Women of Houston

Recognizing women making a difference in our community.

Dr. Sonia Krish

Co-Founder of Wellness Space


Why was it importont for you to open WellnessSpace?

As a physician who was starting in private practice a few years ago, I knew nothing about renting office space. My husband Sunny Somaiya, who works in real estate, and I searched for months only to realize that finding a space I could afford and be proud of bringing my patients to was impossible. It dawned on us that there must be other practitioners in this same predicament and that there needs to be an easier way for practitioners to start a practice. This is how WellnessSpace was born.

We facilitate practices that are interested in being lean. WellnessSpace provides practitioners of all types with private, furnished treatment suites for rent by the hour or longer. There is no upfront investment and no long-term leases. We take care of the office management responsibilities, so our practitioners can focus on what they do best - taking care of patients.

What is the key for women to add wellness to their daily lives?

The best way for women to incorporate and maintain a daily wellness practice is to establish a "why" they cannot ignore. Having to play many roles in life - navigating the home and workplace landscape - can be challenging, and success starts from taking care of oneself. 

Wellness for me means practicing meditation and mindfulness daily. These practices help me cope with the demands and stress of being a full-time working mother of two energetic young children.

Heidi Vaughan

Owner, Heidi Vaughan Fine Art


What is the most significant misconception people have about collecting art?

Without a doubt, the most prominent misconception people have about collecting art is that they can't afford it. Our clients are often surprised to find out that they can own the work of museum-level artists at a price far lower than they expected. At Heidi Vaughan Fine Art, we regularly work with clients who have never bought art before, and we help them understand what collecting is about and what contributes to art value. Art pricing is not random, and there is a reason it costs what it does. A dealer should be able to tell you what those reasons are for a particular work of art. 

How do you help clients become more confident when they purchase art?

We love helping our clients become confident about their art purchases, and building this confidence takes time. New collectors should be wary of anyone who pressures them to make a purchase. I often say making a significant art purchase is like getting a dog; you should be confident you like it because you will likely live with it for a long time. 

Why is it important to you to represent local artists?

I am interested in supporting locals in general, whether it is a restaurant or a business, or a person. With regards to art, local art can be especially personally meaningful. Artists make art about what they know, just like writers generally write about subjects and events that have affected their lives. Art produced in Texas tells the story of the Texas experience from an array of perspectives. Houston art is even more specific. Because I live here, collecting local art gives me a deep sense of personal connection to the art. 

Rania Mankarious, MA, JD

CEO Crime Stoppers of Houston


What was the driving force behind you joining Crime Stoppers?

I had a unique background, and all of it led me to the nonprofit sector. I grew up in Boston, MA, went to a Jesuit College (Boston College) where the concept of “giving back” was heavily ingrained. I went on to law school and to complete a master’s degree in Marriage & Family therapy. 

I became very intrigued by the role of public safety in our lives, and as times changed and problems changed, these issues only became more important to me. Joining Crime Stoppers in 2006 gave me the tools to focus on my interests and contribute to the community in a meaningful way. 

After so many years at Crime Stoppers, what keeps you motivated?

With every presentation, every breaking news story, every community meeting, or lunch discussion, I see the inherent value in providing people a safe place to live, work, and play. I don’t want one more child to be victimized or an animal be tortured; I don’t want one more neighborhood to suffer a home invasion; I don’t want one more school to see violence on its doorstep, and I believe we can do a lot to stop those things preemptively. 

What advice do you give women entering the workforce? 

I challenge them to work hard each day; know the material; know the various angles; know their actual limitations and boundaries. I encourage them to be a team player, respect others, while standing up for themselves and for what is right without hesitation. The rest will fall into place.


Judy Agee and Jaleh Sallee

Owners of Léránt


Those in the know have been shopping at Léránt, an upscale boutique in Houston's Galleria area for over 25 years. Offering a wide range of items from luxury accessories and tableware to home décor, baby goods, and jewelry, the store has adapted to Houston's ever-changing retail environment. Owners Judy Agee and Jaleh Sallee are proud their small business has survived the likes of Hurricane Harvey, COVID-19, and Winter Storm Uri, all while keeping their staff fully employed. Léránt boasts an extensive list of luxury brands and an even longer list of devoted Houston clientele. 

What sets Houston apart from other cities as far as style and home decor? Houston is so different in the sense that we have a ton of international design influence, and we appreciate various cultures from all over the world. The city continues to evolve dynamically. It offers Houstonians the ability to escape to a destination without ever having to leave their home — if they wish.

After being in business for so many years, what keeps you going? The loyalty of our customers and staff remains our constant motivation. Being in business for a quarter of a century, clients have grown into a family, and we are truly grateful for those relationships today. We take great pride in customer service and cater to our customers' needs with pleasure. 

Michal Michaeli

Executive Pastry Chef of Sof Hospitality (Doris Metropolitan, Bādolina, Hamsa)


Bādolina Bakery & Café, from the owners of highly acclaimed Israeli Steakhouse Doris Metropolitan, will open its doors in Rice Village later this month. The made-to-order bake lab will showcase the creations of executive pastry chef and partner Michal Michaeli, who is known for her famous breads, desserts, and cakes. The bakery evolved after her pastry products at Doris Metropolitan took on a life of their own.

Bādolina features flavor profiles from around the world bringing rich, cultural specialties to life. Think modern Middle Eastern and Israeli baked goods, sweet and savory pastries, along with specialty sourdoughs, croissants, babkas, and more. Custom roasted beans for Bādolina's signature blended coffee are in the works as well. 

How do you stay innovative in your baking? 

I have a passion for the world of baking and its beautiful raw materials and am always curious when I see or taste something new. Something sparks inside of me, and I have an urge to explore the material. I draw inspiration from so many people, cultures, and techniques and constantly incorporate those elements into my work to see what I come up with and how to make them my own.

What is one ingredient that you are secretly obsessed with, and why?

My favorite ingredients are spices: coriander seeds, cardamom, tonka, and fresh herbs. I think zaatar is a brilliant herb, which you cannot find in Houston, so I grow it myself at home. 

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