New Beginnings Luncheon

An afternoon celebrating survivors

More than 230 guests attended AVDA’s New Beginnings Luncheon on May 8 at the Junior League of Houston. The inaugural event has raised more than $300,000 with donations still rolling in in celebration of survivors. Sarah Barrett, Rachel Delaney, Jessica Leeke, and Alexis Smith co-chaired the sold-out event bringing awareness of AVDA’s mission to a whole new group of Houstonians.

Acting as emcee, tv personality Courtney Zavala welcomed the audience and hyped up event activations such as signature cocktails “Empowerment Punch” and “Fresh Start”, a HALO photo booth by Just Call Malik, and silent auction featuring YSL, a master sommelier led wine tasting, chaffeur-driven Bentley, and an art piece designed and donated by domestic abuse survivor, Kimmie Gillespie.

AVDA CEO Maisha Colter also spoke from the podium sharing more about AVDA’s services and founding. Colter, “As we come together to celebrate survivors, we are reminded that domestic violence is not a private matter but a public health crisis that affects our entire community. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.”

Tears ensued as Colter encouraged all domestic abuse survivors or those who know a survivor to stand and further break down the stigma of abuse. At this time, Colter introduced the luncheon’s Ambassador of Advocacy honoree, Stephanie von Stein Schusterman. Stephanie is a member of AVDA’s Board of Directors and a dedicated volunteer and advocate for domestic violence prevention.

In a moving acceptance speech, von Stein Schusterman shared, “I’m honored and humbled to accept this incredible award from AVDA. It’s important to recognize domestic violence comes in many forms: physical, financial, psychological, and coercive control. My dream is to change legislature so each state in America passes laws similar to Jennifer’s Law in Connecticut. I pledge to continue this as my life’s work.”

Former journalist turned advocate and best-selling author, Janine Latus, delivered the keynote address. Latus shared her personal experience with domestic violence and how the death of her sister altered the course of her life.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors: H-E-B (presenting), Bank of Texas, CIBC, Fullenweider Wilhite, Dr. Mark Schusterman, Morgan Stanley, SheSpace, and Stetzer Builders.

For more information on 2024’s New Beginnings Luncheon, contact Director of Development, Hannah Richard-Molina at 713-715-6949 or

VIew Event Photos