The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth will induct five new members at its 44th Annual Induction Luncheon and Ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The Class of 2019 includes a woman who started a youth equestrian program in California; an author and horsewoman whose worked on ranches from Texas to Brazil; a businesswoman whose earned numerous honors in the cutting horse world; a navy nurse who became a world champion equestrian; and a photographer whose work depicts the ruggedness of the American West.
"Every year we are awed by the accomplished cowgirls that continue to be inducted to our Hall of Fame," executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Patricia W. Riley said in a news release. "This year's Inductees define and represent all of the diverse qualities that uphold the standards of a cowgirl’s true character."
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The news release describes the contributions of the five inductees:
Mayisha Akbar, established her nonprofit, the Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrian Program, as an alternative to the gang and drug lifestyle, which was prevalent in the area. The program provides opportunities that include trainings and apprenticeships with international trainers and Olympic gold medalists, like show jumper William Simpson.
Akbar said she was honored when her students picked up the reins after she retired. Her program has been featured nationally, including by Good Morning America and the New York Times. Among her numerous honors, she was named California Legislature Woman of the Year.
Janell Kleberg, author of Waiting for Daylight: King Ranch Images from the Past, has been involved with all aspects of the ranch work, from breaking, training and showing horses with her husband to working cattle on properties in Texas, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. She also captured the images for her book on horseback, working in the heat and dust while moving the massive herds.
Kleberg’s dedication to the native lands of South Texas supports the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation. She collaborated with Hermès artist Kermit Oliver on a visit to the conservation institute. The resulting scarf named for the institute is replete with Texas wildlife, and a portion of the proceeds now benefit their protection.
Stacie Dieb McDavid, who resides in Fort Worth, Texas, is the CEO of McDavid Investments Company. A businesswoman from an early age, she opened and ran a franchise of 32 fitness centers by the age of 22. She is an avid competitor in the NCHA and the 2016 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Amateur Cutting World Champion and 2017 Reserve Champion.
McDavid has also been inducted into the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Non-Pro Hall of Fame and Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and she is a board member of the Fort Worth Zoo and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Most recently, she was governor-appointed to the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents.
The Hall of Fame’s first Navy Inductee, RADM (ret) Christina Alvarado Shanahan, from North Carolina, was the first nurse to command Naval Reserve Expeditionary Medical Facility Dallas One, a commissioned unit whose mission is expeditionary medicine and directly contributed to the saving of American lives.
She was the first nurse of Hispanic heritage to be selected to the rank of rear admiral in the Nurse Corps and the first Hispanic female to achieve the rank of Rear Admiral Upper Half. Alvarado received several military awards, including the Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal. She is also a three-time consecutive American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Hunter Under Saddle World Champion.
Photographer Laura Wilson, got her start with Richard Avedon on his American West project. Now in the fourth decade of her career, Wilson’s current interest is documenting the work of mountain lion hunters in Arizona. Her award-winning books, photographic exhibitions and articles attest to the ruggedness and individuality of people within the American West.
Wilson's work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, GQ Magazine and more. She has won multiple book and photography awards and is honored with membership to the Texas Institute of Letters and the Philosophical Society of Texas.
This year's ceremony also brings a new award. The Sergeant Reckless Award, named for the most decorated war horse in modern history, recognizes animals, individuals or groups who risk their lives for the betterment of others, and who stand courageously in protection of others.
The inaugural Sergeant Reckless award winner Robin Hutton’s first book, "Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse," was a New York Times Bestseller, named 2015 Equine Book of the Year by American Horse Publications and received a 2016 Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Currently she is president of Angels Without Wings, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that spearheaded the development and dedication of three national monuments to Sgt. Reckless.
Her latest book inspired a new project, the Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery. The inaugural ceremony for this medal will launch the International War Animals Museum. She also received the Ambassador for Peace Medal from the South Korean Government.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. Established in 1975, the Museum is considered an invaluable national educational resource for its exhibits, research library, rare photograph collection and award-winning distance-learning programs for grades K-12 and adults. The Hall of Fame’s purpose is to preserve history and foster an appreciation for their ideals and spirit of self-reliance.