Modern Mavens Get Things Done


Barbara Bass was mayor of Tyler from 2008-2014.

With people honoring their mothers in May, it also seems an appropriate time to acknowledge a handful of modern mavens in the region who’ve made a habit of leading by example — inspiring younger generations and reminding citizens of all persuasions of what everybody already knows: women get things done. 

Barbara Bass 
A CPA and longtime partner with Gollob Morgan Peddy PC, Bass was the first female president of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, then a three-term mayor of Tyler, serving from 2008-2014. Civic involvements include the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas, and she was a chairman of the Hospice of East Texas and treasurer of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra Association. As an early and generous supporter of Tyler’s “Shine Your Light” campaign, a charitable effort started after the Great Recession, she also serves in leadership roles with various organizations like the East Texas Area Council, Boy Scouts of America Executive Board, UT Health Northeast Development Board and United Way of Smith County. 


Judith Guthrie 
Serving as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Texas for 27 years, Guthrie retired in 2013. She also served on the bench in Lufkin during that tenure, having earned a law degree at the University of Houston — working at a law firm by day and attending classes by night. Today, Guthrie keeps an office in Tyler’s Azalea District and remains actively involved in the community, serving on the board of The Women’s Fund and as executive secretary of Women in Tyler. She’s also involved with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and the Gateway to Hope Day Resource Center. Guthrie was succeeded in her judicial role by another woman, Nicole Mitchell, a Baylor University graduate who, 35 at the time, became one of Texas’ youngest female judges.


JoAnn Hampton   
Elected four times to the Smith County Commissioners Court, Hampton has served since 2003, She launched her public service career prior to that with a six-year stint on the Tyler City Council — including one year as Mayor Pro Tem. Her work history includes employment at the UT Health Center and a current position with East Texas Medical Center’s cancer clinical trials division. From the time her two children were young, she volunteered at their schools in roles like room mother, eventually spending eight years in leadership positions with a local high school’s parent-involvement organization. Hampton sits on the executive board of the East Texas Council of Governments, and in 2014 received an Unsung Hero Award from the Winners Circle Peer Support Network of Texas. 


Kristen Ishihara
A Longview attorney, city councilwoman, and Mayor Pro Tem, Ishihara has a long history of civic involvement and service. Before her election to the Longview City Council in 2014, she served on the Parks and Recreation advisory board and the city’s animal shelter advisory committee. She was also instrumental in bringing the first off-leash dog park to East Texas through her work as a founding member of the Longview Dog Park, and she’s a past president of East Texas CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates)  board of directors. An elder law attorney with Ross & Shoalmire, she volunteers as a mentor for Partners in Prevention, coaches a Special Olympics team and is a board member with D.O.R.S. Youth Transition Team. She was recently recognized by the Longview Regional Medical Center’s Stars Over Longview program.


Debra Robinson
As chief executive officer and general manager of the Wood County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (WCEC) — a position she’s held since 1996 — Robinson is also board president of the East Texas Electric Cooperative in Nacogdoches. She serves on additional boards like the Tex-La Electric Cooperative and the Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative, and she’s a past chairman of the board for the Texas Electric Cooperative. Working her way to the top at WCEC through a variety of positions, she started there as an accountant in 1983 after holding similar roles in the oil and gas industry. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Robinson is a past director of both the Quitman Chamber of Commerce and the Wood County Industrial Commission. Other involvement includes the East Texas Workforce Development Board, the Wood County Extension Program Council and the Wood County Peace Officers Training Advisory Board. 


Scarlett Sloane 
In addition to being Nacogdoches’ Chamber of Commerce board president, Sloane is a partner and certified financial planner with Raymond Jones Financial Services. Chamber officials describe her as “extremely service-minded” and a “mover-and-shaker.” She describes herself as an eighth generation “Nacogdonian” who loves Aggie football and anything associated with her alma mater. She was a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines after graduating from Texas A&M University, and later worked in pharmaceutical sales. Eventually, she settled into a career in finance, and besides holding various leadership roles with the chamber, her service involvements are numerous and varied, including groups like Junior Forum, Relay for Life, Newcomers and Friends, the Cattle Baron’s Gala, the Lamp Lite Theatre Advisory Board, and Daughters of the Republic of Texas. 

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