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Cypress Women of Influence

Article by Erica Hernandez

Photography by Erica Hernandez, Dean Greene, Jeff Valentine | Lunalux

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Marty Clark

Owner, Equine Bodyworker, Major’s Horse Massage

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of my 23 years of service in the Army and Army Reserves. I matured a lot in the Army and I learned to think of the welfare of others before myself, but primarily the military gave me the confidence that I could do whatever I set out to do. As a retired Army major, I chose to honor my service by naming my business after my military career. 

What was your first professional job and how did that influence who you are today? I became a teacher after leaving the Army. Listening, being confident and believing that hard work pays off were valuable lessons throughout my life. 

What led you to your current profession? Animals are my passion. I was active in animal rescue and pet therapy for years. I missed the human-animal connection and I rekindled that need through horseback riding and eventually equine bodywork. 

How do you choose to be a positive influence in the Cypress community? I believe that a happy horse makes for a happy rider. I volunteer with two local equine rescue therapy groups and also teach Sunday school at my church.

Lynda Zelenka

Executive Director, Cy-Hope, Inc.

What was your first professional job and how did that influence who you are today? One week after graduating college, I joined an aggressive management training program with General Electric. After ten years in management, my corporate background and passion for those less fortunate gave me another opportunity. In 2011, I was named executive director of the newly formed non-profit, Cy-Hope.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Being part of the core group of people concerned about the children in our community which led to the birth of Cy-Hope. 

What's the best advice you've ever received and who was it from? I have a plaque two dear friends gave me that reads, “I’m a soul on fire.” My prayer is that the “fire” in us will spread hope throughout our community.

How do you choose to be a positive influence in the Cypress community? During this season of uncertainty with COVID-19, we are collaborating with so many organizations to help with relief efforts. I don’t take for granted the privilege I have to lead Cy-Hope. I have a tremendous staff, board of directors and team of volunteers with a passion to serve. Hopefully, this and all our Cy-Hope programs provide a positive impact in our community.

Shannon Valentine 

Owner, Photographer Lunalux

What was your first professional job and how did that influence who you are today? I started college as an accounting major but quickly realized accounting was not my jam. I decided to answer my creative calling and change my degree to photography. I just thought, “If not now, when?!” 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I am grateful every day for the success of Lunalux. The joy and satisfaction I get from creating meaningful work for my clients is pretty amazing. To be a part of capturing life’s most important moments with photography and helping local businesses tell their stories is an honor.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and who was it from? US Andersen said, “When you fully realize that thought causes all, you will know there are never any limits that you yourself do not impose.” 

How do you choose to be a positive influence? Supporting Cypress businesses with professional photography and marketing is, by definition, our business model. We’re here for them.

Personally, what would you like to see more of in the Cypress community? The failure rate of new businesses is scary. So, as the Cypress community continues to grow, we want our local businesses to not only survive, but to thrive.

What led you to your current profession? A love of art, a U of H syllabus, and a ton of hard work!

Jenny Normand

Owner and Operator, Shaka Power Yoga

What led you to your current profession? I started my journey in yoga simply wanting to get to “the pose” and create a beautiful shape. In 2016, I was in savasana (corpse pose) on a paddleboard when a vision came to me about starting my own yoga business. The rest was history.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? A year after opening our studio, we were a finalist for the 2019 Small Business of the Year Award with the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce. We registered with the Yoga Alliance, graduated our first class and successfully launched a stand-up paddleboard yoga program.

How do you choose to be a positive influence in the Cypress community? I am a proud member of the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce and co-chair its health committee. We also partner with Cypress businesses for events to promote and cultivate community health.

Abby Liu

Director, Owner of Cypress Montessori School

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Winning back-to-back decathlon championships in 2018 and 2019. I was a competitor in The D10, a competitive decathlon, and helped the group raise more than $70,000 supporting pediatric cancer. I won The D10 for my students, my mother who passed away from cancer, and my Montessori school which I took over after her passing to carry on her legacy. 

Personally, what would you like to see more of in the Cypress Community? We need to put a greater emphasis on how we can work together rather than compete with one another. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and who was it from? Always treat people well. No matter what you have or what happens in life, treating people well is a way to live and a beautiful legacy to leave behind. This is what my mother has ingrained in me and what I abide by.

How do you choose to be a positive influence? Leading by example as an educator and athlete. I want to inspire all students and families to have a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I  received several awards as a collegiate athlete, I’m a founding instructor at SWEAT1000 and completed my MBA. Our school was nominated Top Montessori School for 2018, 2019 and in 2020 received the Houston Award.

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