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Women of Influence

Cypress' leading ladies share their personal and professional triumphs in business and life

Article by Erica Hernandez

Photography by Shannon Raske| Lunalux

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Melissa Chase

Radio Personality, Brand Manager Mix 96.5

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I’m Melissa, a recent Texas transplant from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I’ve spent the last 20 years in radio and television as an on-air personality and am so excited to join the team at Audacy Houston to continue doing what I love—entertaining, making our listeners feel happy and using my platform to give back to the community. I have two beautiful daughters and my husband, Tyler, is an associate principal at Woodard Elementary. We are a volleyball family, enjoy camping, rocking out at concerts and now getting to explore Cypress.

What is your personal philosophy on life?

Be kind. It sounds so simple yet many find it challenging, especially when each of us are facing stress, personal struggles and adulting. But the joy of kindness is contagious and sometimes the best way to help another person and yourself.

What is your greatest personal achievement?

I don’t know if I’ve officially achieved it yet, but I daily try to achieve the goal of balancing both family and work…the struggle is real! It was a personal milestone when I accepted that no one is perfect and we have to just take a breath and accept we are doing our best as working parents.

What is the one professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity to be a successful female radio programmer. In the Radio industry, only 12 percent of brand managers and program directors are women in the country! 



 

Jodi Johnston 

President, Kairos Consulting | Founder, 100+Women Who Care, Cy-Fair

 

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I was born and raised in Canada but have resided in Cypress for the last 12 years. I possess a bachelor’s degree and certification as a master executive coaching professional. I help people in life-changing ways by identifying and leveraging their natural strengths through my coaching work.

What’s your personal philosophy on life?

I believe that to whom much is given, much is required. I also believe that part of our role on the planet is to leave it better than we found it. I trust that our greatest chance for improvement lies in leveraging our strengths, as opposed to developing our weaknesses. I also firmly believe that every one of us has value, even if we don’t always know it.  

Tell us about your greatest personal achievement?

In many ways, I would hope that my greatest achievements are still ahead of me and there is so much more to come! It goes without saying, raising my children and watching them grow into compassionate, kind humans is highly rewarding. Building strong relationships with people, developing unbreakable friendships and connecting people to much needed solutions also feel like great accomplishments to me.  

 

What’s the professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Improving people's lives through coaching and facilitation is number one. A close second would be volunteering with the charities I lead, or those that I actively support including: 100+WOMEN Who Care, Cy-Fair, Shield Bearer and The Women’s Resource of Houston, RISE program. 

Sharan Sihota

Owner/CEO Homewatch CareGivers of Cypress and Northwest Houston

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I’m a wife and mother of three fantastic kids. Before I started Homewatch CareGivers in Cypress, I owned and operated Kaurture Inc., which supplies hand-block print home furnishings. I also ran LOAD Strength Sports, an online retail store that offered quality lifting gear for serious strength athletes. I work tirelessly to help raise my children while also serving as the primary caregiver of my parents.

What is your personal philosophy on life?

Be genuine and treat everyone with dignity and respect. Live and let live.

What is your greatest personal achievement?

Being married to my husband Fateh for over 20 years and raising a wonderful family together.

What is the one professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Starting Homewatch CareGivers has been the biggest accomplishment in my life because it gives me a bigger sense of purpose and a great deal of satisfaction. We serve our community by providing quality in-home care for anybody who requires assistance. We help our clients live a full and happy life. We offer a wide range of services from respite to long term care, transportation, companionship and complex personal care performed by trained certified nurse aides and companions. We work with clients for as little as one hour daily or as much as 24-hours a day. 

How do you give back to the community?

I previously volunteered at hospitals and retirement communities, but now Homewatch CareGivers is the main way I serve my community. Homewatch CareGivers is not only a caregiving service, but we are also a resource to navigate our clients to businesses that might fit their lifestyle needs.

Debbie Benzel

Producing Branch Manager for Highlands Residential Mortgage Cypress

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I moved to Texas in 1996 from Missouri. I have two children, Abbi and Zach and a stepdaughter Kacey. I’m married to Randall Benzel. I have been in the real estate industry in one way or another since graduating from Missouri State University. I decided to focus on the mortgage industry once I moved to Texas. I have been a top-producing loan officer and now manage a top-producing branch of loan officers and operations. My hobbies include entertaining, riding motorcycles and camping in our RV.

What is your personal philosophy on life?

If you help enough people reach the level of success they want, success will follow for yourself. Invest in people!

What is your greatest personal achievement?

Being a single mom for most of my life and raising two independent children who have found successful careers. Also having my stepdaughter join me as my team member in the mortgage industry.

What is the one professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Growing my branch to be one of the top-producing branches in my company, as well seeing the success of all the loan officers in my branch.

How do you give back to the community?

I am a cancer survivor, and give back to the people battling the disease by being a support for the journey they are on.


 

Marcey Heschel

Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and Psychotherapist | Children’s Book Author

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I’m a Canadian mother, author, and psychotherapist.  As expatriates, my husband and I traveled, lived, and worked abroad and are now settling down, with our two children in Cypress. As a psychotherapist, I am passionate about helping struggling adolescents, and I facilitate support groups in addition to conducting individual therapy. I have published three children’s books related to empathy, and am an advocate for ending mental health stigma. I recently just opened my own private practice under the supervision of Dr. Mee -Gaik Lim.

 

What is your personal philosophy on life?

I have great respect for people who are courageous enough to seek mental health help when needed. I write passionately about empathy; because, I have learned through life, motherhood and work as a therapist, that people tend to improve and heal when they feel heard, understood, and validated. 

 

What is your greatest personal achievement?  

My children. My eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this year. My daughter is a warrior, and her battle is my battle.  Both of my children are confident, well-mannered, and empathetic. To me, there’s no greater personal achievement than that!  

What is the one professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I experience a sense of fulfillment every time a client begins to make realizations and improve. My clients are truly accountable for their growth, and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of that journey with them.

 

Leslie Martone

President, Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce

Give us a brief biography of yourself.

I grew up in Cy-Fair attending Arnold Middle School and graduating from Cy-Fair High School in 1992. I attended Texas A&M University getting a bachelor’s degree in recreation, parks and tourism science. I continued to pursue my passion of working with kids in a camping environment by working as the summer camp director for Camp Allen in Navasota. This is where I met my husband. We now have two sons, Nate, who is 21, and Jacob, who is 18. While raising my family, I worked in various financial institutions including Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union where I found my path to the Cy-Fair chamber. In 2012, I began my career as the president. I serve and have served on many boards throughout the community such as the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation, Reach Unlimited, HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress, North Houston Association, and the vestry at my church, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. 

What is your personal philosophy on life?

Try to live my life by showing my faith in Jesus and his teachings on how we should live. I don’t always measure up, but my effort is there. 

What is your greatest personal achievement?

My personal achievement is the gift of my two boys—who are now men—and the wonderful man God has blessed me with, my husband Mike. 

What is the one professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I am most proud of the team that I work with every day at the chamber office. We are a family and truly work hard and play hard. I am most proud of the work we put in to lift up and promote our members in the good times and in the bad. 

How do you give back to the community?

I believe serving on various community boards is how I can give back to my community as well as the work we all do here in the chamber office.

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