Welcome to Women's Finance Exchange, Houston

Our Mission

The mission of the Women’s Finance Exchange is to develop professional women working in financial areas by providing networking and learning opportunities in a relationship-driven environment.

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Board of Directors
Denise Marks, President
To contact Denise, email her at denise.marks@hotmail.com.


Ashley Smith, President-Elect

Ashley is Vice President, Relationship Manager of Regions Bank. Regions Bank, with $117B in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and one of the nation's largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage and insurance products and services. Regions serves customers in 16 states across the South, Midwest and Texas, including 1,700 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Ashley has over 10 years of commercial lending experience, with a current focus in international global trade. In addition to serving on the board of WFE, she serves as Board Member, Treasurer for the Houston Tri Delta Alumni Organization as well as Board Member, VP Legal for the Organization of Women in International Trade. Ashley is also a member of the Greater Houston Partnership and the Risk Management Association. She received her BS in Finance from Louisiana State University. Geaux Tigers!

To contact Ashley, email her at ashley.h.smith@regions.com.


Andrea Blaize, Communications Chair

Andrea is a Manager in Grant Thornton’s valuation services group.  Andrea has over five years of experience in performing business valuations and intangible asset valuations for corporate advisory, financial reporting, and tax purposes.  Her valuation projects serve a variety of purposes, including mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting, tax reporting, litigation, and general corporate planning.  She is an Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers.  Andrea received a BS in Finance from Louisiana State University.

To contact Andrea, email her at andrea.blaize@us.gt.com.


Colleen Nay, Programs Chair

As a Middle Market Banker for the Chase Commercial Bank in Houston, Colleen Nay is responsible for leading an integrated team of advisors who assist companies with managing their complex balance sheet and cash flow needs. Colleen advises commercial clients across diversified industries on treasury services, credit and international banking and specializes in the construction industry.  Prior to rejoining JPMorgan Chase, Colleen was a Private Lending Underwriter at Goldman Sachs where she worked on a team responsible for developing the firm's credit platform for ultra high net worth clients. Colleen began her career with the JPMorgan Private Bank, where she worked in the Capital Advisory group and was responsible for structuring complex credit facilities for ultra high net worth clients. She also served as a Relationship Manager, advising clients on their credit, banking, investment and trust planning needs. Colleen holds a BBA in Finance from Southern Methodist University.

Colleen is actively involved in the Houston community and is a Vice-Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Ambassadors and is a member of the Leadership Team for the SMU Houston Alumni Chapter. Colleen also serves as Treasurer of JPMorgan Chase Women's Interactive Network-Houston.

To contact Colleen, email her at coleen.e.nay@chase.com.


Laura Freudenberger, Membership Chair
Laura is Audit Shareholder at Briggs & Veselka, and her specialities include nonprofit, maritime, medical and other privately and small publically held companies.

To contact Laura, email her at lfreudenberger@bvccpa.com.


Kari Hartmann, At Large -- Programs Implementation
To contact Kari, email her at kari@pfptechnology.com.


Carol Coale, Special Events Chair


Carol Coale is a Managing Director at Dennard, Rupp, Gray & Lascar (DRG&L) in the firm's energy research and advisory practice of its investor relations services. Prior to joining DRG&L, Carol served as the Managing Director of the Energy Group at Sanders Morris Harris (SMH Capital) and provided sell-side research on integrated natural gas, power and exploration & production companies. She brings over 20 years of Wall Street experience to DGR&L, including a year as a Portfolio Manager at an energy hedge fund. Carol was a Senior Vice President for ten years at The Prudential Equity Group LLP where she was the Senior Equity Analyst for natural gas, utilities and power company securities. She was ranked an All American Analyst for six consecutive years in the Institutional Investor magazine survey, reaching the number one spot in 2002. She also achieved the top ranking in Greenwich and Starmine analyst surveys during that same time period, and was ranked three times as an All-Star analyst in The Wall Street Journal's stock picking survey. Before joining Prudential, Carol spent five years with energy boutique Howard Weil Labouisse Friedrichs, and was a fixed income analyst and trader at Rauscher Pierce Refsnes (now RBC Capital), E.F. Hutton and Rotan Mosle (now UBS). Carol earned her MBA from Southern Methodist University and is an honors graduate with a BA from the University of Texas in Austin.

To contact Carol, email her at ccoale@drg-l.com.


Laurie-Leigh White, Treasurer

Laurie-Leigh White is a Senior Vice President with The BVA Group LLC. As a Senior Vice President, Mrs. White is responsible for overseeing the execution of a variety of valuation engagements. Laurie-Leigh has been involved in over a hundred valuation projects for a wide variety of purposes, including financial reporting, employee stock ownership plans, valuations for tax purposes, transaction advisory, and fairness opinions. Additionally, she has been involved in litigation consulting assignments related to economic damages, financials forensics, and valuation matters. 

Laurie-Leigh received a Master of Science in Accounting, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southern Methodist University, where she graduated with highest honors. She is a Certified Public Accountant who holds the designation of Accredited in Business Valuation, and is an Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers. Laurie-Leigh is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. In 2007, She was awarded the Accounting Excellence Award by the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants.

To contact Laurie-Leigh, email her at lwhite@bvagroup.com.


Lisa Chandler, Director At Large

Lisa has 15 years of experience consulting with domestic and foreign companies regarding tax and business strategies, including tax planning, and related tax compliance requirements. Currently, she is a shareholder of Weinstein Spira & Company, P.C. Her experience includes working for a regional firm, a national firm, a public company and a start-up company. She received her BBA and JD from the University of Texas at Austin. Lisa is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. She is also fluent in Spanish.

To contact Lisa, email her at LC@weinsteinspira.com.


Barbara Stewart, Secretary

Barbara Stewart is Principal and founder of Accelus Partners, LLC, providing business and personal coaching to financial services professionals. Barbara has been coaching individuals in business and personal finance for the past twenty years both in the United States and abroad. Her 20 year career as a financial advisor includes work in investment and insurance sales, trading, money manager due diligence and private client advising. She became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional while in Tokyo as an advisor to US citizen expatriates. Barbara has also owned and managed a Registered Investment Advisory firm that she later sold to a private wealth management group.

In 2010 she established Accelus Partners to broaden her scope of work with clients beyond merely financial. She supports financial services professionals in growing their business and improving the quality of their lives. Barbara holds a B.B.A in Management from Sam Houston State University. She is certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). In addition to her service to WFE, Barbara is active in the Houston Financial Planning Association and the ICF Houston Chapter. She also competes with her horse Usache in local dressage competitions.

To contact Barbara, email her at barbara@acceluspartners.com. 

Kim Cagle


Rzan Swaidan, Assistant to the President

RECENT EVENTS
Summer Sizzle
Every year as the summer temperatures start to heat up, our WFE members and guests gather for a cool networking event for both business and social interaction.

Membership Kickoff

On Thursday evening, January 30, 2014, WFE members and prospective members had the opportunity to get to know the fantastic women who are the WFE better at beautiful home of our WFE 2014 Board President, Denise Marks.

19th Annual Duck Hunt

Our annual WFE Houston Duck Hunt drew a crowd of approximately 125 members and guests at the Junior League for a glimpse of fall clothing styles and to hear the latest trends.

Summer Sizzle
On June 11th, members and guests were treated to delicious cocktails, wine and appetizers, exchanged business cards and conversated over an ice-breaker bingo game, followed by a presentation by Mary Kathryn Campion of Champion Capitol Research.

Navigating the Storm – Cloud Technology and Social Media
On May 16, WFE members and guests heard a thought-provoking presentation by data security experts David Cunningham of Winston and Strawn LLP and Angela Haun with the FBI.


Looking and Feeling Your Best
In April, the WFE invited four Houston-area health care and beauty experts to discuss various women's well-being issues, ranging from cosmetic to medical. The ensuing conversation was both lively and information-packed!


Perspectives from the C-Suite
We held our first panel event of the year in March when we were joined by three female executives to discuss what they are looking for in a service provider – good experiences, bad experiences and what it takes to get (and keep) their attention.


Understanding Nonverbal Communication
In February, the WFE had the pleasure of welcoming Jan Latiolais Hargrave who helped us understand what body language communicates to the world around us.

18th Annual Duck Hunt
More than just a fashion show, our 18th annual WFE Houston Duck Hunt drew a crowd of almost 90 members and guests who gathered at the Junior League for glimpse of fall clothing styles and to hear the latest trends.


Summer Sizzle
Sweltering heat and a torrential rain storm didn't put a damper on our Summer Sizzle networking event this year, which was held at the chic champagne and wine bar, Cha in the River Oaks area.


Living Your Colors
On May 17 we held our Living Your Colors workshop, which was led by Mary Davis of Choices Seminars. For the past 17 years Mary has facilitated hundreds of people through various life changing processes, and she has become convinced that Colors has the ability to be the simplest yet most profound tool for people to use to understand that we are all truly different.