor. Michelle attributes her success to her mother, who instilled in her a strong work ethic, dedication, compassion, and drive to follow her dreams. "My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader and confident," Michelle says. "These traits have guided me through the ups and downs of life, helping me to be the dedicated wife, loving mother, and the successful real estate broker I am today." 

Tara Gray
Candlelight Ranch

Tara Gray is a devoted mother and advocate for Candlelight Ranch, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic educational and nature-based experiences for families and children. Her daughter, Reese, who passed away 17 years ago due to a terminal illness, remains a source of inspiration. "Reese taught me to never take life for granted, live each day to its fullest and be thankful for everything we have," says Tara. 

As a mother of three, including two children with special needs, Tara feels grateful to serve others through Candlelight Ranch. She is the organization's Development Director, leading projects like Reese's Treehouse. Tara is a shining example of how tragedy can inspire greatness, and that even the briefest of lives can leave an enduring legacy. "I truly believe with all my heart and soul Reese and God had this thing going about life. She wanted to teach everyone lessons," says Tara.

Laura Jenkins
Sicara Designs

Laura Jenkins, co-owner of Sicara Design, specializes in offering a variety of boutique Interior Design services. Drawing inspiration from her clients and her extensive custom design experience, Laura consistently achieves exceptional results on every project. In addition to her professional influences, she also cherishes the wisdom of her grandmothers.

Laura's grandmother, Grandmother DeRussy, was a fine artist, photographer, gardener, reader, and traveler. When Laura was a child, Grandmother DeRussy told her to "do yoga." Over time, Laura understood the significance of those words, which ultimately shaped her personal journey and passions. Laura's grandmother, Mimi, was a successful real estate agent, philanthropist, and spiritual person and a woman of God who instilled values of kindness and respect. Laura fondly remembers the impact of both women, stating, "Both of these women have helped shape the woman I am today and I am utterly grateful for their impact on my life." 

Dr. Jeannique Norbert (Dr. J)
Empower Family Chiropractic

Dr. Jeannique Norbert, also known as Dr. J, is the owner of Empower Family Chiropractic in Lakeway. She believes in the saying, “You don’t choose chiropractic, chiropractic chooses you.” Dr. J discovered her passion for chiropractic care at The University of Texas at Austin, where she was a pre-med student. Although she initially wanted to pursue a career in pediatric reconstructive plastic surgery, a month-long observation of surgeries made her realize that it wasn't the right fit for her.

Dr. J's friend, who had just started chiropractic school, introduced her to the philosophy of chiropractic care. She did her research and realized that chiropractic aligned with her holistic outlook toward healing. Dr. J earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Texas Chiropractic College and pursued continuing education studies in prenatal and pediatric care. She now offers chiropractic services for the whole family, specializing in pregnancy, pediatrics, post-partum, & overall wellness.

Jeannette Spinelli
Austin Portfolio Real Estate

Founder and CEO Jeannette Spinelli of Spinelli Residential Group, powered by PLACE and KW Austin Portfolio Real Estate, provides in-depth expertise as a leader in luxury real estate. As a top 1% agent in Central Texas, her tenacious spirit and sincere attitude set an exemplary standard. Jeannette has been honored as an Elite 25 member, ranked in the top 20 in the Austin Business Journal Book of Lists, and named a top 25 finalist for Profiles in Power for Austin.

A devoted philanthropist, Jeannette holds leadership positions in three Central Texas non-profits and leads educational fundraising and humanitarian efforts in Third World countries, including Guatemala, Somalia, and Sri Lanka. Additionally, she mentors younger agents one-on-one and through her "Launch into Luxury" webinar while also sharing her expertise on the Inman stage, at market centers, and Keller Williams panels, both nationally and internationally.

Michele Turnquist
Engle & Volkers Austin

Michele Turnquist, founder and owner of Engel & Völkers Austin, formerly known as Turnquist Partners Realtors, is a fourth-generation Austinite with a deep understanding and appreciation of the city's rich history. With over three decades of experience as a top-producing luxury real estate advisor, Michele has earned recognition from prestigious organizations such as Luxury League, Elite 25 Austin, and Austin Business Journal.

Carrying on her great-great grandfather's legacy, John McDonald, who served as mayor of Austin in the 1890s and oversaw the construction of the Colorado River's first dam, Michele has developed and marketed Lake Austin waterfront properties. Her impressive track record, industry recognition, and commitment to her family's heritage make her a true inspiration in the luxury real estate world. Michele's deep connection to the city and its history drives her to create meaningful relationships with clients and connect them to the heart of Austin.

Jeanne Wolf
Bee Cave Chamber

Jeanne Wolf, President of Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce, contributes to the economic development and prosperity of the Bee Cave area. She finds inspiration, confidence, and strength from her grandmother, Louise Pray Robinson, whose selflessness and unwavering commitment to raising Jeanne and her sister provided her the stability she needed to grow and become the person she is today.

Jeanne recalls, "Instead of traveling and enjoying her Golden Girl years, she was raising one more child, (she had raised 3 of her own and my older sister on and off). And she never, ever made me feel like she hadn’t made the decision to do that with both feet in at 110%." Jeanne acknowledges her grandmother's legacy lives on through the lessons she taught, stating "I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her and God’s path for me. I am so grateful and thankful for her selflessness."

Related Businesses

Related Articles